Barbara Avalos

Barbara Ann Avalos was born September 19, 1943 at San Diego Mercy Hospital. She went home to Taft Street in National City and lived there until the community was displaced by the I-5 freeway in the 1950s. Her family then moved to West 19th Street in National City.

Barbara’s father was Frederico (Fred) Avalos (b. 1923 in San Francisco). Fred’s mother and father were Tarahumara Indians from Veracruz, however, very little else is known about Fred’s parents.

Barbara’s mother was Emma Hernandez (b. 1921 in Los Angeles). Her family came from Chihuahua, Mexico. Her father was Anselmo and her mother was Francisca Hernandez.

Anselmo Hernandez: From Pancho Villa Fighter To Railroad Worker

According to Barbara, her grandmother, Francisca, cooked for Pancho Villa fighters. Her grandfather, Anselmo, rode for Pancho Villa when he was only twelve or thirteen years old. During the Mexican Revolution, Anselmo came to the United States, joining the railroads and living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Census records show Anselmo was born in 1882 and arrived in the United States in 1909.

Anselmo and Francisca had seven children, including Barbara’s mother Emma. Because Anselmo was a section hand, he received free passes to travel on the trains. As a consequence, the family often visited relatives in New Mexico and also Texas (Fort Hancock) where Anselmo’s sister lived.

The railroad work brought Anselmo and the family from New Mexico to Los Angeles and then to National City where census records show he worked for the Santa Fe Railroad during the 1930s. Barbara’s mother, Emma, was a child when she settled with her parents in National City.

Emma and Frederico Avalos in National City

Emma married Frederico who was a carpenter and worked in construction. Emma became a blind stitch operator, sewing uniforms for Krasne’s. Together they had two children, Bernadette and Barbara. Barbara remembers spending a large amount of time with her grandparents who only spoke Spanish and lived the remainder of their lives in National City.

National School Board Trustee

Barbara is a native of National City who attended Kimball Elementary School, National City Junior High School, and then Sweetwater High School, graduating in 1961. Thereafter, she received a scholarship to the James Hall College of Beauty in Chula Vista. She remembers that back in those days, students had to buy and wear white uniforms, white stockings and white shoes. After she graduated, Barbara worked at 3826 Fairmont Street in downtown San Diego as a hair dresser. Later, she was recruited by Catherine Joseph to work at the prestigious Grecian Goddess.

Barbara raised two children and also helped raise her grandchildren. For many years, she volunteered at Kimball Elementary School and Las Palmas Elementary school. While volunteering at Las Palmas, she became the Treasurer of the PTO and sat on the School Site Council. Because of her involvement in National City schools, community members encouraged her to run for school board. In 2006 she ran for the first time, but lost. Two years later, she ran for National School District Board once again — and won the election. She is currently serving her third term as a trustee.

(Interview: July 24, 2016)