Partial Transcript: During the first 5 minutes of the interview, Aliseda discusses his family history and what it was like to be in Spain when the Spanish civil war broke out. His father was a teacher and went on to become a lawyer as well. Eventually, he also managed to get involved in politics. When the war started his family had to move away from their home and relocate in Portugal.
Keywords: Latin American
Subjects: Attorney; Childhood
Segment Synopsis: During this segment, Jose discusses all the different places his family moved to during the war. He grew up in France for a little bit but was forced to leave due to a German invasion. Him and his family took a boat from France to New York, then a bus all the way to Mexico city. His family originally thought they would be in Mexico only a short time, and return to Spain soon. However, they ended up never making it back to Spain.
Segment Synopsis: Aliseda describes the type of school he attended while growing up in Spain. There were two different sides of the spanish civil war, the republicans had set up these schools and essentially paid for everything. Lots of refugee children attended these schools, and sometimes it was hard to communicate with one another because of all the different dialects people spoke in. Aliseda also goes on to explain the type of schooling he received while living in Mexico.
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Aliseda discusses moving to Mexico at the age of 6. He identified as Mexican since this is where he spent a lot of his time growing up. During this time period lots of important people came to work in Mexico for example, Luis Brunel. His father, a lawyer, could not practice law in Mexico but spent his days managing a pharmacy. In the 1950s Aliseda's mother unfortunately passed away, but shortly after this his father started to make occasional trips back to Spain. Aliseda finally made his return to Spain in 1978 for the first time. He also decided to pursue medical school, thanks to all the time he spent in his father's pharmacies growing up.
Subjects: Higher education; Lawyer
Segment Synopsis: In this section, we learn about Aliseda's experience in serving in the Vietnam war. He starts off his anecdote by explaining how he left Mexico city for Illinois after he finishing medical school. His brother was a physician there, so he decided to join him and start his residency. By training Aliseda became an anesthesiologist. However, when Aliseda entered the county he also had to sign up for the draft. So after a short period of time in Chicago, he was recruited by the Army to go and serve in the Vietnam war. During his time in service, he acted as a surgeon and saved the lives of many soldiers. He talked about how he was never frightened, except for when MLK was murdered. Due to the tension between the African American soldiers and the southerners. Aliseda also discussed the complexity of war surgery and what it entails.
Keywords: Military Service; U.S. Army; Vietnam war
Subjects: African Americans
Segment Synopsis: In the back end of the interview we learn about what happened after Aliseda's service in the Vietnam war. He talks about what it was like to be away from his family, and also gives background on how him and his wife initially met. Aliseda also offers an interesting take on the battle of the Alamo and voices his opinions on how there are many misconceptions about it. He then closes with thoughts on the Spanish Civil war.
Keywords: The Valley
Subjects: Texas, South
HYPERLINK "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkxKPglaQJc" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkxKPglaQJc
Name: Jose Luis Aliseda
Length: 1 Hour 7 Minutes
Date of interview: December 7, 2018
Location of interview: McAllen, TX
Interviewer: Maggie Rivas -- Rodriguez
Collection: Vietnam War
Transcription Editing: Hannah Forsythe, 26th March, 2020
Today is December 7th, 2018 my name is Maggie Rivas -- Rodrigues and I aminterviewing Jose Luis Aliseda for the voces oral history project in McAllen, Texas.
00:00:20 Maggie Rivas- Rodriguez
Mr. Aliseda, thank you so much for letting us hear your stories and share withus your memories. Just to establish this interview will be housed at the Nettie Lee Benson in Latin American collection at UT Austin and it'll be there for whoever wants to view it. And then at the end of it will let will ask you some other questions about different permissions but just so you know that the interview
will be open to the public. So, if there's anything that you don't want peopleto know about then this would not be a good time to tell them. your wife is sitting here -- so if, there's any secrets that you have some
this may not be a good time to tell them -- okay. Yeah, so thank you.
00:01:02 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
You have a very interesting background because you were your family was fromSpain. Can you tell us a little bit about your family and its connection to the Spanish Civil War?
00:01: 13 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, you know, my father was, you know first of all, my father was a teacherone of the main and chief of premiere [UNKNOWN WORD] in the province of Badajoz, you know. When he was a teacher, he was able to establish several schools in the province. And later on, he decided to become a lawyer. Later on, as a lawyer he went to Madrid became a lawyer. And Later on, he was chosen as a representative
For Badajoz, one of the several representatives for Badajoz. And my mother was ahouse wife too, from the same town Don Benito. Well, the background is that they come from very humble families, you know. But my father was able to become a prominent member after [UNKNOWN WORD] the Spanish government.
00:02:23 Maggie Riva Rodriguez,
So, the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936.
00:02:26 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, In July 1936.
00:02:31 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, how did that affect your family?
00:02:33 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, in the way that we were in Badajoz-- And the Franco troops came in toBadajoz, in August a month later, you know - the 14th. And, at the time, one day before they took Badajoz we left for Portugal. You
know otherwise my mother will have been killed, or something, my father wasn'twith us at that time. we leave from Portugal. And even when we were in Portugal, we were living for few days with my
Nana, a Portuguese lady, in a town called Esperanca, close to the border. Lateron, we moved to Porto and my father had arranged already that we took the ship from Lisbon to Le Verdon.
00:03:29 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
In France, so why was your father not with you all when you went to Portugal?
00:03:43 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, my father was in Madrid, with the Government.
