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Arellano, Dario
Arellano transcript, 1 of 1
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University of Houston. Arellano, Dario - Arellano transcript, 1 of 1. August 11, 2009. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 30, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1412/show/1411.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

University of Houston. (August 11, 2009). Arellano, Dario - Arellano transcript, 1 of 1. Oral Histories from the Houston History Project. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1412/show/1411

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

University of Houston, Arellano, Dario - Arellano transcript, 1 of 1, August 11, 2009, Oral Histories from the Houston History Project, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 30, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1412/show/1411.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Arellano, Dario
Creator (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Creator (Local)
  • Houston History Project
Interviewer (Local)
  • Garza, Natalie
Place of Creation (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Date August 11, 2009
Description Dario Arellano was born in Pasadena, TX and raised in Houston. He is a veteran of the Korean War, a former constable for precinct six, and served as an assistant clerk to Justice of the Peace Armando Rodriguez. In addition to his professional career, Mr. Arellano speaks about his political organizing. In particular he talks about his involvement in the campaigns of several Mexican American politicians. He mentions many of the "firsts" in the Mexican American community to be elected to office. The role that P.A.S.S.O played in political campaigns is also discussed. Lastly, Mr. Arellano highlights his work with the Denver Harbor Clinic and the help it provides to young mothers and their children.
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Mexican American Studies
Subject.Name (Local)
  • Arellano, Dario
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • interviews
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Sound
  • Text
Format (IMT)
  • audio/mp3
  • application/pdf
Original Item Location ID 2006-005, Box 13, Item 756
Original Collection Oral Histories - Houston History Project
Original Collection URL http://archon.lib.uh.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=231
Digital Collection Oral Histories from the Houston History Project
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
Project
  • University of Houston
Item Description
Title Arellano transcript, 1 of 1
File name hhaoh_201403_014_003.pdf
Transcript HHA# 00756 Page 1 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 1 Houston History Archives UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON ORAL HISTORY OF HOUSTON PROJECT Dario M. Arellano Mexican-American History, Politics (PASSO) Interviewed by: Natalie Garza Date: August 11, 2009 Transcribed by: Michelle Kokes Location: Denver Harbor Clinic, 424 Hahlo, Houston, Texas NG: I am interviewing Dario Arellano on August 11, 2009 at the Denver Harbor Clinic on Hahlo Street in Houston, Texas. Can you begin by telling us your full name? DA: Yes. My name is Dario Muñoz Arellano. NG: Your date of birth? DA: My date of birth is December 19, 1931. NG: Where were you born? DA: I was born in Pasadena, Texas. NG: Where did you go to school? DA: I started in Pasadena. I think I went something like one semester there and then probably in 1936 we moved to Houston and I went to an elementary school by the name of Rusk Elementary. It is located on Gable Street here in Houston. NG: What area of town is that? DA: That would have been an area of town back in the old days was called the Alacrán. It is amazing but that is what it used to be called. NG: Do you know why it was called that? DA; Well because of the fact that it was mostly most of your poor folks, the real poor folks lived in the area and at that time there used to be a lot of scorpions there so for that reason they called it el alacrán. HHA# 00756 Page 2 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 2 Houston History Archives NG: What side of town was it on? DA: That side of town was what you believe is close to let’s see north of downtown and east of Main Street just perhaps 6 blocks east of Main Street, North Main. NG: You said that the community was poor what was the ethnic breakdown? DA: It was mostly Hispanics. The breakdown I would say that it would be like perhaps 65 Hispanic, maybe 20, 25 blacks and then the rest were Anglos, very few Anglos. NG: After elementary what other schooling did you do? DA: Well it’s amazing. I dropped out at the age of twelve, in 6th grade I graduated from elementary and there was a need for me to help my family. My dad and my mom and I had two sisters. My mom was strictly country; my dad was from Mexico and no type of education, none whatsoever. They didn’t even speak the language, they spoke no English and times were very hard back then in the ‘40’s. It was during the war, the Second World War and there was a need for people to help out. This is one of the… and I’m going to put it to you like this, it’s a great help to the family but it is a let down for the child because when you leave school and forget about your education and go back to work to help your parents you are doing a great thing by helping your parents but you are not helping yourself any, not if you do not continue with an education afterwards. As we go along you are going to find that I am a great believer in education. But anyway, I dropped out of school at the age of twelve. I went to work for a restaurant making $12.50 a week working seven days a week. Of course I would bring that to my mom to help support the family. At the age of 19 the war in Korea broke out and I went into the service. I went into the Army February 19, 1951 and once in the service I realized how HHA# 00756 Page 3 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 3 Houston History Archives important education was to a person because of the fact that you know you would see these people in the office typing while you were out there in the field. That just got to me. I said, “This is not for me.” Anyway, I was honorably discharged February 20, 1953. I came home and before I left I started a job with a place called Universal Packing and Gasket Company that produced gaskets for oil fields. At the time I left I think I was making like $.65 an hour. Well of course when I came back I started back with the company and I started making a little money. But anyway I bought my first house here in Denver Harbor and again that was in ’53. After I bought my first house the whole year later or so I got married but still the thing of the education was on my mind. So what I did was I took some courses for a GED. I took I believe it was like two weeks, three weeks of studying and then I told the teacher I said, “I’m ready for the test.” He said, “Man it’s been two weeks.” I said, “I’m ready.” So anyway I took the test and would you believe that at the time the top score you could make was 50. I made a 48.5 so that was great. That really got me going and really got me motivated and after that well of course I took some classes, they had just started U of H downtown. I took some classes there because I wanted to be a commercial artist. Well that didn’t work out because now the family comes along. We had, my wife and I had three boys and one right after the other; they are just a year apart. Now I have to support my own family. Well I stayed with the company until 1960. In 1960 I decided this isn’t for me. I’m not getting anywhere here although I became a supervisor. I was the supervisor of the company. I had something like 30 people under me. But I was not happy, not happy at all. So I went into law enforcement. I became a reserve Deputy Constable with Harris County, Precinct One. In 1973 we fought a lot. We had a big fight over, it was called redistricting and that HHA# 00756 Page 4 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 4 Houston History Archives comes around every ten years. So we had a big battle because of the redistricting because many people were against making or doing the redistricting because of the fact that for example Precinct One had such a huge area it included the downtown area, the Heights, Northside, Second Ward, Denver Harbor, Magnolia… just huge. But we had no Hispanic representation, none. Well we went against them and finally we got the Justice Department involved and they said, “You guys have a good idea, you have a good cause” and Precinct Six was created which is where we are now. A fellow by the name of, I was supposed to be “the constable” but what happened was they felt that I did not have enough experience