BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — After World War II left an agricultural labor shortage, the Bracero Program allowed Mexican men to work in the United States — one of them being Happy Jack’s co-owner Frances Rosales’s grandfather, who came from Zacatecas.
Rosales’s grandfather is described as a business man who passed down the importance of speaking Spanish.
“My mom told us, and I’m glad that she was strict with us, ‘You do not speak English in the house,'” said Rosales.
Rosales calls herself a “mouthy” student from Franklin Elementary, located at Truxtun Avenue and A Street.
“And we would be talking in our language, but we weren’t talking about anybody, we were just talking, and we’d be giggling, and, you know, they’d come with a yard stick — back there they called it the yard stick — which was nothing but a long ruler,” said Rosales. “And they’d tap you and they’d say, ‘Speak English, do not be speaking in Spanish.'”
However, this did not shy Rosales away from speaking Spanish. She learned that speaking Spanish was something that would benefit her as a business owner — a work life that began at the age of six picking cotton.
“It was made out of canvas, the little sacks, they were about this big, and we’d drag it and you’d have to pick cotton this way through the front,” said Rosales. “And we did cotton, we did topping of onion, and we also did dusting of corn.”
Though she has witnessed the Mexican community grow in Bakersfield, Rosales says prejudice still lingers.
“They knocked at my door, I opened my door and they go, ‘Is the lady of the house here?'” said Rosales. “So I play along, I go, ‘No, I’m just cleaning the house right now, I’m sorry, nobody is here,’ and they leave. But I’ve been asked that many times.”
But according to Rosales, taking comments like these lightly is key to a happy life. Her strong work ethic, a passion for flavor, and hugs like no others –these Hispanic traits have earned Rosales her loyal customer base.