My grandfather left Mexico and its religious persecution with a price on his head, set by the state of Jalisco, for his stubborn piety. Yet his reception in the United States wouldn’t be entirely welcoming; nor would he ever abandon Mexico in his heart.
Higinio Lozano first worked as a cook for a railroad line crew in the South. Once, he received a strong dose of poison oak while carrying water to wash the daily pots and pans. That evening his younger brother Natalio followed the train tracks on foot to the nearest town to get medicine.
After walking miles, Natalio arrived at a drugstore, cold and wet from a storm. As he scraped his muddy shoes on a mat, someone yelled, “What do you want?! Don’t you get on my floors. You wait out there until I’m ready!”
Natalio waited as a customer loitered inside. Eventually the pharmacist came to the door and took his order for calamine lotion. A sign in the window explained it all: “No Negroes, Mexicans, or Dogs Allowed Inside!” The experience soaked in as Natalio made his way back to camp in the dark, and the Lozano brothers now spoke often of heading west...