“Escape from Magic Valley” (affiliate link) by Ricardo S. Rivera is an autobiographical book about his childhood in the 1950s in a migrant worker family. Rivera says that he wrote this book for his family, so they could know his history and through it learn about their own. However, Rivera did much more than write for his family, he gifted that story to us.
Rivera’s book takes us from his early days in Texas through to the University of Oregon for the High School Equivalency Program. Rivera details the fun times of his childhood and the abuse and racism he experienced. As a child he was part of a collective that picked cotton, onions, cherries and other crops. They also fished. (The book has my name in it as they use “shad” for bait.)
Rivera’s take on the Texas school system is none too flattering as he is met with unreasonable demands, prejudiced principals, and teachers who belittled the Hispanic students. Corporal punishment was readily and, sometimes, eagerly distributed for the slightest of provocations, including misspelling words and speaking Spanish.
Not all the teachers were bad, but those that were made school hell for anyone with brown skin. “Escape from Magic Valley” provides a glimpse into a lifestyle that most of us will never know. Take a trip back in time and find out how migrant farmers made a life in spite of the hardships they faced, both in their own families and in the world at large.
I purchased this book at Second Chance Books in Independence, Oregon. If you’re in the area, stop by and grab a copy. It is also available at Amazon.com. (The last is an affiliate link. If you purchase the book from Amazon using this link, it doesn’t cost you anything more, and it supports our website. Thank you.)