November 5, 2002 and February 11, 2003
Hanson: This is an interview with Mr. Danny Flores for the San Bernardino Oral History Project. Today is November 5, 2002 and we're here at Cal State San Bernardino in the Public and Oral History Offices. Good morning, Mr. Flores
FLORES: Good Morning
Hanson: Today we're going to start off talking about your part in the Shades of San Bernardino project which the library ran in 1999. I know that you have a picture here of you and your future wife-then future wife-and your car. Tell me about this car.
FLORES: Well, It's a 1952 Chevy Fleetline, and this coming November, the day after Thanksgiving, I've owned it 29 years, so I've had it in many car shows, books, magazines, movies. I'm really proud of my car.
Hanson: Yes! Should be. It's a beautiful car. Tell me about the-
FLORES: The murals?
Hanson: The murals! I couldn't think of the word.
FLORES: It's the Aztec warrior and one of my friends here in San Bernardino, Fred Payan, he does airbrush. He's an artist. He did that mural in 1977, and I still have the mural on the trunk, so it's lasted quite a long time.
Hanson: What movies was your car in?
FLORES: One was a docudrama, one was entitled "River Bottom," and the other was called "Puro Tejano" which means Pure Texan, and in fact, "River Bottom" was filmed all around this campus. Yes, A lot of scenes were filmed out here in the river bottom, and then a lot of scenes were filmed all over San Bernardino. Our part in the movie was filmed right behind the old G Street Arena, which is now knocked down, they knocked it down. But the G Street Arena was part of that movie also on the inside and the outside. We filmed out towards the back, the two scenes that we had in the movie.
Hanson: Describe the scenes for me.
FLORES: Well, it was-let's see-we were drug dealers, the movie was about the days and the lives of homeless people that live in the wash, or in the river bottom and what they would go through-different types of people. What they would go through, through the day, throughout the city here in San Bernardino, but it wasn't about San Bernardino, it was just people that were down and out, and our scenes were these two homeless guys, of course, they were homeless but they would get money for drugs so we were the two-the drug dealers and so we had two different cars, my friend Arnold Baltierra, we used his car on one scene, and well, we made a transaction, and then another scene was in my car, where this guy, he was out he was out burning people, ripping them off and all that, and our scene was, I guess, it leads you to believe that we killed him, or got even, so we were just some tough guys in the movie-
Hanson: What year was that movie done? Do you remember?
FLORES: Oh gosh, that was in-right after-the early eighties-no, no, no, not eighties-let's see-right off hand, I can't remember. June of 1982.
Hanson: Is it still available?
FLORES: Actually, the movie was never sold, back then, what's his name, Robert Leroy, he used to come here to Cal State. When I was working at Martin Luther King School, he was there as a resource teacher, and then he mentioned that one day he was going to make a movie, and he asked me if I wanted to be in it, so then one day he called me up and said "Hey, I'm ready, I'm ready to start shooting" so we participated in the filming of the movie. But he never sold the movie, he was approached by different groups to buy the movie, but they wanted to make changes in the movie and he was set that he didn't want any changes so he didn't sell it, but the movie did play in Europe and Cuba, and I think he took it to that film-what is it-that-
Hanson: Film festival?
FLORES: Yes, the film festival. Yes, Yes.
Hanson: I would love to see that movie.
FLORES: I have a copy at home.
Hanson: Would you mind? If I look at it? I would love to see it.
FLORES: I love for people to see it. Ours was a very small part in it, but like I say, it's the days in the lives of homeless, different types of people, and like I said, it's called "River Bottom." The "Puro Tejano," I never saw a copy of that, although Mr. Leroy said that it came out, everything came out real good in the movie. It was filmed, parts of it were filmed here in San Bernardino and our part was filmed in Redlands in the old, the old town area of Redlands. And I never got to see the entire movie so I don't know too much about it, but it was a group out of Texas and it was supposed to premiere in the Alamo Dome five years ago. I never got to see a copy of that, but that's about it as far as the movies.
Hanson: I would assume that you've been down Route 66 during the festival with your car?
FLORES: Well, I'm founder of Salute to the Route.
Hanson: Oh! (laughter)
FLORES: So, we're the other guys! Our event started in, or should I say, I started the event in 1993 when the low rider car was not allowed into the rendezvous, although I had participated in '91, '92, or should I say, '90, '91, 92. I participated it was just a small gathering during them years, then when it became an official event for the convention bureau, visitors and convention bureau, I went down to pick up my application, and that's when I found out that by the application, that no low riders accepted. So, that kind of upset me so I called up a couple of my friends and we met on 5th and Mount Vernon and it was a total of four cars in'93. And, like I said, we met there on 5th and Mount Vernon, which is the real Route 66, and that was the start of it. The next year I had about maybe 6 cars, and then, maybe one year I think I had about 8, and then our big year was about 14. And every year we kept going up a few more cars. So, from 5th and Mount Vernon I moved it up to 7th and Mount Vernon at Plaza Park. We were there two years. The second year the response was great and we filled up the park-just packed with cars at Plaza Park, so it was too small for the event, then that's when I moved it to Nunez Park in '98, and the last few years the event has grown enormous. This last, or this year, was our tenth anniversary of Salute to the Route. And, also our last, as far as the logo Salute to the Route, it was the last one. Me and my wife had been organizing this all these years, and the event has grown, it's too big of an event for me and my wife to spend so much time, because we have to start in January to have the event in September. So hopefully, somebody will step forward and start a new event, under a new logo, I did register my logo, I have a federal on it.
Hanson: Why didn't they want low riders on Route 66 Rendezvous?
FLORES: Well, to me, the way I feel and a lot of people feel especially when we had our event there at Plaza Park, a lot of people were interviewed, and during that time just the name low rider, the word low rider, was very offensive to some people, and to me it was either directed at the person or the style of car that the low riders are associated with. Some people say, "Well that's my car, that's a low rider." Me, I am, myself, as a person, I'm a low rider, and my cars' a low rider so, it's just the way your car looks or the ethnicity. Because most of the Hispanics, they consider that they're low riders. So, at that time, like I say, they didn't want to use the low rider and or be associated with the low riders in any way.
Hanson: But weren't a lot of the cars in the fifties low riders? Was that a style of car?
FLORES: Yes. Yes, the true car buffs and really, the old car guys, thought it was ridiculous what the rendezvous was doing as far as not allowing the low rider because any car that's lowered is a low rider, so the real car guys, they thought it was ridiculous, and, like I said they just didn't agree with that. It, the low rider, just because of the person, mainly, was not allowed into the rendezvous. But it took me six years to get that removed from the application for the Route 66 Rendezvous. It took me six years to get that removed, and, even after that or when I did accomplish that, because at that time they used to have categories for the application, and they had Street Rod and Hot Rod and Low Boy, High Boy, and all I asked was to add the category of Low rider. And they refused to add the category Low rider, so I asked them, I said well, if you don't want to add the word low rider to your categories, which is a category, because you've disallowed the low rider, I said you should add the category low rider. They refused. They said no, I said well, then strike all the categories and add pre-'72. So, they agreed to that, so instead of adding the word low rider, they struck all categories just so they wouldn't have to add the word low rider.
Hanson: That's amazing.