00:03:53 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
okay, He was at the [--], right?
00:03:56 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes yes, it is true. My father I think in Bordeaux he was there at the time ofarrival in Bordeaux, still a part of Spain, he was able to travel to France. But we were not able to cross to the Republican side you know that means we went to France, you know.
00:04:20 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, He went to Bordeaux, he set up a ranch or some kind of farm?
00:04: Jose Luis Aliseda
No No... I was in School; we didn't have a ranch there.
00:04:34 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Ok so he had already established himself there?
00:04:35 Jose Luis Aliseda
My father? No no my father went with the government. My father was withgovernment till the
end of the war. I'll show you the papers, you know when they had the lastreunion of Cortes, in, you know, close to the border of France. You see my father didn't come with us, he made trips to Bordeaux. He made a trip in 1937. But later on, he didn't come to us until February, 1939, at the end of the war you know.
00:05:13 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, do you remember what how the war affected him?
00:05:21 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well he never talked too much about the War. You know I'm going to tell you, Iknew in Mexico, when we were in Mexico, several [of the friends] of my father, you know, that they were very important in the Spanish Republic the government. But he never talked to us about the war, you know. I came to know about the Spanish Civil War more in relation to when I read George Orwell Homage to Catalonia. You know that was the first time but I get some idea of the war, you know. Keep in mind George Orwell was in the Spanish Civil War. When he was writing about his own rifle or something, you know, there was some type of accident in the neck. He was in Barcelona at the time that there was a civil war inside The Republican side, you know. The Republicans against Trotskyists and the Anarchists, you know. He
had to leave Spain in a hurry, you know. George Orwell, when he was in Spain hewas in a battalion in the [Aragon] Front. That was an anarchist battalion. Well during that time of that civil war between the Spanish Republican side he was in danger of losing his life and he left to Spain. That was when he wrote A Homage to Catalonia and his so famous Animal Farm. He became so disgusted with the communists that they were taking over part of the republican government, you know. Do you know where George Orwell was born?
00:07:12 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
In England, I think?
00:07:14 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well he was born in Burma. You Know, the country they call now Myanmar. Well hewas born there at the time of colonialism. Very interesting Man.
00:07:29 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, your family ended up in France, for how long?
00:07:33 Jose Luis Aliseda
For three years, you know. Practically from August or beginning
of September to March, to March 1940.
00:07:49 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Do you remember leaving your home in Badajoz, do you remember what that was like?
00:07:52 Jose Luis Aliseda
My home in Badajoz. I don't remember anything I was two years old. I have tohave a some
recollection of friends who were in his camp there you know and at the beginningof the first world war, you know the war 10 September of 1939 you know when the Germans invaded Poland. And at that time France was going to declare war too. I had to go to school, I used to go to kindergarten, with
a gas mask and everything. and we had to put paper covering the windows andeverything to you know. There were drills for presumably for a German bombardment you know, they never came. The French, they kept talking about the marginal line and that they were going to receive. They didn't know they bypass the marginal line. We left France three months before the Germans came in.
00:08:59 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Why did you all leave France?
00:09:00 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well because, you know we saw that the war had started. And at that time Mexico,you know, was permitting the Spanish refugees to come in. You know, it's true I didn't come with a group of Spanish refugees. We came through Antwerp in a private ship all the way to New York. And from New York
to Mexico in the old Greyhound.
00:09:29 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Really you took a Greyhound from New York City to Mexico City?
00:09:34 Yes, even when we cross into [La Mina] was the first time that that wesaw a shoe shiner. You know, limpia botas. You know, and even my brother gets mad because they call him [Chamaco] we never we had never heard this present [Chamaco]. But we came through to Mexico. In Mexico we had an uncle that was already there. My father's brother was already there. and he pick us up in the station of the autobuses en el norte. And we were living in Mexico in a hotel for about two or three weeks until we rented a house in Mexico City, you know
00:10:16 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez.
So that's why you moved to Mexico, because you already had your uncle there?
00:10:22 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, yeah and we know because the government presumably in exile was going to beestablishing. You know, when we were in Mexico, we thought that we were coming back to Spain. Every time you held me as a child he said "we all wait here for a little while". Even at the end of the war, you know, we were ready to go back to Spain. We thought that Franco-- was the only remnant of the fascist a government. We thought that the Allies will push them out. Even that reunion of Cortes in the Mexican parliament, you know, to choose the president and everything.
Well we never came back, you know, even during the war. Even during the warduring when I was in five or six years was, you know, the happiest day that we had was when Clement Attlee won the elections against Churchill. You know Clement Attlee was a friend of the Spanish Republic. And the day that we were all almost crying what the day that Roosevelt. You know, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died we were in mourning.
00:11:40 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
And that's because you saw that as going closing the door on returning to Spain?
00:11:45 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well it was because Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a friend of the SpanishRepublic in some ways, and Atlee was a friend of the Spanish Republic. And we thought that we're coming back. You know, in 1945 at the end of the war we were ready. And as a child, I remember at that time I was 11 years old, I was asked what are you going to study and I said on no "I am going to Southern Spain." We never came back
00:12:17 Maggie Riva Rodriguez
So, when you were in in Spain you went to the Spanish Republican schools. Whatwere these like?
