In April of 1971 at the age of 18, I got married. He was a draft dodger, and four years older than me. I graduated from high school on June 12, 1971, and the next morning we left in a car heading for Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His parents drove us, the trip took 2 days. We rented two rooms with a shared bathroom in an old house in the East end of Vancouver. His Aunt and Uncle owned a large house in East Vancouver. His Uncle was an Alderman of the east end district and a well known lawyer. We didn’t have jobs or money, so we were always hungry. His aunt and uncle were always entertaining and this meant there was food laid out in the kitchen. They opened their house to people that were on a speaking circuit speaking at the Fisherman’s Hall downtown, fighting for civil rights, fair treatment, and fair wages. There were houses like this all across Canada and the US, private citizens that would provide a bed and meals to support the cause. Like the Farm Workers Union, the Fisherman’s Union had to depend on a seasonal harvest, which meant lining up for jobs at 4am each morning to be hired for the day.
It was in the fall 1972 that we dropped by his aunt’s house to find something to eat, when the front door opened and a group of people entered with his aunt leading the way. She saw us in the kitchen and introduced us to Caesar Chavez. He was standing there in his stocking feet, faded flannel shirt and jeans. I stood there star struck and speechless as Caesar made eye contact with me, nodded and said, “Sorry can’t talk right now, I have to call my wife.” When I met Caesar Chavez my heart was beating so fast, that if he had stopped to talk to me, I would have fainted.
Lillian Cotter-Heslop, Santa Nella, CA