Oral History Interview with Laura and Jeanette Morgan
9/15/2018 - The Morgan Family | 10:20 AM - 11:40 AM
Background of George Yanes (Gregorio)
- Came to the United States for college, wanted to become an engineer
- First arrived in Seattle, fell into indentured servitude under the Catholic Church as a houseboy, had to escape
- Ended up following the migrant labor circuit
- From Seattle, went to Alaska and worked in canneries
- Ended up in Nebraska and worked on Laura’s grandmother’s sugar beet farm
- George and Laura’s grandmother fell in love, ran away to New Mexico to get married due to anti-miscegenation laws
- Settled down in California and worked on many farms throughout the state- Pleasanton, Livermore, Arizona, Bakersfield, Wasco
- Ultimately moved to Livermore, worked for Jackson and Perkins (rose farm)
- Worked in the fields, did budding and grafting
- Also helped with research and creating new rose types
- Had a fluid role at Jackson and Perkins, did many jobs
- Did not participate in labor activism movement
- Other Filipinos lived in Livermore, on the North Side of town (considered the “rough” side of town) or in labor camps
- George Yanes and his wife, a German immigrant, had difficulty buying a house because George was Filipino- eventually bought a house in 1950
- Prior to owning their own home, they lived in a group home for other Filipino laborers, many Filipinos living under one roof
- Congregated with other Filipinos on the weekends at Camp Corrigador, ate pigs and goat, drank together
- Many unmarried Filipino laborers lived there
- The Yanes family would invite the other Filipinos to their home for the holidays
- In the Philippines, George Yanes’ family were rice farmers that owned a lot of land
Jeanette Morgan’s Background
- Grew up on the North Side of Livermore, “old money” Livermore on the South Side
- Most of the FIlipino community lived on the North Side
- The Morgans had to sell the family home in 2015
- The neighborhood is now mostly Hispanic, less homeowners and more renters
- Neighborhood has also become more gentrified as well
- Not many Filipino students in Livermore when Jeanette was in school, but she did not feel excluded or discriminated against
Diversification of Livermore (Laura)
- Hispanic population has grown
- South Asian and Middle Eastern communitie have also grown
- Not very many Filipino students in Laura’s classes these days, some are biracial
- Met biracial Filipinos through the PTA
Jeanette Morgan’s Background Cont.
- Worked in data processing after high school at IBM in Oakland
- Married husband at 18, husband was in the Navy
- Her brother worked in the rose fields with their father
- Other brother graduated from Cal State Hayward in 1973
- The Filipino community in Livermore mostly moved away after the labor camps were torn down, mostly moved to Sacramento and Stockton
George’s Life after Retiring
- Retired from Jackson and Perkins in his 60s, returned to work at a local nursery owned by Japanese people
- Started a rose garden at the nursery and trained the Hispanic workers
- Worked there until he was 92
George’s Background Cont.
- While working in Yakima, Washington, he had to hide under the Moxy Bridge because white people were “hunting Filipinos” and looking to “kill a chink”
- Never returned to the Philippines after coming to America
- Became a naturalized citizen in 1950, very proud
- Spoke Visayan, Illocano, Spanish, English, and Tagalog
- Voted in every election, very liberal, followed the news in America and the Philippines
- Worked in Wasco and Shafter during the week, lived in Livermore on weekends
- His wife learned how to cook Filipino food at the labor camps, the unmarried laborers taught her how to make traditional Filipino food, she served as “den mom” because there weren’t many married couples at the labor camps
Laura’s Experiences with Being Filipino
- Not much of a Filipino community in Livermore during her generation
- She won a scholarship for Filipino students, learned more about her heritage later on in life
- Met more Filipinos when she transferred from UC Santa Barbara to UC Berkeley
George’s Experiences Later on in Life
- Had a stroke in his 90s, his caregiver was Filipino
- Caregiver, Alex, was intercepted by ICE while bringing his daughter to her kindergarten class
- Caregiver was very close to George, they could speak the same language together
- The Morgans still have ties to the Filipino community through caregivers
Interviewed by Jason Sarmiento
Transcribed by Michelle Galat
Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies
UC Davis Asian American Studies Department
[Session 1, September 15, 2018]
[Begin Audio File]
SARMIENTO: Today is September 15th and it is 10:20 and this is for the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies Oral History Program. And today we are doing an oral history in Livermore, California. And if you two could introduce yourselves real quick.
L, MORGAN: My name is Laura Morgan.
J, MORGAN: Jeanette Morgan.
SARMIENTO: We’re going to first talk about you guys just for a little bit, then jump back into your family history. Can you first say when and where both of you were born?
L, MORGAN: I was born here in Livermore, California on November 10th, 1969.
J, MORGAN: And I was born in Livermore, California of July 29th, 1944.
SARMIENTO: Jumping back into your family history - What was your Grandfather’s name?
J, MORGAN: George Carian (sp?) Yanes.
L, MORGAN: Although I found out this morning that when he came to the United States, he changed his name. So, his birth name was Gregorio.
SARMIENTO: Oh! Do you know what part of the Philippines he was from?
J, MORGAN: North of Manila.
L, MORGAN: San Jose City.
J, MORGAN: In Nueva Ecija.
L, MORGAN: Yes, in Nueva Ecija.
SARMIENTO: What trade was he in? Was he a farmer at the time?
L, MORGAN: So, when he was in the Philippines, he was a student.
J, MORGAN: He came here when he was 19, 1927. And, he came here to get his college degree in Engineering.
SARMIENTO: What school did he attend?
J, MORGAN: I don't know. He came into Seattle, which he called his hometown. I know he attended a school shortly, but he came [to the United States] and thought he was going to get his Engineer degree. But he found out he was going to be a house boy in the Catholic priest, so it changed for him. He wasn't able to do [Engineering].
L, MORGAN: He kind of had an indentured servitude for a period of time for the passage?
J, MORGAN: No, his mother paid for the passage. His father had already passed away.
SARMIENTO: How long was he indentured for?
J, MORGAN: I don’t know. He left [Seattle]. [laughs] When it became clear what was happening, he left. And then he started doing -
L, MORGAN: A little bit of everything. Working agriculture, but he did some fishing in Alaska. He was one of the fishing boats in Alaska.
J, MORGAN: The canneries in Alaska. He did that a couple years, I think.
L, MORGAN: He did a lot of different things.
J, MORGAN: I forgot about that. [laughs]
L, MORGAN: See that’s why we’re both here. [laughs]
SARMIENTO: It sounds like he’s following the migrant labor circuit in the Seattle area. Did he come alone or with friends or with other relatives?
L, MORGAN: Him alone.
J, MORGAN: He was alone. He had a [inaudible] on the ship. And they went to China first, and then across the Pacific. And he told us that one time that there was a famous General on the ship with him, but I don’t remember who it was.
L, MORGAN: And didn’t he talk to him?
J, MORGAN: Yeah.
SARMIENTO: Was the General also traveling or was he actually moving into the States, do you recall?
J, MORGAN: No.
