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Jiménez, José, 1948-

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Jiménez, Benedicto

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2012-06-02

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Benedicto Jiménez is the son of Toribia Rodríguez and Miguel Jiménez. For Mr. Benedicto Jiménez, the importance of family and neighborhood ties became especially clear once he was in Chicago. There, Puerto Ricans faced the same hardships and so sought each other out and were glad to know that they were related in some way. Instead of asking what one thought about the weather, the conversation would be about, “what town in Puerto Rico are you from and what are all your last names.” Mr. Jiménez moved closer to Aurora, Illinois because he was desperately looking for work and with the help of other relatives and friends worked at the honguera of West Chicago. The honguera produced mushrooms and other vegetables for the Campbell Soup Company. Mr. Jiménez worked there for many years and since he is well educated and fluent in English, he was asked to translate. His help never translated into more pay or a better job. In those days of the 1960s and 1970s jobs were not given by skill but by national origin and by race. He says that the honguera was 50/50, about 200 Mejicanos and 200 Puerto Ricans, who lived in the dormitories of the migrant camp, by signed contract. Mr. Jiménez describes long days and work weeks in an enclosed, unlit room because the mushrooms are grown in the dark. He was reintroduced to Don Teo Arroyo, whose wife Gina cooked at the camp for the men. They began organizing the community for Aurora’s first Puerto Rican Day parades.

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