Morgan describes her years growing up in Chamberino, New Mexico, and helping with her grandfather's farm starting in the late 1940s. She was educated in the Chamberino area and in Silver City, and worked as a teacher in Las Cruces.
Agricultural field in the Chamberino area
Tape 1, Side A
Morgan grew up in Chamberino, NM. After her parents divorced, Morgan,her mother and her brother lived with her aunt, and maternal grandparents. Her great-grandparents owned land that was part of the Refugio Colony Land Grant. After the death of her husband, her great-grandmother and their children worked the farm.
Morgan recalls that her grandmother was "very strict and traditional." The family grew cotton, squash, watermelon, corn, sugar cane, sorghum, and alfalfa on the farm. Although the family lived in town, her grandfather drove the wagon to the farm every day. After the death of her grandfather, Morgan's mother and aunt rented out the farm. The renters grew cotton and alfalfa, but discontinued the crops in 2010 when water supplies dwindled.
When Morgan was young the family kept horses, pigs, and chickens. A pig was slaughtered every year, and Morgan recalls collecting the chicken eggs every day. She and her brother helped to pick the cotton. Bracero workers also helped during the cotton harvest. Garden produce was dried on the clothes line or on the roof. Drying chile pods were covered with cheesecloth to protect them from the flies.
Tape 1, Side B
The family also dried peaches that they gathered. Morgan recalls that when cotton prices were low it was stressful for the family, but they were able to provide what they needed from their garden and from the pigs they raised. The annual pig slaughter was one of the many celebrations held throughout the year. Morgan recalls celebrating the feast day of the patron saint, bazaars to raise money for the church, baptisms, and the day the new church bell was blessed by the priest.
When illness struck family members they were treated with herbal remedies, and were generally not taken to a doctor. As a result some serious illnesses affected the family.
She recalls that her grandmother wore traditional clothing and believed in severe punishments for children's infractions.
Meals were prepared on a wood stove, and generally consisted of beans, chile, and tortillas. Listening to the radio was a common pastime.
Tape 2, Side A
The family got a television when Morgan was in elementary school, and many neighbor children came over to watch TV with the family, however, Morgan and her brother rarely played with other children.
Morgan met her husband while attending college in Silver City, and recalled the carefully chaperoned dates at her dorm, at the movies, and at the "Cooler", the student union at the time. She attended elementary school at Chamberino and later in La Union. She attended Junior High and High School in Gadsden. Education was important in her family, and her brother also attended college. Morgan taught a bilingual program in the Las Cruces Public School system.
Her grandmother did not allow her to attend dances unless they were for a wedding or for school. To discourage disobedience her grandmother often told the story of a girl who unknowingly danced with the devil. While in high school she and her brother attended sports events with friends
Morgan recalls that her grandmother and the community regarded traditional curanderas as witches. She recalled several traditional beliefs about illnesses that required the help of a curandera, but her family never called on the local curandera.
Tape 2, Side B
Morgan recalls several family illnesses; including one in high school that resulted in her missing class on a regular basis. She describes how the town of Chamberino has grown substantially since her childhood. She recalls when the sewer system was installed in the late 1990s. Prior to its installation many families had septic systems. Most families in the area had wells, and Morgan recalls that her family heated their home with wood, then butane and kerosene.
Several agricultural machines were donated to the Museum by the family.
Morgan enjoyed teaching and building strong relationships with parents in the bilingual program. She noted how teaching has changed in the different schools in which she has worked.
Tape 3, Side A
Morgan has a great appreciation for living in a rural area, and in an area where she can practice her traditional culture, including traditional New Mexican baked goods, "Spanglish," and adobe building.
She voices her concern about water supplies on the future as pecan orchards increasingly use substantial amounts of water.