L, MORGAN: Don’t know. And I don’t know that he was an American General or no?
J, MORGAN: No, Filipino.
L, MORGAN: A Filipino General, ok.
SARMIENTO: You stated he had multiple jobs. When did he get into agricultural?
L, MORGAN: Probably right away I would imagine. He wasn’t isolated in the Seattle area. He made his way all the way to Nebraska, which is where he met my Grandmother. He worked on her family farm harvesting sugar beets in - what’s the town in Nebraska?
J, MORGAN: Lyman, Nebraska.
L, MORGAN: Ok. Very far west Nebraska. That was how they met.
SARMIENTO: How was your Grandmother’s family’s reaction to them?
L, MORGAN: Not favorable. [laughs]
J, MORGAN: Because when [George and his wife] first met, I think it was 1934 possibly, he wanted to marry her then and they said no. He continued working and was gone. But I guess somehow they kept communicating going. I’m not exactly sure with letters, but not to her house so I’m not sure where she picked up the letters. He came back a couple years later and they ran away together. On the -
L, MORGAN: 4th of July -
J, MORGAN: 4th of July, that was her -
L, MORGAN: Independence Day. That was her Independence Day. She came from a German farm family, and how many girls? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 girls?
J, MORGAN: Yeah.
L, MORGAN: 6 girls and 1 boy. [George’s wife’s] mother - I’ve always heard her referred to as the old bat. She was not a kind person, but her father was. I don’t think growing up was easy. She only went to school through what?
J, MORGAN: 7th grade. Then had to work on the farm.
L, MORGAN: So it was a tough life and that was why it was a huge Independence Day for her to run away with my Grandfather.
J, MORGAN: But they fell in love right away and she knew that was the person for her.
SARMIENTO: Where did they move to after they left Nebraska or when they ran away together?
L, MORGAN: When they got married? They went to New Mexico, which at the time was the closest state that would allow them to get married because there were so many anti-miscegenation laws. They got married on July 6th, 1936 in New Mexico. Then they moved pretty much to California close after that. And then they were working the farms, the migrant labor circuit. [Jeanette] can probably talk to where they were settled at different points.
J, MORGAN: My oldest sister was born in 1937 in El Centro. And then my brother, George, was born 1939 in Calexico. My sister, Carol, was born in 1941 in El Centro. Then they started moving North. When my sister, Mary -
L, MORGAN: The oldest -
J, MORGAN: The oldest one, was ready for school, my mom said to my dad, “We have to settle down because our kids aren’t going to different schools. We’re not moving them around.” That’s when they settled in Livermore.
L, MORGAN: Is that when he got the job with Jackson & Perkins?
J, MORGAN: He worked out in the Naval station in Livermore, which is now the lab. He worked out there, and then he worked out in the rose gardens. A couple of different rose gardens. Then he worked for Jackson & Perkins until 1970, then they retired him. Then I was born in Livermore in 1944, and my brother, Gary, was born in Livermore in 1951.
SARMIENTO: What was that company that your Grandfather worked for? Is it an agricultural business?
L&J MORGAN: Jackson & Perkins, the rose company.
SARMIENTO: Oh ok.
L, MORGAN: And it was in Pleasanton, right?
J, MORGAN: They had places in Pleasanton [inaudible] Livermore.
L, MORGAN: Oh ok. I always thought it was just in Pleasanton.
SARMIENTO: What types of position did your Grandfather have? Did it run the [inaudible] on multiple positions?
J, MORGAN: With Jackson & Perkins?
J, MORGAN: He worked in the fields. He did work in research and created new roses, but he mostly worked in the fields.
L, MORGAN: He did budding and grafting and that sort of thing.
J, MORGAN: During the winter when it was too cold, roses were in the field, he worked in Pleasanton. They had a cold storage warehouse where they put together roses to be shipped out and then in the summers he worked in the field. He worked here in Pleasanton, Livermore, and then when the soil was worked out he worked in Arizona for quite a few years. He’d go there for the summer, and that’s where he worked in the fields. After that, he worked down near Bakersfield and Shafter.
L, MORGAN: And Wasco, was what I remembered.
J, MORGAN: Wasco was where he ended up retiring.
L, MORGAN: He would work in Wasco and correct me if I’m wrong cause I was a little kid, he would work during the week in Wasco and every other weekend he would come home. He would say to me, and I was little, “Do you want to come with me?” And when he was leaving to go back and I would say, “Next time, Grandpa, next time!” Not understanding that there was no way he was going to take a 3-year-old little girl with him to go back to Wasco to work, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because I wanted to stay with my mom. He loved children so I know why he would say that to me.
SARMIENTO: Is it more of a gradual position that he held? Was he a laborer that could make a lot of strains of roses?
J, MORGAN: I’m not really sure because I was young at the time myself. The research was here in, I think Pleasanton and in Wasco. He worked with some of the people who had more education in agriculture and helped.
L, MORGAN: He worked his way up.
J, MORGAN: But mostly he was a laborer.
SARMIENTO: Did he work with a lot of Filipinos in the groups?
J&L MORGAN: Oh yes.
J, MORGAN: They lived in camps. In fact, both my parents lived in camps. I remember visiting some camps, and it was really interesting - the bathrooms. Outdoor bathrooms. My mom and dad, they bought their house in 1950.
L, MORGAN: That was here in Livermore.
J, MORGAN: Here in Livermore. They had it built in Livermore. But it was hard for them to buy something because my dad was Filipino. They just happened to have some friends that lived around the -
L, MORGAN: Where the houses were being built -
J, MORGAN: Where the properties were selling. And it was being sold through the Catholic Church.
L, MORGAN: Oh, I didn’t know that.
J, MORGAN: The man around the corner - who was Portuguese - he told the Church, “If you don’t sell it to them, I’m going to buy it to them and I’m going to sell it to them.” So [the Catholic Church] did end up selling it to [George and his wife], and then they had their house built. Before that, my brother remembers some of the places where you could see through the -
L, MORGAN: The walls to the outdoors.
J, MORGAN: My older sister and my brother and my sister next to me lived in places that were not so great.
L, MORGAN: Where were they living when you were born? On Buena Vista?
J, MORGAN: No, they were living in that house across on North K.
L, MORGAN: Oh, the one across the street from -
J, MORGAN: It's not there anymore. It was a big house and Filipinos all lived there. They each lived together, had their own rooms. I have some pictures of that place.
L, MORGAN: Oh okay. I didn’t know that. That was just across the street from -
J, MORGAN: It was kind of catty-corner.
SARMIENTO: Is that a boarding house or is that an apartment?
J, MORGAN: It was a house with rooms and Filipino families lived together. Actually, my two aunts each married Filipinos.
L, MORGAN: This is my Grandmother’s sisters. Also married Filipinos.
J, MORGAN: They all ended up living in Livermore, not that they always got along. [laughs]
L, MORGAN: I was going to say, they didn’t get along and they didn’t like each other. So there’s all these people in Livermore that I’m related to that are part Filipino-part German, and I don’t even know. [laughs] I, one time, had one of the little girls in my class and she saw my class list and said, “Oh gosh, I hope this is going to be okay.” And it was. It was fine. There’s people that I don’t know that [Jeanette] knows better than I.
