A slice of local life -- Belialdo and Reyna: Picking and planting together

BELIALDO AND REYNA, with their nephew, Marcos Galvez, pause while planting fir seedlings aboard a planting machine at  Lava Nursery in Parkdale.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
BELIALDO AND REYNA, with their nephew, Marcos Galvez, pause while planting fir seedlings aboard a planting machine at Lava Nursery in Parkdale.

ODELL — Reyna Gomez-Larios and Belialdo Galvez have always worked in the field. In Mexico, they owned a ranch where they planted 50 acres of maize. They even tried planting rice one year. When they came to the United States in January of 1999, they started working in the orchards.

“We imagined that we were going to pick and work in the field,” said Gomez-Larios, describing their thoughts on leaving Mexico, “because it’s the only thing we know, but we didn’t know how cold it was going to be.”

Gomez-Larios and Galvez were married in Mexico. Every year, the bank in Ciudad Guzman, the city which they lived near in Mexico, loaned them money to raise their maize crop. During harvest, they would receive help from local teenagers.

“They’d get out of school,” said Gomez-Larios, remembering the teenagers who helped she and her husband pick maize, “and they’d come over. Up to 12 kids would come over. As they grew older, they started coming (to the United States). They’d turn 16 and come over here.”

“Once the maize was harvested,” said Galvez, “we’d get helped by older people. I’d take the horses and load up the maize and take it to the ranch. Once it was all there, I’d take the machine and thresh it. From there, I’d take it to where they’d buy it from you to be able to pay the bank for what they loaned you, and then the bank would help you again next year.”

They only tried planting rice one year but found it much too bothersome to continue. They planted the rice in a cienega, a marshy spring where groundwater bubbled up, to keep the rice plants in water. They only planted about three acres, but even that was too much work. A few years later, they came to America.

“We decided to come here because there wasn’t any work in Mexico,” said Gomez-Larios. “There was only labor. There was no future.”

Family here in the U.S., Galvez’s brothers and sisters, promised to help them when they arrived.

“They told us, ‘If you come up north, we will find you work,’” said Galvez.

“When we were at the border, we’d call them,” said Gomez-Larios. “They lent us money, and when we got here, we paid them back.

Their first orchard job in the United States was working for Calvin Smith in Odell. There they picked pears for four years.

“I feel like I did not miss work in Mexico,” said Gomez-Larios, “because in Mexico you carry a basket behind your back, and here, you carry it in front.”

They started their second job the same year they started the first, 1999, but a few months later. It was a job at Lava Nursery where Galvez’s brother, Antonio Galvez, works as a supervisor. There they planted and sorted trees.

Gomez-Larios works year-round at different places. During fall and winter, she works at a packing house for Wells & Sons. In the spring and summer, she works at Galvez Orchards, the orchards owned by her brother-in-laws, as well as at Lava Nursery.

Galvez has almost the same schedule. Only, in the fall, he works at Galvez Orchards when Gomez-Larios is usually in the packing house. There is less work for him in winter, since he doesn’t work at a packing house.

“Sometimes, my brothers give me jobs. I’ll go tie branches, or I’ll go to the nursery to shovel snow,” said Galvez, “and sometimes, I sleep.”

They like their assortment of jobs.

“All of the bosses we’ve had have been good,” said Galvez. “My boss at the nursery tells me, ‘Belialdo, you work with joy’.”

For both Gomez-Larios and Galvez, work doesn’t stop once they leave the field. They have eight Chihuahuas — three adults and five puppies.

Gomez-Larios loves to cook and has a portrait in her kitchen with a prayer asking God to bless the food they eat. She also likes to knit and decorate the house with anything that catches her eye.

Together, they keep a garden in their backyard where they’ve grown tomatoes, onions, and squash.


News intern Gilberto Galvez is Reyna and Belialdo’s nephew. Later this month Gilberto will be a freshman at Linfield College.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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