FLORES: It is. Yes, and it was San Bernardino and Visitors Convention Bureau, the guys that were in charge of that during that time were very firm in stating that they didn't want the low riders, they didn't want anything to do with low riders being in the rendezvous. But like I say, that's all changed. Now nobody goes in as a in the category of low rider, it's just now they accept the person or the car. But, like I said, now with the new leadership of Steve Henthorne, and of course, the mayor, things got changed, so everything is okay. The only thing they don't allow is the hydraulics on cars, and I've never fought that issue because my car does not have hydraulics. So that's somebody else's fight.
Hanson: Do you remember who was on that committee that decided when you were trying to do this? Remember any of the people?
FLORES: The ones that were against it?
Hanson: Anyone who was, and what side they took on it.
FLORES: Well. Oh gosh, what is his name, dang, I can't remember his name (Dan Stark). He was director, the first director when they first started it, he's the one that was really firm. Then we had Bob Hooker, Hocker, (Hooper) he didn't want any low riders either, and but all the executives and all that, they were all against it also, but like I said, when Mayor Valles came into office, she really supported our group, because we had already been having our event for I think it was three or four years before the mayor came in, no, actually six years now that I, yes, six years, because I brought it from '93. But like I say, it's in the past now, the rendezvous is a very big event, very successful, and so, we ironed out our differences.
Hanson: That's good. So you were instrumental in making change here.
FLORES: Well, I guess so. (laughter) I just felt it was very personal when I wasn't allowed. The word "Not Allowed" is, when they just say "Not Allowed", it's discrimination. And especially for the type of event that it was, it was a car event for the city, and for somebody to not be allowed. That was, to me, that was discrimination. And Channel 4 news, they came down and they interviewed me about it and the news just spread, and with the news spreading that's when the support, everybody, everybody supported my issue, not just the low riders, there was the street riders, because at this point at the event that we had this year, everybody's welcome, We do not discriminate against any type of car, no matter what year it is, or if it has primer on it, or there's always a person who enjoys his car, loves it, and comes and wants to display their vehicle. That's all that I look for. The guy's proud of his car, and we've always kept our registration low, pre-registration is ten bucks, and hardly anyone charges ten dollars nowadays. They charge a lot more. The Salute to the Route became very successful here on the west side, and on the real Route 66 also. But, like I said, this was our last year as far as Salute to the Route. I will continue to do Salute to the Route when it, well it's my logo, but when I ask my friends to do something, I ask them to participate, we always go as Salute to the Route or Friends of Salute to the Route and we do various events. We just done the City of Readers for the San Bernardino City Schools down at the Orange Show Stadium, then I assisted the soap box derby that's held up here at the Little League, and the Cinco de Mayo in Redlands, the Sixteenth of September in Redlands, the Black History Parade here in San Bernardino and Riverside, Fourth of July Parade, the mayors parade, various parades, we help out, we carry the dignitaries in the cars. But, the Salute to the Route, I will continue to use my logo at different events when invited. So the main soul of the logo, it will go on, yes. But I never dreamed it would last this long or turn into an event as popular. We had people come from all over Southern California to the Salute, and it's grown in popularity and I never, I never thought it would.
Hanson: Tell me the big difference between a hot rod and a street rod and these different types of cars. What distinguishes one from another?
FLORES: Well, Street rod mainly has a big engine. They're powerful cars, go for speed, and a lot of the guys, they put a lot of money in their cars, street rods. Of course the low riders also, but, but a street rod, they really have a big block engine, a V8, all suspension, new suspension, rear end, everything, everything built for speed. The low rider, like mine, I still have the original 6 cylinder a 235, so we don't build our cars for speed, just for cruising. But then again, the guys that build the low riders for show, I mean they, everything under the suspension is chromed. The low rider puts just as much money as the street rod but it's a different type of vehicle for what it will do on the street. Like I said, basically, the low rider's just for cruising, but they do put just as much money in their cars as a street rodder.
Hanson: Where were the prime cruising spots in San Bernardino for young guys with their cars?
FLORES: Well, mine was Mount Vernon, which is the actual Route 66. The other one was E Street. That was mostly the hot rodders, street rodders over there on E Street. Cruising on Mount Vernon wasn't really allowed by the P.D. [Police Department]. We'd get hassled by them during my younger days. They'd see three or four of us cruising and we'd have eight, nine squad cars dispersing us, which, down on E Street, it was more the P.D. actually they would more or less look the other way, especially when a lot of the P.D. had their sons cruising on E Street. So, it was more allowed on E Street as far as a bigger cruise, and, during my years of cruising, I mean, I'm still cruising, but, when it was really popular here in San Bernardino as far as E Street or Mount Vernon, in '65 I did purchase a GTO, and it was kind of odd because I was a cruiser with a big '65 GTO, powerful engine, and it was a mover, so, that's when I would go cruise E Street, because I had a fast car, which the guys from the west side, we really didn't have fast cars, so that's when I would cruise E Street with my GTO, bought a brand new. I ordered it in '64, and that's when they had a big strike, I forget which union had a strike but I ordered it way early in '64 and I didn't get it until December of '64, almost. But, 4 months later, I got drafted. So, I had a brand new car, but I got drafted, so that's when I went to the army in April of '65. So, I, when I'd come home on leave I'd have a brand new car waiting for me. So, I'd take it out, clean it up and take it out again. But E Street was a big cruising area, and so was Mount Vernon, but it wasn't allowed too much on Mount Vernon.
Hanson: Some people have talked to me about the drive in's that were down there for the kids to hang out at and some of the things, but I don't know anything about Mount Vernon. What was out on Mount Vernon?
FLORES: Well, on 6th and Mount Vernon there was Dells, there was a hamburger stand and we would hang out there a little bit. We, well, we really wouldn't hang out too much at the stands because the P.D. would come right away so we'd usually hang around somebody's house right there on 7th Street or at any of my friends house, we'd hang out there and then we'd go out for a while cruising, or just, basically around the west side, but there wasn't really too many places to hang out on Mount Vernon as far as stopping and just "hanging out". Basically, the P.D. would not let us hang out, that what they always, we'd get dispersed right away. So, that was part of Mount Vernon. But E Street, like I said, was very, they had Carnations, a place called Carnations, the original McDonalds, A&W, there was many places on E Street where all the kids would hang out and have a good time. But not too many on Mount Vernon.
Hanson: You got drafted you said in '65.Does that means you were in Vietnam?
FLORES: Well, I guess the good Lord was looking out for me because I was put on orders three different times, and all of them, they sent me to the wrong place. I was drafted in at April 6 of '65, and Fort Ord here in California was closed for meningitis, they had been closed for, I don't know how many months. And then after it was all taken care of, cleaned up, or whatever, they opened it up April 1st of '65, so I thought we were going to be sent directly to Fort Ord. No, they sent us to Fort Polk, Louisiana. There was about 150 of us from here in Southern California. It was the largest draft in history. At that time it was only about, I think the newspaper said twelve thousand and the largest draft in history, but then from that month on it just escalated and escalated 'til they were drafting fifty, sixty thousand a month. So, I went from here to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training, and then after that I was on orders to go to Fort Gordon, Georgia for Advanced Individual Training- AIT, so, when we arrived in Gordon, that's when we found out it was a mistake, we were supposed to be at Fort Ord instead of Fort Gordon because the stamp for Gordon was GORD and the stamp for Ord was ORD, so somebody picked up the wrong stamp, so we ended up in Georgia, that was no fun, so they made fifty of us permanent party there, and then in December, no, January of '66, I was on orders to go to Aberdeen, Maryland, so I left Georgia and went to Aberdeen in Maryland, and when I arrived, they said I was going to be an instructor, an ordinance instructor. And I said, I can't very well be an ordinance instructor. I never went to AIT, I was OJT at Gordon at the warehouses, which is on the job training, so they said, well, we can't very well make you ordinance instructor. So they assigned me to a company there in Aberdeen at the Proving Grounds, and so, I spent the rest of my two years in Aberdeen, so I never went to 'Nam. During that time, when I got drafted, that was a one way ticket to 'Nam, all my friends, they ended up in Vietnam, and I didn't because of the mistakes in the orders, so I guess somebody was looking out for me. So I guess I was lucky. I don't know.