SARMIENTO: I take it this extended family doesn’t keep in close contact apparently.
J, MORGAN: No, we run into each other in town occasionally.
L, MORGAN: I would say there’s no animosity among the younger generations.
J, MORGAN: But all of the parents are deceased now.
SARMIENTO: So that’s your relationship with your in-laws. How was [George’s] relationship with the Filipino community? Was he rather involved in the social aspect of it?
J, MORGAN: For a while, he was. Lots of weekends partying. [laughs] Killing the goat or the pig. He would go, [the kids] wouldn’t go, but he would go.
L, MORGAN: To the camps, because there were a couple of camps in Livermore at the time. This is even after the time you have the house.
J, MORGAN: There was one on Tesla (sp?) Road, right where it curves. It was called Camp Korigador (sp?). You’ve heard that?
SARMIENTO: Unfortunately not.
J, MORGAN: That was one of the places they would go to kill a goat or a pig or drink. He would come home feeling good a few times. As he got older, he just kind of gave that up. Those camps, as the town changed, of course, they were gone. But interesting.
SARMIENTO: Could you tell me a little bit about those camps? What was the camp called again?
J, MORGAN: Camp Korigador (sp?).
SARMIENTO: Was it just one of the laborer camps that farmers lived?
J, MORGAN: Yes, and that’s where they stayed. The men that worked and didn’t have families - they stayed in the camps. There were a couple around town.
L, MORGAN: There was one out around Haggelman (sp?). [Jeannette doesn’t] remember what that one was called though.
SARMIENTO: Did your father and his Filipino friends just mainly congregate at the camps or did they ever go about the towns?
J, MORGAN: I think mainly they just had their weekends together.
L, MORGAN: At the camps. But they came to the house, too.
J, MORGAN: We had parties.
L, MORGAN: And there were friends that he was closer to that would come. There were pictures.
J, MORGAN: People that he worked with Jackson & Perkins. On holidays, they would come to the house for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. We had different groups of Filipino friends that would come.
SARMIENTO: Do you recall any negative reactions with the Livermore community in regards to your father and his friends?
J, MORGAN: No. There were just no problems with that. Probably when my parents came because it’s a pretty white community. They couldn’t buy something very easily and it was hard to rent places.
L, MORGAN: Which is why they were in that big house where all the Filipinos were.
SARMIENTO: How did the Filipino community treat your mother?
J, MORGAN: Oh that was fine. They liked her.
SARMIENTO: So there was never any animosity?
J, MORGAN: No.
SARMIENTO: I believe during that time there was a lot of Filipino men married a lot of white women. Was there any other couples similar to your father’s situation?
J, MORGAN: Just my 2 aunts. There were others but I was young at the time. I don’t remember their names.
SARMIENTO: Do you recall any specific laborer practices that your father or any other Filipino laborer brought from the Philippines to use in the rose gardens?
L, MORGAN: I don’t know.
J, MORGAN: His family had rice fields now. He was going to come here to go into Engineering, so farming wasn’t the thing that he wasn’t planning on going into. I think in the Philippines, from what I understand, he was from a more well to do family.
L, MORGAN: So he wasn’t farming.
J, MORGAN: He wasn’t a farming person who had land. He just came here to have to make his way and get a living, so that’s what he did.
SARMIENTO: Did he just learn on the job?
J, MORGAN: Yes.
SARMIENTO: Was it just your father that worked in the Jackson company or did the rest of your relatives work there as well?
J, MORGAN: My one uncle worked for a different company - it was Paul Devore (sp?). This was one of my uncle’s. The other Uncle -
L, MORGAN: Which uncle?
J, MORGAN: That was Uncle Pete [inaudible]. Uncle Chris had been in the Navy, so he actually got a job out in the lab as a custodian.
L, MORGAN: That’s Lawrence Livermore [inaudible] Lab.
J, MORGAN: He actually helped give people jobs. At the time, it was a little easier to get jobs in the same situation that he was in.
SARMIENTO: During the time that your father was working, there appears to be a lot of labor activists going on in the Filipino community. Was your Grandfather involved in any of the labor unions?
J, MORGAN: No.
L, MORGAN: No, that was my Grandma. My Grandma was the union activist, not my Grandpa.
J, MORGAN: No, he wasn’t in any of that.
SARMIENTO: What was your Grandmother’s involvement in the [inaudible]?
L, MORGAN: After doing lots of different things, she worked in a cannery. She ended up being a cook for the school district. She was a school cook working in the kitchens. She helped found the CSCA Chapter here in the Livermore School District, which is California State Employee Association. A classified union. She was a union starter. As you can imagine, a white woman with a Filipino man, she was kind of a rebel. [laughs] She was kind of a spitfire. It wasn't always easy to be her granddaughter or her daughter. She had pretty strong opinions, and her way was the highway.
J, MORGAN: The right way, she said.
L, MORGAN: The only way. It was her way or it wasn’t happening.
SARMIENTO: Did your father have any strong opinions one or another about farm labor activism or any the unions?
J, MORGAN: I don't think he did. It was different because he was working for one company so many years that if he was treated bearably, it would've helped that he would've made more money. During the summer, they worked peace work and he could make a lot of money during the summer. Winters weren't as good, but they just had to save the money that they made during the summer to help us get through the winter. Because he worked for the company for so many years, he wasn't really involved in it.
SARMIENTO: I’m going to go forward into your generation to ask how your experiences were. Can you repeat again where you were living at when you grew up from childhood to high school?
J, MORGAN: We lived first in a place in Buena Vista - just a little shack we lived in until we were able to get the house built. Then we moved to a town in North K street.
L, MORGAN: Livermore is a town divided by railroad tracks. It really truly is. There’s the north side of town and the south side of town. The north side of town is, still to this day, the more undesirable side. They lived on the north side of town. I remember at one point somebody talking to those neighborhoods. I said, “Oh, those neighborhoods where I spent a lot of my childhood where my Grandfather lived? Not too scared about those neighborhoods. Doesn’t bother me at all.”
SARMIENTO: So when the house was eventually built, what was your neighbor’s different ethnicities? Or Filipino?
J, MORGAN: Well, let’s see. The house on one side was part of the purchase. They sold it to whoever bought it. It wasn’t Filipino, it was Caucasian somebody. The house on the other side, there wasn’t a house there. Most of our neighborhood was white.
SARMIENTO: This was the “undesirable” section?
J, MORGAN: It wasn’t the one you wanted to live on, but it was a nice side of town as far as I was concerned. [laughs]
SARMIENTO: Besides the labor camps, where did the Filipino community live in?
J, MORGAN: Kind of all over in town. But mostly on the north side.
L, MORGAN: Old Livermore families all lived on the south side. What I told people - I grew up in Livermore and my mom grew up in Livermore, and they would say, “Oh are you one of those old Livermore families?” I would say, “No, we’re the family that was living in the shack on the older Livermore’s property.” That was on Buena Vista.
