Augie Bareno

Robert Augie Bareno was born 1947 in San Diego. He was raised in Logan Heights and Shell Town. In 1961 he moved with his family to National City.

Augie’s father was Luis Bareno Meza Smith (b. 1908 in Loreto, Baja California).

Augie’s paternal grandparents were Miguel Breno Rubio (b. 1865 in Comondu, Baja California) and Austraberta (“Berta”) Meza Smith (b. 1880 in Comondu, Baja California).

As Augie explains, his grandmother Berta was a descendant of an English sailor who jumped ship in Loreto around 1850 — James Wilcox Smith. He would have been her great great grandfather. He started the Smith line in Baja California and intermarried with the locals.

Augie’s grandfather, Miguel Bareno Rubio, managed cutting down trees and selling them in Baja California. He was a fisherman and also held the title of what was the equivalent of a sheriff.

In 1900 Augie’s grandmother, Berta, had a sister and brother (Appollonia and Livorio Smith) who both went to California. They crossed in Mexicali and eventually found agricultural work in Lemon Grove. Then the railroad & construction industry boomed in San Diego, so many Mexicans found work around Logan Heights. This is where Berta and Miguel went and started living in Logan Heights about 1919. Berta spent time working at the tuna canneries.

Augie’s father, Luis, came over with his parents as a young child. He started out working in a mattress factory called Moresteins at the age of 10. Through his relatives, he eventually found work as a cement mason.

He married Augie’s mother, Victoria Puentes (b. 1910 in Silver City, New Mexico).

Victoria’s parents were Jose (b. 1855) and Rosa de Avila Puentes (b. ca. 1880). They were both from Zacatecas. Jose was a merchant and Rosa was from a higher (wealthier) class, her family having been ranchers and having owned properties. As the family story goes, Jose basically stole Rosa one night and they went North from Zacatecas and wound up in Chihuahua. From there, they traveled to Juarez and crossed into New Mexico. They remained for a time in Silver City and additionally lived in Las Cruces. Jose set up restaurants for the miners and also specialized in Mexican candy. In around 1918 Jose and Rosa came with their children to San Diego. Jose opened The Spanish Cafe on 5th Avenue. He also had a bakery and a candy factory.

Augie’s parents — Luis and Victoria — married about 1927. They lived in Los Angeles until about 1932 and then returned to Logan Heights. From 1947-1961 they lived in Shell Town and then came to National City.

Augie attended Balboa, Emerson and St. Jude elementary schools. He went to St. Augustin for one year and then Sweetwater Union High School. He graduated in 1966. At the age of 19, Augie was drafted into the army and served for two years as an artillery surveyor.

Once he got out, he attended Southwestern College where he joined MeChA and was active in what became the basis for the Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP). From there, public service became a lifelong pursuit. Augie spent time working for MAAC coordinating VISTA volunteers. He worked for the San Diego County Supervisor Jack Walsh as his field representative. Thereafter, he went into the Civil Service.

From 1980-1986 Augie was a trustee for the National School Board. In 1986 he was elected to the Southwestern Community College Board. He held that position until the year 2000.