Hanson: Well, we have to flip the tape because we're at the end here.
Hanson: Let's talk a little about the neighborhood where you grew up.
FLORES: Well, I was born at 169 South Pennsylvania Street, San Bernardino, and my mom currently lives at 161 South Pennsylvania. I was born at 169 and where I was born, the house still exists there. During them years, well, it's still a very small neighborhood, we had about four houses across the street from us, and basically during them years it was like being out in the boonies. We had orange groves, and fields where we played when we were small. We were like in between Colton, Rialto and San Bernardino on the corner of Rialto and Pennsylvania. So there wasn't really a big neighborhood, although now, they have trailer parks on both sides of the street, down south from where my mom lives there's a trailer park, and across the street they have a trailer park there now. But, before that it was a very small neighborhood, and so we would, like I said, we would just play in the fields or in the orange groves, in the wash, because the wash was behind our house, which is the flood control area, so that's where we would do a lot of our playing and just messing around.
Hanson: Just messing around. What kind of games did you play?
FLORES: Oh gosh, well of course, we used to play baseball a lot. Behind our house we had a sandlot, and so me and my brothers and some friends that lived on Rancho Avenue, we would all get together and play baseball. That was probably about our favorite sport, and then a block down on Mill Street, on Mill and Pennsylvania, these other guys, they had their own sand lot, so we would challenge each other, and Kenny Hubbs was in another one of them sandlots, so we had three sandlots and the guys from down the Colton, the Colton, started right there on Mill Street. It was Kenny Hubbs, Clarence Brum, a lot of them guys, they were part of the team that went to Williamsburg Little League when they did make it to Williamsburg World Series. But during that time we would play sandlot with each other. It was a lot of fun. To me it seemed like sandlot was harder. Like when I went into Little League, in Rialto, it seemed like playing sandlot was more competitive than Little League because in Little League we're all the same age and everything. Sandlot, young and old would play together and challenge each other, so it was tougher, and, I don't know, it just seemed more, more competitive to play sandlot. But when I went into Little League in Rialto, I was the only Hispanic or Chicano. I consider myself Chicano. I was the only Chicano in the entire league. It was an all white league and my dad, my dad teased me, he'd say, "You're, you're the, what they call "La mosca entre la leche," which is the fly within the milk. You stand out. But I never felt discriminated against or anything like that. Like I said, Rialto was almost an entirely all white town, and it was just a handful of us Chicanos that went to the Rialto School District. But, like I said, playing Little League, I never felt discriminated. I really enjoyed it, but I did play in the first organized Little League team in Rialto. And then after that I played in the first organized Pony League team in Rialto. After that, I quit playing baseball. Once I got into high school I started cruising.
Hanson: (laughter) Once you got that drivers license.
FLORES: Yes, yes, but baseball was a lot of fun. And so, that's one thing that I do remember about growing up there in the area where we grew up and we used to go to the Rialto School District to go play baseball or to go practice. It was about three miles so in the mornings and on the weekends, my bike wasn't fixed, if it had a flat or something here I go walking all the way to Rialto to practice, or either I'd get on my bicycle and start pedaling away. But it was, like I said, where we lived on Pennsylvania, there was a big field, an orange grove about a half a mile away. There was no, what is it the houses, the tracts of houses, there wasn't any at that time. So, we chased jackrabbits. We always had dogs. The dogs would go with us everywhere we'd go. In the wash there were places where they had ponds, little streams. The Lytle Creek stream would come down, it would cross Rialto, so we would play by the stream. We would do a lot of that, but basically, we'd go around chasing jackrabbits, and squirrels, and just kind of like if we were out in the wilderness or something. It was just pretend, but it was a lot of fun. Very small neighborhood-very small. Just about three neighbors across the street and everybody kind of kept to themselves, which was nice. But, we were really like I said, during that time, we were way out there, out of town. So, that's about it as far as that.
Hanson: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
FLORES: I have four brothers and two sisters. One of my brothers passed away. I still have my other brothers and sisters and everybody still lives here in the area. My sister lives in Colton. My other, my youngest sister, she lives in Rialto, and the boys, the men, we still live here in San Bernardino so, we're still out here. And, my mom, she's still around. She's 92. She's born in 1910, in Barstow, so she's been, she's been around town for quite a while.
Hanson: (laughter) Yes, I guess so.
FLORES: Yes, and she's still active. I mean, nothing holds her down. She's got a lot of pep.
Hanson: We should interview her (laughter).
Hanson: I bet she has a lot of memories.
Hanson: Were all your brothers and sisters born at home in the house?
FLORES: No, as far as I know, just me.
Hanson: Okay, are you the oldest?
FLORES: No. I have, let's see, my older brother, and an older sister, and my oldest brother, so there's three above me and, and three below me.
Hanson: So you're a middle child (laughter).
Hanson: What kind of work did your dad do?
FLORES: My dad worked on the track. He was a foreman at Kaiser Steel, track foreman, but my dad and my grandpa, they laid track. My dad started laying track when they came into the United States from Mexico. They went directly into Kansas, into Hutchinson, Kansas. My grandfather must have read that, what is it, it was a fairy tale?
Hanson: The Wizard of Oz, about Kansas?
FLORES: Yes, I said, Why? How did they end up over there? I don't know, I don't know which way my grandfather was going but he must've read that story when he was in Mexico because during that time, people coming in from Mexico, they would not go to them states because they would stick out like a sore thumb, and so on my dad's side, they crossed the border probably in 1911 or 1912 because-no, no, it must've been, no, excuse me, about, 1914. Yes, because my dad was one year old when they crossed the border and went to Kansas, so, my oldest brother, or should I say, my dad, my dad started laying track when he was eleven with my grandfather. And so, when they migrated this way, to the west, they laid track all along the way working with Santa Fe, along Route 66, that's because all the towns along Route 66, that's where my grandfather and my dad laid track, so, in '42, my dad hired on with Kaiser Steel. He's the one that laid the spur into Kaiser Steel when they opened up. Well, they officially opened up in '43, and that's the year I was born. But, my dad was a track foreman, and so, that's what he's done all his life. He's laid the track from '42 on, he laid all the track inside Kaiser Steel, and that's where my grandfather worked at - most of our family, my brothers, all but one, we all worked at Kaiser. All of us worked out there. That was a good paying job, and so after I got out of the service, that's where I started working. But, before I went to the service I worked at Rialto Publishing in Rialto. I was there for five years until I got drafted, but when I came out, the paper folded, so I hired on at Kaiser Steel and started working there until they closed in '83. I was there until they shut down. And then I started working with the San Bernardino City Schools. I took my clerical training and I got hired on with the school district. At first, as a T.A. and then a month later I started working as a language tutor with third graders and then I got into clerical and so I worked at many schools here in the school district, and this coming February will be three years that I've been retired from the school district. So, I'm retired now from the San Bernardino City Schools. Did you want to know about my brothers? Where they worked, or who else?
