East of East

East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte

A Project of the South El Monte Arts Posse

Reymundo “Ray” Guzmán

Interview with Reymundo “Ray” Guzmán

Bio (via Romeo Guzmán, as confirmed by Ray): Ray is the child of Ramon and Leonor (Ramon was a bracero from Zacatecas, met Leonor in Mexicali, where her family was from). They lived along the border for years, then moved to GDL and eventually to South El Monte in the mid-1970s. Ray was mainly raised in Mexicali and South El Monte. 

As a youth, Ray was pretty active, ran track, surfed, and worked in the fields as well as with his dad as a mechanic. Drives trucks today, but has worked construction and can built nearly anything.

Abstract: Ray came to SEM from Mexicali in the 1970s when he was in the 5th grade, lived in an apartment with the whole family and made money from paper routes and shining shoes in bars. Folks moved to the house where we did the interview by the time Ray was in junior high. Didn’t speak a word of English when he started school and encountered racism from other students, but felt that both racism and gang violence has lessened considerably by the time he was reached high school at El Monte (said his older brother David encountered more racism and violence graduating in 1977; Ray graduated in 1981). Ray had great experiences running track and cross country with a coach who was very supportive and would pick up the students at their houses for morning runs. Ran sub-5:00 miles, won XC and steeplechase races, and was on league-winning teams. Played a year of HS basketball but found the team too self-important and discriminatory, and was also a surfer, driving frequently to the beach where he and his friends would get into scuffles with the rich white kids who lived near the beaches and considered them their turf. 
Ray’s father Ramon worked as a mechanic in East LA and would fix cars for friends and to make extra money on weekends, and Ray would help. 

Reymundo “Ray” Guzmán