to take it. So a fellow that had been with the police department by the name of Raul Martinez was appointed constable. Armando Rodriguez, an attorney, was appointed Justice of the Peace and a young man by the name of Richard Vara was also appointed Justice of the Peace. Each precinct has to have two JP’s and they were the guys that were appointed to it. I became the Chief Deputy Constable under Raul Martinez and from ’73 to ’80 I stayed with him and then I left him because I went to work for Judge Armando Rodriguez in the courts and I worked with him for a number of years. But I have been very much involved in a lot of things. One of the things I am really, really proud of is the fact that by being in the Judge’s employ I was there when people used to come in and I am a very short person in stature I am only 5 foot 5 inches tall but as they say in, los Mexicanos dicen, “es muy largo,” because of the fact that you reach out and you do things and you are able to communicate. One of my main things that I am proud of is that I am able to communicate with a lot of people and I’ll give you some examples. I had friends in the light company. You know I knew people in the light company, the gas company and the water company. It helped me out a lot because of the HHA# 00756 Page 5 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 5 Houston History Archives fact that people would come there and they would say, “They are fixing to cut my water off.” You know, “It’s cold and they are fixing to cut the gas off.” Well in the gas company I had my compadre working there and I would call “Compadre don’t cut the gas off for these people. These people need the gas. How much do you need to keep it going?” “Well I need $40.” Well what I would do is I would put in $10, I’d get $10 from the judge and $10 from somebody else and we would get the $40 together to keep the gas on for these folks. The water department, same thing, the light company I could call up and say, “Give them an extension please” so on and so forth and it worked believe me it worked and I’m so proud of that. Because of the fact that I knew people and this is something that is taken very seriously. For example Crespo Funeral Home, they were great to me because many times, you know young Hispanic girls would have a problem with their child being born deceased and they had no money, they had nothing so I would call Crespo, Treviño or one of those funeral homes that I know of and I said, “Look guys I need your help.” These guys worked with me and we were able to give the child a decent burial. Un sepulto sagrado and that meant a lot for me. I was very much involved again with the redistricting at the time there was a fellow by the name of Ben Reyes who was heading the thing. Leonel Castillo who became the City Controller first Mexicano City Controller, and by the way I was the first Mexicano to be appointed Chief Deputy Constable in Harris County, never before. But anyway Leonel Castillo was the City Controller. Ben was the state representative at the time and then John Castillo became a member of City Council. Felix Fraga and I’ve known many, many people in higher places. Mickey Leland and I were great friends. Mickey used to call me “mi hermano,” every time he saw me, “mi hermano,” Mickey was a super nice guy. God called him HHA# 00756 Page 6 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 6 Houston History Archives home at an early age but God knows what he is doing we don’t. But I am grateful that God allowed me to have his friendship. But anyway as far as my education; and I asked my wife the other day because people always, well not always but at times make the comment about you know, “that’s a smart guy. That’s a real smart guy.” I asked my wife I said, “Mama, am I really smart?” She said, “Well you read a lot. You know a lot and you can tell people a lot of things.” Even today people call me with personal problems and stuff and I am able to counsel with them and help them out. So again, this is one of the things I am so proud of. Today I am involved with the Denver Harbor Clinic. I think if you were to talk to this fellow that just left he would give you some nice things, say some nice things about me. I am the guy that will stand down at Fiesta down the street here, Fiesta grocery store and if I see a young lady that is expecting a child I will say, “Hey are you on Medicaid? Is your child going to be on Medicaid?” “Here take my card, go to the clinic. They will fix you up. Just tell them I sent you over there.” I am always doing that. If people need a ride I’ll take them over to the clinic and take them back home. This is the story; basically I try to be the nice guy. Again, I’m married. In November my wife and I will be married 54 years. We have three sons. My oldest son is a police officer. He has been a police officer now for over 30 years. Our second son worked for the Chronicle. He has been with the Chronicle for 30 some odd years. Our third son is a runner for an insurance company. So we have been blessed. Our family, we’ve never had any problems with the law and there is a lot of respect and love between us. But other than that again, I’m very proud that I was able to serve my country during the Korean War. As you can see I’m still wearing my cap. I wear it every day, every day I am proud of that. The other thing is that I am so happy and blessed in the way that God HHA# 00756 Page 7 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 7 Houston History Archives has given me the ability. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I don’t even drink coffee. I try to be a good husband. But I am blessed in a way from God in that God has allowed me with my limited education to be able to keep up for example with revisions in law. Because many other people will come up and ask me something like, “Listen this is happening” and they will tell me this and this and this. I can say, “Well look the law has been changed on that. These are your rights. Yes they have a right to what they are doing but these are your rights. You can do this. You can do that.” I feel blessed that I have been able to receive that type of learning because now I can pass it on to other folks you see and help them out in that manner. But I’ve I think at times I consider myself very political. I have a personal friend by the name of Frumencio Reyes, he is an attorney and has been an attorney for over 30 years and he has three things he says. He says, “First I’m a Mexicano. Second I’m a Catholic and third I’m a Democrat.” So he is very proud of that and I have been a Democrat all my life. I kind of feel like Frumencio does I’m also a Catholic, not a very good one, but I’m a Catholic but I’m very proud of that. My life has been good. I think if you were to go back to the Judge the Judge can vouch or say a lot of good things about me. He and I are great friends. As a matter of fact I knew the judge I remember the judge when he was a little boy coming up. We’ve been great friends. We have been able to work together and he is a great guy. Judge Vara when he was appointed they were trying to give it to another fellow but he had to put up $100 and he didn’t want to do it because he was scared he might lose his $100 so Richard Vara didn’t have the $100 so we took up a collection and I had $11 in my pocket so I donated my $11 so he could get appointed and I’ve never let him forget it. I always remind him of my $11 but these are some of the things I’ve been involved in. It’s been a good ride. HHA# 00756 Page 8 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 8 Houston History Archives NG: Going back to some of the things you said, the Korean War did you enter voluntarily? DA: No I was drafted. NG: You were drafted? DA: Yes what happened was I got my draft notice and I was not supposed to be called until the age of 21. Well I’ve always had this saying in me, “Why wait until tomorrow? If something is going to happen then let it happen now.” So I went in and I said, “Look guys when are you supposed to call me? He says, “How old are you?” “I’m 19.” They said, “No, no we aren’t going to call you until you are 21.” I said, “But you are still going to call me right?” “Yeah.” “Let’s get it over with. Let’s go now.” I went on Friday and they said, “You really want to go?