Hanson: Sure, I would love to.
FLORES: (laughter). Let's see, my sister, my youngest sister, she's a teacher at Eisenhower. She's been there for quite a few years, and then my brother that passed away, he used to work construction after he got out of, he went to Vietnam also, he was working construction when he passed away. And then my younger brother, he works for the City of Colton. Then my older brother, now he shuttles cars now. He retired from Kaiser. My sister, she retired from the Colton School District. Then my oldest brother, he's, well, he's retired. He retired from Kaiser also. So, he just takes it easy, I guess.
Hanson: Lucky guy. (laughter).
FLORES: But all of us, all my brothers, we all, all but one, we all worked at Kaiser Steel, my grandfather, my uncles, a lot of my friends and, that was the place to work, and back in '80, '83, the wages were real good, especially for Kaiser Steel.
Hanson: About how much were they paying back then?
FLORES: Well, I was making $30,000 a year in, in '80, '83. That was good money during that time. That was my last year that I worked, in '83, because that's when we shut it down. So, the money was very good paying wages for the education that we had.
Hanson: What about benefits?
FLORES: Oh, they were the best. We had hospitalization, everything, like it is today. Mr. Kaiser, well of course, we had a strong union.
Hanson: What union was that under?
FLORES: United Steelworkers of America. And so we were hooked up with the steel companies from back east, Big Ten and Pittsburgh, and all them, they were very strong because of the many years that they've already established, so we were the leading steel mill out in the west so we had their backing, and so it was a very strong union, the steel workers.
Hanson: Like the auto workers.
Hanson: Really strong unions. My dad worked in the steel mills in Pennsylvania for a while.
FLORES: Oh, yes, yes, the steel mills back there were strong. And then, most of the people, a lot of the people from Kaiser Steel were imported from back east, when they started the mills here they were offered jobs because they had experience. So, I worked in the tin mill, what they call a tin mill, and again that used to be called a white castle because all the people from back east had them jobs until, well, when I got out of the service that's when they were starting with the-I never went in on a quota-but quotas were being established, affirmative action, and so, I got to go into a mill that was predominantly white all them years. I was part of the first group to enter the tin mill and so that's why the wages were pretty well established there. It's not like my dad with the track gang. They were lower paid jobs and everything, again, ethnicity, or that word, it bound as to what the jobs would pay. The mills, the tin mill was called the white castle. I never knew why until later on when I hired in, and "hey, you're working at the white castle" and I said, "What? Yes."
Hanson: What kind of work did they do there?
FLORES: I worked on what they called the pickle lines. We would pickle coils of steel.
Hanson: Tell me more about that. Explain what that is.
FLORES: Yes, it's hard to describe because you don't see it out in the public, everything that we had there was like one of a kind. But a coil of steel, it's like, for example, okay, I'll use a roll of toilet paper. But visualize that as a big roll of steel. And it unwinds and they have different gauges, different widths. And when the coil of steel is made out of a slab, it starts out as a slab of steel, or should I say everything starts out as an ingot and then it's flattened out as a slab, then the slabs are sent to what they call the eight-six hot strip mill, and they flatten them out through eight six strands, and when it comes out the other end it's been coiled back up into a coil of steel. Now, if it's been made, of course, the surface has all the burnt stuff on it, so they would send the coils to the tin mill, and the first process is to clean them. And so, we had two pickle lines. One was continuous, well they both were continuous, but one of them was a high speed and one was a slow speed, but the steel goes through tanks of acid and the acid would eat away at the, at the slag or whatever, everything that was burnt onto, and when it would come out at the exit end it would be like a metal grade, nice and shiny. So that's what I worked on the pickle lines. But there in the tin mill, they would reduce it, and anneal it, and during that time, tin cans were, that was the thing before aluminum started coming in, so, that was a big drawback during them years, as far as sales, because everyone was going to tin cans, I mean, excuse me, aluminum. But, I worked at the entry end of the tin mill, which our coils would go to the galvanized mill, and they would go directly to customers. Like all, all the guardrail along the freeways, most of that comes from, well, it's called CSI now, California Steel Industries, Yes, Kaiser Steel, that's what it is now, so, but they still, they still have the coils out there, most of the mills shut down. The steel making part of it was shut down because you cannot make steel in this valley because of pollution. So the steel making end of it was completely shut down, that's what went down first, and then, of course, where I worked I knew we weren't going to shut down, or, we shut down because of the shut down. And where I worked we knew it was going to start back up because it's the only pickle line west of the Mississippi, so anything you look at all these cabinets, are pressed out, fenders on cars, wheels, anything you look, it comes off a coil of steel.
Hanson: So we went from production of steel to processing, primarily.
FLORES: Yes. Yes, they used to have the coils unwind and they would be cutting sections so they would be sent to the customer and the customer would make cans out of them. But, that was eliminated also, the can end of it in the tin mill. So basically, it was sending coils directly to the customer, the can end of it died, and so, then we had what they call the galvanized mill, so that we would send our coils to the galvanized mill, they would receive a coating of galvanized, different things like buckets, for whatever and so, that's what the end product was and it was high demand for all the buildings. So the pickle lines, they survived. In fact, they installed a new pickle line at California Steel a couple of years ago, a brand new one. The knocked down the old pickle lines and installed a new one, a modern one. But-my days at Kaiser were over, no, I did not want to go back. No, we used to work, we would rotate every week.
Hanson: So you would have a different shift every week.
Hanson: That's hard.
Hanson: It's very hard. It's in fact nearly impossible. My husband was a police officer and you get to that third shift time, it reoriented your whole life. You can't sleep.
FLORES: No. Somedays, I wouldn't know what day it was. I would play a game with myself, to see if I could figure out what day is this. And sometimes, I couldn't figure out from the rotating and it's like a Zombie feeling that, you don't know what day it is or because of the rotating. That was very, very hard. Our environment was very hard, the air was very bad for your health. Like I say, the money was great but the conditions weren't the best, so that was something we'd put up with and, including the rotating, and so when we shut down in '83, that's why I wanted something else for myself. To have more of a home life, because there were some weeks that I wouldn't see my son or sometimes my wife, very little contact. Not really a family life. You couldn't plan nothing, you couldn't plan vacations, so it was very hard working at Kaiser Steel because of that. Like I said, the money was good, but I wanted, I wanted regular hours.
Hanson: I don't blame you on that.
FLORES: That's why I decided to work at the school district, because great days, I was off when the kids were off. Later on, when I got into clerical, of course, I used to have to work more hours, and I used to have to work ten months instead of the regular calendar year, or school calendar year, but it was okay. That's what I tried to do after I got out of Kaiser Steel, a lot of people thought I wouldn't be able to get into the district or the job market because I was a male trying to get into a predominantly female job, but I was determined. Well, I was a clerk in the service, a supply clerk, and so I used to do a little bit of typing. But then when Kaiser closed, I took a clerk typist training program. And, of course, I passed that and I knew how to type, so that's when I got on with the school district. I really enjoyed that when I retired, that was nice. It was real nice working for the school district.
