Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Robert Swartout

Second Advisor

John Hart

Third Advisor

Tomas Graman

Abstract

As a little girl, I remember my home just outside of Molalla, Oregon, surrounded by approximately 350 acres of Douglas fir Christmas trees. Each year, starting a week or two after Halloween, Hispanic men would trample through the muddy rows of trees with chainsaws in hand to begin the Christmas tree harvest season. The men did every task involved with the harvest, from cutting down the trees and moving them into piles, to running the trees individually through twine balers and loading them into large trucks. The work was intense while the season lasted; often the men had to endure stormy weather and long hours. The men were very foreign to me, speaking another tongue and only coming around in November and December. When I entered high school I wished to enroll in Spanish class and did so immediately. It had always been my desire to be able to speak a different language, just as those men did who worked during Christmas tree harvest—I viewed it as access to some sort of secret code. Little did I realize how right my perception was. While growing in understanding of the language, I grew more and more curious about the role of Latino people in my hometown of Molalla, Oregon. I remember the creation of Lorenzo Guel’s mural on the public library wall as it was completed in 1994; for a short time it seemed to be the talk of the town. I knew that Arbor Terrace had been built within the city, but I, like other residents of the area, wondered if the unit had brought the Hispanics to town instead of housing those who were already living there. In reality, during my childhood, I knew very little about the Hispanics of the Molalla area. Ironically, moving to Helena, Montana, for my undergraduate degree at Carroll

College gave me the opportunity to become more familiar with Molalla’s Hispanics and Arbor Terrace. After completing the required courses for a degree in Spanish, I looked to the History department for a second degree. It was here that I was first introduced to social, ethnic, and local histories. In selecting a topic for my honors thesis, I chose * the Hispanics of Molalla, Oregon, something that I had been interested in but knew little about. After my initial research, I found that the bulk of available history on Hispanics in the city concerned the building of Arbor Terrace. Thus, my investigation began. It is my hope that, with time, my investigation into Mexican-American history will continue and expand in the form of a dissertation or publishable book. For now, however, as an amateur writer, I offer my undergraduate thesis.

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