J, MORGAN: Not the one on North K.
L, MORGAN: No, not the one on North K. I mean, it’s a nice house. I’m sad that it’s not in our family anymore now that my grandparents both passed.
SARMIENTO: When was that house sold by your family?
J, MORGAN: In 2015. My mom passed away in 2014 and she was the last. We had to sell it because we did a reverse mortgage so that -
L, MORGAN: We could take care of her basically -
J, MORGAN: At home. Then after that, we had to sell it.
L, MORGAN: I can't drive by it. I just pretend that they're still living there, and I haven't seen them in a while. I just don't drive by the house because it makes me too sad. [tears up] I spent so much of my childhood there.
J, MORGAN: But I drive by it!
L, MORGAN: You’ve better dealt with it than I have then.
SARMIENTO: How did that neighborhood change as years went on? Was it still mainly Caucasian, Anglo-American neighborhood?
J, MORGAN: Now it’s a lot of Hispanics are living in that area.
L, MORGAN: And it changed from being owners to renters, definitely. But it’s sort of interesting because that area is sort of gentrifying over time. I saw something where that little American Indian center by the Eagles Hall. Going there to build a house there is like 800 thousand.
J, MORGAN: Is that how much they are?
L, MORGAN: Yes! I almost fell over when I saw that. The thought of over ¾ million dollar house in the north side, it would have never happened before. It’s interesting, it’s changing.
SARMIENTO: When you went to high school, was it a diverse student body? Or was it mainly still Caucasian?
J, MORGAN: Mainly still Caucasian.
L, MORGAN: You would have to go find a picture.
J, MORGAN: Of what?
L, MORGAN: Of you dressed as a little Indian and all the little white girls dressed as pilgrims. [laughs]
J, MORGAN: I thought nothing of it!
L, MORGAN: I know. There’s a [inaudible] side of old Livermore school pictures. If you go through it, ad it goes way back, I could find pictures of my uncles and aunts and things like that. A lot of times, there maybe is one or two brown faces but it’s a sea of white faces. They’re easy to pick out, but my favorite one is when she was in Ms. Kuchinata’s (sp?) class at Junction. It was Thanksgiving and all the little girls were dressed up as pilgrims, except my mom was dressed as an Indian. I said, “I can just see how this went down. Hey darkie! You’re dressing as the Indian!”
J, MORGAN: But I never felt there was anything wrong with my ethnicity. It was okay.
SARMIENTO: You did mention earlier that were some Filipino families. Did any other children or even other relatives - were they your classmates as well?
J, MORGAN: I didn't have any as my classmates. But they were alive before and after me. I was kind of the only one in that grade level. Yes, they were in school.
SARMIENTO: Do you recall any troublesome experiences on behalf of yourself or anything that you saw amongst the Filipino studies?
J, MORGAN: No. Nothing.
L, MORGAN: Not from your brothers and sisters either. I mean, I’ve never heard any stories. I think it’s unusual, but never heard stories of -
J, MORGAN: Never felt like there was a problem with -
L, MORGAN: Being excluded or made fun of or harassed or anything, which is weird that that didn’t happened.
J, MORGAN: No. It just didn’t happen. It was fine.
SARMIENTO: Since it’s not too much of a diverse community, I take it there wasn’t any Asian American clubs or anything?
L, MORGAN: Oh gosh, no.
J, MORGAN: Not then, no.
L, MORGAN: Not even when I was in high school.
SARMIENTO: I'm assuming the area is still predominantly Anglo-American still.
L, MORGAN: It's changed a lot.
J, MORGAN: She probably knows a lot more about that since she’s a teacher.
L, MORGAN: I teach transitional kindergarten. I have 21 students in my class this year. 13 out of my 21 are English language learners representing 12 languages. It’s pretty diverse. It’s very interesting. It’s cool. I kind of look at it and think, “My grandparents were the pioneers there.” It makes me very proud of that.
SARMIENTO: I’m going to jump in a little bit regarding about your teaching. How long have you been a teacher?
L, MORGAN: This is my 25th year of teaching, which is crazy because I’m only 25. [laughs] So how’d that happen? I don’t know. I taught here in Livermore most of the years. I taught for a couple of years in Piedmont School District. I went to Berkeley, and that was where I got a job right out of graduate school. But then I moved back to my Livermore. My husband grew up in Livermore, too. We knew it was stupid to not try to raise grandkids around two sets of grandparents, so we moved back here. I’ve been teaching in Livermore ever since, so 23 of those 25 years.
SARMIENTO: Did you start to notice gradual diverse in Livermore?
L, MORGAN: Yeah, it's changed a lot over the span of my career. I would say when I first hired in - it was mostly Caucasian. Then it shifted. I mean, there's always been a Hispanic population here. It's isolated, kind of, into certain communities. I didn't happen to teach in the schools where there was a Hispanic population originally. Then I moved schools a lot. Over time, definitely more families from the Middle East and South Asia. That's a good portion of my classes, South Asian and representing lots of different languages.
SARMIENTO: In regards to Filipino students?
L, MORGAN: Not a lot. [laughs] Really not a lot. I had Jeremy, who [inaudible] interview [inaudible]. There's been a few over the years, but really not a lot. Although, so my youngest son - his best friend is Filipino. They’re there. They just don’t always end up in my class, I like it when they do though. There’s been a few that have been part like me. The Burgatos (sp?). There’s been a few families that are mixed.
J, MORGAN: My friends. [inaudible]
L, MORGAN: Oh yeah, I laugh at her because all of my mom’s really good friends that she met on PTA when I was a kid. I said, “What did you find? The five non-white people in Livermore to be friends with?” Her really good friends are - well Alice is passed - but Mexican, Hawaiian, Filipino. Well, [Jeanette’s] the Filipino.
J, MORGAN: [Alice is] Hawaiian, but she’s married to Filipino-Hawaiian.
L, MORGAN: Oh true. And then her daughter’s married to a Filipino - Kiera (sp?). Berny and Jan had their own things. They were white, but one was adopted, and one was grown up in an orphanage. So you’ve found all these people who have all these different backgrounds than the rest of the kids that I grew up with.
J, MORGAN: [Alice and I are] still friends.
L, MORGAN: Yes. Good, close friends.
J, MORGAN: Really close friends.
SARMIENTO: I’m going to jump back in with your friendships. Did you guys grow up with each other?
J, MORGAN: No. We met when our kids started school. [Alice and I] got on a PTA Board together and we’re still friends.
L, MORGAN: Like sisters.
J, MORGAN: Two of our original group have already passed away. I see them two or three times a week.
SARMIENTO: I’m going to go a little bit further from that. After high school, where did you attend college?
J, MORGAN: I didn’t. [laughs] My youngest brother did attend college, though. He’s the only one. But I went to work as a [inaudible] operator. I worked in data processing. I met my husband while I was going to school to learn that. He was in the Navy.
