Bobby Vega at his home here in San Bernardino.
Good morning, Bobby. Hanson: OK, the first thing we want to talk about is a little bit about your family. Has your family always been in San Bernardino? His father, Antonio A. Ortega was born in Hacienda de la Encarnacion, Mexico. Vernon area. My grandmother Esther Lopez was born April 16, in California.
Note My grandmother Esther remarried while my father was real young. He was not just a step-father he was a dad to my dad Robert Lopez Vega He did a very good job raising him, and was a good grandfather to us as well The Vega Family. So we grew up with a lot Mexican core values, family values. We stick together, we worked together and we did things together as a family.
One of the things that I've noticed now is that element of family unity is gone. Vega: I've noticed while growing up that our families were closer. It's like we had family gatherings all the time. We would go out on picnics and do fun things together.
Those days are gone as well as family reunions. Everybody grows up, they spread out, they go do different things. Of all my relatives, I think I'm the only one that stayed in this neighborhood.
Everybody else left to go to other places, to follow work or have families. Some of my cousins even went to prison for substance abuse issues. On the other hand, I was very fortunate growing up with two loving parents, a mother and a father and three little sisters, Joann, Lorraine and Genevieve. Of course, a lot of uncles and aunts, as well as cousins and grandparents too.
We lived at W. So I have lived on this street forever. My father, Robert L. Vega born June. My father had a very good work ethic.
He worked every day of the week and on the weekends he would take the family out to picnics in the park. We would go to the Lytle Creek wash area to get wet in the riverbed or to Lake Elsinore to camp and swim or just to local parks to play and picnic.
He made sure we had lots of fun on the weekends. Just like a father, he would keep us straight, no fighting, no arguing, no talking back to adults.
Of course, we had to go to school and do our homework. Both my parents encouraged me to get involved in the community at an early age.
My earliest memories of community involvement were when my mother Martha Ortega Vega born July. That was the U. Senator Robert Francis Kennedy campaign. He was running for the democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.
Kennedy, who was killed by an assassin's bullet while in Texas. I remember seeing Robert F. Kennedy going west on 7th Street right in front of Ramona school now Casa Ramona in a black convertible reaching out and shaking peoples hands. They Motorcade drove across Mt. Vernon Avenue Old Route 66 east to J. Street, then south over to 5th Street then east over the bridge and North on G.
Now where the new Norman F. Feldheym Library sits downtown. Well I got to shake his hand that day. It was June 4, in the late afternoon and I was about 10 years old. We saw it on black and white T. He died the next day, June 6, I at a very young age continued to stay involved in community activities starting with Casa Ramona at West 7th Street. It was almost right in front of where we lived West 8th Street. In the early 70s it was a school, kindergarten thru third grade. I went to school there as a kid.
I guess back in the mid 70s the school closed and a Chicano group of activist incorporated and received a c3 title and became a nonprofit organization "Casa Ramona". The school district then turned it over to this group for 1 dollar. They then converted into a community center.
Living across the street from this place, my mother and grandmother Mary Hernandez Ortega volunteered all the time at Casa Ramona. I got to be involved in a lot of community programs. I started to really get involved in the early 70s, as a kid. Drop-In center at Casa Ramona, that if I continued going to school, keeping good grades and staying out of trouble, he would hire me in the summer when school was out.
These were the Ceta Summer Youth employment programs. I always had a summer job. The summer jobs were always there and I always went to school.
I always looked forward to getting employment during the summer at our local community centers. It helped me to buy clothes for school in early September and it kept me from getting in trouble. I was truly blessed to have had the mentors I had. Armando Navarro now a professor at University California Riverside a true fighter for social justice, a community activist at the national level it was through him that I got to meet the late Ceaser Chavez the leader of the United Farm Workers Union.
They were very inspirational people in my life and remain so today. Growing up in the neighborhood of the Mt. Vernon area, I had many opportunities to give back to the community. I learned early and was taught by the best.
I'm still doing it today, some 30 years later. I probably have worked in every, if not most of, the community based organizations in the past thirty years on the Westside of San Bernardino. City Attorney in When Mr. Penman was Executive Director there, he instilled some good work values in me and that's something that I won't never forget, and of course continue to use today. He was a person that cared a lot about what happened to kids in the Mt. Sadly, he was stabbed and killed breaking up a fight between two young men at the Kola Shanah dance hall on north Mt. Vernon Avenue. There is a full size bust of him in the Casa Ramona Square, W.
It was people like him. The success of what these people did in their work to keep us on the right track could never be measured. We thank them as a community. Now what I've seen over the years is this: While I continue to work with youth, I noticed a lot of these programs have faded off into the sunset.
More in things to do
They don't exist anymore. You know, we don't have the programs that we had before. We also don't have the type of leadership in this community that we had years ago, like in the 70s and early 80s. It looks like that came to an end.
Lets talk about the 90s. This coalition had come together to do something about the gang problem. We were going to launch a day pilot program.