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “When do you want to go?” I said, “When does the next train,” we used to travel by train back then, “When does the next train leave?” They said, “Monday night at 6:00 p.m. be at the railroad station.” “I will be there.” So we went. NG: You were infantry? DA: Infantry, yes ma’am. NG: You were born in Pasadena were your parents from Texas as well? DA: My dad was actually born in Eagle Pass, Texas but my grandparents were from Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico. So they had come here, my grandfather came here to work. Then my dad and two sisters were born and for some reason they went back to Mexico. So my dad was really considered to be from Mexico, although he was born here. Now my mom was born in Fulshear, Texas and then they migrated to Pasadena because back in the 30’s, that was during the depression. There were no jobs, no money, no food, no HHA# 00756 Page 9 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 9 Houston History Archives nothing and Pasadena was back then and is today, of course the king of strawberries. So they have a lot of strawberry patches and they would hire all these people to go out there and pick the strawberries and at the time, I don’t know how they do it today but at the time you did this on your hands and knees. You know you would be on your knees and you would have this basket where you would be putting your strawberries in. Once you got your basket full you would take it to a place called la recibidora, which was a little shack. You would turn in all of your little cases of strawberries and they would give you some slugs. For each slug was one of these cases or boxes of strawberries. Then at the end of the week you would turn in your slugs and they would pay you. This is how my mom and dad used… well this is the kind of job that they had back then. Now my dad, from what I understand, was like 17 and my mom was like 15 or even 14 when they got married, super young. Then here I come. You know of course that made things a little worse. Now these are the good things that I recall about my life. The bad things I recall about my life is that I was already coming up and I have a sharp memory, believe me I do. I remember coming with my father and it was very sad because my dad was a very, by the way my dad was an Indian, Apache Indian and he was a very proud man but necessity will make you do things that you don’t want to do. It used to embarrass him so much because we used to come to Houston and then they had a card that the… not the state it wasn’t by the state that the Federal government would give you and with this card you could go up, it used to be a building. It used to be called the ____________ (19.5) building. You would go there and you had already been issued a cloth sack and they had tables and as you went by you presented your card. I’ll give you an example. My dad… it was my dad, my mom and my two sisters and myself. They said, “Okay you have three HHA# 00756 Page 10 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 10 Houston History Archives kids, you and your wife. Okay.” So they would give us 5 oranges. The next guy would give us 5 apples. The next guy would give us 5 potatoes. The next guy would give us a little sack of sugar. The next one would give us a sack of flour or something. But you had to go there in order to survive. This is how you lived. My dad, it used to have to embarrass him to know we had to. I felt very bad about it, I felt very, very bad. As a matter of fact that was one of my bad things from my life that I can recall. Another one is again I think I had some of my dad’s blood in me. I’m a very proud person myself. One of the things, this probably has nothing to do about nothing but I have to tell you. I don’t believe in paying rent, never. It used to embarrass me. We lived in an alley our house was the third house in the alley on the end, and this lady, this Anglo lady used to come by every Saturday and start blowing the horn and people would run out there to pay her their rent. At the time we were paying like $2.00 a week for rent. I remember seeing my poor dad jump up out of bed because he heard that horn and boy we may not eat that week but he had to have that $2.00 and he would run out there to get his receipt for paying $2.00 and I swore, “I will never rent. Never.” So it is amazing but during the time that I was telling you that I used to work at this Café I bought my first house. I paid $50 down and $25 a month from a very good friend of mine that I met at that café. I met him and at that time he was a builder and we got to talking about it and he said, “You want to buy a house?” I said, “Yes sir.” “How much money do you have?” I said, “How much do you need?” He said, “$50.00.” I said, “I’ll get it for you.” So I got $50 I saved $50 and I made my down payment. I bought my first house where now is 59 and 610 come together. I bought my first house right there. Of course then at the time I went in the service. For whatever reason my dad sold it, when I cam home the house had been HHA# 00756 Page 11 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 11 Houston History Archives sold. The property had been sold. Well it was my dad. Whatever he decided was okay with me. But you know then right away I bought my own house. As we went along my wife and I, we bought numerous properties. As our son would get married we would give him a property, a house property, just give it to him. “There you go you don’t have to pay rent.” This is one of my beliefs. Don’t pay no rent! It’s personal of course. NG: Where do you live now, what area of town? DA: Right here. As a matter of fact I live up the next street about three houses down. NG: Is this considered, you called it Denver Harbor. DA: Yes. NG: Is it considered part of Magnolia? DA: No we are separate from Magnolia. Magnolia is Magnolia and Denver Harbor is Denver Harbor. You know as Houston was growing and I remember this as a little kid. This used to be nothing but swamps all through here. The only thing that was here was the railroad yard that was right there, Englewood Yards. I remember coming here because they used to hunt ducks and rabbits. They used to shoot them around here. It wasn’t part of Houston. But when the railroad came here then they started building all these houses around here. Well the City of Houston saw that so they decided we are just going to annex that and it is going to become part of Houston. But really, really this was not part of Houston back then. It was called Denver Harbor and that’s how that came to be. NG: Can you describe the community of Denver Harbor for me? Like socio economic, the level of money and ethnic background? DA: Okay, as far as population the breakdown of population. I’m going to tell you HHA# 00756 Page 12 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 12 Houston History Archives that Denver Harbor is probably 90% Hispanic. We have very few blacks and fewer Anglos. Now at one time it used to be nothing but Anglos but when the Hispanics started moving in it was called the “white flight.” All the Anglos started selling to the Mexicanos and they moved out, they moved away. It became a Hispanic community. Now as far as economic, this is a poor area. We are not starving; we are not starving to death by any means. There are people here that have pretty nice jobs. But one of our problems, believe you me, one of our problems is of the guys that really make it, instead of staying here and being an example for the rest of them, they move out. They get away to anywhere. They don’t want to be in Denver Harbor. Denver Harbor used to be called Podunk. Podunk means poor people, very poor people and this is what it was called and nobody wanted to be living in Podunk. I’m proud to live in Podunk. I’m happy and I’m proud. Now the other thing is this: as far as money, you have people of all types here. You have carpenters, of all trades. People that work in all kinds of trades. It is a good community. It is closely knit and we all stick together. I have been again, blessed to have been involved with Adrian Garcia when he was on City Council and through him we got a lot of sidewalks made. A lot of good things have happened to Denver Harbor. Felix Fraga was our council man at one time and just a number of guys that have been there. I have been blessed to know them and work with them. I will do a lot for them. I will go out of my way to help a politician because when I need him I want him to respond. That is the way that works. But as far as Denver Harbor it is a good area, it is a poor area. Again we are not starving but we still need a lot of help. We have a long way to go. One of the highlights is this place that we are sitting in. This place started down the street at a church. In the first day they saw two patients. The volunteer doctor came HHA# 00756 Page 13 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 13 Houston History Archives in and they saw two patients. Today we are seeing and I say “we” because I am on the board of directors, we are seeing up to 1,800 per month. That is a lot of folks. We are doing a lot of good for the people here and they know it. It is really working out. But again, the breakdown, again I am going to repeat, I’m going to say 90% and I’m going to say the rest are a few blacks and a few Anglos. Maybe even 95% because we have