Voice: Francisco Quiroz: founding father of the east side

June 01, 2001

The article of May 23, "Calipatria City Council renames streets," brought a lot of memories. I remembered Calipatria east side and west side, the segregated schools for Mexicans, Hindus and blacks, the local theater where blacks were only allowed on the balcony, the drugstore that would not sell ice cream to Mexican children.

I barely recall the name Chief Frank Emanuel but I do remember Judge Beall, who became a hero for allowing the local white fathers to spit on Cesar Chavez's farm workers. I do clearly remember SeƱor Francisco Quiroz, who owned the Eastside Market. It was a large market. It had everything: groceries, clothing, shoes, a gas station and the only phone available to people living on the east side to use for emergencies.

Before he had a road paved from Main Street to his store, the children of the east side could not get to school or get medical care.


Mr. Quiroz also started the Alianza Hispanic/Americana so that the people on the east side could afford to bury their dead.

He was the only merchant who extended credit to migrant farm workers. When the immigrants returned from up north around September or October, they could afford to pay their grocery bill.

I did hear he started with a fruit stand on Elder Street and a pickup truck he used to stock with groceries to sell to migrants farm workers who came to pick peas and lived in tents at the work site. Later Mr. Quiroz constructed the first low-income housing for migrants; however there was no indoor plumbing, garbage pickup, paved roads or any other services afforded by the city, only to the west side of town.

Mr. Quiroz died at an early age of 45. His widow, a Mexican teacher, still lives in Calipatria. One of his daughters continues to teach and his other daughter has a degree in science and has recently been selected out of 300 Hispanic woman in California to be featured in a book titled "Women of Conscience." She was selected for her accomplishment in helping the Hispanic community.

The population in Calipatria was only 2,000. Only a handful of Hispanic pioneers live there. Many young Hispanics did not return after World War II.

Yes, I know the history of Calipatria. Francisco Quiroz was a Hispanic founding father of the east side. A street should be named after him.


El Centro

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