Former Uvalde resident Olga Muñoz Rodriquez, who now resides in San Antonio, is anticipating the forthcoming release of her book, “Texas Town Legends.”
Published by Floricanto Press and Berkeley Press, the book is slated for release in November. The paperback version has a retail price of $24.95 but is available for pre-sale at $19.95.
According to the publishers’ synopsis, the book narrates the stories of Mexicano heroes of Uvalde before and after World War II, including, “their contributions to the war effort, and the generations following them… the small-town soldiers and heroes armed now with a new perspective returned as catalyst of change, ready to engage, and transform the social, racial, and economic dynamics.”
The book came about because someone suggested Rodriquez interview World War II veteran Ssgt. Guillermo “Willie” De Leon.
“Many books have been written about World War II but only a few tell the stories of Willie and his friends in this war. Few books tell the story from the perspective of a soldier from a small Texas town,” Rodriquez said.
Because Rodriquez had little free time in those days, she purchased a tape recorder and some cassette tapes and asked De Leon to record his memories as if Rodriquez were there, listening.
“This allowed Willie to speak uninterrupted, which would not have happened if I had been with him,” she said. Rodriquez plans to donate the recordings, which she later converted to CD, to El Progreso Memorial Library for public listening.
“Willie’s recordings show us life in Uvalde before and after the war, and through his words and the stories of other heroes of Uvalde, generations that will follow Willie and the author can look back and see that life is always changing and that each one of us can be catalysts for change,” she said.
Rodriquez said the first part of her book details De Leon’s recorded memories, beginning in his adolescence, when he saw the dramatic change that came to Uvalde via President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which enacted programs to lift the nation from the Great Depression.
When the United States joined World War II, De Leon and his friends went off to war, and De Leon recalled their experiences in great detail.
“Because I had been an activist in Uvalde in my younger days, and later published my bilingual newspaper, El Uvalde Times, I understood Willie’s sadness when he recalls how difficult lives for Mexicanos in Uvalde were during his childhood,” Rodriquez said. “We are all victims of historical events that created a divided community where Mexicanos were treated harshly to say the least.
“The established culture was to segregate Mexicanos and deny them an equal education and thus keep them subservient and dependent on Anglos for their livelihoods,” she continued. “In his later years Willie recognized that things were much better, that our people have created greater opportunities for their children, but he was still concerned about our youth.”
In her book, Rodriquez combined De Leon’s memories with advancements Mexicanos carved for themselves through confrontations, lawsuits and demands for change.
“Uvalde is a far more united community than it was prior to the civil rights movement. It still has issues of unemployment, school dropouts, and drug-related crime, but my book also focuses on events that have unified us,” Rodriquez said.
“Several writers answered my call to contribute their own unique stories, so my book bears my name, but it is truly a group effort. I hope that my book will inspire others to be like Willie, to record their memories in one form or another.
“Don’t worry about proper grammar or writing skills, there are good editors to help you in the end, but your writings should express who you are and what you want your descendants to remember.”
Rodriquez plans to have a book signing at El Progreso Memorial Library after the book is released. The author graduated from Uvalde High School in 1963 and received an associate degree from Southwest Texas Junior College in 1965. She later earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Master of Business Administration from Our Lady of the Lake University.
To pre-purchase “Texas Town Legends,” visit www.tinyurl.com/y4qbwg75. The book will also be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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