very few. NG: Now you are retired now? DA: Yes I am retired. NG: How did you get involved with the Denver Harbor Clinic? DA: What happened was I was involved again, and this has been some years ago, six, seven, eight years ago, because we had a lot of problems with our sidewalks. The sidewalks were built during the war, the Second World War and during the war there was no steel for the industry. All the steel was going into the… for the armed services, the government was taking it. So what they would do, they would build the sidewalks with no rods in them. Well with time the roots would pick up a section and then you would have a piece of sidewalk sticking up 12 inches above the other one, very dangerous and real bad. So I went ahead and got together with Adrian Garcia and we went and we tussled and we talked about it and we argued about it but 8 months later we got our side walks. What happened is I had called for a meeting over at the La Roca Church, which is one block from here. I had something like 60 people attend that meeting. The pastor was so impressed the way I ran the meeting that he invited me to come over and talk to Daniel, who is the CEO for the clinic. Of course by then that part over there was the clinic and this part was not here yet. It was over there and he said, “Look we’d like to HHA# 00756 Page 14 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 14 Houston History Archives have you over here on the Board of Directors. You seem to know a lot of people and you know how to get things done.” I said, “Well let’s see what happens.” This is how I got involved. He recommended me and they accepted me and since then I have been working for them. NG: When you were working for the Judge, for Judge Rodriguez what was your job? DA: I was the Assistant Chief Clerk. This is the way to break down this. It’s the Judge, then the Chief Clerk and then the Assistant Chief Clerk. Then of course you have your clerks. I was the Assistant Chief Clerk. NG: What kind of work did you do? DA: Well I did it all. I did criminal, I did civil I did social, you name it I did it. I am very well versed in all these things that I just said. NG: What made you become interested in doing that? DA: Let me tell you what made me become interested in doing that. It is a very simple story. Back in 1953 I always wanted to be in law enforcement. I wanted to be a cop, never mind the police man, a cop. In 1953 after coming out of the service I went in and I attempted to apply with HPD. “Now here I am I’m a veteran, hey… you know I need a job I want to be a police officer.” I went over and this guy looked at me, an Anglo and he started laughing, “You a cop? No way!” He said, “Go home. Grow up!” They had a rule back then that you had to be at least 5 foot 8 and weigh 160 pounds. I’m 5 foot 5 and I used to weigh 118 pounds at the time. So that of course, discouraged me from doing that. But my next thing was through a friend of mine I learned about the Constable’s office and there were no restrictions on height or weight so I joined them. I became a volunteer with them, a reserve officer and from there on I became a full time HHA# 00756 Page 15 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 15 Houston History Archives officer. At the time that I, well right now I am still active with Victor Treviño, with his office, with his Constable Treviño and right now I’m going on 40 years of service. But this is how my career as a police officer started. I wanted to be a police officer. If that one didn’t… if plan “A” didn’t work I went to plan “B.” NG: At the time that you became a constable was it difficult for Mexican Americans to become constables? DA: Not really, the only problem was you couldn’t go anywhere. You could become, we are all called patrolmen in the beginning and you could be a patrolman for the rest of your days. But I wasn’t satisfied with that. I kept plugging away, plugging away and I became the second Mexicano in Precinct One to become a captain. Not only that but the blacks had their own company, the blacks had their own company. I said, “Why not the Mexicanos?” They said, “Oh you have to be with the Anglos.” “Oh no, no, no. You gave them a company, give me a company. I’m a captain.” So I got me a company of Mexicanos, nothing but Mexicanos. NG: Was that for the Precinct? DA: Yes Precinct One. Now since then I’ve been with other agencies. I was with a city called Iowa Colony which is in Missouri County on 288 and I started there as a patrolman and by the time I left there I was Chief of Police. I was with the police department and I was the Chief of Police. The reason I left is that they disbanded the police department. But I was the Chief. I have come up the ladder a few times. NG: So what do you think now that Adrian Garcia is the sheriff? DA: I think the guy is doing a great job. Adrian is a good man. He is a real good man. He did 20 years or better I think with HPD. He did a good job. He did a good job as a HHA# 00756 Page 16 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 16 Houston History Archives city council man and now he is a sheriff. I don’t know that he knows what size apple he is biting into or the bite he is taking but that is a big bite being the sheriff for Harris County. It is a huge county and he has over 4,000 employees and it’s a hard job. But just this morning I was seeing or reading in the paper. I read the paper every day. I wake up at 5:30 every morning just like clockwork and I read my paper. I was seeing in the paper where he is talking about sending some of those prisoners to other counties, counties that need the money that and they have the space. So he is talking about transferring some of the over crowdedness in Harris County Jail he is going to handle by moving them out to other counties and the commissioners court seems to be happy with it and it’s good movement. I think he is going to make a good sheriff. I really do. If he continues the way he is going he will be alright. NG: How did you get involved with politics? DA: Well again going back to the redistricting. I was one of the first guys that came into help Ben Reyes. Ben Reyes was a young skinny kid that was running for state representative against a fellow by the name of Lauro Salas, he was the state representative at the time. Ben got… some people were not to happy with Lauro so Ben was a veteran with the Marines, a wounded veteran, well decorated so he decided to go against him. At that time I came up to him and I said, “Look man you need some help? I’ll help you.” He said, “Right now what we need is money.” I said, “I ain’t got no money. I don’t have any money. I’ve got time. I’ll give you plenty of time.” He said, “Hey that will work.” So I got involved with Ben. I used to run, we used to call it the sign shop where they would come in and say we need 500 signs by the weekend and we had a bunch of volunteers. We had our own, we used to print by hand, by hand. I’d make HHA# 00756 Page 17 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 17 Houston History Archives sure we had all the signs out. I am very good in a lot of things. Well I’m not real, real good. I know something about carpentry. I know something about plumbing, printing if you notice. Even in my handwriting I try to be very careful and things of that sort. I had one step over some other folks. We used to make our own frames. We used to make our own signs. We used to paint our own signs. I’m pretty good at painting. We used to paint our own signs. Ben fell in love with me and my work and Ben and I became very, very close and this is how I first came into that. Now we used to have back then there used to be a cantina, there is a picture of it back there. The owner of the cantina had part of the building that was vacant. So he would allow us to use that place for meetings. At the time I used to belong to an organization called PASSO and PASSO was something like right here we had 1,100 members, right here. People, when they ran for office, they used to come to us for endorsement. We had our own committees and things. We were set up real cool. We would endorse people. This is how I got very much involved in it. But I have always had a feeling for politics. I have always, I meant to bring you a magazine but later on I’ll give it to you. But I have always been involved in one way or another in politics. If you really look at life, life is politics. Life is politics because when you are talking politics to the norm, or the normal person or normal guy and you say, “Politics” he will think Mario Gallegos or Gene Green, “Politics are politicians.” He’s not thinking of politics itself, the political thing. Well if you really think about it life is political. If you really think about it because of the fact that what can you do without it? Somewhere or other, in jobs and every day life that is my