“All They Will Call You” Timeline

Hi Friends!

Great news. As I write this, the manuscript, which is the culmination of all my research since 2010, is in negotiations for publication. In the meantime, because I’ve been asked on numerous occasions about how this all took shape, I’m posting a timeline of how my research, the headstone, the new version of the song, and documentary have all taken shape. Hopefully this is of some help. Hope to share some good news soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!

 

Los Gatos Plane Crash/ “All They Will Call You” Project Timeline

December 2010: I first saw the newspaper article at the Fresno Public Library, while researching for my previous novel, Mañana Means Heaven. My research began here.

January – December 2011: I immersed myself in the research, and though I found a couple of lists of names online, none were accurate. This whole year was spent solely trying to confirm the names of the passengers. During this time is when I discovered that the Mexican passengers were buried in a mass unmarked grave in Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery.

November 2011: I invited musicians Dayanna Sevilla and Lance Canales to perform the song, “Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” with me reading the names at the Steinbeck Festival in Salinas. Dayanna and Lance began exchanging ideas via email for how the song might go. Eventually Dayanna had to cancel the gig and Lance composed his version of the song solo. I continued my research for the names, filing papers with the Freedom of Information Act, and numerous other archival records. Still was unsuccessful.

May 2012: Lance and I performed at the Steinbeck Festival, and afterward, while walking the streets of Salinas, we spoke about the idea of installing a headstone memorial with the list of names I had.

July 2012: I managed to locate the Gaston family, who owned the crash sight property in 1948 and were eyewitnesses to the crash. I began interviewing them, and they showed me the crash sight for the first time. This meeting was a breakthrough, as I now had first hand accounts of what happened that day. This is when my book began too.  This same month, I also located a woman named Diane, who put me in touch with Martin Hoffman’s family, and I began interviewing them immediately.

August 2012: Still trying to confirm names, I approached the Fresno Diocese, where I met Carlos, the cemetery director. He admitted to knowing about the mass burial site and incident but didn’t know about the names until I had inquired. I asked if he’d be willing to check the Fresno County Hall of Records. He agreed, and was successful. This became the second list of names, not entirely accurate but another breakthrough.

October 2012: I formally submitted a proposal to the Fresno Diocese stating that I would pursue installing a memorial headstone at the gravesite, mentioning it would be with the help of friends, including Lance Canales, Fresno artists, and the Diocese. It was approved.

November 2012-February 2013: The Fresno Diocese issued a Press Release and news caught on that I had found the list of names, and that we would be installing a headstone.  During this time, Lance recorded his version of the song, and emailed it to me so that I could record the names over the track. We would use the song to raise money for the headstone.

January 2013: Fundraising for the memorial headstone was officially under way. A combined effort between myself, Lance, Fresno artists and activists, and the Diocese,
organized a concert to raise funds. People from all over the world contributed.

March 2013: I took the story of my search to the Fresno bilingual newspaper Vida en el Valle, hoping someone might read it and be related. Juan Esparza was the reporter, and he ran the story. Three weeks after its release, it was successful.

April 2013: I was contacted by the Ramirez family, who told me they were descendants of two passengers aboard the flight. I met and interviewed them immediately. That same month I also successfully located the family of the pilot and stewardess. I interviewed them right away. The book was making slow progress. The concert was held, and we raised an initial $4,000 for the headstone.

September 2013: We raised $10,000 and installed the headstone in a large public event at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno. The Ramirez family was present, and so were the families of the pilot and stewardess, Martin Hoffman, and the eyewitnesses. I organized a caravan trip and took the families to the crash sight for the fist time. We also hosted a public discussion at Ole Frijole restaurant in Fresno. Wide spread media covered the story.

October 2013: I met and interviewed Pete Seeger at his home in Beacon, NY. He told me his version of how the song came to be, and I showed him photos of the passengers, and told him some of their stories. He was visibly moved. Our meeting was captured on film by his grandson, Kitama, and I will release some of this footage in the documentary.

November 2013 – March 2014: I continued to search for more families, while writing my book. While I found much information on the passengers, it was moving slowly because I was funding everything from my own pocket.

Early March 2014: A breakthrough! I found the Sanchez Valdivia family after dozens of phone calls to Zacatecas, Mexico, San Diego, and Tijuana. This was the fifth passenger I managed to locate. I interviewed the family via telephone, but knew I had to meet them in person in Mexico before too long. They sent me photos of their deceased relative.

Late March 2014: Another breakthrough! I located the Padilla Marquez family in Stockton, California, after I recited the list of names out loud at a fundraiser breakfast, and made an appeal to the audience. It happened that a friend of the family was in the audience. They knew the story, and put me in touch with the family immediately. This was the sixth passenger I had now found. By noon that day I was at their home interviewing them. My mother was with me, and we documented the conversation on video.

May 2014: I traveled to the Navajo nation to camp in Canyon du Chelly with the friends and relatives of Martin Hoffman. This is where he last lived and where his life ended. I interviewed them all, and this was also documented.