00:12:24 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, the thing is you have to keep in mind that Spaniards are not veryhomogeneous. You know,
in this school we had the Catalanes, The Basquos, you know all of them. We wererefugees from the Spanish Civil War but we didn't have with some of them too many common things, you know. Keep in mind Spain is very regionalist. Do you know how many dialects there are in Spain? You know if you
put the television on in Galicia they will speak Gallego. You will notunderstand almost anything. It's Portuguese you know the Gaelic Portuguese language. If you go to Barcelona now, they will approach you in Catalan. That is a very difficult language. Or you go to in Valencia they approach you in Valenciano, another dialect. And don't tell me the Basque, the Basque, when they talk Basque it's a
very difficult it is a monosyllabic type of language. Not all of them they speakthat. You know in Mexico even we have different clubs of the different regions of Spain. and the back we used to belong
to the Basque club, we are not Basque but we used to belong there. They startall the parties talking Basque but, in the end, they had to talk in Spanish because not all of them speak Basque.
00:13:59 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, how many kids were there in these Spanish Republican Schools?
00:14:00 Jose Luis Aliseda
In the end we were, keep in mind, about 400 kids in one school and in theFemale, you know, we were separated, the female school was in front of us. There was about 1200 altogether.
00:14:28 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
What was the point of the Spanish Republican schools? Why did they have them?What was the point?
00:14:28 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well because presumably they paid you everything. You know, people, they claimedthat we took all the gold from Spain, you know. And the Republic took something you know. There was a ship coming to Mexico call Elvita that dropped the treasure that was confiscated during the war. And keep in mind in Russia, you know, the gold was sent to Russia to pay for the arms, and Russia was sent into the Spanish Republic and at that time when the Spanish came until they establish themselves well they need some help and the government in exile did decided to it, you know.
00:15:16 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, this was the Government in exile that set up the schools?
00:15:18 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, yes. The government in exile was divided in two parts. You know, the onesthat were on the side of the All Ministers, Juan Negrín , who later on was dominated by the communist; you could say, was called, Sere, S-e-r-e. And the other one, that collected money, was called JARE, Junta de Ayuda los Republicana en Exilio (Junta de Auxilio a los Republicanos Españoles). There were
the two divisions between the Spanish government in exile, you know. The onesthat were pro Negrín and the ones that they were against Negrín. The Socialist side, the conservative socialist and communist on one side, you know. I don't know too much about politics but that is the way that goes.
00:16:07 Maggie Riva Rodriguez
That is very interesting. SO, there was about 1200 students in the school?
00:16:12 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, in that one and in the other ones you could say there was a good -- Keep inmind we came 25,000, 20,000 to 25,000 people and among them we were a good 4000 thousand kids, you know.
00:16:32 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Why do you suppose that they felt the need to have schools just for the Spanish kids?
00:16:37 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well because the public schools in Mexico couldn't absorb us, you know. And wedidn't go to the to the Catholic schools. We were mainly-- We never talked about religion. Do you know, we never talked or?
anything about religion. And keep in mind in Mexico-- do you have MaristBrothers in San Antonio and the Marist's Schools? Do you know the Maristas, the Maristas are monks in plain clothes? They don't dress as a monk. You know, they dress like you and me.
Yeah and I went to the Maristas in college. You know, they're nice person, theynever convert me to
Anything. in you know idea to teach one hour of religion every morning. Theyused to have mass every--they made the virgin, you know. That is when I learned something, I used to have a guy from Aragon, a teacher in Marist brother, that make reference to the priests and monks and nuns, that the Spanish Republicans killed, and it's true. You know the government have control. You Know, keep in mind the Spanish Republic, the Army, and the police was in the other side you know. They had to bring and the population everything they used to have such act in the wrong. Each party had militia here, and there. You know they were not soldiered, until the Communists. They were the only one that were organized, regiment, you know. They were the only organized part of the Spanish Republican Army, you know. It was part of this whole multitude of people that didn't know what to do. There are even songs about the Quinto Regimiento-- Do remember the Weavers?
00:18:59 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
00:19:00 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well the weavers used to sing "Viva La Quinta Obrigada." Well Peter Seeger lateron sang it very well.
and I think that John Close too did it. You know, that was the Quinta Brigada,the Communist Regiment, the only one organized.
00:19:30 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, I am just trying to understand if the Republican, Republicans in exile ifthey felt the
need to have--
00:19:35 Jose Luis Aliseda
What there is still the school there. You go to Mexico and Colegio Madrid noweven has a secondary school, now and has a college -- it's a prepatoria..00:19:44 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
But its not necessarily a Spanish--.
00:19:49 Jose Luis Aliseda
It is, these are the Grandsons, you know. yeah you know it is true someprominent Mexicans they used to come to our schools. You know keep in mind when we were in Mexico it was the time of the nationalist Mexican. That did the exploitation of the oil, Lazaro Cardenas-- and even in our class we had one or two or three Mexicans. You know we had one or two Mexicans -- [Pause]
00:20:30 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
You have such a good memory Mr. Aliseda--.
00:20:44 Jose Luis Aliseda
You know in Mexico, in the school we had... You know, look how the time changes.When I was in the elementary school in Collegio Madrid. And later on, you could say secondary school, Instituto [Missed word] the other school, there were some few Mexicans - that were sons of prominent politicians, you know. And it is true, later on I went to college to the Maristas School, but this was a different time, the sons of the politicians were in the Catholic school. Even, keep in mind, in Mexico it was not permitted to teach religion in school. I don't know which one of the articles of the Constitution says '[Ensenanza--Missed word 00:21:39]' -- you know, that was the statement. And here the son of Miguel Aleman, that was used to be the president of Mexico, was their Casa Aleman, that was the head of the --
Federal, Del Maso, even now some of the sons of those people, they are the onesin power that they were thrown away by the old ones. You know its funny how now could be a new generation of the old ones.