feeling. I may be wrong, who knows? But anyway it has worked out for me. Like I said I knew Lloyd Benson and well right now I’m friends with Al Green, Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee. I know them folks. HHA# 00756 Page 18 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 18 Houston History Archives Every time I see them we will talk. You know we get along. When they need my help I’ll give it to them. You know they say, “Hey man I need this job done” or “Hey man I’m coming up for election I need you to go talk to these people.” I’ll go, I’ll do it. But again politics because when I need them I will call them and believe you me I will remind them, “Hey guy remember what I did for you? Now I need your help.” So this is my feeling now personal. Right, wrong or otherwise it is my feeling and I’m just in so many words letting you know that. NG: A lot of people are interested in political things. What made you become active? What do you think in you or what experiences you have had that made you become so active? DA: I became very active because of the fact that (and this is something that I don’t like to talk about) but I have seen a lot of racism in my time, a lot of discrimination in my time. Again, in the beginning I told you I started school as a very young guy in Pasadena. Believe you me, I started the school that had just been built, brand new school. They hadn’t built the sidewalks yet but they had the forms and the shell instead of concrete they had shell because again times were bad and no money. But if you were walking, me being Hispanic, if I were walking on the side walk, the shell sidewalk and if an Anglo kid was walking towards me I had to get off the sidewalk to let him by. If it was muddy or it had rained or whatever I had to get off the sidewalk. That is discrimination. If the teacher saw you not get off you would get spanked you see. I remember even when I came back from the service they discriminated against me because they told me, “We’re not going to hire you because you are too skinny… you are too short.” It wasn’t that. They didn’t want Mexicanos in the police department. They didn’t want them. See, they wanted HHA# 00756 Page 19 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 19 Houston History Archives nothing but Anglos. If a blue eyed blonde haired 6 foot 2 inch guy came out of the woods in Porter, Texas and he came by and said, “I want to be a police officer” back then they would hand you a gun and a belt and a cap and say, “Here you are a cop.” It wasn’t like today. Today you have to go to school. Even today in order to hold my commission I have to go to classes, 40 hour classes every two years. You see so it is education. Education is very, very important. Back then it was not like that. They would hire you on the spot if you were Anglo. Again, discrimination, racism, even when I came back to work I remember that when I came back to a place I used to work, you couldn’t speak Spanish. If you spoke Spanish they would fire you. You could not speak Spanish in that company, they would fire you. Well this is one of the things I fought and I won. I said, “No you can’t do that. Freedom of speech, freedom of speech guy! I just came back from the war. I just came back from serving my country for my rights and one of my rights is freedom of speech and you aren’t going to take that away from me. If you want to fire me go ahead. You will see the heck I’m going to raise.” So again, let’s look at it literal. See? I was using politics in order to gain what I wanted and I got it. So again I’ve seen my share of that. Again, I try to do what is right and I try to help people and I try to teach people as much as I know and as much as I can in order for them to gain something to become somebody. We used to have what is called career day at the judge’s office. He would always send me to a school somewhere to talk about career day. Well in career day they want you to say, “Well if you become a Justice of the Peace you are going to make $100,000 a year plus weddings and you are going to sit up there as judgment and all this good stuff.” They quit sending me after three or four years because I wouldn’t talk about that. I would talk about education. I would tell those kids, “You stay in school and you HHA# 00756 Page 20 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 20 Houston History Archives learn and you learn. This here, this teacher is not only your teacher…” this is again my belief, “this teacher is your mom and your dad put into one. Who are you with most of the day? The teacher.” Think about it. You leave your kids there and they go into class at 7 and they are there until 3:00 or 4:00. Then they come home. Mama works. Daddy works. They don’t get home until 6:00 so who do they spend time with? The teacher. That is your mom and your dad. I just used to pound education at them. A lot of the kids were happy to hear that. Some of them they probably didn’t give a darn one way or the other. I didn’t care. I cared for the ones that listened to me and the ones that went on. Then again that goes back to the education thing. But I got into the politics because of those reasons. I was seeing so much wrong and I wanted it right. I think I have made a few steps in the right direction. NG: You mentioned PASSO earlier. Can you tell me what that stands for? DA: It used to be let’s see… something about the Association for Spanish Speaking People or Spanish Organization but I forget what the “P” was for. I don’t remember. [Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations] NG: What was the purpose? DA: It was just very political group of people that got together and they started it. It is like the GI Forum for example, the LULAC. It is something very, very similar to LULAC. You know we were for the rights of people but you know like LULAC endorses also but LULAC doesn’t have what we have. We would get together and we would form committees and they would come in for endorsements asking for our help. Now not only did we endorse but if we endorsed you we would get our 1,100 members to go out and put up signs for you. To go up there and march or whatever was necessary. HHA# 00756 Page 21 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 21 Houston History Archives Our people were raring to go. NG: When did you begin working with PASSO? DA: It had to be perhaps in ’68, ’70 somewhere around that time… again when Ben first ran. End of Tape 1, Side 1 NG: Other than the campaign for Ben Reyes, do you remember other campaigns that were very memorable or important? DA: The Kennedy. Kennedy of course, it is one of the things that sticks in my mind. We were also involved when Tony Sanchez ran for governor; of course he didn’t make it. Tony Sanchez we were involved in that. I’m a member right now of the Harris County Democrats and as a matter of fact we have a meeting Thursday. We’ve been involved just about every election. I was involved in this last one for the President. Of course I wasn’t for him in the beginning. I was for Hillary. I’m telling you I was for Hillary. But she didn’t make it so we go to plan “B.” But I’ve been very much involved just you name it and I’ve been involved in it. Constable Rick Treviño, when he first ran for office I was involved in his campaign. Some of the judges downtown are personal friends of mine. Richard Mallard, he is deceased now, he used to run, of course, every four years. As soon as I found out he was running, not even in my district or anything I would call him and say, “Judge you need any help?” “Yeah when can you be by?” “You tell me and I’ll go there.” I’d put up signs or posters or whatever is necessary just to help him out. Nice guy, super nice guy. He was a judge in criminal courts. But I’m happy to say he was my friend, you see? That’s part of it. NG: What made the Kennedy campaign memorable? HHA# 00756 Page 22 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 22 Houston History Archives DA: I think that one of the things that sticks in my mind is what he said. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” To me, that just hit me because of the fact that today we are involved in two wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and if we turn around and we look at it, you know, here we are just two days ago I read about a young man, 20 years old out of San Antonio that was killed. He was killed in action. His humvee got blown up and he died. Just if you think about it the Mexicanos have always been there, the Mexicanos. You know there is a war, he goes, the Second World War, the Mexicanos. Every Mexicanos have been involved in the wars but with the Kennedy administration that hit me. It went deep into me and I always remembered that. He was Catholic and a young man and he had some good ideas, I thought were good ideas. Unfortunately he was assassinated and then we had LBJ that came in there. Well he went at a young time, a young age and didn’t complete what he should have or would have but he impressed me, he really impressed me. When Robert Kennedy was running I was all for him. Of course he was assassinated. It was something very special about the man. Now, of course, Bill Clinton he was alright. Bill Clinton was alright. I really wanted Hillary to become president. It would have really been something. Yes we have our first black president but can you imagine a first female president? That would have been great. I hope to see that in my time before I go. I really do. You know I have the most respect for ladies and someone asked me one time, “You know you show so much respect for the ladies, why?” I said, “My mom is a lady.” He just looked at me and didn’t say anything but turned around and walked away. I have a lot of respect for Hillary. I think she would have been great. I think she is doing a good job as Secretary of State. Somebody asked her and she was in Africa or something and HHA# 00756 Page 23 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 23 Houston History Archives this guy asked her, “What does Bill have to say about what is going on in the world? You know your job you are doing today?” Her answer was, “I am the person who is Secretary of State not Bill.” I thought that was super, good answer. But that is a lot of what sticks with me about the Kennedy campaign. We worked very hard to get him in there, very hard. I remember that we had a meeting with, I don’t think it was Robert I think it was Ted that came to Houston and we had a meeting with him at one of the union halls and I was so impressed with him. That’s him! NG: Locally PASSO used to endorse candidates? DA: Yes. NG: Some of the early people that I read about, for example, Lauro Cruz. DA: State rep. NG: David Lopez. DA: David Lopez? NG: For HISD were you familiar with that campaign? DA: Well David Lopez… there are two David Lopez. David Lopez is with the Hospital District, he is CEO for the Hospital District. Then there is another David Lopez who as an attorney. NG: What about the one I read about was for the school board election. What kinds of activities did PASSO do with the schools? DA: We endorsed people. For example we were very much involved… PASSO dissolved because of a lot of problems. One of the problems that Mexicano, and I’m sure you have heard of the story of the Mexican crab you have heard of that one right? NG: Yes. HHA# 00756 Page 24 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 24 Houston History Archives DA: Okay this is where we are at. We are still the Mexican crab. Olga…Mario’s mother she became part of the school district and the other one was, what was her name? Another lady, she became part of the, on the board with the school district. But anyway there are two ladies that became part of the board. We endorsed them, we helped them out even though PASSO was already out of the picture. But what happened to PASSO was we became so great and so strong that now somebody gets jealous that always happens so they wanted to break it into two. They wanted PASSO One and PASSO Two it just went into nothing. Olga Gallegos okay is the lady I was thinking about. She was for the school board she retired not too long ago. But we endorsed her, we helped her. If it is a Mexicano, a good Mexicano, we will go for her. One of the things about Mexicanos I’m glad. Because they are a Mexicano that doesn’t mean we are going with him. I’ll give you an example. Right now the Harris County Democrats are going to or are thinking of endorsing Gene Locke for mayor for the City of Houston, where they have a guy named Roy Morales running. Why not go with Roy Morales, he is a Mexicano? You see? But we are to the point now, we are more advanced. We are more educated now. We are going for who we think is best. For whoever we think is going to do more for us, the best person. What are you brining to the table? Apparently Roy Morales is not the choice, but although he is a Mexicano. This is one of the things that we are not doing any more. You know many years ago, because of Mexicanos, a Mexicano used to run every four years for mayor his name was ______________, (9.4) I believe his first name was Ed _____________ and he used to run just to run. The guy knew he wasn’t going to win but he used to run. You know back then if you got 5,000 votes that was great; if a guy got 500 votes that was grand. We have always had HHA# 00756 Page 25 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 25 Houston History Archives ambitious Mexcianos that want to do something. Unfortunately they haven’t. Back then it was because we were dominated by the Anglo. You know, I don’t know you are too young to remember this but at one time we used to pay a poll tax. If you didn’t pay your $1 or .50 cents for the poll tax you couldn’t vote. You went to the voting place and you had to show your poll tax. Well that got kicked out that was unconstitutional. So today we don’t need it. Although even today there are problems because if you don’t have a driver’s license or some type of ID you are not going to vote. But it has gotten better. NG: So is there a local organization that resembles PASSO now that endorses people? DA: Well that would have to be the Harris County Democrats. NG: The Harris County Democrats is not focused on Mexican Americans is it? DA: No. NG: In addition to endorsing candidates what other activities did PASSO participate in? DA: Well again they would go and work for their candidate. As I stated before they would put up signs, hang up signs. Go with them if they needed to go someplace that they needed to speak. We would accompany them. Many times a lot of people did not speak the language and we would have to have someone translate for them and things of that nature. NG: Were they involved in anything dealing with education, not endorsing candidates but I was looking at something about desegregation of schools in the 1970’s. DA: In the 1970’s what happened was Regan, Regan decided that he was going to make all the Mexicanos white in order to get the blacks in with the whites. Do you recall that or not? No you are too young. What happened was everyone was segregated. The HHA# 00756 Page 26 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 26 Houston History Archives blacks had their own schools, Mexicanos had their own schools, Anglos had their own schools. Well there was an uproar about why? Why is everyone segregated? Why not together? So somebody came up with a bright idea and I’ll give you an example: there is a school named Elliott right there, two blocks from here. There is another school named, I forget what the school is across the railroad tracks, a black school. Well in order to bus the blacks where they could mingle or become part of the Anglo or the white schools, Regan called the Mexicanos here whites and had the blacks bus from there to here and some of the Mexicanos from here to there. So now we are not segregated, we are integrated. So that was kind of weird. But there was a lot of protests, a lot of marches. A lot of people went to jail over that because we didn’t like that. My wife is one of the ones that was out there with the picket sign and luckily I was already in law enforcement. They would call me, “Man you better come get your wife she’s fixing to go to jail!” I’d go and bring her home. But that happened back then. It was really happening. You know the government is the government what are you going to do? Protest, right now they are protesting over these medicines and the pharmaceutical things and Medicaid and Medicare and a lot of people don’t like it. It’s good. It’s their right to. If you don’t like something, say so. I believe in that. So this is some of the things that were happening back then. NG: What do you think the role was of people like you and people involved in political organizations in that event? DA: When you are saying what our role was? NG: Yes. DA: Well I kind of feel like at the time someone had to lead them. There had to be a HHA# 00756 Page 27 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 27 Houston History Archives leader. At the time you either became a leader by somebody saying, “Hey man, you do it!” or you did it on your own. For example, I’ll give you an example nobody has said, “Dario you are a community leader.” But if I need something or I want something I get after it. Then if I need to call the folks to come to a meeting then I walk the streets. I’ll walk up and down the streets leaving flyers or verbally saying, “We need to meet over here at this time and this day or whatever.” I would kind of be self appointed. But I have heard people say, I’ve heard people say, “This guy’s a neighborhood activist” and things of that sort. I kind of don’t like that. I