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Hardworking Baby Boomers represent a strong work ethic
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By Pauline Rivera

When school ended in May in northern New Mexico for my generation, many of my friends headed to nearby cities to spend the summer with relatives or to work at babysitting or some similar job.

Rewind ten years and the end of the school year for many northern New Mexico students, including my own siblings, meant working on the farm and helping their parents plant acres of corn, bean, peas and other vegetables. As the summer approached an end, my father, home from his out of state job, secured a job every year leading a field working group, including his own children to pick potatoes, lettuce, etc. in New Mexico or picking fruit in Colorado orchards.

Then, it never occurred to me that life and summers were different for White kids, because every family in those small communities were predominantly Hispanic and they all were destined to help their parents, economically. Their fieldwork pay either paid for their school clothes or their pay was used to help their parents survive.

I was too young to work the fields, but I later learned from my husband who lived in Grand Junction and Fruita in his youth, that most mainstream kids spent their summers going to Disneyland, swimming pools and family vacations, while Hispanic kids worked the fields.

During their entire junior high and high school years, my siblings and their friends  worked as fieldworkers and were given school permission to start school weeks later due to the September potato harvest. My sisters Mary and Annabell, in their teens were model fieldworkers, doing physical work like men and outpacing many twice their size and strength, much so that my father placed them at the front of the potato rows as great examples of speed and a great work ethic.

These two siblings never skipped a beat when it involved education, however. Instilled with a tough work ethic, competitiveness and the will to succeed, they were both valedictorians of their graduating class and now live a comfortable life. Their children are professionals who achieved success and they often hear about those field working days.

Our small northern New Mexico communities of families instilled a strong work ethic in their kids, stressed honesty and respect for their elders, and more. 

Today, many of those hard workers suffer from back injuries, due to hard physical labor during their youth, but I’m pretty sure they all made it to Disneyland as adults.

We are so proud of these hard working Boomers!

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