L, MORGAN: He was also going to school. They met at the coffee machine, which I say is appropriate because coffee has always been apart part of our lives. [laughs]
J, MORGAN: He passed away last year.
SARMIENTO: Sorry to hear that.
J, MORGAN: He was in the Navy. My school was a week and a half, or two week, and his was a three week. We met on 401 Grand Avenue at [inaudible] in Oakland.
SARMIENTO: Since he was in the Navy, how shortly after did you get married?
J, MORGAN: Five months later. [laughs]
L, MORGAN: And she as 18! I always say you’ve killed me if I had done that.
SARMIENTO: With him being in the Navy, was he mainly on the ship or did you move around with him?
J, MORGAN: He was on a ship. He was in and out of Treasure Island at the time. He was on a ship. He just went out five hundred miles off the coast and they guarded the coastline. There were 16, eight on each coast, that patrolled. We got married in 1963, and he got out of the Navy in ‘65. We just decided to stay here.
SARMIENTO: There’s a large percentage of Filipinos in the Navy. Did your husband recall any interactions with any of the Filipinos?
J, MORGAN: Oh yeah he had some on the ship. No problems with them. I think one was the doctor, the person who took care of him. [laughs] Never any problems.
SARMIENTO: Did you meet any of them while they were on short leave here?
J, MORGAN: I met some of his shipmates, but mostly they were Caucasian.
SARMIENTO: I asked this already, I just want to clarify. Were any of your siblings also in the rose or in the farming industry or just our father?
J, MORGAN: My oldest brother worked with my dad a little bit. When he first got married and he got married young too -
L, MORGAN: Even younger.
J, MORGAN: He worked with my dad for probably a year and then he got into other things.
SARMIENTO: How many siblings do you have?
J, MORGAN: Four.
SARMIENTO: One of your siblings went to college, correct?
J, MORGAN: Mhm.
SARMIENTO: Do you recall where he went?
L, MORGAN: He went to a lot of places. Davis being one of them, but he didn't finish there.
J, MORGAN: Yes, he went to Davis for a semester, I think.
L, MORGAN: He was too homesick. [laughs]
J, MORGAN: He was homesick so he came back.
L, MORGAN: We’re all big babies in my family. [laughs]
J, MORGAN: And he went to Shabot, and he went to Cal State Hayward. Got his degree there in Biology.
SARMIENTO: What year was that [inaudible]e?
J, MORGAN: He graduated in 1969 from high school. So he started in college in 1969.
L, MORGAN: Did he get in through four years?
J, MORGAN: Yes.
L, MORGAN: So ‘71. ‘72. No ‘71. No. 3. [laughs] This is why I teach T-K. I'm actually really good at math but obviously, haven't had enough coffee yet.
J, MORGAN: He graduated in 1969.
L, MORGAN: Plus four is ‘73.
J, MORGAN: He finished in four years.
SARMIENTO: It sounds like your brother went to college right when the whole ethnic studies student protest was going on. By any chance, do you recall any memories of him mentioning that?
J, MORGAN: No. He probably wasn’t involved in that.
L, MORGAN: He lived at home during college. He was a commuter student, probably not as involved with what was going on with the campus community. There to get your degree. When I went to college, that was the message too. You were there to get your degree, don't get involved n a bunch of nonsense. Especially since I was at Berkeley. [laughs]
SARMIENTO: So, he wasn’t definitely involved in any -
J, MORGAN: No.
SARMIENTO: Did he have any friends by any chance? Do you recall if any of his friends were Filipino students?
J, MORGAN: I don't think so because he didn’t stay on campus. He commuted, he was a commuter student The only time he was away was when he went to Davis for six months and we were driving there every other day.
L, MORGAN: I was a baby apparently. I made that drive a lot.
J, MORGAN: We drove there to Davis a lot. We met at the Nut Tree a lot.
SARMIENTO: Is that the one in Vacaville?
L&J MORGAN: Yes.
J, MORGAN: Then it was a really great restaurant.
SARMIENTO: When you were your adult age, did your father still hang out with the Filipino community at the time?
J, MORGAN: No not anymore. There wasn’t a real community.
SARMIENTO: Because the camps were gone. It wasn’t like a gathering place. A lot of his friends, the family friends, moved out.
J, MORGAN: Some back to the Philippines. Some down in Sacramento and Stockton. They kept in touch a little bit but not really close.
L, MORGAN: And as he got older., he slowed down. He retired for good at 91.
SARMIENTO: Oh wow!
J, MORGAN: Oh yeah, I guess we didn’t tell him about the second job he got. [laughs]
L, MORGAN: So when he retired, he was 70. It wasn’t in 1970. [Jeanette] said it was in 1970, he was 70.
J, MORGAN: He retired when he was 70.
L, MORGAN: Yes he retired at 70 from Jackson & Perkins. Then he was home for about a year and he watched a lot of soap operas. Hercules and Xena (sp?) Warrior Princess. My Grandma said, “No more. You cannot waste away sitting in the back room watching tv for the rest of your life.” So she made him go get a job. He worked at a local [inaudible] nursery, owned by a Japanese family. That was interesting. He worked until he was 91. He worked 6 days a week, 6 hours a day -
J, MORGAN: 7 hours a day -
L, MORGAN: 7 hours a day. More than a regular work week and trained a lot of guys that were a lot younger than him. I remember him being more able-bodied than they. He was not fond of the Japanese.
J, MORGAN: And he told them so. He said, “You weren't nice to my people.”
L, MORGAN: During the war.
J, MORGAN: He kept reminding his boss of that. But it was ok.
L, MORGAN: [His boss] loved him. They absolutely loved them. They kept him for 20 years.
J, MORGAN: He started a rose garden at the nursery. They didn’t have the rose garden, but he created the roses. Then they sold them. He would bud them and graft them and do other things, then they sold what he made at the nursery in Pleasanton.
SARMIENTO: Did he operate that himself? Or did he [inaudible] other assistance to help him in that?
J, MORGAN: He did it.
L, MORGAN: They had beautiful rose bushes at their house too. A long gravel pathway of roses. Beautiful.
SARMIENTO: What did he do again when -
L, MORGAN: At sushi?
J, MORGAN: He maintained. He kept plants watered, pruned them when they needed it. But he did create the rose trees.
L, MORGAN: He did what they needed him todo. He probably did a little bit of everything But working with the plants.
J, MORGAN: He would go to work at six in the morning and come home at two in the afternoon or whatever. He had to record his soap operas. Then he would come home and just watch soap operas.
L, MORGAN: He drives an orange Camaro. It had been my uncle Gary's, the one who went to college. I don't know how my Grandpa ended up with it. A tiny little Filipino man in a bright orange Camaro. If you'd seen him out and seen him driving and try to wave, "Oh Grandpa, hey hey!" No, he's very fixated on the road and he was going to get to work and back and that was in his orange Camaro. He was quite a sight.
SARMIENTO: The people he was training, were they Filipino or Hispanic?
L&J MORGAN: Hispanic.
SARMIENTO: Because at this time, were there not too much Filipinos at the time?
