A Journey of Faith, Love and Hope in Pursuit of the American Dream
Is it our faith or simply the dreams we create in our hearts and subconscious mind that help shape who we are and what will become of us? Or could it simply be a combination of both? Could these dreams be so rooted in our hearts that it would give us the courage to embark in a 920 mile journey into a country we could only imagine would lead to many opportunities and prosperity? What could be so important that you would be willing to leave your own beautiful country, family members, spouse and children to live the American dream?
It was in 1957, that a young handsome man with black hair and brown eyes with light brown skin made this journey into America in search of a better life for his family. It was the Bracero Program introduced in 1942 by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt that gave him the opportunity to make his dreams come true. After losing his father at a very young age, his mother Maria took on the role of a single parent and raised him, his three siblings and nephew. It would be these life circumstances that would help shape his character and provide him the strength, faith and wisdom to overcome the many obstacles that would lay ahead.
This young man was Jose Covarrubias who began his journey into the United States determined to give his family an opportunity for a better life. A journey that would begin in Tlaltenango, Zacatecas, Mexico and end in Arrey, New Mexico along the Rio Grande river, in a farming community known for it’s production of hay and chile. It was the farm of Mr. Clifford McNutt that gave him the opportunity to work as a farm laborer in the beautiful valley surrounded by others who had made the same journey in search of the Promised Land. Jose would awake early in the morning in the old adobe structure only to hear the birds chirping outside while watching the beautiful sunrise over the Caballo Mountains. Jose along with other farm laborers would begin and end their long day working the crops, thankful for the opportunity. Although he had many offers to leave the Rio Grande Valley to live what others felt was a more promising opportunity in California, he remained loyal to his boss and the land along the Rio Grande Valley. This same valley would become his final resting place.
After much thought and consideration, Jose was ready to start the next chapter of his life and decided to bring the family to the United States. Armando, Edelmira and Sara arrived in the Promised Land along with their mother Antonia on August 18, 1961. Although there were many unknowns, Jose and Antonia had faith that this new endeavor would give their children opportunities they did not have in Mexico. It was Jose’s contagious smile; integrity and honesty that helped him establish many friendships and relationships along the valley. It would be these friendships that would prove to be beneficial to his family and would embrace him and Antonia during prosperous and difficult times.
It was on an early spring morning in 1969 that Jose had an honest and open conversation with his boss of more than 10 years. He sat and shared his dreams with Mr. Clifford McNutt about one day owning his own parcel of land. Because of Jose’s commitment and dedication, Mr. Clifford McNutt agreed to help Jose venture off. Jose and Antonia purchased their first parcel of land in 1970 and the second in 1975, which they named “El Ranchito”. It was during this time that Covarrubias Farms was established and Jose began peddling chile in Northern New Mexico. As time passed, so did the number of children as the Covarrubias family welcomed Ofelia, Mary, Gracie, Tony, Abel and Jose Jr. On any given day, you would find Jose, Antonia and the older children working in the fields while the smaller siblings played in between the tall chile plants. The children can remember their devoted and loving mother ending her day making dinner for the family and lighting her candle to the Virgin Mary before going to bed.
It is true that behind any successful man, there is a strong and dedicated woman. Antonia can be described as quiet, soft spoken, caring and committed to her family and faith. It was not unusual, to find Antonia in the kitchen making homemade tortillas before the children awoke. The children were preoccupied with the joys of playing and often didn’t realize they were subconsciously taking in what was being molded by their parents. There were clear memories of them playing along the canal levies and running into the kitchen to tell their mother that there were two or sometimes three young men asking for something to drink and eat. Just like Jose, these were men who had made the same journey into the United States in hopes of more opportunities and the pursuit of the American dream. Antonia would not hesitate and would send them off with a small bag filled with homemade burritos and drinks for the men who would accept the gesture of kindness with a big smile and words of gratitude. Jose, on the other hand, could be found playing cards with the farm laborers and eating dinner with them at the modest farmhouse. The idea of giving back and paying it forward was being modeled as the children lived their lives in the small farming community of approximately 200 residents.
Education along with characteristics such as humility, respect, hard work, and commitment was very important to Jose and Antonia as they raised their children. It was something that was often discussed at the dinner table where the nine siblings had to eat in shifts due to the small size of the kitchen. It was growing up in this home where all nine children learned the concepts of giving, dedication, loyalty and determination.
As the years passed, Jose and Antonia were blessed with many opportunities including purchasing additional parcels of land and a small church, which would later be converted to a small chile plant. Though, they were proud of these opportunities, their biggest joy was seeing their eldest children graduate from Hot Springs High School and enrolled at NMSU. It would be Armando and Edelmira who would begin a new journey and establish a path for future generations. It was in May of 1980, that Jose and Antonia experienced one of many joys, as they watched Armando and Edelmira be the first to graduate from NMSU with college degrees. In 1980, Armando also returned to help his dad Jose on the farm who had recently suffered a heart attack earlier that year. It was in the years to follow that destiny would unfold; Jose along with Armando would purchase the McNutt farm where Jose began his initial journey to the United States.
Covarrubias Farms continued to grow during the years along with the number of children who would attend NMSU as first generation college students. It was a dream that Jose and Antonia had for their children and grandchildren. The nine children embarked on different journeys all with a common set of core morals and values which included dedication, commitment, humility, and respect. Much like Jose and Antonia, some of the children came to love the land and have dedicated their lives to farming. Armando along with Tony and Jose Jr. can be found toiling the land setting the foundation for future generations.
Today, Covarrubias Farms consists of over 1,000 acres of farmland, which includes a farm in Dell City, Texas and chile and onion processing plants. Porvenir Farms, J & N (Jose & Nayma) Farms along with San Martin Enterprises were also established during the past several years. Antonia continues to enjoy the house Jose built for her one room at a time filled with beautiful memories of her husband and children. Memories of hardships and triumph that helped shape their nine children along with their 24 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
On the morning of May 14, 2013 our father, Jose, spent the morning visiting his farms and enjoying the afternoon sunshine with Antonia, his wife of 57 years, by his side before he was called to start his final journey to heaven. Jose is undoubtedly resting peacefully with a huge smile knowing the he fulfilled the American Dream through faith, love and hope.