Rosie Almanza

Rose Mary (Rosie) Almanza was born 1940 in San Ysidro. The second to youngest, Rosie had 4 siblings: Jesse (Cita), Aida Mary (Aida), Frederick (Freddie), and Silvia. She lived most of her childhood at 137 Birch Street in San Ysidro.

Her father was Amado (Al) Almanza G. He was born in 1904 in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. Both his parents, Leonardo Almanza and Guadalupe Gutierrez, were also from Cuidad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. Together they had 13 children. Rosie explains that not much is known about Amado’s side of the family. At some time, they lived in Tijuana, Mexico and also Bellflower, California. Apparently, Leonardo was a rancher in Tijuana. He was also a Tijuana Sheriff.

When Guadalupe and Leonardo were living in Bellflower, Amado ran away from home. He was a teenager and became a water boy (and gun carrier) for the Pancho Villa fighters in Mexico. In his later years, Amado would be very proud of his service, creating a collage of pictures in commemoration of his time with the fighters in the Mexican Revolution.

Rosie’s mother, Soledad (Sally) Serratos, was born 1914 in Morenci, Arizona. Her mother was Margarita Saens and her father was Juan Serratos. Both were born in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico. We know that Margarita Saens was an only child. Her father was a Spaniard and he married a Zacatecan Indian, but not much else is known about Juan or Margarita’s history while living in Mexico.

Juan and Margarita came to the United States together. Although a carpenter by trade, Juan found work in the copper mines of Morenci, Arizona and this is where Soledad (Rosie’s mother) was born. Two years later, Juan followed the crops, finding work in El Paso, Texas. Eventually, the family settled in Los Angeles. They had 14 children and 13 survived.

Soledad went to Belvedere & Garfield High School in Los Angeles. She spoke fluent English, but her parents did not, so Spanish was the primary language in the home. When Soledad was in the 11th grade (the year must have been 1931), Juan and Margarita moved the family to Tijuana. They would spend the rest of their lives living there, settling on a ranch. Very soon thereafter, Soledad met Amado.

Soledad & Amado

Soledad and Amado married in 1935 in Tijuana and lived for a short period of time in Ensenada. However, they quickly moved to San Ysidro where their eldest daughter was born in 1936. Soledad went on to have five children, including Rosie.

In 1964 she was honored for her fifteen years of dedication as Chairman of Health and Welfare (The Well Baby Clinic) sponsored by the San Ysidro Women’s Club.

Meanwhile, Amado worked for Pappi Olson, a well-known plumber in San Ysidro. By the 1950’s he helped dig the sewer line connections for most of the town.

Rosie Almanza

Rosie was the fourth sibling and by the time she was born, everybody was bilingual. She attended San Ysidro Elementary until the third grade (1948) when the wooden building was condemned. After that she went to Sunset Elementary, Southwest Junior High and graduated from Mar Vista High School in 1958.

Rosie received her AA degree from San Diego Junior College and became a medical assistant. First, she went to work for a medical clinic in Chula Vista called “Sheets, Fields, Albright and Stillman.” Two years later, in 1962, she got a job with Dr. Bajo, a well known general practitioner who helped give birth to over 10,000 babies in the South Bay. His private practice was located on 185 West San Ysidro Blvd.

After ten years, Rosie switched and worked for the San Ysidro Health Clinic from 1972 to 1977. The clinic favored hiring local San Ysidro residents. Once an employee, Gabriel Arce, the director of the clinic encouraged further education for its employees and paid for it. Rosie took a course for medical record personnel and became an accredited records technician. By the time Rosie went to work there, a main building had been established on Beyer Blvd. The clinic outgrew the building, needing more examination rooms, so they began a second building in 1976, which was finished in 1978.

Later, she returned to work with Dr. Bajo and in 1982 worked at UCSD for eleven more years.

(Interview: August 3, 2016)