J, MORGAN: I mean, they had all kind of been the same age so they were gone like he was. Retired at the same except they didn’t have to tell them to go back to work.
L, MORGAN: Until you’re 91 years old.
SARMIENTO: I’m actually going to jump back a little bit. I’m curious a little about his experience in the migrant work circuit. Do you recall any specific stories that he would tell you as a kid that come to mind regarding work life or living?
J, MORGAN: It was interesting because my husband was from Washington state. He was born in Seattle and eventually moved to Yacama which was apples and cherries and other things. My dad had actually worked in that area -
L, MORGAN: Oh I know what story you're going to talk about.
J, MORGAN: Actually he worked in the area which was Yacama, but my husband hadn't lived there. He told us about having to hide under the Moxy Bridge because the white people were coming after him to kill him.
L, MORGAN: That they wanted to kill a chink.
J, MORGAN: That was the story we heard. Actually, my husband drove me to where that was when they heard about that. So he actually had some [inaudible] experiences being Filipino.
L, MORGAN: One of the things about my Grandpa - he was a very quiet man, he didn’t talk a lot. He had to be in the right mood to talk. And then when he would talk, the flood gates opened.
J, MORGAN: He didn’t share a lot with us. I’m kind of sad because we lost out on some history from him. We had that one time -
L, MORGAN: Oh yeah we were up in Tahoe, my brother and I, went on a park course. We were at a cabin and we got lost in the woods and they couldn't find us and we couldn't find the road. Eventually, they did find us.
J, MORGAN: That night, he just poured his heart out.
L, MORGAN: Told us all these things. And we all went, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him talk that much.” He was talking about the Philippines mostly, being a young man in the Philippines. [To Jeanette] Do you remember any specifics from that night? I mean, I think we were all in just so much shock from the whole experience.
J, MORGAN: He was so glad they were okay because it was getting dark. That’s when we finally found you. [Inaudible] and I were sitting there waiting for them at the park because they were supposed to come back around and then they just didn’t show up. Everybody was really concerned. My dad opened up that night, and that’s when I found out most of what had happened to him coming here on the ship and coming to Seattle and things that had happened in Seattle. Actually, I think my mom said he got involved with a blonde who stole his books. [laughs] So, that was part of not going back to school.
L, MORGAN: Oh yeah, his university textbooks. She stole his textbooks to sell. I don’t think she was studying Engineering.
J, MORGAN: No, I don’t think so. Anyway, so that all kind of came out that night, too. But he didn’t talk about it too much. We just didn’t question him. I’m so sorry that I hadn’t questioned him.
L, MORGAN: He never went back to the Philippines. Not once. Which is so unusual for Filipinos, I came to know later. He considered himself an American. He got his citizenship in 1950, right around the time they were building the house. He was so proud to be American.
J, MORGAN: He told us that his life wish was to come to the United States and become a citizen.
L, MORGAN: Since the time he was little.
J, MORGAN: He left at 19 and didn’t ever go back.
L, MORGAN: Never saw his family again, because they didn’t come here either.
J, MORGAN: He only had two siblings. He was the oldest. And then he had a brother and a sister. I know they had property and him being the eldest meant it was up to him It was his. He said, "I'm not coming back there. You do with it what you want to do. I'm not coming back" when his mom passed away. She passed away at 98, he was 97 when he passed away. My mom was too, but there was an 11-year difference between the two.
L, MORGAN: We have to have a good retirement because we have good genetics. [laughs] But we can work until we’re 91, so it’s okay.
SARMIENTO: Would you feel comfortable talking about some of the story that your father said that night? Or if you recall any?
L, MORGAN: [To Jeanette] Do you remember?
J, MORGAN: Well he told us about traveling, getting on the ship. I think it was really difficult he was leaving his mom and he knew he would never see her again. His father had already passed away. He choked on a fish bone. My dad never wanted fish after that.
L, MORGAN: He would say, “I’m not fond of fish.”
J, MORGAN: But he told us about traveling.
L, MORGAN: Is that when he told about meeting the General?
J, MORGAN: Mhm. I'm not sure what kind of passage he had on the ship. I just don't know. I know his mom sold rice for him to get his faire. He came into Seattle and he considered that this home. He lived there for a short time. He got there in 1927 so he met mom in 1934. So there's seven years apart there that I don't know what happened. But he never left her. He didn't ever.
L, MORGAN: He had to leave to go to work.
J, MORGAN: But not like going up to Alaska to do fishing. He was a wonderful man, she loved him dearly.
L, MORGAN: He was kind and gentle. Really gentle. Loved children, loved all his grandchildren, and my boys - his great-grandchildren. So I have three sons, and when my middle son was little, he was sick. He had a stroke actually right after Fran (sp?) was born, he had a stroke. And so here I was with a two-year-old, and an infant, and my Grandma in a wheelchair going to go visit my Grandpa because I was on maternity leave so I had the ability to do it. We would go visit him because he was in a skilled nursing facility for a while.
J, MORGAN: But I think mostly I’ve heard from my mom about the bond, who still is [inaudible], and then being indentured to a Catholic priest and being a houseboy that he hadn’t planned on having happened. And he left that and made his way, I think he traveled on the trains. Like I said, he didn’t talk much about it. We weren’t smart enough to ask him more about it.
L, MORGAN: I wish we knew more.
J, MORGAN: By the time I came they were pretty much settled in Livermore. I hear stories about what happened to [my brother and sister] when they lived in camps.
L, MORGAN: Like what? Like you said, being able to see through the slots?
J, MORGAN: Mhm. And the camps you had a different life. My mom tried to make it good for them and being German -
L, MORGAN: It had to be clean. And cleaner. And even cleaner.
J, MORGAN: So I don't have a lot of stories, but just a few.
SARMIENTO: Do you speak Tagalog?
L, MORGAN: He spoke Ilocano and Spanish and Tagalog -
J, MORGAN: Visayan.
L, MORGAN: English. Spanish.
J, MORGAN: He spoke a lot of the dialects in the Philippines.
L, MORGAN: And then Grandma spoke German and they only spoke English at home.
J, MORGAN: We didn’t speak German, we didn’t understand what dad was saying with his friends.
L, MORGAN: Maybe that was by design.
J, MORGAN: Maybe so. I know my mom had some German things when she yelled at us when we weren't doing the right thing.
SARMIENTO: Your father - did he pick up his language in the Philippines or did he use it here?
J, MORGAN: I think in the Philippines. You had to speak English for one thing -
L, MORGAN: And he was educated.
J, MORGAN: And he was educated, had beautiful penmanship. I don’t know how he picked up the other dialects, but he did. He was pretty intelligent person. Very liberal. A Democrat. And that’s what we were gonna be.
L, MORGAN: And [inaudible]
J, MORGAN: He voted in every election there was. Absentee towards the end, but he voted up until -
L, MORGAN: Signed maybe. [laughs] With an “X.” After the stroke it was different.
SARMIENTO: I do want to follow up on his political activity. Was he mainly so a participant or did he volunteer for a local Democratic party?
J, MORGAN: No, he never.