00:22:17 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, the thing about the religion part of it is very interesting to me. Yourmother was religious?
00:22:25 Jose Luis Aliseda
We never talked about religion. Yes, my mother was religious. My father you knowwas raised in Spain. As a child the one who sent him to Madrid to be a teacher was the priest of his school. At that time the religion was the teaching, you know. Spain was country full of illiterate people there that didn't know how to read. Something about Casas Viejas [where a massacre of anarchists and their families in January, 1933. Twentry-four people were killed, after government officers set fire to a house where they were taking shelter or shot in the back the following day.] peasants took place, well before Casas Viejas in 1931 there was a country, Castil Blanco, in the Extremadura, in 193X. Casas Viejas, which was 33. Well before that the killing of farm peasants and everything was in 1931, in Castilblanco, Extremadura. The only survivor was the daughter of the guy that burned. And she became a libertarian, very famous. And later on, was executed by Franco
at the beginning of Spanish Civil War, you know but that girl was the onlysurvivor of that Castilblanco. And all those people that were killed- they got all of them in a huge [chosa] and they were burnt to death.
Then later on all the males of the population they were shot.
0024:13 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, did your parents talk about their feelings about the Spanish Civil War?
00:24:22 Jose Luis Aliseda
00:24:24 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, did they in in 1939, or 1945 I guess, was when one day they were like okaythat's not going to happen we're not going to go back--
00:24:34 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yeah well you know...
00:24:35 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Did they say anything about it?
00:24:40 Jose Luis Aliseda
We were already established in Mexico, business and everything. But up to thatpoint we thought that we were coming back.
00:24:50 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, let me ask you this -- when you got to Mexico did y'all have funds did youhave resources? Because --
00:24:57 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well my father had some resources. You know in the way we were not millionairesbut he did have some resources. We were able to rent a house and even he started distributing some Cognac, you know. Until the war, the name was Napoleon connect and everything, and not until the war stopped all the shipments from France. Later on, six months later he brought the first pharmacy and I was raised in that pharmacy.
But we had some resources, you know the Republicans were not peasants, you know.The majority of them were professionals. My father was a lawyer he couldn't practice in Mexico that means he went to pharmacy, you know. But look, all the teachers in the universities, in the editorials and
everything was founded by the Republicans in Spain and in Mexico. You know thedoctors-- in the medical school in Mexico, I had 6 or 7 teachers, you know very famous teachers, that were Spanish Republican. And in the in the school of law too -- and all the schools.
00:26:28 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, let me ask you this-- So, you came to Mexico when you were 11 years old isthat right-- How old were you when you came to Mexico?
00:26:36 Jose Luis Aliseda
00:26:38 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
6 years old in Mexico. Did you start identifying with being Mexican?
00:26:46 Jose Luis Aliseda
Thank you, yes. It is true, in the way that we talk they notice that we areforeigners. Or as somebody said Foreigners. But we identify with Mexico. We identify in every aspect of Mexico. In the movies, look the movies and the movie industry, came a bunch of refugees. That was the time of the Mexican golf. You know people important in the work, with a lot of importance in the work, like Luis Brunel. It is true Luis Brunel came first to New York, but later on he moved to Mexico. The first picture that he filmed in Mexico, called Los Olvidados. I don't know if you have seen it, it is about the lost city in Mexico City, Ciudad Perdida, Los Olvidados. They wanted to apply in treinta tres (33), the article in Mexico that is for the foreigners, to exile him. That was Luis Brunel. You know, before he was permitted to go back to Spain, when he filmed Viridiana, with Silvia Pinal -that is an artist now-- It is true, Viridiana is not permitted to be shown in Spain. In Spain you could not show anything that was anti-Catholic. Spain was a very retrograde country in the times of Franco. It was a bunch of ignorant-- Later on, it is true, Brunel moved to France and he filmed Belle de Jour, with Catherine Deneuve. I don't know if you have seen it? In the movies, all the actors, all those actors -- were Mexicans, sorry Spaniards. You Know, it was imperative then, that is the some of the directors and actors.
00:29:13 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Let me ask you this, did you parents, your mom died in 19...
00:29:19 Jose Luis Aliseda
In 1950. She was very young. My Mother died when she was 50 years old--
00:29:23 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
What did she die of?
Err, Cancer of the Cervix, uterus.
00:29:28 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, I assume she never went back to Spain? She never returned to Spain?
00:29:32 Jose Luis Aliseda
00:29:33 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
00:29:35 Joe Luis Aliseda
No, we never went back to Spain. She died in [missing word]
00:29:39 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, your father?
00:29:39 Jose Luis Aliseda
Err, my father made trips to Europe in the 1950s. We were not able to go intoSpain. Or if he would have gone, he would have gone on his own risk, you know. You Know, practically, they didn't give amnesty to the people of the governmental till 1964-65. And after you have to go through a permit. In Mexico there was no embassy of Franco. You know, the embassy was the Spanish Republican Embassy in exile.
It was one of the countries that was recognized in Spanish Republican Exile.Franco had a delegate,
somebody was there--even that individual I think later on he was killed-- thatdid the representative of
Franco he was killed in the sixties by his boyfriend he was gay or something.
00:30:37 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, when did you return to Spain?
