Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Esther M. Davalos, June 3, 1982

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Men and women's roles in Mexican families

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Partial Transcript: So I thought of, uh, of this woman and I, uh, I thought I would call her up.

Segment Synopsis: Davalos delves deeper into the roles of men and women within the Mexican family. She asserts that Mexican society outwardly seems like a patriarchal one, but actually is run by women behind the scenes. She argues that by staying within the bounds of traditional gender roles, women are able to be just as powerful as men.

Keywords: Community norms; Equality; Familial roles; Family structure; Femininity; Gender norms; Gender roles; Machismo; Macho; Masculinity; Mexican; Relationships; Traditional family

Subjects: Families.; Feminism; Gender issues; Marriage; Sex role

00:11:16 - Role of men within her culture

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Partial Transcript: What does it mean to be a man?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos points out what being a man means within the family structure. She asserts that the male head of household deserves respect and attention from his wife and children; men work full time in order to take care of their families so they deserve to be taken care of when they come home.

Keywords: Breadwinners; Family norms; Family roles; Family structure; Femininity; Gender norms; Gender roles; Masculinity; Sexuality

Subjects: Families.; Gender issues; Marriage; Sex role

00:16:39 - On the use of birth control

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Partial Transcript: Did they go a, along with the not using birth control?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos reveals the use of birth control and family planning within the Catholic community; she comments specifically on the different types of birth control methods used by her working class peers.

Keywords: Catholics; Family planning; Marital relations

Subjects: Birth control.; Contraception.; Religion; Reproductive rights.; Women's rights

00:19:13 - Community medicine in the early 1900s

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Partial Transcript: Was the--did the women, um--I'm switching the topic a little bit. Were there--di--when people got sick, did they immediately send out for the doctor once they were in the city or were there midwives or, um, women--

Segment Synopsis: Davalos describes what medical care was like when she was young. Most children were born at home and women would help each other give birth. Medicine was highly centered within the community as there weren't many medical services available; neighbors often cared for and would nurse one another through illnesses.

Keywords: Apartment houses; Apartments; Boarding houses; Community; Community medicine; Home births

Subjects: Childbirth; Health.; Medicine.; Midwifery; Midwives

00:24:04 - Use of home medicine

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Partial Transcript: Was there a lot of use of medicines in the home, in the home nursing? In general, not for the flu.

Segment Synopsis: Davalos tells Levin about the types of natural medicines that existed within the homes. Herbs were the most common solution for ailments; they were soaked in rubbing alcohol and used for rubs or served as tea depending on the illness.

Keywords: Herbal medicine; Home medicine; Home remedies; Home remedy

Subjects: Health.; Medical care; Medicine.; Traditional medicine

00:29:19 - New mothers' healing practices

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Partial Transcript: Were there particular foods that were given to sick people that you're supposed to eat?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos begins by revealing the use of special foods for mothers after giving birth. She moves on to explain the rest of the healing process for new mothers; women were to stay in bed for ten days and ate well, she wasn't to take the stairs and most of the house work was to be done by someone else in the family or a neighbor.

Keywords: Children; Community; Community medicine; Family; Healing foods; Healing practices; Home remedies; Home remedy; Mexican; Mothering; Mothers; Parenting; Work exchange

Subjects: Childbirth; Health.; Medical care; Medicine.; Midwifery; Midwives; Traditional medicine

00:34:20 - Making a house a home

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Partial Transcript: Of the different places in the city you lived, was there a place that was your favorite?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos explains to Levin that she never had a favorite home in the city; as long as she has sentimental items she is able to make anywhere feel comfortable. She also briefly describes some of the housing conditions of the places where she grew up; her family always had indoor plumbing, gas lights, and heat. She ponders that her family might have grown up differently than other Mexican families because there was always food and an income to live off of.

Keywords: Amenities; Community; Decorating; Family; Growing up; Homes; Housekeeping; Houses; Housing conditions; Marriage; Memories; Philadelphia (Pa.); Technology; Utilities

Subjects: Families.; Housing; Neighborhoods.

00:39:53 - Shopping

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Partial Transcript: Where did you shop?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos explains to Levin where she preferred to shop when she was younger; she prefers the corner grocery stores to larger super markets. She finds them to be a part of the community as likes the relationships that come from shopping within the neighborhood.

Keywords: Community life; Corner stores; Groceries; Grocery stores

Subjects: Neighborhoods.; Shopping.

00:41:28 - Home gardening

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Partial Transcript: I remember you, you said last week when we talked that you had a flower garden. Did you grow vegetables at all?

Segment Synopsis: Davalos recounts her mother's vegetable garden growing up; her mother had about an acre and a half of land that she would use to grow a large variety of vegetables for the family. Davalos tells Levin that she is able to grow some tomatoes at home but wishes that she could garden on a grander scale like her mother used to.

Keywords: Gardening; Vegetable gardens

Subjects: Subsistence farming