Sept 2014 – December 2014: I launched a fundraiser crowdsourcing campaign to raise $4000 to travel into Mexico.

January 2015: I traveled into central Mexico, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, with Guillermo Ramirez, to knock on doors using the information I had accumulated over the past few years. This was the last big push in my research, and it was a long shot. We ended up finding the Miranda Cuevas family in Jalisco. I interviewed them and they gave me photos of their relative. During this trip I also interviewed family members for the other passengers I had already found, but who were living in Mexico.

January – December 2015: I continued to search for families, and write my book at the same time.

February 2016: I completed writing the book, tentatively titled, “All They Will Call You.” I am still looking for families and conducting portions of research. I’ve also agreed to donate some of my research to the Woody Guthrie archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am currently working with the El Paso based filmmaker, Valentin Sandoval, on editing the documentary, which is tentatively titled, “Searching for the Plane Crash at Los Gatos.”

Final Note & Credits: To date I have located 7 of the total 32 reported passengers on the airplane.  90 percent of this endeavor, from 2010 to date, has been funded from my own pocket. While the research itself was a solo effort, it wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of friends, family members, and strangers. Lastly, all of the events on this timeline have been documented in film, audio, photographs, emails, and the notebooks I kept throughout. My book will be released in Spring 2017.

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All They Will Call You

Today at 10:40 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) marks the 68th Anniversary of the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon. This time last year, I was sitting in a circle with the families of Guadalupe Ramirez Lara and Ramon Paredes Gonzalez in Charco de Pantoja, Gto to honor their relatives by sharing their stories. This year, I am releasing the teaser for the documentary we have been working on throughout this endeavor (see below).

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For those who’ve been following this journey, you might be aware that the book is but one of several components that I’ve been working on around this subject. For this reason, I’m happy to provide you with the following updates on how the whole thing is coming together:

The Documentary

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Click here to watch the teaser for the documentary Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

Over the course of the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a handful of filmmakers and videographers who’ve generously given their time to this project, all to toward the common goal of eventually turning this footage into a documentary. To this end, thanks goes to Sandy Cano, Ken Leija, Teresa Flores, Lydia Z. Hernandez, Kitama Cahill Jackson, and especially Valentin Sandoval. Valentin and I are releasing this short teaser today, in honor of the anniversary of the crash, and we hope you enjoy it. I’m grateful to him also for being committed to working with me on editing the documentary, and filming on location to capture a few more interviews and shots that we need to complete the narrative. We are currently seeking funding to finish this project. To find out how you can help with this, please email me at tzhernandez@yahoo.com

The BookFullSizeRender

Throughout this whole endeavor I’ve worked to finish the book, All They Will Call You. I’m happy to announce that at long last it is finished!! I am currently seeking a publisher for it, and hope to have some good news for you all within the next couple of months. It is a 300 page account of the plane crash, the individual lives and stories of the passengers, and the aftermath, all told via interviews, documents, photos, and re-enactments.  Among all the noise-rhetoric surrounding immigration, my hope is that this book is a breath of fresh air.

The Research

Since 2010, the goal was to find the correct names of the passengers, and as many of their families as I possibly could to collect their stories, photographs, and records, as well as, to find the true story of how the song itself took flight. In this effort, I’ve traveled across California, Colorado, the Najavo Nation, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Texas, and upstate New York. I’ve documented hours of interviews on video and audio, and discovered photos, documents, and hand-written letters.

DSCN0856The Headstone

In 2013, I worked with my good friend Lance Canales, and the Fresno Diocese, as well as an international community of donors, to raise $14,000 to install a new headstone at Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery. We installed it with a big celebration on September 2, 2013. The Gonzalez and Paredes family continue to visit it every Dia de los Muertos to pray, sing, and leave flowers. Visitors from all over the world have been making pilgrimages to the sight.

The Humanities

One of the mission’s of this project has always been to share this story with communities everywhere, and to facilitate workshops on the subject of gathering stories. To this end, the story has been told but in academic panels, in live music, print media, and in social media. Also, Lance Canales, Joel Rafael, Carlos Rascon, and communities and musicians everywhere have continued to share the story far and wide. And for this, the families are grateful.

The Archives & Curriculum

Ultimately, the goal has always been to generate a range of multi-media resources on this subject, so that future generations (scholars, teachers, students, and historians) have photo (7)access to this research from any part of the world. Both the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as the National Library of Congress Folklife Center have expressed interest. While I’m still weighing the options, I’d really like to see this work housed somewhere in California’s central valley, where it all took place. More on this soon. I’m grateful to Professor Dana Walker at the University of Northern Colorado for taking on the effort of turning my research and book into a full blown curriculum for Middle and High School grades. It will include Mexican History, the Bracero Program, American Folk Music, Oral History, and investigative research among primary topics. We’ve just begin this process, so more on this soon. Stay tuned!

All love, Tim Z. Hernandez