At Hood River Reads finale: The journey

Cardboard boxes were a constant in Francisco Jiménez’s childhood. The author of this year’s book selection for Hood River County Reads, “The Circuit,” told a large audience Monday evening that the boxes represented the fragile and unstable life of a migrant family.

“I yearned for stability,” Jiménez said. “And where I found this sense of stability was in education. Whatever I learned in school, no matter where I was that knowledge would go with me.”

The stability Jiménez found in education took him from a first grader who didn’t know a word of English to a graduate of Santa Clara University who went on to study at Harvard and earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Today he is chairman of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Santa Clara University and director of the Division of Arts and Humanities there.

The road between the two was full of joy and sadness, triumph and defeat, justice and injustice, prejudice and fairness, he said.

“Teachers and my family’s love and instance on hard work, faith and respect sustained me and guided me along my journey,” Jiménez said.

His story is the story of many immigrant people from the past and the present, he said. Consequently it has been translated into many other languages including Japanese, Chinese and Italian.

“We live in a world where people are being displaced,” he said. “Either because of war, or basically because of poverty; and they’re moving from their country to other countries, looking for a better life.

And not all of those people are from other countries. Jiménez was greatly affected by Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” when he learned that the book’s Joad family had much the same experience as he when they moved to California during the Dust Bowl years in Oklahoma. Though American, as “Okies” they were subject to the same prejudices as his family had been.

The story also gave him the first idea that perhaps he could write his own story. Later, with encouragement from his peers, he eventually did.

“The greatest challenge in writing ‘The Circuit’ was to relate my experiences from the point of view of a child; to make it accessible to both children and adults,” Jiménez said. “I wanted teachers and readers to hear the child’s voice, see through his eyes and feel through his heart.”

Monday’s event capped the Hood River County Reads project. Those who haven’t read “The Circuit” or its sequels, “Breaking Through” and “Reaching Out,” may still check them out at the library.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners