I had a really wonderful, fun childhood.: Becoming Minnesotan

Susana de León, 2011.  Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Office files.
  • Name - Susana de León
  • Age at interview - 44
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 04.08.2010
  • Susana de León and her cousins swimming. Minnesota Historical Society.
    Susana de León and her four siblings at a party. Minnesota Historical Society.

    Family, Food, Latino, Youth Experiences

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    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Traditions & Values: What makes up “culture”?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Family is very important in Latino culture. Latino families, including extended family, are often very close. Extended families may live together or visit each other frequently, even if they live quite far apart. Each family member is expected to support and help the others, by giving them money, caring for them when they are old or sick, or in other ways. Sometimes an entire community, including friends and neighbors, is considered to be ‘family’.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Susana de León 1
    2:46 Minutes | 2.66Mb


    Narrator: Susana de León (SdL)

    Interviewer: Lorena Duarte (LD)

    SdL: You know, I had a really, a wonderful, a fun childhood.

    It was crazy at the house. We lived right next to the river when I was little. That was very interesting because my grandma, my dad’s mom, she would take us to the river to play and bathe, all of the kids. There were nine of us and then my uncles had a whole bunch of kids, like seven, and then my aunt had two others, so you can imagine my grandma with, like, twenty kids going to the river washing up. It was a city, but because we lived by the river and because we came from such rural ways, I think our lives kept on being like that. We just continued to follow cooking outdoors with firewood and getting together with all my uncles and aunts. I remember making big, huge, tamale batches, not just small, but like forty pounds of maíz [corn], right? Lots of tamales. My grandma, my dad’s mom, she used to take us to watch wrestling matches.

    LD: Ah.

    SdL: It was funny, because she would scream at the wrestlers, at the lucha libre. She would scream at them, so it was fun. That part was very fun. It was a lot of family. Then, later on, when my mom and my dad separated, I actually spent a lot more time with my mom’s mom, because we would go back to the rancho. When I say rancho, a lot of people in the United States think, oh, a ranch. That’s not what saying rancho in Spanish means.

    LD: Right.

    SdL: It means, really, a rural community without paved streets, actually without streets. The houses are just scattered there.

    So when I would go to the rancho to see my grandma or stay there, life was just simple. We played with dirt. We sat and played loteria, or Mexican bingo, and we gathered, you know, little dirt mounds and put it on top of the cars and we made necklaces with my cousins out of the little cones that came from the big trees. We would gather them and string them around. It was fun.

    Related Glossary Terms

    lucha libre

    Noun: A form of Mexican professional wrestling.


    Adjective:  Related to less-populated, non-urban areas.


    Noun: Mexican dish of cornmeal dough shell filled with various ingredients (e.g. chopped beef, pork, sweet filling) then steamed in corn husks.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2159