On Jan. 5, only five days into the year 1932, I was born to a humble Mexican family on the Southside of Tracy. I was the 11th child born to Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Morelos at 19 E. First St.
My parents had come to Tracy from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. My grandparents came to Tracy before my parents, and they were the ones who helped them come to Tracy.
My mother and father spoke no English, so when it came time for me to be born, my mother had to get someone who spoke English to call the doctor for her.
At the age of about 4 weeks, I became very ill, and my mother says that I almost died. She really couldn’t explain what my illness was. I passed the crisis, but then at the age of 4 years, I had a ruptured appendix, and at that time I almost died. I was given up ’til midnight to live. If I was alive by midnight, the doctor said I would survive. I survived.
Even though we were a very large family, my mother kept our house so spick-and-span. I remember how she would get up so early in the morning to chop wood with an ax for the wood stove we had.
My father would make up games for us to play. One was the Coyote. He would draw the game on a box and we would use pinto beans almost like a Chinese checkers game. We were poor, but we were happy poor.
My dear father was a carpenter, and he would build cabins all by himself with a little help of my brothers. These cabins he rented, and that seemed to help the income of our home. Also, my mother was very budget-minded. We had our ups and downs, but who doesn’t.
At the time of the Second World War, we had a very large accident. My grandmother Anastacia Barrientos and my second cousin Delfino Ortega Jr. were on their way to town from the Southside when they were killed. Living on the Southside, we had to “cross the tracks.”
That day, a train caught my grandmother, and my second cousin tried to save her, but he was only 4 years old and also was killed.
During World War II, my two oldest brothers were both in the Army, Raymond Morelos Sr. in the Philippines and Charlie Romo in Germany.
When they returned home, they were amazed how much I had grown, and how thin I had become.
My father had promised the Virgin Mother of the Lady of Guadalupe that when my brothers returned home safely, he would take them to visit her at the basilica in Mexico City. I was 14 at the time, so my father also took me and my brother to Mexico City.
My sister lived in Mexico City, and we visited her and also went to San Miguel de Allende, where my parents had come from. I was very happy to go on the trip
Going to Mexico was one of the best experiences of my whole life. It was not only pleasant, but educational to see how my ancestors lived in their native country.
I had been brainwashed here in the United States that Americans — Anglos — were superior to the Mexicans, but then I began to believe that no nationality is superior to any other. I believe God provides intelligence and culture for each country.
During the trip to Mexico, I found out so much about Mexicans and their way of living. The beautiful music, art and the blue sky were wonderful. As I was standing on a mountaintop in the hometown of my father, I felt if I reached for the blue sky, I could touch it.
San Miguel was so quaint, so humble and yet so beautiful all around. So much of it had been made by the people with their bare hands, not with machinery. Those are memories that will live with me until I die.
In 1965, I was asked if I wanted to work as a community aide for the Office of Economic Opportunity at the South Tracy Community Center. I had just finished working as a teacher’s aide for Head Start. I talked it over with my husband, Frank, and we decided that I should take the job. I could help others, and the money would help support our five children.
My destiny was that I would help people, and I remember saying once, if God would only give me millions of dollars, I would use it to help out. And while I never got the millions, I was helping people.
I realized that I always liked to help people who don’t speak or write English. I guess the doctor who saved my life when I was 4 days old and then again when I was 4 years old didn’t realize the little girl whom he was helping stay in this world would be so willing to help her own people have a better life here the United States.