In Search of Hayden's Past

Updated: Jan 16

If you spend time in the Hayden Library, a nerve center of the community, you’ll find all sorts of local documents and stories, which hold the collective history and memory of the community. We found a high school student paper which offered a look back at the town’s legacy and divided racial past.


"Hayden life during its glory days was a beautiful mining town torn between two races. One race which was richer than the other was called the Anglos, or the white people, the others were Mexicans. Hayden was the rich part of town; it contained a strip full of buildings, including a theater. San Miguel and San Pedro were the poor part of town where all the Mexicans lived. The Mexicans who lived in San Miguel were called ‘Sorumartos’ because they were more Indian and short. The Hispanics who lived in San Pedro were from different parts of Mexico and more Spaniard looking. Presently there are few Anglos living in the area, almost all the buildings are dead, yet each holds stories of the Mexicans’ troubles with racism during Hayden’s glory years." (“Hayden, What Life Was Like During Its Glory Days,” April 16, 2002)


Our young high school historian goes on to draw on local memories and observations – the segregated class rooms, the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan that burned crosses in the 1950s, “the nice pool” open only to Anglos. Despite all of this, in 1958, Hayden celebrated its incorporation as an independent township by proudly receiving the All-American City designation of the National Municipal League. Hayden has endured much in its 100-plus years, and families, some of whom can trace their legacy back four generations, remember the price they have paid, even while celebrating the strengths and relationships engendered by small-town community life.


Hayden's Former School, now the Union Hall

Frank Amado is a retired school teacher, athletic coach and musician. The Amado family can trace its heritage in Southern Arizona back to the 1700’s. Frank’s father came to the community as a child, settled in San Pedro amidst a thriving Hispanic community, and raised his family there. Frank has many vivid and affectionate memories of San Pedro:


"I didn’t watch a TV until I was 13 years old. So the radio was the main attraction for us. You know … listen to music and playing games around the neighborhood … we skated … There used to be a lot of donkeys … and we rode them as entertainment. Rode them to the river, rode them to the school sometimes.


Frank remembers San Pedro as a thriving community.


"The pool hall was the main activity of the miners … pool playing, card playing … everybody gathered. That was the gathering place for the miners. Miners: they work hard and they play hard!"


Frank attended junior college in Eastern Arizona and then entered the military. When he completed his service he returned to college on the GI bill and graduated from Arizona State University. This prepared him to return to his home town to teach social studies and coach sports at the local junior high school. Frank's father and grandfather worked in the copper industry at a time when there was systematic discrimination against Mexican and Mexican-American workers.


"The Mexican workers and the Anglo workers did the same type of work, but they got paid differently. The Anglos got a dollar more for doing the same work and the same amount of work. That’s the way the company policy was .. in those times discrimination was very strong."


After World War II many of the old segregated patterns that separated Anglo and Hispanic residents collapsed.


"After the Second World War when the [Mexican-American] soldiers came back, they put their foot down and said, “Enough is enough.” They fought for their rights …and things started getting better.


Downtown Hayden, 1940's

The movie theater was desegregated. By the late 1960’s Hispanics were able to buy homes in formerly all-white parts of town. Hispanic workers began to receive equal wages with their Anglo counterparts and a few were offered advancement into managerial positions. At the same time Anglos began to leave Hayden. The white managers continued to work at the smelter, but they relocated their families and commuted from the expanding municipal areas around Phoenix. Unknown to the community, some patterns of discrimination directed at Mexican-American workers would persist into the late 1980’s and ‘90s.

In the 1940’s Frank Amado’s father wrote a corrido, celebrating the San Pedro community. During a visit to Hayden, Frank sang the corrido for us:




El Corrido de San Pedro


Atención, señores, lo que les voy a intonar,

El corrido San Pedro, el corrido San Pedro,

Yo les voy a cantar.


Entrando al San Pedro, ustedes miraran,

Las casas tumbadas, las casas tumbadas,

Pero no se cayen.


San Pedro lindo, San Pedro lindo, que tu estás,

La gente te quiere, la gente te quiere,

No olvidaran.


Por eso vienen, por eso vienen,

Lejos de aqui,


A verte, San Pedro,

La gente, San Pedro,

Te quiere a ti.


En el año de '09 este campo empezó.

Con gente humilde, con gente humilde

Que de Mexico llegó.


Ellos se acabaron, y los hijos quedaron,

Contentos y orgullosos, contentos y orgullosos

Que en San Pedro se crearon.


San Pedro lindo, San Pedro lindo, que tu estás,

La gente te quiere, la gente te quiere

No te olvidaran.


Por eso vienen, por eso vienen,

Lejos de aqui.


A verte, San Pedro,

La gente, San Pedro,

Te quiere a ti.


Attention, sirs and ladies, to what I am going to recite,

The San Pedro corrido, the San Pedro corrido

I am going to sing for you.


Entering San Pedro you will see

Houses that are leaning, houses that are leaning,

But they don’t fall.


Beautiful San Pedro, beautiful San Pedro that you are,

The people love you, the people love you

They will not forget you.


That’s why they come, that’s why they come,

From far away.


To see you, San Pedro,

The people, San Pedro,

They love you.


In the year '09 the town began

With humble people, with humble people,

Who came from Mexico.


They ended up here, and their children stayed

Happy and proud, happy and proud,

That in San Pedro they were raised.


Beautiful San Pedro, Beautiful San Pedro that you are,

The people love you, the people love you

They will not forget you.


That’s why they come, that’s why they come,

From far away.


To see you, San Pedro,

The people, San Pedro,

They love you.


*This page is dedicated to Frank Amado with grateful thanks for sharing his memories and his father's corrido with us.


Next: Workplace and Environmental Hazards in Hayden


Sources:


Interview with Frank Amado, conducted by Anne Fischel, Lin Nelson and John Regan. Hayden, Arizona, January 2008.


Photographs Used by Permission of Chicano Small Manuscripts Library, Arizona State University.



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