Hanson: Yes, It's a much different type of job than Kaiser.
FLORES: Yes it is. Yes. Working with kids is very rewarding. I was a language tutor, I had the third graders at Muscoy Elementary, and that was a very rewarding job. My main job is to try to get them to speak English, to teach them English, and at the beginning of the year, we had three tables. The kids that didn't speak any English, and then the ones that were halfway there, and then the ones that were already speaking English, and so I had the first table. And, by the end of the year I'd have maybe one or two students still at my table, the other ones had already progressed. You could actually see what you'd taught these kids by them speaking English. And that was very rewarding. I felt it was very rewarding to see these kids because that's what's needed here. And that's what I used to tell them. "Don't forget you language, but you have to learn English. You won't survive here in the United States as far as getting a job and getting paid. Here, you have to speak English." No, but I used to tell them that to know two languages is good. You can make it.
Hanson: And then be in demand.
Hanson: It's wonderful to know two languages.
FLORES: Especially a bilingual teacher, that's very in demand right now. But that was a good part of my life as far as working. That, I enjoyed that. Yes. But that's about it on that.
Hanson: Well, we're almost to the end of the tape so you did a good job. See, you told me you didn't have enough to say. (laughter). Thank you so much. It was a wonderful interview.
FLORES: Thank you.
Danny Flores Interview at San Bernardino State University on February 11, 2003 by Joyce Hanson
Hanson: The first thing we want to talk about is the mayor's task force. I know you were a member of that for a while, so why don't you tell us something about it.
FLORES: Well, I was invited to participate in the task force not really knowing what was going to happen, what they were going to do or how they were going to approach it. So, I figured I'd sit on it for a little bit. Basically, my interest was what was going to be done for the west side, again, for Route 66, Mount Vernon. And so, I figured, well, if I want something done for the area, I might as well sit in and keep on top of it. But then all the talk was about the Harris' Company, well the Harris' building, downtown E Street, the Santa Fe Depot, Norton, and at one meeting I raised the question about what was going to be done on Mount Vernon. The committee keeps talking about everything else, but Mount Vernon. And so, I suggested I know that buildings can't be built within months but I felt that Mount Vernon, from 9th down to 4th Street, the empty lots could be leveled, the walls could be white washed, murals could be painted, because I knew I was making contacts with people that could paint murals around the theme of Route 66. And, I wanted to get a big Route 66 shield painted on the Azteca Theater, which is on 7th and Mount Vernon, maybe making it one of the biggest shields on Route 66. I don't know which is the biggest, but that was on my mind. So, I kept contacting different people about trying to do this. I know that their goals were big goals of doing a lot, but that's going to take years. They're talking about quite a few years. And, I thought, I don't like a band-aid approach to anything, but we have to do something at least a little bit while all this is being done. The on ramps, the off ramps, the new bridges, everything, so I started talking to people that are maybe responsible for that area or they represent the area and I just kept getting too many excuses why it couldn't be done, too many obstacles. And then I found out that there was a group in place. I guess it's called the Mount Vernon Association, and I didn't know why they hadn't approached anyone to get things done. The empty lots and all that, to level them. I felt that a greenbelt could be put in, down Mount Vernon in the meantime, while all these other things are getting negotiated and built, to plant grass in the empty lots. They've done that a little bit over there in Ontario, on Euclid, and I met with people and asked them about it, and that other things were going to happen. And, so I just felt I wasn't getting the support and so, well, the reason I had originally entered this, the task force was maybe we could get things done. And, I was told that there was money to do it, I was told, the money's there. So I couldn't figure out well, why can't we go forward? But then, other people kept telling me, well, other things are pending so we can't do it. So that I was very frustrated in that. So, I just dropped out, and they're really going forward with the Depot, but on this side of Mount Vernon, excuse me, this side of the bridge, the Mount Vernon Bridge, nothing was planned to go forward quickly. So, I figured, well, I'm just spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere with these people. I did talk to about three of four people that really worked, or they should be working with the city to get things done as far as what I wanted to do, and too many reasons why not, and so, that was it.
Hanson: Did you explore the Mount Vernon Association further?
FLORES: No, no, because basically they know who the owners are of the lots. They themselves are owners of lots and for them, I guess, I don't know, they don't seem to get together and really push and really stay on top of it. I think they're just waiting for new buildings, themselves, because between, let's see, what is it, Spruce and 6th, that empty lot there, they're waiting like for example Mitlas. It'll be like a shift. They're hoping that Mitlas relocates right across the street, just down the block, just south on from where they're at right now, and La Esperanza Market, may go back into that area, and so a lot of these people that belong to that group, like I say, they're actually the people that own the lots and so again I felt that the people with the lots are the ones that should be trying to improve it because anything that looks good is going to get sold. A lot of people want to sell their lots, so, that was my gripe when I would talk to people. Why don't we level these lots, make them look nice, white wash the walls and murals and make that whole area look nice, and then people will come and see and maybe they'll buy, and not just that, but the Route 66 people that come to see Route 66, it doesn't matter, whether it's a poor area they just want to see the route, and that was my argument there and I couldn't get anybody to really support me.
Hanson: That's too bad.
FLORES: So, I guess I'll wait and see what the people that are responsible, how far or how long it takes, and, as I mentioned to one of the people, I said, my mom is, she's 92, my other brother's 68, I'll be 60, will we ever get to see the rebirth of Mount Vernon? We've waited and waited. It's been thirty, forty, fifty years and nothing's been done. So then I kept hearing that as far as this side of the freeway or on the west side of the freeway, they were only going to concentrate on the Depot, which is nice, but nothing could be done on Mount Vernon itself until the two bridges are built, so that's at least five years down the road so that means five more years to wait. So, I figure, well, I better concentrate on something else.
Hanson: So, what else have you been concentrating on then?
FLORES: Well, right now, just the car shows. The small car shows that are, coming up in May and June and the mayor's Fourth of July parade. I'm doing a Lincoln Continental convertible right now. I want to have that ready for May. I put it into the auto body shop yesterday to do the body and paint it. But it's a big, it's a big boat.
Hanson: Yes, what year is it?
FLORES: It's a '63 Lincoln Continental convertible.
Hanson: That's huge.
FLORES: That's a big boat, but it's beautiful. It runs good, and, so that's, that's my next car that will be coming out. Something different. My Chevy, I've had that for 29 years, so I want to show something new, something different. Not too many Lincoln's go to the car shows. The type that I attend, so it's different. And, I've got people lined up to do the work, the painting, the body work and the chrome and upholstery, and so that, hopefully like by May, I'll have that for the car shows that are coming up, the Soap Box Derby, the Cinco De Mayo, and Lighthouse for the Blind, that's what else comes up, but that's what I enjoy right now.
Hanson: I know you told me before that you were working on this Lighthouse for the Blind car show, and it's a brand new show that they're trying to raise money.
Hanson: Tell me how you go about organizing something like that. Where do you start? It's such a huge undertaking.
