We are so excited to share the story of our fun-loving, debonaire-dancing grandpa (‘Buelito is what we call him), Maximino Alaniz. ‘Buelito is our Papi’s father and is a man full of discipline, love, and determination. We wanted to share his story because he went through hardships that have earned him a lot of respect and endearment. He married our ‘Buelita Dora and they had 9 children. They experienced many distinct moments through migrant-travels and travails, and finally residing permanently in the city by the river that had a bank: Riverbank, California. They both worked hard for their children and tried their best to provide care and support them. Thirteen years ago my ‘Buelita Dora went home to be with Jesus ( our Papi shared Salvation with her ) in September of 2004’; she was funny, strict, yet loving, and caring for all her grandchildren. Every time we would visit their home, the smell of fresh, hand-rolled tortillas permeated the kitchen with ‘Buelita’s welcoming desire to provide and please. Notwithstanding, frijoles, of course, prepared for us; she was an amazing cook and would get all uptight if we did not arrive ready to eat!
“What’s natural to life, don’t worry it because it’s part of life. Just keep moving forward through your life.”
My loves of ‘Buelito
Now, Let me share a little bit about what you should know about our ‘Buelito Max. He loves, loves, and loves to dance, even when his knee hurts, he will dance! We love this about him because we’re all about moving and dancing and having a good time. One of the other many things I love about him is that every Christmas he gives all of his grandchildren a little white envelope and in it is a signature/original ‘Buelito gift. Each envelope has our name on it (possibly spelled wrong, haha) and inside is a bill. There is either a $10 or a $20 dollar bill. ( The economy hit him hard this past Christmas so he forsook the “giving-spirit” attitude, lol!) We all get so excited to receive this envelope and it is definitely the highlight of every Christmas. Another one of my favorite things about ‘Buelito is that he is bilingual. Now I say this lightly because he just translates what he’s saying, Tejano-style! Sometimes when we call and ask him in Spanish, “where are you ‘Buelito?” he responds, “Aquí estoy en mi casahouse” lol! Love it! It makes me laugh every time. He is a man full of ambition and work ethic. Once you start reading his interview, you will see. I am thankful for a Buelito like him.
L&T: When and where were you born?
‘Buelito: I was born in Elsa, Texas in 1928 on May 30.
L&T: When you were a child, what were the activities you participated in, did you attend school?
‘Buelito: I took care of goats, I also helped milk them and milked cows too at 5 am every day. In 1935 I was 6 years old when I went to school. I only went up to 4th or 5th grade. My dad would tell my teachers to hit us (exercise corporal punishment) if we didn’t listen.
L&T: How was it that you made it to the United States?
‘Buelito: We didn’t get here, I was born here! I was born in 1928, my brother Rosendo was born in 1927 and they repatriated my father in 1929. So we went to school in Mexico and then on vacations they would send us back to Texas to pick cotton; during the depression was when we were repatriated.
L&T: Tell us about when you met ‘Buelita Dora.
‘Buelito: I met her In 1946. I was 18 years old, I arrived on a horse to La Palmita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, a little town/village from my city Los Aldamas. I saw Dora at a dance and told her I liked her. But her brothers did not want us to get together, so we didn’t see each other for 5 years.
L&T: Explain how life was with having 9 children.
‘Buelito: We needed to work hard, we went through 25 states, took the kids with us. In those times I was in charge of working, so I was separated from my family a lot. After a job ended in one state, we would go to another, and then another and another. At that time we had 8 kids, our youngest Miguel was born in California.
With a lot of children and limited means, you go through a lot of adventures. For example, at birth, our son Juan (our Papi) only gained 1 pound after 6 months. They had put a curse on my wife, Dora, when she was pregnant with him. So we took him to a healer ( “curandera” ) and she gave Juan a potion. That’s when she learned that Dora had been cursed. Another “travail” was in Alabama, two of our sons, Eloy and Juan, were run over by a truck-and survived!
Tony, our third oldest, drank gasoline in Yakima, Washington-and survived!
(*another story, not mentioned in the interview is about Miguel, the youngest of our Tios! He was somewhere around 4 years old flew out of ‘Buelito’s ’48 Plymouth on a wide turn-and, SURVIVED!)
You could say our kids were a rambunctious bunch! But, everyone made it out okay.
L&T: Where was each child born?
‘Buelito: The oldest, Rosie, was born Washington, Pablo and Tony in Edinburgh, Texas, Eloy was born Washington, Juan was born in Weslaco, Texas, the twins, Adan and Eva were born in Edinburgh, Texas, Angie was born in La Palmita, Nuevo Leon Mexico, and the youngest child, Miguel, was born in Oakdale, California.
L&T: What was the most difficult thing about raising children while being migrant workers?
‘Buelito: I picked and loaded potatoes in Idaho and other places. I had to be real strong to endure! I was raised well because I drank the goat milk! Since I drank a lot of it, I was strong and able to work long hours and milk more than 100 goats as a youngster. I had a lot of discipline, waking up early to do work and care for the animals-goats and cattle; I enjoyed working. I needed to be disciplined for my family. But I worked a lot and we would move from state to state-picking cotton in Alabama, carrots in Hereford, Texas, apples in Washington, tomatoes in Gary, Indiana, and all kinds of fruit and vegetables in the Central Valley of California! Once one job ended we got back on the road and went to the next job. We finally settled in California because of the opportunity to work in the “Cosecha” (crop picking) and the “Canerías” (canneries).
L&T: What advice do you give young kids nowadays?
‘Buelito: To make progress. You will only make progress by working, also go to school. My own father didn’t know how to write at all. So it is important that young kids go to school and work. A friend of our family was a teacher in our elementary school. My last teacher Iluterio Gutierrez asked if he would let me go with him to Monterrey, Mexico to study, but my dad didn’t let me. I had never been away from my family and my father thought it would be too scary for me. So, take opportunities when they come and make progress!
L&T: What is the secret to living a long life?
‘Buelito: Your stomach. (Lol!) Keep the stomach full and do not worry about anything. And, what’s natural to life, don’t worry it because it’s part of life. Just keep moving forward through your life. I am prudent in that everything I owe I pay off as soon as possible. A quote I have lived by, “He who owe’s nothing, fears nothing” (“El que nada debe, nada teme.”)
Our ‘Buelito is 89 now! He has lived a long hard life. As you have read, he worked long hours and woke up early just to provide the basic needs for his family. He says, “Work is nothing to me, because its the dream.” While I was there visiting, his youngest sister, Elena, had come to visit for a few days. I had never met her. Our grand-tio, Pedro, was also there; It turns that our ‘Buelito helped raise him since his brother is more than 15 years his younger! What is interesting is that our Tio Miguel is also 15 plus years younger than our Papi! Our Papi was our Tio Miguel’s Varsity basketball coach in high school and people thought he was his father! LOL! It was nice to meet Elena and her daughter and hear them chime in every once and a while about the details he would leave out.
Left to right: Tio Pedro, Tia Elena, Buelito
We are appreciative to have written this story for our ‘Buelito. We love him so much! But, we’re not sure if he really loves us because every time we say “Love you ‘Buelito!” He responds: “Thank you!” haha. So, thank you, for reading about our ‘Buelito!