just want to be me. I want to do my thing. If it helps then good, if it doesn’t, well I tried. But as a leader and things of that sort, I’ve been mentioned but it’s not one of my favorite things. NG: Have you been involved in other political organizations or community organizations? DA: Well yes. At one time I was the co chair for an organization called Union y Progreso and that was also a community thing. But unfortunately the leadership was bad. I resigned and I told a friend of mine who was also their secretary, I got him to resign, a fellow by the name of Tony Marron, very political. We both resigned at the same time because, “Hey man I don’t like what is happening I’m getting out.” So he got out at the same time. Both the people that were running it went to prison because they were embezzling funds. Luckily we got out of there in time. We were not tied up in it. But yes I was involved in that. NG: I forgot to ask you what was your role with PASSO? DA: I was Sergeant at Arms. NG: You know there is a lot of different organizations for Mexican Americans like HHA# 00756 Page 28 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 28 Houston History Archives LULAC and things like that that you mentioned also. Do you think that PASSO was different politically from them? DA: Yes very much so. You know in the eyes and again I hate to keep harping on this but in the eyes of the Anglo PASSO is called “the toothless tiger.” I don’t know if you have ever heard this, “the toothless tiger” because they talk, talk, talk and don’t do anything. PASSO used to do what they talked about. You know PASSO would say, “We are going after this guy we don’t want him in office and we would go after him.” If something was wrong in the police department we would go and stand in front of the police station and protest. PASSO doesn’t, PASSO just talks. Well we don’t like what happened and we need to get something done and all this and that and that’s the end of it. You know but not PASSO. PASSO was an organization that was a “Get it done” organization. If we endorsed you, you had an 80% to 90% chance that you were going to win. We were that tough, we were strong. Not only did we endorse like I stated before but we would get up there and do the footwork for you. We would do the foot work for you. So you had a good shot at making it. PASSO may endorse…. NG: You are talking about PASSO? DA: I don’t mean PASSO I mean LULAC. Now LULAC is more of your Mexicanos that has made it, that organization. LULAC wants to go and have a conference in Hawaii. They want to have a conference in Las Vegas. All these good looking ladies that belong to LULAC you know as soon as you say, “We are going to Vegas,” “Oh I’m going to go and buy me this new outfit.” This is what they talk about. They go and they have a good time and they represent LULAC great! What else do they do? Nothing! Now that’s my opinion okay, personal. Now again, getting back to PASSO they did it. HHA# 00756 Page 29 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 29 Houston History Archives Now the Harris County Democrats, they do it. They don’t do it to the point that PASSO did but they do it. Now PASSO used to get out there and you know when you are talking about 1,100 members, 1,100 members went out into the field. We were tight, we were super tight. There was nobody pulling that way in the other direction. We all pulled in the same direction, everybody. It was great. But again the Mexican crab thing. One of them gets out and the other one pulls them down and that’s what happened. NG: Very powerful? DA: Very powerful, PASSO was very, very powerful yes, politically very powerful. NG: And as you were saying you think from the outside people saw PASSO as how would you describe it? DA: Well the political people saw it as a way to get in. If you got PASSO’s endorsement you had a good shot at it. You had a good shot. You were going to make it. NG: Did some time the endorsements didn’t happen. What do you think was the difference between what PASSO endorsed and what the community wanted? DA: Well you see this is the other thing, before we endorsed anybody we were going to get out in the community. Now remember politics is a sales job. You are selling a product. You are selling a politician. We used to do a darn good job of selling that politician. Of course now remember that I said we had committees, we had a screening committee. The screening committee they would come in and we would put them through a bunch of questions. “Well what do you intend to do? What is your background? Did you ever mistreat a Mexicano? We heard you did this…” depending on their response and then the screening committee would make a recommendation to the organization and they would take a vote. It had to be a vote that was taken from the HHA# 00756 Page 30 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 30 Houston History Archives organization. I’m talking about “the” organization. It wasn’t just something that came from the people up here at the front desk and said, “Well I want you to vote for…” No no, they would put it to us and the folks would vote. NG: So you think it was very tied into the community? DA: Yes very much so. NG: Is there anything else you were hoping to talk about today that you want to discuss? DA: I think I’ve talked more about me today then I ever have. Of course you ask me so I told you. But you know and again I’m going to repeat what I said a little while ago. I have been blessed that God has given me the knowledge that I have and I think in a lot of fields. I have been blessed with a good marriage. I have been blessed with again, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke I’m a nice guy. I had a good career in law enforcement. Even today I’m attempting, still attempting to help people. That is my goal. My goal today even in this clinic, when we first started we started in this other building which is right there and that used to be a cantina a long time ago and I saw two or three people get killed at that cantina and today it makes me feel good because today instead of taking lives they are saving lives. As a matter of fact I made that statement to some people that came in from Washington that did an interview here and they wanted me to go to Washington and testify to that. I said, “Well I don’t know. Repeat it if you want to I don’t care to go.” But anyway I’m glad of that. My dream is not only to see this, since I’ve been here and we had this building constructed. We now have from one volunteer doctor one day, we have four doctors on staff. We have 10 interns and nurses, you name it. Now we even have a dental clinic next door. That is a dental clinic. I’m looking HHA# 00756 Page 31 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 31 Houston History Archives forward to next year when we are going to have a pharmacy built next door. Instead of a two story building I would love to see perhaps an 8 to 10 story building built right here para la comunidad de Denver Harbor. Of course now and this is making me feel so good. We are getting people all the way from Willis, from Galveston, from Baytown. They come to the clinic here. That’s great. That is great and makes me feel so good. One of the things that I am very, very happy with is the fact that young ladies today, and I’m going to phrase it this way, you see babies with babies, young ladies, 15, 16 years old with babies. They don’t know what to do. Whenever I see one that is pregnant is I tell them to come here because what happens is we give them prenatal care and once they get ready to have their baby we don’t send them to Ben Taub or LBJ we send them to Methodist. They have their baby and then they come back and we enroll them in Medicaid, CHIPS and whatever is out there for those kids, the young ladies. That makes me feel so good. I sleep good. It makes me feel real, real good. I’m very active with the clinic. I think if you spoke with Daniel he would tell you just how active I am. As a matter of fact we had a meeting earlier and one of the ladies said, “This is our ambassador of good will.” But no I’ve had a good run through this life. One of the things that keeps me going is something that I heard sometime back and I’m going to repeat it to you. It says, “I am only going through here but once. So whatever good I am to do let me do it today or I will never walk through here again.” That’s great! That is just the way I feel. Let me do it today. God, let me do it today. Now again, I’ve… again I spoke of Ben Reyes. You know who Ben Reyes is? You know Ben Reyes had his problems but we are still friends. I went to visit him when he was incarcerated because he is my friend. He committed a mistake. We all make mistakes in life, everybody. But HHA# 00756 Page 32 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 32 Houston History Archives he has