Early Years, Education and Marriage
Camilla: Would you give us a brief biographical history of you and Cleo, of when you moved to Casa Grande?
Dave: I was born on May 23, 1936 in Alpine, Texas, which is in Brewster County. I went to school in Alpine in all the Mexican schools K-8, then went to the high school which was a mixed school. That was the only high school we had. The things I remember most when I was going was that we were separated by the tracks, the Mexicans on one side and the Anglos on the other one. We had two…well, our 1st through 8th grade school, one for the Anglo and one for the Mexican. Then when we went to the high school, we got together.
I graduated from high school in 1954. After high school I went to Sul Ross University which was in Alpine, gave me an opportunity to go to school there. I was there for two years, then went into the service for two years and came back for two years. I had the last two years that school, I had an opportunity to do that.
I met my wife, she’s from Sanderson, Texas, which is 80 miles from Alpine. I met her through her brother. He and I knew each other when we were in high school. She graduated first from Sul Ross and was teaching in Pecos. We got married after her first year of teaching in Pecos. I finished a year and a half later. I graduated from Sul Ross also and I went to teach in Pecos.
I taught 4th grade and my dream was always to be a P.E. teacher--that was my field. In Pecos I taught in an old Mexican school in Chidé (spelling?). Both of us were next door to each other. She would teach some of a subject and I help teach some of her and I was a P.E. teacher in the classes in Pecos. We stayed there for six years. I always wanted a P.E. job--that was my dream. There were a couple of times in Pecos that there were openings in P.E. at the junior high but they never promoted me because the opening was at an all Anglo school. But I was good enough to coach there. But they never offered me a position.The Move to Casa Grande
Finally, we heard that there was an opening in Casa Grande, Arizona. We figured that we’d give it a try. I had never been this far to Casa Grande, Arizona. California had never been one of the places _____________, that’s why I never tried to come this way. We had thought about spending a couple of years in this part of the country and then go to Alaska. We were trying to go to Alaska. We heard about this, my wife and I decided to give it a try, we’ll come down here.
We came here in August. I interviewed with Mr. Benedixon, which was the superintendent.
Camilla: What year was that, do you remember?
Dave: 1967. We taught in Pecos for six years and when we came here it was 1967. We got hired here August 16. I was under contract in Pecos. We went back and I told them that I’d been hired to teach in Casa Grande, Arizona as a P.E. teacher. The secretary told me that the superintendent was out of town and he couldn’t contact me until the latter part of August. But I told her “I need to be released.” At that time they told me that the superintendent would not release me. And I said…well, I gave them my story that I had always wanted to be a P.E. teacher and I had never been offered here. But when I approached the school board member—I knew all the school board members from that school and somehow they’d know what had gone on through the years with me. I told them why I was moving because it was a chance for me to move into the field of P.E. They were upset when I told them that. They went ahead and decided to release me from the contract without the superintendent. So, I thanked them because I really enjoyed the people that I worked with and the people in the community were great for us, but we were all in minority schools in those years. You’d have to go back to Texas to know what minority means to us.
So we packed everything, my wife Cleo and our little ones--at that time there was David III and Dwayne, our two oldest boys. We packed in two vehicles and one of our friends had a trailer that brought all our furniture. We didn’t know anybody in Casa Grande. At that time Mr. Benedixon took us all over town so we could see the community and we found a house that we rented. It was down on Trekell, the second house on the southwest corner of McMurray. You know where the light is? The second house, that’s where we lived for three months, I think. We made it here. Somebody asked me why did I move here and I told them “To become a P.E. teacher.” We don’t have any relatives. There’s only the six of us in Casa Grande. All our relatives are in Texas.