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August 9, 2011 > History: The Lambaren/Luevano family

History: The Lambaren/Luevano family

By Myrla Raymundo

The year was 1919 and Mexico was being torn apart as a result of the Mexican Revolution. The war had been going on for seven years and had hit the state of Jalisco very hard. Throughout Mexico, tens of thousands of people had been killed on both sides. Furthermore, families were being uprooted and their lands taken away. This was the state of affairs Manuel Lambaren found himself in; he feared for his family and needed to find a safe place where they could have a future. He decided to take his family to the United States.

With that decision, the Lambaren family, including Manuel's wife Francis and his three children Lupe, age twelve, Roy, age seven and Carmen, age three, joined hundreds of thousands of other families who fled to the United States. Like many other Mexican families who had come before them seeking refuge in the United States, the Lambaren family first settled in Texas. To support his family, Manuel initially made a living as a farm laborer, then as a share crop farmer, cultivating corn.

In 1922, Manuel moved his family to the small farming community of Alvarado in Northern California. Once again, Manuel had to first make his living as a farm laborer. He worked very hard to support his family by moving from job to job within the area, all agricultural at the time. His family followed him wherever he could find work. Nevertheless, after about a year, Manuel was able to do what he loved best, farming. The primary crop he cultivated was sugar beets, which he sold to the Holly Sugar Factory in Alvarado. The family was able to move into a farm house just south of the community of Alvarado. Shortly thereafter, Manuel moved to the neighboring town of Decoto.

In 1927, Manuel opened up a billiard hall on the corner of 10th and I streets in Decoto. It was kitty-corner from Olsen's market and behind the cannery. The billiards hall did very well and Lupe opened a restaurant on Smith Street in Alvarado. She ran the restaurant from 1930 until she married in 1937.

Everything went smoothly until the Great Depression of 1929. The Depression hit Manuel hard just as it hit many other families at the time. He lost the billiards hall and his new truck; the truck he used to haul his sugar beets. The 1930's were a struggle for the family but in 1934, they adopted a baby girl they named Esther.

Manuel continued to work in agriculture to support his family until his death in 1945 at the age of 59. He died knowing that he had done the right thing by bringing his family to the United States. He had witnessed the marriages of Lupe, Roy and Carmen and been able to enjoy eight grandchildren whom he loved dearly.

Both Roy and Lupe had followed Manuel's footsteps by becoming farmers in the Livermore Valley; Carmen became a beautician. In 1960, Lupe sold her farmland to a housing development in Livermore with the stipulation that one of the streets be named in honor of her father. Today, there is a Lambaren Street in the City of Livermore.

Carmen remembers when her family lived in what used to be a hotel located on H Street, right across from the cannery and the railroad station located on 9th Street. In 1934, she graduated from beautician school and opened up the first beauty salon in Alvarado between her sister Lupe's restaurant and the old St. Anne's Catholic Church on Smith Street. At that time, some of the men who worked at the nearby Holly Sugar Mill would come into Lupe's restaurant for lunch or dinner. One day Lawrence R. Luevano came into the restaurant to have lunch and, as it happened, Carmen was also having lunch at her sister's restaurant. The two met, fell in love and were married in September 1936.

The newlyweds moved to Oakland to be near Lawrence's new job with the Keysystem Bus Line. When Lawrence was let go from his job because of his involvement in trying to form a union, they were forced to return and live with Carmen's parents for a short while. In 1938, they rented a house on the corner of 10th and J Streets from Bessie Borghi. At that time 10th Street between J and I streets was considered downtown Decoto. Olsen's market, the library, the firehouse, a blacksmith shop, and the post office were located on it. Lawrence got a job at the new Pacific States Steel Company, only about a mile from where they lived.

Carmen and Lawrence built a house on 4th Street and Lawrence became very active in the community. He, along with Manual Hidalgo, formed the Decoto Homeowners Association with the goal to incorporate Decoto. Lawrence also ran for the Decoto School Board. Carmen returned to work operating a beauty salon in the old Masonic Home in the Decoto hills. She operated that salon for 10 years.

At 48, Carmen attended adult school at James Logan High and earned her high school diploma. She later continued to take classes at Chabot College.

In 1974, after thirty-five years working at Pacific States Steel as a crane operator, Lawrence retired. After twenty-eight years of retirement, Lawrence passed away at the age of ninety. Carmen and Lawrence's oldest child Cecilia is retired and living in Fresno. Richard, after teaching for thirty-three years, retired as a Professor Emeritus from California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, California in 2004. He and his wife Christine reside in Turlock.

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