paid for his mistake. He was my friend prior, he was my friend during and he is my friend today. To me we all make mistakes in life. So that’s me. NG: As you were talking I was thinking about in the beginning of the political organizations there was a lot of interest in getting Mexicanos elected? DA: Yes. One of the first Mexicanos that got elected in city hall was Leonel Castillo then Ben of course was State Representative. Well the opportunity came up where we needed a Mexicano on city council, we had no Mexicanos. So we decided, the organization decided to run Leonel for City Council. Well what had happened is he had just come back from the Jimmy Carter administration where he had been made the Czar of Immigration, the Head of Immigration and then he became city controller. Somewhere or another his wife convinced him, “Hey your name is out there. Why run for city council when you can run for mayor?” So Leonel decided to run for mayor. Of course the city was not ready for a Mexicano to be mayor. So what we did is we pulled Ben out from being a state representative and ran him for city council. He became the city council man and of course Leonel was out, because he didn’t make it to mayor. But we’ve always had, we have always had the inspiration of having Mexicanos there. We want Mexicanos. One of our Mexicanos that didn’t make chief of police for the City of Houston but he made assistant was Art Contreras he was a police officer for many years and finally we got him. We said, “Hey man we need some Mexicanos up here! We’ve got some top notch people.” Art Contreras went up so they made him an assistant chief until he retired. But we’ve done our homework. We’ve done…. Now we have, of course, Sylvia Garcia in commissioner’s court. Hopefully on this next go around we can get somebody, get another Mexicano in there. Now we have Ed Gonzales in city council but HHA# 00756 Page 33 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 33 Houston History Archives you know why stop there? James Rodriguez. Why stop there? We have two, let’s get three. Maybe the next go around we’ll have four. Let’s go for it. That’s my goal that’s what I’m looking at. I want to see my Mexicano in there. It’s too bad that in this point in my life I wish I could have lived to see a Mexicano as a president of the United States. It’s going to come by, it is possible. I was watching this crazy guy the other night, George Lopez. He was talking about how many millions of Mexicanos there are here in the United States. In 2020 who knows what is going to happen? It is a ways off but who knows what is going to happen? If we don’t make it, maybe someone should run anyway. Who knows? I wish I could be there. I’m hoping, I’m praying to God, “Dios dejame ver.” NG: You’ve mentioned a couple of times Leonel Castillo? DA: Leonel? NG: He was elected for city controller? DA: Yes. NG: Can you talk about the significance of his campaign and election? DA: Well of course he was a member of PASSO, a top notch member so you know automatically you know who we are going with and automatically you know who we are going to work for. We had no problems getting him in there, no problems whatsoever. Again, we couldn’t go against the people when he ran for mayor. That’s like you know you can jump over a bump but you can’t jump over a mountain. Here we are, now we are facing a mountain and we couldn’t do it. But somehow or another someone convinced him to try it and he did and he didn’t make it. But I’m sure he would have made a good one. He is a nice guy, a super nice guy, very smart. HHA# 00756 Page 34 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 34 Houston History Archives NG: The election of city controller is that a city wide election? DA: Yes. NG: He was elected, do you remember when? DA: I don’t recall the year. NG: How was PASSO and the Mexican American community able to get him elected city wide? DA: Again, though nothing but hard work, very hard work. Just like, let me tell you and we spoke about Adrian Garcia. Adrian Garcia made it and I’ll tell you why, my belief okay? Adrian Garcia made it because of the fact and it’s called riding the coat tails of the democrats. This was a democratic year, the democrats made it and Adrian is a democrat. Not only that but the district attorney, Rosenthal got into a mess of trouble, he resigned then with his trouble he brought the Sheriff down, Tommy Thomas. Well that was the perfect time for a Mexicano to get in. Because let me tell you, running county wide is hard, very hard. You are a Mexicano county wide, first of all you are going to have a lot of republicans. Then county wide there are a lot of Anglos and they aren’t going to vote for a Mexicano. But yet here they did because they are angry at Rosenthal and Thomas so what is the lesser of two evils? You know here is Adrian, ex HPD, city council. Good record, good clean guy. Hey let’s give him a ride and he did and he’s in. Now he keeps going the way he is he will be there a long time if he doesn’t mess up. If he messes up then he’s going because they will kick him out the first chance they get, it always happens. So again you know he made it on the coat tails of the democrats. NG: Do you think the same thing happened with Leonel? DA: Well Leonel’s case it was a somewhat different. You know Leonel yes he had a HHA# 00756 Page 35 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 35 Houston History Archives good reputation with immigration and he didn’t rattle a lot of cages as the chief of immigration. He didn’t anger the Hispanics and he didn’t anger the whites so they got together and said, “He’s a good guy, put him in.” and we did. NG: What does it mean to you personally and then what do you think it means for the community when, especially at that time when a Mexicano got elected? DA: Oh that was great. You know as a matter of fact, a lot of people that go back to that point call it the beginning. “Oh ese fue el principio, that was the beginning.” That is why today we’ve got Alvarado, Carol Alvarado, we have Wally we have a lot of Mexicanos as state representatives and we have a lot of Mexicanos here. You know in 1973 like I said the first J.P. to be appointed Mexicano, Judge Armando Rodriguez, Richard Vara, the first constable in the history of Texas, the first constable, Raul Martinez. The first chief deputy constable, Dario Arellano okay we have a lot of firsts and it’s great. It is the beginning. You see, today Victor Treviño is the constable and has been the constable going on for twenty years or better. His chief deputy is a female, a Hispanic female, Carolyn Lopez. So we have made a lot of stride. We have gone a long way. We have come up a long way. You know today when we first started as constables the only thing we did was serve papers. Well Victor today has patrol. He has a boat that goes out and rescues people and just all kinds of things, everything uptown. Why? Because of the efforts of good people that started way back then. You know there are some people and I’m going to mention some names to you there was: Ben, John Castillo, Leonel Castillo, A. John Castillo, J.P. Rivera, David Ortiz, his wife Dolly Ortiz, Mary Castillo just oodles and oodles of Mexicanos that were very much involved and that have never, never been recognized. Nothing has ever been done for them but nothing has been HHA# 00756 Page 36 of 36 Interviewee: Arellano, Dario Interview Date: August 11, 2009 University of Houston 36 Houston History Archives done for me but I feel good. It gives me a good feeling about what I have done and I’m sure they feel the same way. But it has been a struggle, it has been a fight but we are getting there. Again, today, like Adrian left city council and before he left he came to me and he said, “Dario I know you have supported me all this time. I’m going to make the sheriff, I’m going to be the sheriff but I want you to do something for me.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “I want you to help this man get elected. This is Edward Gonzales and I want you to help him, he is my friend.” My response to him was, “You got it guy.” I worked all Denver Harbor to get him elected. Now he is city council. You see, that makes me feel good. You know I can’t go to him for a job I’m too old. I can’t go to Adrian for a job I’m too old. My time has passed but it’s not past for me to go around here and talk to people and say, “Look this is my candidate.” I have a lot of friends in Denver Harbor that still listen to me. You know if I say, “This is a good guy” they will go with me. I’m fortunate. I have been blessed also. You see it was a start and the start has continued and I’m hoping that this goes on and on and on until we get to the top. That is my goal. NG: Is there anything else? DA: I don’t think so I think I’ve talked too much. NG: Thank you very much. End of interview.