Rosa Lemus Carlos grew up at Simons Brick Company Yard No. 3 in Montebello, California, her father a decades-long employee there. Simons Brick Company, established in the Los Angeles area before the turn of the last century, grew to become the biggest brick producer in the world, making the millions of bricks that were used to build much of Los Angeles, San Francisco and cities throughout the nation.
Simons imported thousands of Mexican workers and their families to Los Angeles in order to work and live at their 300 acre facility. Simons was almost literally a Mexican town, where generations of Spanish-speaking workers and their families lived, worked, went to school, worshiped and shopped – and died.
The work of making bricks was back-breaking and pay was low. But as Rosa Carlos’ interview shows, their lives there (and that of their families) were centered around far more than just grueling work: Simons families’ cultural and social life was multi-layered, multi-faceted and enriching in its own way. The Simons Brick Company went bankrupt in the 1950s and closed after more than sixty years of existence, due to changing construction methods causing brick sales to decline drastically. The shanty homes of the workers and their families were condemned and demolished, along with the entire brick yard. Hundreds of Mexican residents saw their homes torn down and the debris set afire, but their memories of their lives at Simons lived on.
Rosa’s recollections are both moving and enlightening.
Watch it below.