Fred W. Bailey was born in England in 1897, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1904, and moved with his family to the Panama Canal Zone in 1909. There he and his father worked to open in the canal in 1915, the same year he graduated from high school and enrolled in a brand new mining school in El Paso.
He later recalled that in 1915, El Paso was “a new, fast growing city with many peoples from different parts of our country and the world, with two predominating cultures, the Anglo and the Mexican, and a delightful blending of both of them. This also resulted in what I considered a very friendly atmosphere, a mutual feeling of working and living together. I think this same atmosphere has continued to the present day, with the city spreading out immensely acreage-wise and the population increasing about six or seven fold in the last 59-60 years. I liked the people, the general average climate (even with the wind and sand storms), and I think I very quickly became an El Pasoan. I think our general atmosphere socially, politically, educationally, and climatically would be hard to beat.”
After graduation Fred accepted a job in the mining industry in northern Mexico. In the interview he also speaks of the Mexican Revolution. Read the full interview here. Do you have a story to share? Let us know!
Kristine Navarro-McElhaney served as the director of UTEP's Institute of Oral History until 2014.