FLORES: Well, let's see, Manny Tores, excuse me, Manny DeLaToré from the El Chicano newspaper. He's the one that called me and asked me if I would assist him and he also told me that he had called other people, a group from Fontana and one of the members from the Over the Hill Gang, so when I went to the meeting, I could see that he's already started a committee. Everybody will work together, but the main thing is getting people that have experience and contacts with this type of show, a car show, and, I guess, the first thing is making contact with car people and so I had my mailing list of the people that have attended our car show, Salute to the Route, so, we have everything on the computers as to who entered and their mailing address and all that. And then, Larry Volk from the Over the Hill, he does many, many, many car shows, so he's got his car list also. So basically that's the first thing is to get up a flier with information as to when and where. That's what has to be established first, the date to see if it's in conflict with any other car shows, sponsors, that's very important, sponsors, because no mon [money], no fun. The bottom line is money and so you have to have money to make money so the sponsors, they really support, especially, I think this one will get good support because it's for the Lighthouse for the Blind, and that's the main reason why I'm assisting them. I wasn't going to take on anything else, but just the name, I have to help, so, it's for a good cause. But, the Arrowhead Credit Union, Charlie Gabrielle, he's assigned to the 5th and Mount Vernon Branch, very nice person. So, he's part of the committee so that will help with the big sponsorship right there from Arrowhead Credit Union because in the past years they've always helped me as far as Salute to the Route. Maurice Calderon, he's one of the big guys, very nice man and so they really helped us out. And, like I said, getting the sponsors and people to donate items for raffles and all that, that's the stores. They help out but it's just getting mailing list for sponsors, for people that help us. They donate items for the raffle. Once you have a list for that it's fairly easy. Still, there's always work involved, but we've already established the connections. In the past years, that's what I've learned that it's hard to get them unless they know that you're an established event. Then they'll help out every year. But the hurdle is making contact with them and showing them that you do have an established event, and that it's good for the community, or whatever cause it's for. But, but that's the way to go about getting started as far as a car show, and just a lot of PR [public relations]. That's what you got to do a lot of PR and make a lot of contacts and see a lot people.
Hanson: Like with anything else.
FLORES: Yes, yes.
Hanson: Tell me something about Ten Who Made a Difference. Tell me more about that.
FLORES: Well, gosh, that was very unexpected this year. Me and my wife, like I said, we were completely shocked. What happened is Bill Alexander, he's the mayor of Rancho Cucamonga, he nominated me. And Esther Jimenez from T.U.R.N. [Tobacco Use Reduction Now], she nominated my wife and myself so, they didn't know that each one was making a nomination. The weird part about it is Esther had flown to Sacramento, and so we went to go pick her up the airport and after we picked her up, we got in the car. We were going to go have dinner and then my cell phone rang and I received the call from Ed Maul from the Sun that we had been nominated and picked for the ten. And then, over the phone, he says, 'Well, I might as well tell you who nominated you.' And then he says, 'Bill Alexander from Rancho Cucamonga nominated you and Esther Jimenez from the T.U.R.N. nominated you and your wife.' And then, Esther was sitting in the back seat of my blazer and I said, 'Who?' He said, Esther Jimenez.' I said, 'What did Esther do?' and so he repeated it, and I said, 'Okay, thank you.' And then so, I put down my phone and she's in the back seat. 'What'd did you do Esther?' She said, 'Nothing.' I said, 'You nominated us?' And then she said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Well, we got picked!' and she got all excited. But I feel that my wife is the one that without her I would have never made a nomination. I would have never been picked. My wife is the one that, she's worked so hard all these years. She does a lot of work for the Salute and the all the computer end of it, all the letters, fliers, registration, sponsors, the whole thing and so, throughout the years she's done a lot of work. So, I don't feel I would have got the recognition without her. She made it professional. It wasn't sloppy work that she does. She does good work and that's what showed and that's what people could see as far as the way our event was growing. Of course, she doesn't like to be in the limelight. It's weird, neither do I! It just, it's been like this all my life. It just seemed like I'm at the right place at the right time, and then I get interviewed, or I just get spoken to and that's what comes out in the paper the next day and I say 'Whoa, I didn't know that when they were asking me these questions it was going to be in the paper.' And then the next day there's an article in the paper, and for many, many years that-it's weird. And then when I met my wife, she could see it because I used to tell her, 'You now, it's weird the way things happen with me.' And then, throughout the years, she could see that, the right place at the right time. Not that we were looking for the spotlight. It just happens. I don't know, I'm not really one to be in the limelight, or I'd rather just be in the background but something always puts me up front, so, I've always felt that if that's where you land, you got to do what you got to do. But it was weird too because this made a difference. We don't receive a certificate, we don't go to no banquet, nothing, but to me, it's, it's a-I don't know, it was the most-the one that I really enjoyed receiving or whatever, the recognition on that one. That to me, that was nice. That was really something I didn't expect.
Hanson: Well, it's because, I think you're the type of person who just sees a problem and goes to fix it.
Hanson: You want to make it better. Period. And it doesn't matter if there's recognition. But when it comes, it's nice to have.
FLORES: Yes, yes. There's so many people that I do know that they do so much and they're not into it for the recognition. They're just regular people helping out and, I guess I just get involved with them so that's the way it lands, so.
Hanson: That's the way things happen. That's the way you get things done in a community. You have a lot of people who are just out there doing things.
Hanson: And they do it because they love it.
Hanson: And they love their community. And that's it.
FLORES: That's true. It's just that so many people have different opinions and sometimes we get stalled. We don't go forward because people have the right for their opinion and a lot of times that just stalls a lot of things getting done and people get frustrated. But then again, we live here in America and everybody has an opinion.
Hanson: Yes. We don't have to agree with them.
FLORES: Right. Yes. Like Susan [Susan Lien Longville, Councilwoman, 2nd Ward], she's kind of in a little bit of a pickle because she wanted to make the resolution against the war? So that was a pretty hot topic there with Susan. But again, we all have our opinion. I served during the Vietnam Era. I didn't go to Vietnam but, I see Susan's point, or her feelings about the war, but, I guess, I don't know. People spoke out against her but I think they were too strong against her. She was just, like I said, speaking her opinion about the war, not wanting it, and, but I guess, her being a city representative, you really can't do that, or you're not supposed to because you're supposed to be representing your constituents and not all her constituents say no to the war, so, that was where she made the mistake. But she's a good person. Very nice woman, and now she's married to Assemblyman John Longville. He's a good guy too. He's a good friend of mine. That's another thing too, is, in knowing all these people now, I never thought that I'd know so many political people. They're friends now, and there's a lot of people that they've never even met the mayor or said 'hi' to her. And they say, 'Oh, you know the mayor?' Yes. They think it's a big deal but to me they're just people that are representing us and they do things for us. And so I don't shy away from them. A lot of people do just because they're the mayor. Congressman Joe Baca, he's a very good friend of mine. We were in the service together and Senator Nell Soto, gosh, Bill Alexander, mayor of Rancho Cucamonga. That's one thing-within the last three or four years I've met all these people. And, I'm just the regular homeboy, to me, I'm from the west side, I'm just to me, I'm a nobody or just a regular average guy, and so when people, like my friends, they know that I associate or they invite me to this and that with all these political people and, and they say, 'Gosh! Man!' It's not like part of us, like if I'm going some- like if I'm leaving the group to associate with these people, but, it just, like a natural thing as far as these political people that I know, but, 99 percent of them I get along with real well.
