Remembering a Tricky Name Change Ramon Sanchez remembers growing up as a Mexican-American student in California in the 1950s, when teachers changed his name to Raymond. He wasn't alone. Girls named Maria became Mary. Juanita became Jane. Then Facundo enrolled and teachers didn't know what to do.
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Remembering a Tricky Name Change

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Remembering a Tricky Name Change

Remembering a Tricky Name Change

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Tens of thousands of Americans have interviewed each other for the project called Story Corps. Excerpts from these conversations are played on this program each Friday, like this story from Ramon Chunky Sanchez. He grew up in a small farming town here in California in the 1950s, and like many Mexican-American children during that time, his name was changed at school.

Mr. RAMON SANCHEZ: By the time I was in the second grade, everybody was calling me Raymond. You know, out on the playground, in the classroom, Raymond, hey Raymond, hey Raymond, (unintelligible) adjust to us, you know what I mean? And if there was a girl named Maria, her name became Mary, and Juanita became Jane.

Until day we got a new student by the name Facundo Gonzalez. Facundo Gonzalez, man, when he came to school we noticed they called an emergency administrative meeting. We could kind of hear them talking through the door. What are we going to do with this guy, man? You know what I mean? How are we going to change his name, you know? And one teacher goes, well, you know what, why don't we try to shorten the name a little bit? And they go, yeah, how do you spell it? F-A-C-U-N-D-O. Well, why don't we just spell it F-A-C?

Then (unintelligible) that means his name would be Fac. And the other teachers looked at him. No, you know, that sounds too much like a dirty word. We can't be saying, Fac, where's your homework, you know? Where's Fac at? You know what I mean? So that was a trip we always remembered going through elementary school, because Facundo was the only guy who never got his name changed.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Ramon Chunky Sanchez at StoryCorps in San Diego. His full interview will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. Subscribe to the StoryCorps podcast at npr.org.

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