|500 W. Overland, former site of Hicks-Ponder Co.|
Most of my life took place in downtown El Paso, between West Overland at Paisano and Campbell at Mills. Although I traveled and lived away from El Paso for several years, in other cities and countries, I kept returning. Something kept bringing me back.
Ironically, my role in the formal workplace began in 1971 in the same building that housed the El Paso Times, the company I retired from in 2016. It is the same red brick structure that formerly housed the Hicks-Ponder Company. Back in 1971, Hicks-Ponder also occupied the annex building across the street from 500 West Overland, the annex where I also worked in 1972.
According to court documents related to a labor dispute, Hicks-Ponder manufactured and distributed men's slacks and had about 750 workers, "mainly female machine operators."
"The greater part of these women are poorly educated and circumstanced Mexican nationals with limited use of the English language who commute on a daily basis across the border to the factory," according to the court document.
My personal experience with the firm was a positive one. The company had Anglo and African-American employees as well, and teens like myself who were just out of high school. I recall a teen who was tall and athletic "Sabrina," whose father worked at the factory. Shortly after I began working there, other workers pointed out a handsome fellow named "Mario," and said he was about to get married.
At one point, I was asked to testify in a labor-related matter involving plant employees. I had no clue what was going on, and I only recall answering a question about whether an employee was allowed to eat a burrito during a break, or something along those lines. I believe that Thomas A. Spieczny, a veteran labor lawyer, was involved in the proceeding.