East of East

East of East: Mapping Community Narratives

A Project of the South El Monte Arts Posse

Gilbert Ramos

Gilbert Ramos has spent his whole life in the city. His parents were from Mexico but migrated during the Cristero Wars to Los Angeles and settled down in El Monte. Growing up in Hays Camp (Medina Court), he was a fan of wrestling and sometimes went to events at Legion Stadium. He joined the army and served as a cook during the Vietnam War and later came back, studied Spanish and became a teacher.

Interview Synopsis:

0:30 On where he was born and how his family came to El Monte. He talks a bit about his parents and their arrival in the US in 1922. From Mazitlan Mexico, moved during the Cristero wars to California. Father worked in construction and for the railroad. 

3:50 On his family growing up, 6 brothers and 7 sisters. On the neighborhood he grew up in, near Ramona and Peck. Went to Nativity school, and Bishop Almont. 

7:00 His memories of the camps around the city. From Hicks Camp, Medina Court (Hays) which is where he grew up. How the houses and neighborhood looked like. The type of jobs that people have in the San Gabriel Valley. 

11:00 On the end of agriculture and farming in the area. He used to help his sister with walnuts, the entire family would migrate north to pick walnuts. 

13:00 He talks a bit on going back to Mexico on various trips and for long periods of time. How he compared the two countries, and his struggles with reading Spanish. 

18:20 On the jobs he had growing up, working for his future father in law. 

19:30 on Legion Stadium, he was too young for the legendary era. A tv show used to be broadcast from the stadium. He used to go watch wrestling there.

25:00 He used to wrestle in high school. 

25:40 After high school he went to Citrus Collage and then was drafted into the US Army. After returning from the Army he went back to Citrus. 

28:00 His experience in the US Army in the Vietnam era, at the time he was enthusiastic for the war. He was a cook. 

33:30 on his experience with discrimination, but did not feel its effect much. Looking back he believes it happened but he often didn’t notice it was discrimination. 

36:00 his experience with the Chicano movement, he is not that enthusiastic about it. 

39:30 his experience in politics, city politics and political beliefs. 

43:30 On gangs and crime in El Monte. 

48:00 On going back to school after being in the army. He went to UCLA and studied Spanish. Took classes in physical education and later became a teacher. 

51:00 On his hobby of writing poems and short stories. 

54:00 On how be became a teacher. 

1:06 On education and whether Latinos should be considered one group or many. 

1:11 His children, all grew up in the city and went to local schools. His children still live in Southern California. 

1:12 On how the city has changed, especially the main downtown shopping strip. 

1:17 On Mr Ramos’ Catholicism. He started at Guadalupe parish and now goes to Nativity, both in El Monte.

Gilbert Ramos