Hanson: There's always that one percent.
FLORES: Yes. But fortunately the one percent of the political people, I always try to be a friend to them, but then when they really turn against me, well, then they've lost a good friend. That's the way I look at it, and so, the support that I've built up during the years, down the road, it's not going to be there for them, the support that I have. And, but that's politics, too. Because when you're dealing in the political world you have to have some type of backing and it seems like a lot of these political people, if you don't have backing, they won't pay attention to you. Then sometimes they don't really believe that you have that much, I don't want to use the word power-it's people power. That's the one word I could use. They seem like they want to really test you to see, 'Does he have that much?' because being in the background for so many years, and then all of a sudden, Boom, you pop up. Well, who's this guy? I'm, not a-I don't consider myself a political person, I think I try to represent the people as to what they want, what they want to get done, and, political people they're there to do what the people want but sometimes they want to go their own way and I don't know, they just go down a different path that everybody doesn't want. They get into a position that they feel they have too much power and it kind of goes to their head and they don't want to go along with their constituents, that's a big problem, so, but, what, another thing too is that sometimes when I try to get things done within the city, see, I live in the county. Yes, and so sometimes- I hope they don't find out I live in county, because I'm in the city making a fuss about this or that. But, I was born in the city, I was born in San Bernardino, so that I believe that if I had a county issue, of course, I'd go see the county representatives, because it's the same set up as the City Hall. City hall is the same procedure, the same type of things that they're supposed to do for the people, but I've never had to deal on a big county issue and so I've never had to approach the county on anything, so, in a way, I'm glad because then it would just open up another can of mushrooms or worms. Gosh.
Hanson: Let me ask you this. Do you ever think that maybe someday you'll run for political office?
FLORES: No. Never. I've been asked that, gosh, I'll never forget. I got out of the service in '67 and about, then I hired into Kaiser Steel about not even a month after, I think it was May the 3rd I got laid off the tin mill so I was working in the galvanized mill for about a month, and I met this guy. We were talking, just talking about different things, and this guy, like I said, we were working together and talking, and he made the comment, 'You know what Danny, you ought to be a councilman.' I said, 'What?' He says, 'You ought to be a councilman or something like that.' And I said, 'Never' and so this is in probably May, June-no, it was around November of '67, yes, November of '67 and, and I was just expressing my views, the way I felt, and so he felt that my views were good so that's when he suggested and I said no. But throughout the years since then I've been asked many, many, many times to run. In fact, one year, let's see, one of the councilmen was, for the third ward, well, there was a seat that was going to be open, so, and this probably in '80, '83, right around that area, right around that time because I lived in the third ward, right behind Valley College, on Bunker Hill, and it was, it's a very strong ward because the people do vote. So, a group approached me and they asked me if I would run for council and I said, 'No, no.' And they said, 'Come on, Danny, we have the backing, we have everything lined up, we have the money for the campaign. Everything's set.' And so I said, 'Well, you know what, I'll let you know, so for about three months they kept asking me and asking me and then finally I told them no, that, if I would still be working at Kaiser Steel, I probably would have ran, but now that I'm not working at Kaiser, I don't want to run. And that was the reason, the reason because if I would have still been working at Kaiser I would have tried to become a council person so I wouldn't have to work rotating shifts. That was the whole thing in my mind, but Kaiser had closed so I wasn't working the rotating shifts anymore. Because anybody that's holding a political office, while they're in office they don't have to go to work at Kaiser Steel, and they had some kind of arrangement that your job was there, but you didn't have to go to work.
Hanson: Did they pay you?
FLORES: I believe so. Yes.
Hanson: That's interesting.
FLORES: So that's why when I told them, if I'd still be working at Kaiser, yes, but I'm not, so thank-you. And they ended up just going up the street to the next block up from where I lived and they asked Jess Flores. And so I said, 'Hey, well, Jess is a good guy. So go, ask Jess.' And so they did and Jess won and right off the bat, I mean, even before he was elected the people that had approached me said that they were going to approach Jess and I said, 'Well, what if he says yes. I want to talk to him about an issue that we got on this street, which is a parking issue.' And so Jess came down to my next-door neighbors house and we met there. I said, 'You know, Jess, if you win, I'd like these signs taken down in our ward, or in our area.' They had a pilot project for parking, for no parking on the second and fourth Tuesday or Wednesday of the month, and it was very confusing, so they could sweep our streets. If the next morning your car was out in the street and the street sweeper couldn't pass by because your car was there, you'd be cited, and so I had about four or five cars so of course I used to park them out in the street. I'd forget about, nobody lives by the second and fourth Friday or whatever of the month, and one of my friends down the street, he was up to about between two and five hundred dollars in fines because you just forget about that street sweeper, so when the street sweeper would come down the parking and traffic enforcement would-there was a cop car right behind the street sweeper and he'd cite you. So we kept getting tickets and tickets. So finally, I tried to fight the issue with the, gosh, I forget who the council person was during that time, but that council person wouldn't work with me, so then Jess was going to run for council person and so, like I say, I mentioned to him our problem and so he said that if he would be elected he would get the signs taken down. But again, he couldn't understand why I wanted the signs taken down. Because he says, 'Danny, don't you want our, our area to be kept clean?' and I said, 'Yes, but, I don't want to be cited if I forget my car.' I said, 'You know, if this is a pilot program, okay' because they went beyond the time of a pilot program, I mean, either it's going to work or it's not going to work. And I said, 'My, my feeling is that if it's working then let's, let's implement it through entire city and let's ticket the entire city if you people are doing that to us now. If it's a pilot program and it's succeeding, then let's do it throughout the entire city.' I said, 'Right now, you're citing us because if we forget to move our cars and the sweeper comes and we get a ticket. We're punished, yet we have a clean area. This pilot program should be implemented in an area where people don't keep their streets or sidewalks or whatever as clean as we do.' I said, 'We're being punished for being clean. This pilot program should be implemented and tried where there's problems, with, with dirty streets or whatever. That's where you should try this project, not over here where we have clean streets and we have the most beautiful lawns.' Everybody would mow their lawns the same. And so, Bunker Hill was a little street, small houses; but we were clean. And so, he finally seen things my way as far as why I wanted the sweeping done away with and so, he did. He did win the election and that was one of the first things that he approached city hall, either implement this program throughout the city or take down the no parking signs. So they took down the signs, but, after, gosh, I was up to almost, a little over two hundred dollars in fines- ticket fines, and I mean, not just, not just me, a lot of people getting tickets, and a little bit of a cost.
Hanson: Did they void those fines?
FLORES: Pardon me?
Hanson: Did they void those fines?
Hanson: They made you pay them.
FLORES: Oh yes. No, we had to pay them within a certain amount of time, so, by the time they took down the signs, they had already got my money, but, that's as far as being asked to be a council person, yes, I mean, up to this day, people tease me, 'Oh, Danny's going to be the next mayor.' I say, 'Oh no, no never.' When I was working down at the school district, at the district office, all of a sudden I started hearing that I was going to run for board. I said, 'No, I'm not!' They said, 'Yes you are!' The ladies are, 'Yes you are!' I said, 'No, No, no, no, no ladies, no. I'm not going to run for nothing.' 'Aw, Danny, you could be a good board member!' I said, 'No, I don't want to be on the board of education.' But no, I'd rather just speak up for the people, I don't know what you call it, an activist or-
Hanson: Yes, that's what I'd call it.
