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GARCIA, ISIDRO

GARCIA, ISIDRO (1906–1981). Isidro (Isidor) García, Houston community leader, was born in Laredo, Texas, on May 15, 1906. When Isidro was a young child, his family moved to Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico, where his father became a local merchant. His father died in 1920, when Isidro was fourteen, and as the eldest son he became responsible for his mother and his five brothers and sisters. He moved his family temporarily to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, on the border with the United States. Knowing that he could earn a higher income in Texas, he traveled by train to Houston in search of employment. He lied about his age and found work as a water boy on a railroad construction project; he eventually became an engineer's assistant. He saved his money and over the next few years brought his family to Texas, one by one. While in his twenties, García worked at various jobs, eventually becoming a presser and tailor at Ben Zindler and Sons. In 1934 he married Magdalena (Madeleine) Pérez; the couple had three children. During World War II he was hired as a welder at the Brown shipyards to assist in the war industry. When production levels decreased after the war, however, he and other Mexican Americans were laid off. In 1945 he went to work temporarily at Real Tailors to "help out some friends," and ended up working there as a tailor for the next thirty-two years. García took an active interest in the affairs of his community and acted as a local organizer. In 1924 he helped to found the Club Cultural Recreativo México Bello, the oldest social club for Mexican Americans in Houston. In a community of mostly first-generation immigrants who wished to maintain their cultural and linguistic ties to Mexico, the Club México Bello played an important role in celebrating and reinforcing their cultural heritage. The club provided wholesome family entertainment, including musical programs (such as piano recitals and performances by orquestas típicas), and literary and scholarly programs (such as short dramas, orations, debates, lectures, and poetry readings). Club México Bello organized picnics, excursions, dances, balls, and athletic competitions. Club members, through their social and cultural activities, sought to combat prejudice and stereotypes, instill pride in the Mexican national heritage, and encourage mutual understanding between "the peoples of Mexico and other Latin American countries and peoples of the United States." His wife, Magdalena, helped found the Club México Bello Ladies Auxiliary, which assisted the men's club in coordinating its activities. Their daughter, Annie, founded the México Bello Girls Auxiliary (for young women between the ages of fifteen and eighteen), which sponsored social and recreational activities.

García was one of the founding members of Houston Council No. 60 of the League of United Latin American Citizens. He and his fellow LULAC members, concerned about the poverty in which many Mexican Americans lived, as well as their status as second-class citizens, pressured the city government to address such issues as health care, juvenile delinquency, and equal opportunity. During World War II, when the Houston shipyards discriminated against Mexican Americans, LULAC petitioned the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration to intervene on the community's behalf. García helped to organize and direct various athletic clubs for local youth, as well as Boy Scout Troop No. 48. Through Club México Bello and LULAC, he petitioned the city government to improve recreational facilities in the barrios, and to assist them in their neighborhood clean-up projects. He also became involved in local politics and worked on the mayoral campaigns of his friend Oscar F. Holcombe. García was a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the Second Ward. During the latter part of his life he was also a Mason. He died in 1981.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Isidro García, Oral history interview by Thomas D. Kreneck, March 20, 1979, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library. Isidro García, Photography Collection, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library. Isidro García and Primitivo L. Niño, Origins of Club Recreativo México Bello (Oral history interview by Thomas D. Kreneck, April 9, 1979, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library).

María-Cristina García

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

María-Cristina García, "GARCIA, ISIDRO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fga93), accessed October 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.