00:30:41 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, the first time that I went to Spain was in 1978 when I was here.
00:30:48 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
And how did you feel when you were back in Spain?
00:30:51 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well I went to see. some of my cousins. And at that time Franco had died, youknow. I felt ok. I felt that Spain was a country coming up, you know. I didn't go back to Spain because, you know, first of all--
Look I had friends that went back to Spain in 1945. I remember I had a brotherof a friend of mine he said "I went to Spain", I said "for what?" He said "to become a bullfighter." And it was true. When you arrived to Spain when you are 17 or 18 years old-- boom to the army, for two years, La Mili they call it. And later on, he became a bullfighter its true. He came back to Mexican the fifties. He was nobody, but anyway, he was a bullfighter. do you like bullfights? No? Well keep in mind, have you seen the picture of John Wayne in the Alamo? well that guy that comes in a horse to ask for the rendition of the Alamo, in a horse's very straight, that is famous bullfighter, that is Carlos Arruza. You know, there was a Mexican
bullfighter both parents were Spaniards and it's true but he became famousduring the time of Franco in Spain, you know. Until they came back to Mexico in the 50s.
00:32:34 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So let me ask you this: so your father ended up owning more than one pharmacy inMexico, how many did he own?
00:32:46 Jose Luis Aliseda
Three and he has a new factory of shawls, rebosas, you know? Some of thebusiness went very bad because there were strikes of the employees and everything. At the end of, his life he had one of those you know, gravel and construction companies, that they have cement and everything. They had a strike and he couldn't tolerate; he lost a lot of money there. He was taking money from one place to the other and you know. The Strike finished him off.
00:33:24 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, you worked in the Pharmacies when you were...
00:33:26 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, I worked since I was six--
00:33:31 Maggie Riva Rodriguez
And then you went to medical school in Mexico?
00:33:32 Jose Luis Aliseda
In Mexico City. Then later on I came to Chicago in 58. Little company Mary.
00:33:40 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, tell me about that. Why did you come to Illinois?
00:33:45 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well because my brother was already in Chicago
00:33:52 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
What was he doing?
00:33:53 Jose Luis Aliseda
My brother was a physician, a pediatrician. Later on, my brother I told that Iwas in Chicago and he says -- and you know and I did my residency in Chicago at the Masonic Hospital. You know, Illinois Masonic.
00:34:12 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So why did you decide on anesthesiology?
00:34:13 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, in a way, you know, I did one year of surgery in Little Company, but youknow I'm too restless and -- to tell you the truth I didn't enjoy private practice and surgery. And I went back to anesthesiology already late in life. You could say late in life I was 27. Keep in mind, when I was in Vietnam, I was 33. you know, like I told you the doctors are subject to the draft to up to 35.
00:35:01 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Tell me about that, I don't think we talk about that before, so tell me aboutthat. So, when you you're in in Illinois in 58 or 67 did you have you had to register for the draft?
00:35:13 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, on arrival, when you become a legal resident in this country you have to 6months to register in the Selective Service, at that time. That is one of your obligations, you know. If you don't come as a
resident in the country, you don't have to do it. But they give you the greencard, at that time you had to register, you have 6 months to do it. you know and it's true a year or something after you register, they call you for a physical. And they classify you, you know like here they--
00:35:54 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, they classified you as 4F
00:35:56 Jose Luis Aliseda
As, 4 F.
00:35:58 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
And why was that?
00:35:59 Jose Luis Aliseda
Because as a foreign physician you still haven't taken the state board yet. Youfollowing? and they don't know where to place a foreign physician. And they said "oh we are going to put him here."
00:36:15 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
O it was just a place hold?
00:36:17 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, they look for a category and its true-- every six to seven months they sendyou a letter--
"can you prepare your passport" -- but for a while they kept at you if you are foreign.
00:36:35 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, you passed your boards in what year?
00:36:40 Jose Luis Aliseda
I passed my boards in 1960. I wasn't until I went to the Masonic hospital[Missing Word] Well first of all they send you 1 a. That means the you are draft-able, and a later on 2 a, a professional firm or something and later on they saw these guys becoming too old already for us to look to call him, you know. This is the type of question that people have "Oh you went to Vietnam?" They usually tell me "Oh, you went to Vietnam, but you are so old." I said that's ok. "Oh, you went to Vietnam and you are not a citizen?" They don't know anything about it, you know. All these questions that don't make sense.
00:37:40 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, you are saying that they said "Do you want to volunteer?" So, who said that? --
00:37:46 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes. The form that says volunteer. In a way we were obligatory volunteers.
00:37:54 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Who told you that though? Who told you that "do you want to volunteer?"
00:37:56 Jose Luis Aliseda
The Army. You know when you are drafted, you have to apply to. You don't want togo as a draftee. You apply to the reserves and they give you grades, you know.
00:38:15 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Ok so you apply to the reserves first...
00:38:18 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, and they -- you are forced to apply to the reserves. You know, so like whenyou get to the draft they say "Oh present yourself in the--" At that time, we used to like in Hazel Crest, and we got to the train station. You know to take to you Great Lakes, I don't know what it is-- And they said that case you call by telephone. And said "Look, I want to apply to the reserves" you know. And that is all, you apply and when you apply to the reserve you are supposed to be a volunteer, you know. It's true, or you go as a draftee or you through the reserves.
00:39:00 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Ok, so you went into the reserves and then they called you up?
