Juan Torres Juan Torres Juan was born in Poncitlan, Jalisco in 1939. His father was a sharecropper who mostly grew corn. Juan and his siblings helped with the planting, tending and harvesting of the crop and consequently did not go to school very much or for very long. As a teenager he learned the trade of tailoring and excelled in this work, but the days were long and the pay was little, it was not enough to make a living. At the same time he saw that young men from his town were travelling to the U.S. and coming back home with money, it made him want to do the same. He found out that if he went to Mazatlan, Sinaloa to pick two thousand kilos of cotton he could earn a letter that he could then use to apply for contract work in the U.S through the Bracero Program. He picked the cotton, got the letter and went to Enpalme, Sonora where he waited to be contracted. He was about 20 years old living on the street and not eating for days at a time. It was a tough way to seek his future but it paid off, eventually he was drafted to come to work in the U.S.. He first came to Blythe, California where he helped tend to the cotton and cantaloupe crops. After that first time he was able to gain access to work in the U.S. more easily. He made some connections with employers and family in the Southwest region of the U.S. and worked in many different places picking many different crops, sometimes in 130 degree weather. He was always moving, trying different jobs and going to wherever he could find work. He developed a sense that if he worked hard he could attain a better life for him and for his family, something he had not felt in Mexico. In 1969 Juan got his legal residency. He continued to work in the fields for many years. In that time he started a family and moved his wife and children to the Coachella Valley. Later he worked for the Coachella Valley School District. At first it was an adjustment from the independence of doing contract piece work in the fields but he came to appreciate not having to do hard physical labor and having the stability of a year round job. He worked for the school district for 20 years at the end of which he made a salary of $2,600 a month. That job allowed him to buy a home in Thermal, California. Over the years he helped many family members and friends as they made their own way to the U.S. and to a better life. He was always open to helping people who needed it. “This country took away my hunger and gave me and my children opportunity". Juan and his family eked out a living even managed to buy a house in Thermal, they raised children who didn’t work in the fields, this is progress. The price they paid was their physical well being. Working in the fields is hard arduous work that many people do for their entire lives. There is no health insurance and there are no retirement plans. People work until their bodies can’t do it anymore and then they have to figure out how they are going to survive the rest of their lives. If they are lucky they have a little bit of savings or their family helps them. Some people have Medi-Cal or Medicaid but most don’t. Many retired farmworkers live on only the few hundred dollars they receive from social security every month. Margarita Torres, Juan’s wife, passed away in 2015.