When brother and sister Mary Lucero and George Garcia first moved to Portales in 1960 from Las Vegas, N.M., the town and world were truly a different place. Lucero and Garcia arrived in Portales with their seven other brothers and sisters, and their parents who were in search of work in the fields. More than 50 years later, the family of nine has multiplied into a family of over 100, most of whom are still residents of Curry and Roosevelt counties. On an autumn afternoon at Mary Lucero’s home in Portales, the two siblings shared stories and memories of the past.
When did your family move to Portales?
Mary: It was around 1960.
George: It was the Fourth of July, 1960.
Mary: Yes, that’s was my dad’s favorite holiday. We came from Las Vegas, N.M. There were jobs here for my dad and brothers. There were nine kids, plus my dad and my mom.
Where did they work?
Mary: We worked in the fields, all of us. We picked corn, onions….
George: … cotton and peanuts.
What do your remember about Portales in 1960?
Mary: It was a lot smaller. Smaller then Las Vegas. There were fields all around here. We lived in some apartments just across the field there. (Points towards the park.) There were a lot of people that lived there, and we all shared two bathrooms. Showers and everything. There was prejudice around here then too. I’d say the prejudice died down in Portales around the 1980s.
How many of the nine siblings are in Portales still?
Mary: We are all here except our oldest brother, Ernest. Our other brothers Tony and Victor are deceased.
George: Ernest lives in Roswell.
Mary: Yeah, we are all here except for Ernest in Roswell.
How many children came out of the nine siblings?
Mary: Oh my gosh, (laughs), let me see.
George: I have three…
Mary: Ernest has five, I have five, Rose has three, Teresa has three.
George: Selena has two.
What about Rita?
Mary: Oh my gosh, (laughs). How many is it? Eight?
George: She has eight.
Mary: And Tony had five?
George: Yeah he had five and Victor had two.
So that’s what, 35 or 36 children, between yours and the nieces and nephews?
Mary: Yeah. (Laughs). Please don’t ask me the grandchildren. (More laughs.) There probably about 100 of us total, including grandchildren. To think it came from nine of us.
What music were you guys listening to when you were younger?
George: Aww man, Ramon Ayala. Antonio Aguilar. I used to like Santana, Jimi Hendrix. We used to play instruments and sing. Our brother Tony could play the harmonica, the organ, the piano, the guitar. He used to play the guitar behind his neck like Jimi Hendrix. Our brother Victor could play the drums.
Mary: I liked country, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis. We also listened to Cornelio Reyna, a little Elvis. Tony and Ernest would sing, and we would try and guess who sang the song and what it was called. A lot of times we used to make our own music.
About how many of the family members are still in Clovis or Portales?
Mary: I’d say about half. It feels good to have family close, and we get to keep in touch.
— compiled by CMI staff writer Eric Norwood Jr.