00:39:05 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, immediately. When you get to the reserves they know where you are going,you know. Even immediately, they send you a letter, "this PO San Francisco--" you know, you are going to travel to San Francisco. You know I was a month here in San Antonio for basic training presumably and a month later you go to Vietnam. When I arrived to Vietnam it was the tail end of the Tet Offensive. You know, it was beginning of February. You know, the Tet offensive was-- It is true the first place I went to Vietnam was in Nha Trang, very nice place you know, with a villa and everything, you know. I was three months there in the Pier Hospital. And that's a nice hospital, but later on, the other 9 months, I went to the [missing word] surgical. You know we were in tents. Later on, it is true, the hospital was those canvas type of ribs, you know. And we were the most northern hospital in Vietnam.
00:40:22 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
You were the what?
00:40:23 Jose Luis Aliseda
Err, The most northern, the north parts of Vietnam. Only not far off about 4miles there was another one. A marine hospital, [in Doha missing word] the northern province of Vietnam. It is true, the Viet Cong wasn't there, thus was the regular north Vietnamese army. There were a lot of females too--in the Army
00:40:51 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Lots of females in the army? --Really... Interesting.
00:40:54 Jose Luis Aliseda
That is interesting, no? They were good fighters, excellent fighters. And it'strue, I was never in danger, in the way, you know, they used to throw rockets once in a while, you know. You get underneath the bed. But I would never, I never felt in danger. The only day that I really felt in danger, in Vietnam, was the day that then Martin Luther King was killed because of the rivalry between negro personnel and the so called southern-- and that day I felt in danger.
00:41:30 Maggie Riva Rodriguez
So, was there violence?
00:41:31 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, among themselves, you know. Oh, and the other thing that you see is a lotof shorter artillery rounds. You know keep in mind in Vietnam the guy that throw you do rocket, we were in the middle of the base, they were surrounded by-- the guy that threw the rocket, thirty seconds later there is nothing, he is pulverized. The Answer comes -- the poor guy he runs, you know, but-- the other day there was a very dangerous thing for me too. You know the whites of the war type of injuries? When the day the army-navy football team. You know I don't know if army or Navy lost, the only thing that I know the one of them lost and threw a huge grenade to kill the other guy --
00:42:33 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Did people die?
00:42:33 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well 8 or 10 injured, badly injured. But really from the enemy we used to getrockets once in a while, you know. You could say once every month.
00:42:55 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, when Martin Luther King was assassinated, was there violence?
00:42:59 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, Yes. A lot of a violence. Not only that there was a bridge there where theyhad the army, that was burnt to the ground, or something. There was a lot of tension between Negro personnel and Southerners.
You know mainly the guys from Mississippi Alabama, that were there. And I'm onthe hospital personnel, you know.
00:43:32 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, um, you initially did not want to go to Vietnam or you didn't want to go to Vietnam
00:43:38 Jose Luis Aliseda
I didn't! I don't believe in the war. You telling me now, when Dien Bien Phu,did you ever hear about Dien Bien Phu, with the French -- You know the war in Vietnam was, in a way, a liberation war for the Vietnamese to throw away the colonial, you know, power.
Keep in mind when the French Ottoman defeated the French in Dien Bien Phu --Later on, came the peace talks in the Geneva Convention presumably they were going to have elections for reunification in 1956. That the guy that was in power in Vietnam that, DE-- whatever was the name, and the United
States, and everything, they stopped the elections. You know Vietnam was a war,I didn't believe in the war. You know when I told me do you want to apply--in the liberation-- I said "No I don't give a damn if they are communists or not." --. And they won! They won because-- they lost a lot of people, you know-- Keep in mind, I don't know, Vietnam, lost at least two or three million people, you know. But they won the war.
00:45:00 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Did you ever consider being a conscientious objector?
00:45:04 Jose Luis Aliseda
No, not necessarily.
00:45:06 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
00:45:06 Jose Luis Aliseda
No, well I'm not the religious and -- you know I went because, you know it wasmy duty, you know.
The fact is that I had to go, you know. I didn't volunteer--
00:45:27 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, let me ask you this: when you were there at the hospital, both hospitalsbecause you were at a field hospital but you were also at a brick and motor -- What was a typical day like for you?
00:45:40 Jose Luis Aliseda
Difficult day? no none of them were difficult
00:45:47 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
No typical, a typical day
00:45:47 Jose Luis Aliseda
A typical day. Well you get up, take a bath, you know. We used to you know besanitary keep it -- the the toilet were gas tops there and you know the guy used to come at noon and burn down shit there. Yeah even one of them, when they were coming back, said to me something like "what I'm going to tell my family; I have been burning shit for two years." And the guy right behind me says "Look you tell them that you were a sanitary engineer."
-- You know, wait, wait for casualties, you know, and that's all. I used tohave, you know I was head
of the department there, and I used to have three or four nurse anesthetists.And we divided the work in such a way that there was one of us on call and we were on call until-- Look vwe used to have this hospital in platforms, you know, slabs. You know they were like a canvas rib; you know. And one day one of the personnel there, you know they used to get drunk once in a while, got a knife and punctured it. Punctured 3 or 4 of the ribs you know. That means the hospital deflated and we were doing nothing for a month. We were not able to admit any people. We went to volunteer to work in Doha with the marines. But all because the guy has butchered the ribs of the hospital, you know.
00:47:42 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Do they know who did it?