FLORES: Yes, there's another word that I had come across lately but I can't remember right now. Because activist, you kind of think back about during the sixties, and them guys were.
Hanson: Well, some of them were crazy, but there were some good people that came out of that.
FLORES: Yes, yes, but I forget what the word I came up with. Because I started thinking about that, I said, no activist, I'm not an activist. And then it, the word came up, but right now I can't remember.
Hanson: You're a grassroots person I think. You're interested in grassroots issues and getting things done.
FLORES: Yes, I guess.
Hanson: Not radical activism, not radical but working through the channels.
FLORES: Yes, that's what one of my foremen said when I was at Kaiser Steel, he said, 'Yes, Danny's a radical.' I said, 'Just because I don't see things your way, you consider me a radical.'
FLORES: But, no, because even at Kaiser Steel, I used to get involved a lot with our union agreements. Yes, one of my buddies, he used to say, 'Danny's a lawyer and I'm the mouthpiece.' 'Danny advises me and I do the talking.' Because when we renegotiating for our agreement on our unit where I work, Harry Alford, he was our spokesman, and anytime we'd go to a meeting, I'd sit next to Harry. Harry would do all the talking. I'd be doing all the listening, and then something would come up, I'd say, 'Let's go outside.' So we'd go out in the hallway, I'd say, 'No Harry, this, this, this,' 'Okay, let's go back', I'd sit and listen and Harry would be the spokesman. I liked it that way. Yes.
Hanson: You're such a wallflower (laughter).
FLORES: Yes, but, this, did you ever see that- did I mention the shades of San Bernardino and that it became the Shades of California-
FLORES: Yes, that, I was talking to somebody and they told me that it was on display in Sacramento, I'm not sure.
Hanson: Oh, I didn't hear that.
FLORES: Yes, that's what I want to check out if I go to Sacramento, the photos that were here are in Sacramento, the ones that were on display here at our library here.
Hanson: Yes, they might be, some of them might be, because I know some of them were in the Shades of California book that came out, and I think yours was one of them. I know yours was one of them.
FLORES: Yes, next time I go to Sacramento I'm going to see if I can find out where that's on display, that's what I'd like to find out, where it's located. But, no, I don't think I'll be political office person. No, I don't know, I just don't see me being, I don't know. Sometimes you have to turn into a 'yes man' and, that's what I've seen from a lot of people. They just become a 'yes man' or a 'yes person' because it does become stressful when you have a lot of issues like, gosh, like our mayor right now, I feel she's doing an excellent job. I don't think people really appreciate her or the council. I don't care which council person it is, whether I agree with their whatever, when they were turned down for the raise in the election, I thought that was terrible because people don't really understand how much time they put in on their own. Joe Suarez, 5th ward councilman, is a very good friend of mine and so I try to visit him up at his, Joe's Country Corner, up at his restaurant. I try to visit him as much as I can but, so many, many times he's not there because he's got to be attending this, or going here, going there, and that's on his own time. And, the mayor she got a raise, but the council, that's terrible, and again, people just don't value our council people and really support them. And, that's another thing that I see wrong is that, nowadays people don't want to do things for free and their practically doing it for free, serving our city and so, that's, that's one thing that I do respect of all the council people whether I, I go along with their views or not, no, they should be, they should be compensated for what they do. They do a lot.
Hanson: I was frankly appalled to find out how little the mayor and the council was making when I moved here. It's just amazing. You're running a city the size of San Bernardino for peanuts.
FLORES: Yes. When any clerk was probably making more than the mayor and the mayor, oh my gosh all her staff, like June Durr, she's a very good friend of mine, they're on the go, go, go. And, like the mayor, one thing about her I, I think, just one, on one thing is, her wardrobe. The way she dresses, I mean, she's always dressed immaculate. She represents our city. When you see the person, that's to me, that's the city, especially the mayor and, gosh, I could imagine the cost in her clothing and all, ooh. Because she dresses beautiful and, so I figure, man, these clothes, they don't, they're not, they don't come free, and so I can imagine the cost there. But, I really, not just because she's Hispanic, not just because she was from the west side, in fact, I feel she does less for the west side because she's from the west side, because that- when people see that you're doing something for where you come from then people on the other side of town might say, 'Hey, you know, you're doing this and this and that, you now.' And so, not getting a lot of things done on Mount Vernon or the west side, that might be a part of it, that, the mayor don't want that, that monkey on her back, because she, that's where she comes from. But, I don't think she'll ever accomplish what, what needs to be accomplished because we have so many, so many different things that need to be done, and I feel she's tried to do too much and that's where a lot of people think that she's not doing enough, because you got to do either the big things or the small things, and right now I think she's shooting for the big things that we'll be able to see maybe five- ten years down the road, but, because that's how long it takes to get things- the big things done, and with her, with her knowledge of financing and people that she knows I feel she's doing a good job, but yet, you really can't see what she's doing and, and that's, I think that's what a lot of people will say that she didn't do enough. But she's going of the big, big things that'll, that'll, that you'll see let's say ten years down the road. That's when you'll see her results. If this will be her last term, so, at least that's what I hear, so, but she's doing a good job.
Hanson: Well, she's laying the groundwork for a lot of future things-
Hanson: Future growth, future issues.
FLORES: Yes, yes.
Hanson: And you're right, people don't see result immediately and we live in a generation where people want instant gratification, so they don't understand the work that goes into laying the groundwork.
FLORES: No, because when I'm over here on the west side, I visit my brother, and well, my brother he's a single guy, my oldest brother, so that's where all the guys hang out from the neighborhood, and of course, we, start talking politics and a lot of my friends, they're impatient, they think nothings getting done. So I see it at a small scale, just from the, our little group, what their feelings are, so I think, well, the rest of the city probably sees it the same way, but, I'm kind of aware as to what is really going on in the background because I try to stay up with what's going on. And people that don't stay up with what's going on, and they don't see the big picture, they just see that things aren't getting done now, and then right now with our money situation in the state, things might not get done. You're getting everything set up for maybe five years down the road, but then, maybe next year, the money will delay it another three or four years, maybe five years, and so, money's a big part of it, as far as getting things done. Yes, and, gosh, and I think we're in for a crunch.
Hanson: Oh, I think so.
FLORES: Our gas is going to go back up.
Hanson: It's already up, and it keeps, it keeps rising.
FLORES: Oh yes, yes, but what can we do?
Hanson: You're a car guy, you need gas (laughter).
FLORES: And I ain't going to buy no Volkswagen, that's for sure.
Hanson: Oh, come on, Danny. Well, we're almost out of tape, so is there anything else you want to add, anything that I forgot to ask you, anything that comes to mind?
FLORES: No, It's just that the, doing the, starting out with the Salute to the Route, I never thought that the event would lead me to where I've been, and the accomplishments, and the recognition. That wasn't my reason for starting it, I knew there was a little injustice towards the low rider and I just had to make that right, and so, I accomplished that, and so, I do feel good about that. That when I see all he low riders cruising the rendezvous, I'm the one that-even though they don't know-
Hanson: It doesn't matter.
FLORES: Yes. I just like to see them cruise, and that's it. That's it.
Hanson: Thank you so much.