George R. Gause, from Edinburg, co-chair of the TOHA community award committee, introduced the TOHA Board to the work of this hard-working community historian from Premont. Gause wrote, “Vera is the editor and publisher of El Mesteño Magazine, a publication about Mexican-American culture and heritage in South Texas and Mexico. For the past four years, when he started El Mesteño, he has conducted oral history interviews with different persons in South Texas covering a variety of subjects.”
More about Vera’s leap into journalism was revealed in Sylvia R. Longoria’s article in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (April 2001) titled, “Editor educates readers about their heritage.” Vera originated the idea for his magazine after being laid off his job as a warehouse supervisor. Taking what he had learned in journalism classes in college, Vera created a monthly magazine that grew to serve about eight hundred subscribers throughout the U.S. and Mexico. For the Caller-Times, Vera said, “The mission of the magazine is to inform readers about the culture and heritage of people of Mexican and Spanish descent.” Although Mexican Americans have a long and valiant history in South Texas, “not enough of this local history is taught in our schools,” according to Vera. “I want family histories and the traditions of South Texas to continue for generations.”
Gause wrote that Vera began his research among his relatives. “He first recorded his father, Lino R. Vera, on his World War II experience in Europe. This interview covers his participation right after the Normandy Invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, meeting the Russians in the Rhine River just a few kilometers from Berlin, and other aspects of the war and his part in it.” Another oral history interview with Vera’s aunt, Paulita V. Gonzalez, provided an interesting story, Gause wrote, “that turned out to be 100 percent accurate.” The story told of Vera’s grandfather, whose older brother was a member of a 1890s revolutionary army led by Catarino E. Garza. The army often camped on Vera’s great-grandfather’s ranch in Duval County and his grandfather, a young boy then, carried food to the troops. A doctoral candidate at Oregon’s Lewis and Clark University who studied Catarino E. Garza was able to confirm for Vera that the great-uncle had indeed served in the revolutionary army.
Beyond his family, Vera has also interviewed founding members of the La Raza Unida Party and has documented the origins and history of the Rancho Alegre neighborhood in Alice, Texas. His oral history work is also evident in the article, “The Galveston Ranch: Prelude to Premont,” authored by Richard A. Laune in the Journal of South Texas (13:2, Fall 2000).
Homero S. Vera told the Caller-Times, “I really hope that the history I’m preserving one day benefits the children in schools. We have tremendous backgrounds worth exploring and documenting.” To that end, Vera has deposited his interview tapes in the South Texas Archives Oral History Collection at Texas A&M University in Kingsville.