00:47:43 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, one of the guys there. Once in a while it wasn't that unusual that someonedid Marijuana smoking
and things like that. You go to one of those [missing word] to look for a driverand you find all of them there--. In Vietnam everybody -- The only ones that were really happy there were the lifers. They didn't have any of the war they were making money. Look in Nha Trang, that was a nice place with the field hospital. We used to have a company of Koreans, South Koreans. Another one of nationalist Chinese, you know all of them. The nationalist Chinese they have control of the airport. They had [Missing word], you know you remember the one in power. Well nationalist Chinese they were driving from Nha Trang, you know, checking all around you know. The Koreans they have a very nice unit with hospital and everything too. This was a very tough struggle, you know. They hated communists; I don't know... Keep in mind this is like a two-- we used to take prisoners of war, not Vietnamese soldiers. They were nice fellows.
The thing is we would spend 6 or 7 house doing colostomies. Surgery of war is avery particular surgery. Let's suppose it's a surgery of debridement, you know. They are getting hit with high velocity missiles. You know the bullet goes in your shoulder and the speed destroys the tissue. You know how the tissue becomes like a mass of gelatin, you know gelo, they're dead tissue muscle and everything. And the
the thing that they do in surgeries is - go and clean, clean, remove all thedead tissue, until you can see that it's a good contraction of the muscle, good color and bleeding. And you leave it open you don't
close, you follow. Because if you close you have a danger of sepsis mainly, thebacteria. That means you do a debridement and there is a big hole there left, you put the gauze and later on you close it for secondary infection. Later on, in 5 or 6, 7 days.
It is true, if a guy has a bullet in the abdomen, he survives and it hasn'ttouched the organs. Well if it hits the large intestine, they have to do a colostomy. You don't close the hole. You know. You have to exteriorize. The small bowel, the small bowel can take sutures, its very [noble]. But large bowel you have to do a colostomy. It is a different type of surgery, you know.
00:51:06 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, you were doing anesthesiology, right?
00:51:09 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, well this is surgery. The surgery in war is completely different-- I amgoing to compare it to the surgery of the bullfights. If a guy gets the aorta or something well you have to do a repair -- of the femoral or whatever it is. Well If it hits the muscle you have to clean up the muscle and you don't close. You don't close, you leave it open. You can't operate to close until 6, or 7 days after he is with antibiotics. That means it it's a different type of war in there.
00:52:00 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Were there things, when you first got there, were there parts of this thisassignment that you were not prepared for? That you, it really surprised you?
00:52:09 Jose Luise AlisedaNo, no, Really nothing. Nothing. The type ofinjuries-- I don't think so. It is true you are not used to seeing so many high velocity-- the bullet of the AK-47 or the M16, is a small bullet, the cartridge is big. But it comes with such a speed that the high velocity missile goes -- And when it injures any part, lets just say that it doesn't touch an artery. But goes only in the muscle, you know, the whole muscle is dead from the bullet. That is the one thing you have to clean and remove it. If you leave it there the guy will die of sepsis.
00:53:05 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, you were there, in Vietnam, from what year to what year?
00:53:10 Jose Luis Aliseda
I was in Vietnam from February 68 to February 69-- One year.
00:53:21 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, one year. How did you end up getting to McAllen?
00:53:27 Jose Luis Aliseda
Ei, McAllen because I had a friend-- You know after I finished in the army Iwent back to my old group in in Boylan, Illinois. And I wanted to come back closer to Mexico, you know. Well mainly temperature-wise--you know-- Before Texas I applied to-- New Mexico, and I got my License in New Mexico, and then well Albuquerque, Santa Fe, I like it, in a way too. But in McAllen. They called me from McAllen--, I had a guy that came too, that was working in Chicago, I knew him in Chicago. And he called me and I said "well I go there." I had to sacrifice something financially, otherwise he said-- but anyway it doesn't make any difference, I came here. I left my old group that I had been with for 8 years, you know.
00:54:42 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, this was what year, 73 you got to McAllen?
00:54:44 Jose Luis Aliseda
In September 73
00:54:48 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
And were you married at the time?
00:54:49 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yea, you sure that it's not 62. You know Jose, the one you did at Bay County,Jose, he's 62 years old and Tina my daughter the one that used to be a computer analyst-- How old is Tina now, 59?
00:55:16 Jose's Wife
No, No -- 61
00:55:18 Jose Luis Aliseda
00:55:20 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So when you went to Vietnam you were already married?
00:55:23 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes! Annie was 1 and a half.
00:55:26 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Oh, that must have been very hard to be away from your family.
00:55:27 Jose Luis Aliseda
-- Was 1 and a half, the other one was 10 and Tina was. 9
00:55:36 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, how did how did serving in the military and specifically being in Vietnamhow did that affect you?
00:55:46 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, I didn't affect me. I don't want to talk too much about the war, in a way,you know. But It didn't affect me. I didn't have any post stress symptoms. You know it's true, it affects me in the way that you see that it was an unwinnable type of war. You knew that sooner or later they had to get out, you know. I was not affecting for myself, I felt sorry for the poor guy they used to go into the field. I was not afraid, I didn't suffer the terrorism, they're going to kill me.t I never went to the field, you know. And to tell you the truth we didn't have in the hospital, we had only one casualty, you know. A dentist that used to like to go to
helicopters when he should go to helicopters, you know. You have nothing to behere, you were doing something that you shouldn't do. But it didn't affect me too much
00:56:57 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, did you visit McAllen before you decided to move here.