L, MORGAN: I think he was too busy working. [laughs] Making a living.
J, MORGAN: When he could have, he was making a living. But he read the newspaper, he knew what was happening in the world.
L, MORGAN: That was always a part of what was going on in their house. Discussions about what was going on in the world and politics.
J, MORGAN: He followed what happened in the Philippines. We didn’t correspond much with his family because whenever they wrote, they just wanted something. My parents didn’t have the money to help them out the way they probably could have since there were five of us.
SARMIENTO: I'm going to go back to Jackson & - what was the full name of it?
L, MORGAN: Jackson & Perkins.
SARMIENTO: He mainly worked here in Livermore. What were the sites he worked at?
L, MORGAN: Wasco, but that was later. Pleasanton.
J, MORGAN: Livermore. Some in Livermore. But in Arizona, a different field in Arizona. And can you imagine working in Arizona in the summer in the fields? And he did that. Never complained about working there. He told us how he kept cool though. They wore sweatshirts. He wore t-shirts a sweatshirt and then another shirt. He said when you perspire, then you cool off. Then he always wore a hat. Then he [inaudible]
L, MORGAN: And his blue work shirts.
SARMIENTO: Do you recall him speaking of how technology for rose cultivation changed over time? Did it become easier?
L, MORGAN: No, I think it was all old school for him.
J, MORGAN: He would bud the roses and then the person working with him would come behind him and tie rubber bands around them to keep the graft together. He was talking about having lunch with his tier and we knew what a tier was, but my husband didn’t. He was imaging my dad sitting next to a tree with a tire [laughs] and he was having a lunch with his tier until we explained what the tire was. It was a person, not a tire.
SARMIENTO: I guess he mainly worked in this part of California. Anywhere in the Central Valley or -
J, MORGAN: Yes the Central Valley and Wasco and Shafter near Bakersfield. That was where he worked quite a few years.
L, MORGAN: And that’s where he lived during the week. I remember going down one time to see him there and it was a little house. You’d think like a little company house, a little house with a lot of Filipino men in there. And it was hot. [laughs]
SARMIENTO: He was still communicating and still lived with Filipinos, correct?
J, MORGAN: Yes. These really good friends would come for the holidays. They worked for Jackson & Perkins too.
L, MORGAN: This is the question I always had. Did Grandpa do any of the cooking, the Filipino food cooking? Or was it Grandma? And if so, how did she learn how to do that? It wasn’t like you could look up the Filipino recipe at the time.
J, MORGAN: Okay well when she lived in camps. She probably learned from the other people.
L, MORGAN: But there weren't women, I mean there weren't Filipino women.
J, MORGAN: No, but there was the men that cooked. And they were usually the only married couple.
L, MORGAN: So she was like the [inaudible] mom for all the Filipino men? Which is why I think they all loved her. Because she started cooking for an entire school before she was a school cook. She was probably cooking for households full of people. She didn't know how to cook just for a couple of people. Like if she cooked, it was for an army. Always a ton of food. Always way too much. That was probably where that came from, or when she cooked for the farm when she was younger [inaudible].
SARMIENTO: It sounds like she had a pretty intimate relationship with the other laborers. She cooked for them, did she congregate with them just as friends?
J, MORGAN: Yes they did. Living in the camps that was your social life. They had really good friends, and they were single males. They were godparents. Actually, I had Filipino godparents too, but theirs was a little different. They were close friends of my parents that were my older brother and sister and other sister. In fact, I have some pictures of them. The godparents with my siblings when they were little.
SARMIENTO: Did your godparents and your parents keep in contact as the years went on?
J, MORGAN: No.
L, MORGAN: Who were your godparents?
J, MORGAN: I can’t remember their name. [laughs] My godparents lived in the San Jose area.
L, MORGAN: San Jose, California?
J, MORGAN: Yes. Agnew, Agnew was known for being a place they had a crazy home. Sanitary.
SARMIENTO: Laura, I think I'm going to jump from your childhood - I'm just going to repeat some stuff to get the flow of it. You grew up in Livermore, and it's still generally Anglo population at the time. When did you experience the interaction with the Filipino-American community?
L, MORGAN: Very little, really. It was mostly through my family. The one Filipino person that was completely Filipino was my Grandpa. He was my one experience.
J, MORGAN: You had that one in high school, and it was a Filipino family.
L, MORGAN: Oh the Santos’ - Christina (sp?) Santos?
J, MORGAN: Oh yes Christina (sp?), but no the guy.
L, MORGAN: Robert DeMarco? Oh well, that wasn't in high school, that was earlier.
J, MORGAN: Middle school?
L, MORGAN: No, Sonoma. So there were a couple families that were Filipino. Not too many.
J, MORGAN: She got a scholarship.
L, MORGAN: I did get a scholarship. I got [laughs] the Filipino Student Scholarship, but I had only got second place because I went for my interview and they asked me all these things about Filipino culture and I didn't know. I said, "My Grandpa didn't talk about things. I don't know." They said, "Have you had pancit?" I said, "Yes, I've had pancit." [laughs] That’s about all I can tell you. That was sort of what got me to become more interested in my own heritage and the stories. If he's not going to talk about it, I want to read about it and do some research to find out. It was interesting to find out, I didn’t know until then - this would have been in college - that most of the immigrants that came from the Philippines at the time my Grandpa came, were also single men and that they didn’t marry Filipino women. They married white women. They were a generation of people who were half and half and eventually a quarter and whatever. Like me. So I haven’t met a lot of them. [laughs] I’ll meet a lot of people who are my generation who are half, and not a quarter. I’ve had that, “Well you’re only a quarter,” and I go, “Well I’m a quarter because my grandparents were brave enough to get married when they did to pave the way for your parents to get married a generation later.” [laughs] Take that.
SARMIENTO: When you were in college, did you get more exposed to Asian American/Filipino culture or was it a little bit after that?
L, MORGAN: I would say that it started then. I started getting a little more into it at that point. So I went to UC Santa Barbara for the first two years, then I transferred to UC Berkeley. Santa Barbara was a little white at the time. I think it's a lot more diverse now. When I transferred to Berkeley, I had a more diverse range of friends and definitely had more Filipino friends who took me under their wing. I went to their house and had celebrations or whatever. Got to eat food. So that was the kind of the beginning of it. And then talking to both my Grandma and my Grandpa a little bit about things. Like I said, he didn't do a lot of talking. that was kind of where it all began.
SARMIENTO: Were you involved in any student organizations?
L, MORGAN: I was going to college to get my degree. And that wasn't actually from my Filipino side, that was my dad. This is a gift, you are not going to college to mess around. You bring home C's, I bring you home. Go get your degree and then when I transferred to Berkeley, that was the era of Desert Storm. There were protests and my Grandma would call me, "I'm really worried about you." I said, "I'm not even going by Sproul Plaza, just leave me alone. I'm going to class. I'm doing my thing. I'm getting my degree. I'm being a good girl, so don't mess with me." She was the one that was such a firebrand anyways, it wasn't until later that that came out in me. Not until after graduate school.
