Portuguese in California Oral Histories

Check out three new oral histories by Don Warrin in our Portuguese in California Oral History Project.

Sharon Mendoza Doughty
Sharon Mendoza Doughty is owner and proprietor, along with her husband Steve, of Pt. Reyes Vineyard Inn and Winery. In her oral history she discusses her family?s Portuguese roots, the history of Portuguese dairies in Marin, and in particular the history of women running dairies. Sharon and Don Warrin begin their conversation discussing the current activities of her and her husband, operating both a winery and a B&B. She then reminisces about her family?s long history in West Marin, beginning with her grandfather who arrived at the end of the 19th century and was soon involved in the dairy industry. We learn of his early interest in education and the establishment of an elementary school on his dairy. We learn details of the local dairy industry and the significant Portuguese involvement. She talks about the Bivalve dairy, now being operated by her daughter, as well as the Federal takeover of ranch land for the Point Reyes National Seashore, including her mother?s testimony in front of a Senate committee in Washington, DC. Finally, we learn something of her family?s involvement in local Portuguese social activities, as well as some of her other ethnic heritage.

Albert S. Dutra, Jr.
This interview with Al Dutra was conducted in two sessions in January, 2014. He begins by discussing his Azorean roots and the family?s later settlement in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We learn of his childhood spent there and then the move to the Bay Area. Al discusses his education through college, his service in the Air Force and his career at IBM. Soon after retiring he became increasingly engaged in the local Portuguese community, leading tours with his wife Ginny to the Azores, and taking an active role in several local Portuguese organizations. Particular detail is given to the many books published by Portuguese Heritage Publications of San Jose.

Marilia Coquim Wiget
Marilia Coquim Wiget is very active in Portuguese community and was president of the the Sacramento-based Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society for many years. She lives in Sacramento. Don Warring interviewed Marilia in her Sacramento home in November of 2013. She discussed at length her maternal grandfather?s background in northern Portugal and his moves to Lisbon, Hawaii and Sacramento. She talked as well of her father?s origins and the occupations of family members in the Sacramento area. Although she spoke the language as a youngster and was raised with a sense of the significance of the history of Portugal, her family did not generally participate in Portuguese community activities. It was only as an adult that she became committed to this, especially after starting work at the California Department of Education, under the education consultant Julia Gonsalves. Much of the interview deals with her adult activities with the Portuguese community, especially the Sacramento-based Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, of which she was president for several years, and her work as editor of the society?s periodical, O Progresso.