00:57:03 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well we have gone through McAllen when we used to trip from Mexico. We used tomake trips once a year to Mexico by car, all the way through Chicago, all the way through Oklahoma and through here. Even I knew the old Highway 66 all the way to Oklahoma Turnpike. The old 66. Do you remember the [missing word] science? That used to have a punch line, you know. --
00:57:44 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, your wife is actually someone that worked at your father's pharmacy?
00:57:50 Jose Luis
No, her mother.
00:57:55 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Oh, her mother. I see. So that is how you met your wife?
00:57:56 Jose Luis Aliseda
00:57:59 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, she was in Mexico City as well?
00:58:00 Jose Luis Aliseda
Yes, Mexico City
00:58:04 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, when y'all came to McAllen. Did you start to feel that this was yourcommunity, that this was your type of people?
00:58:21 Jose Luis Aliseda
My community or not? Well I am not too sociable you know. To tell you the truthI started the interest in the so called Mexican American war. And it is surprising how much ignorance there is in the whole population here that they don't know. And It is true they talk like Mexico is part of all the problems -- I go after them, you know. But keep in mind here, look, 95% of the people here hasn't been in Palo Alto, you know Palo Alto -- well they don't know anything, you know. They don't know that the West did the war, that practically the first of the Mexicans to call a Mexican War, you know. They use answers, that I would never have thought that.
Or some others will tell you - I don't understand you because of your accent. Isay well this is okay--. And it is a very interesting place, you know. You start reading-- Until I found out about the book. Have you read the exodus from the Alamo? Well 80% of people that died in the Alamo, died outside the Alamo. They died running; you know. You know they were not offering a resistance, they died running. The Mexican [missing word] were able to get them you know. SO here they tell you David Crockett and everything. Well David Crockett was a lie. They said to Santana and Santana said to kill him there. The knowledge of history here is-- well its true they never taught them anything.
01:00:45 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Do you think that was intentional? Do you think that it was intentional thatthey didn't teach them that? Maybe children aren't taught that in school? Maybe there is a reason not to teach them that?
01:00:57 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well they never taught them that. But even the same Mexicans here, you know,they are they act in
a way that they don't want to know anything about it. What can we do? But hereis a very interesting place. You find all these interesting things. Like the patron of Extremadura in Spain is the Virgin Guadalupe. The Spaniards were fanatics in the virgin. Well in Mexico it is true the Virgin Guadalupe has become a symbol of nationality. Even the Jews, the Mexican Jews, they believe in the Virgin Guadalupe. Have you been in Spain? Never?
01:02:07 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
I have been to Spain. But I haven't been to Guadalupe -- No, I have never been there
01:02:12 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well that's at the entrance Extremadura. And it's a very ugly figure. It's apicture of wood this size. It is
is true they dressed them with the capes and things. With gold, you know, goldfrom Mexico and Peru. There is one in Bolivia, there is one in -- you know, keep in mind the conquistadors were [missing word]. The majority of them southern Spain at the time of the conquest. The only people that could come
to conquer and live in America were the Castilians, you know, the Cataloniansand the Basque and everything they did not believe it, you know. [Missing Word] were the conquistadors. It is interesting. You have been to Spain, what part of Spain have you been?
01:03:18 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
In Cadiz, and then Santander, we have travelled around a little bit. We havenever been to Extremadura,
01:03:31 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well Cadiz was the port of Exit for the expeditions of Christopher Columbus, you know.
01:03:37 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
And I will tell you that when I stayed there, they talked like Porto Ricans andthey said "Where do you think Porto Ricans came from?" They came from --
01:03:51 Jose Luis Aliseda
Well, Many, keep in mind too they came from the Canary Islands too. Because theships they have to stop in the Canary Islands. You know, even before, Christopher Columbus had a girlfriend one of the
Islands, you know. And he stopped for a while there to visit her.
01:04:12 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
So, Mr Aliseda, let me ask you this is there anything that I haven't asked youabout, that you think--
01:04:18 Jose Luis Aliseda
About the Spanish Civil War?
01:04:19 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
No, No, just in general in the whole interview, then working down--
01:04:25 Jose Luis Aliseda
That's ok, I don't -- You know this, keep in mind, I didn't leave the war, youknow. I was in exile, you know. I Mexico I met a lot of important politician friends of my fathers. [Martines Barrio -- missing words]. But I didn't suffer the war because I spent the whole war in France. You know myself as an individual -- You know my hometown was taken almost immediately. In Mexico I have lived all my life working, that is all, until I came here. There is nothing really exciting. You know the civil war, I am going to tell you, in Spain, there were murders in both sides. You know, don't believe that this is black and white. It is true the Republican Government did have control over the be people. In the Franco side it is true, it was automatic. On the Franco side, the killing of all the people that had [missing word] for the popular front and everything was coming. In the Republican side it was the population, there were afraid. Supposedly when Franco was coming to Madrid, they got all the prisoners in the jail, they got them out and they killed them. 2000 of them in Paracuellos. That means in both sides they were killing. Someday you should see pictures-- now there is a multitude of pictures, and books, and writers. The best book has been Hugh Thomas is the best book of the Spanish Civil War from the point of view of the fighting. And from the social point of view, Preston, or something like that. I don't know. There are millions and thousand different books. You know where you can learn about the Spanish Civil War -- YouTube. YouTube you can learn about everything. Since the internet came out. You know you can really learn everything.
01:06:58 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Are there any last things that you would like to add?
01:07:00 Jose Luis Aliseda
01:07:04 Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Well thank you so much I really appreciate it.