SARMIENTO: You said one of your former students got you involved?
L, MORGAN: In this whole thing. So my student’s name was Jeremy. And I’m thinking of Jeremy this [inaudible], his dad Arthur is like Mr. Livermore. He’s highly involved in - I don’t even know what his title is - but the [inaudible] of Livermore and definitely the arts here in Livermore. He organizes the Barrio Festival every October, which is a Filipino-American festival that happens every year in Livermore. That was kind of how this came about. He knows Robyn.
SARMIENTO: Yeah Robyn knows everybody.
L, MORGAN: People always tell me, “Well you know everybody here in Livermore.” I’m kind of an introvert. It’s just cause I’ve lived here my whole life. My mother’s lived here her whole life. That’s why I know everybody. Arthur didn’t know right away that I was Filipino. In fact, even with [Jeantete], they guess a lot of other things. I remember he gave me a hug and said to me, “I loved you before. But I love you even more now!”
SARMIENTO: I think we only have a few more questions. Did you have anything you wanted to tell us that we possibly would have missed?
L, MORGAN: I don’t know. We talked about most of it. We’ve done most of the stories we were actually able to get out of him over the years.
J, MORGAN: A little bit of interest, just as after Dave and I were married. They never thought I was Filipino they would ask if he had married someone from Vietnam since he was from the Vietnam era.
L, MORGAN: Although he didn’t go to Vietnam.
J, MORGAN: Or was I Italian? Or Chinese? Now come to find out, I had my ancestry done. I am a little bit of Italian, Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian.
L, MORGAN: So when we did the first company, it came back with no Filipino.
SARMIENTO: Oh wow!
L, MORGAN: Yeah. I think what it is, it's going genetically. I was a Biology major, too. I teach four-year-olds, don't ask how that happened. So the biologist in me said okay well where did the people who settled in the Philippines come from? Well, they would have came from China and Southeast Asia. Going back even further than just the Philippines, that's where it's coming from. So we did another one and it came back far East. East Asia. She was upset for a couple of days and didn't tell my brother and me what the results were And sat on it for a couple of days.
J, MORGAN: I said, "There's nothing Filipino in there." I was looking to see because my father's features were not really Filipino with the broader nose. Maybe they were Spanish? No Spanish. I was really devastated that it wasn't Filipino. But it sounds like the Philippines is a melting pot, just like the United States is a melting pot.
L, MORGAN: It's an Asian melting pot basically from all different places. That was interesting, but then we had it done from a different company and it showed more in line. It was so interesting because, on my Grandmother's side, it could pinpoint to the town in Germany and also to immigrants in the Midwest.
J, MORGAN: And it wasn’t German either. It was Scandinavian.
L, MORGAN: It had all kinds of things. Ashkenazi Jew. We were like, “I always wanted to be Jewish and now I am! And Italian!”
J, MORGAN: There were so many things.
L, MORGAN: It was fascinating.
J, MORGAN: Then also too, when my father had his stroke, we ended up with a caregiver who was from the Philippines and they could speak -
L, MORGAN: He spoke Ilocano.
J, MORGAN: My father spoke Ilocano.
L, MORGAN: That was Alex.
J, MORGAN: We reconnected again with the Filipinos and he took care of my dad. He was so great.
L, MORGAN: What happened was, I rated and he was deported. Came into the house, like what in the middle of the night?
J, MORGAN: No, he didn’t come to work that day and we found out he was intercepted taking his daughter to school. She was in kindergarten in Livermore. They took him away.
L, MORGAN: Where did they leave her? At school? Standing there on the street corner? I mean she was so little.
J, MORGAN: I don't know if he had got a hold of his wife. He had never done what he needed. his wife had a green card and he didn’t. And actually that’s a whole nother story, but anyways. So he was deported.
L, MORGAN: And we were devastated because he was wonderful. His wife was a caregiver too but she had a job. She couldn't help out. She did a little just to get us through until we could find somebody else. Alex was like a family member at that point.
J, MORGAN: He was with us for a year and it was good for my dad. [My dad] had a stroke but still could pretty much do things for himself. We would ask him what he had for breakfast and he would say, "I don't know." He lost his short term memory, but he lived a couple years after he had the stroke. We had some really great times with him.
L, MORGAN: We had him at home. We didn't ever put him in a home until the very very end. We had caregivers with him. That's where the Filipinos are now. They're working as caregivers. When my Grandma was dying on her trajectory downhill, we had Filipino caregivers for her too. And then when my dad passed away, we had Filipino caregivers for him. I miss them so much. They live up in Pleasant Hill. We're still in touch with them and we still see them.
J, MORGAN: We’re like family. But my mom had female caregivers that were Filipino and we were close with them. She passed away at home. We did that directly. My husband passed away at home. We had the caregivers for two and a half years.
L, MORGAN: And it was a family. Ace was our main caregiver, then his girlfriend Carla (sp?) was another caregiver that would come at night. Then Carla's (sp?) mom, Leia (sp?), would come on the weekends. And when she would come, she would bring her daughter, Christine (sp?). Christine (sp?) was pre-school age at the time and so Christine (sp?) was always at our house. We spoiled her and bought stuff for her.
J, MORGAN: So we still have a connection to that community. Then we had Ryan. Ryan helped out too. Three days a week he would help me get Dave ready for bed. Dave was on hospice for 15 months and so we had his bed in the family room and he passed away at home, too.
L, MORGAN: And I would come over at midnight bit [Jeanette] didn't have anybody. If there were videos of us trying to do it, they made it look easy. Caregiving is so hard. I don’t know how they do it because not only is it a difficult job physically but emotionally. You get so attached to people and then you lose them. I know it was really hard on them when my dad died because we had all gotten so close.
J, MORGAN: The thing is, Ace, his main caregiver, has a college degree from the Philippines but he doesn’t have a green card here yet as with most of that family which is, I think, a travesty. You come here, you just be able to have the trajectory to get a green card and be here. I think what’s going on now is crazy. So we’re still connected. We’re still connected to the Filipino community.
L, MORGAN: We’ve heard of other families having trouble getting caregivers, but we never did because we have the Filipino in connection there. The grandmas’ caregivers - if you go to a hospital, who were the nurses? They were Filipino - they all would love her and just fawn all over here because here was this white woman who had been married to a Filipino. They adored her. They never saw her feisty side the way we did. They always thought,” She’s just a nice woman.” [laughs]
SARMIENTO: I think I asked all my questions. Are you guys comfortable?
L&J MORGAN: I think so.
SARMIENTO: Alright, I do appreciate your time. It is 11:40 on December 15 and we are concluding this interview. Thank you again. Thank you so much.
- Date Added
- November 20, 2018
- Filipino American Experiences Oral History Project
- Item Type
- Oral History
- Filipino American migrant agricultural laborers, Livermore - Calif., Mixed Marriage, Race Discrimination - United States, Women - Filipino American
- “Oral History Interview with Laura and Jeanette Morgan,” Welga Archive - Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, accessed October 23, 2021, https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/472.