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So Reported the 1950 Census


The U.S. 1950 Census was released this month, if you’re into genealogy. Unlike the last census, which we answered online, hired hands went house to house in 1950 to note certain information about the residents. I found my family in Section 35-8 of San Benito County, California. That section’s enumerator began her or his (first name is either Alma or Alan) task of interviewing households on April 5, 1950. 


On the day of the interview, the enumerator noted that Daddy was 45, Mama, 28, and  Brother, one year old. They lived on a ranch on Wright Road, just northwest of Hollister, where Daddy was a farmer’s helper who had worked 50 hours the previous week. I wonder if they paid rent or got their housing for free. The federal  minimum wage in 1950 was 75 cents an hour, according to the Department of Labor.


Mama’s name was spelled wrong, Francisco instead of Francisca. Our surname was written with two r’s rather than one. No big deal there. I don’t know why Daddy spelled Echaore, while Uncle Frank, a younger brother spelled it Echaorre, and Uncle Alejandro, the youngest brother, spelled it Echaure. At least, the enumerator didn’t spell Echore, Eachore, or something else. 


Interestingly, the census taker wrote W (for White) and not Fil (Filipino) for Mama, Daddy, and Brother.  She or he was correct in stating that Mama, Daddy, and Brother were born in the Philippine Islands, but incorrect about Daddy’s citizenship status. By 1950, Daddy was a U.S. citizen, having been naturalized while serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. It should’ve also been noted that Brother was an American citizen born abroad.  (Mama liked to say that Brother could run for the office of  U.S. President if he wanted.) 

I wonder with whom the interviewer spoke. If it was during the day, I’d guess Mama and most likely a neighbor was with her. In April, 1950, Mama and Brother were still new to America, having arrived seven months earlier (a story for another day). Mama said that they lived with Uncle Frank and his family for several weeks before moving to the ranch. I think they lived there for at least four more years. She said that was where they bought me home from the hospital.  


Comments

  1. It's fascinating to see things like this. I wonder why all the spellings of your last name. Did the interviewer write it down wrong, or did they really all spell it differently?

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    Replies
    1. Daddy and Uncles really did spell our surname differently. I don’t know why. No one thought his was the correct spelling. Our surname is a bastardization of a Spanish one, which either the tax collector assigned or my great or great-great grandfather picked from a list.

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