Helen Chavez

Very sorry to see that Helen Chavez died. I met her a couple times back in the 70’s. Everything is so vague, though….I lost lots of memory following a series of seizures back then and big parts of my life vanished, but I know some of us volunteers went out to Keene a couple times in my UFW days and I do remember Helen Chavez feeding us. It was a lunch with Cesar Chavez. I wish I could remember more of this. Two years as a volunteer with the United Farmworkers (1977-79) and I can barely remember any of it. I still have my hand sewn union flag. And digging through a box a couple years ago I found a folder just packed with information and notes of things I had participated in, strikes and meetings and press conferences. Lots of people’s names, too, though I couldn’t place them. Weird you work so closely with people and then they vanish from your head after a few big seizures.

My pal Darby Slick once asked me why I have never written about those days. That is why. I can’t remember them.

It’s funny but thinking back on this, I realized that we would have taken the 166 to get out there. So I had been on the 166 before, probably a couple times. Driving it two weeks ago, I assumed it was the first time. I hadn’t seen her obituary yet and the few hints of memories it brought back.

Anyway, I remember Helen Chavez as a very nice lady and a very good cook, and I remember her and Cesar holding hands.


Lovely photo of Helen and Cesar Chavez dancing in 1978. Photo by UFW volunteer Carlos LeGerrette from the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, online at https://libraries.ucsd.edu/farmworkermovement/

One thought on “Helen Chavez

  1. From Judith Henderson (via Facebook):

    Oh, my heart goes out to the family. Helen was the glue, she was for the cause her dear husband managed but frustrated by his fasting. I chopped onions and bell pepper one day for lunch and she said, “you need to help me more often!” I took her hand and she looked at me and said, “this will never be over until he is dead.” Six months later Cesar died. In the studio at the time, I was saddened that I could not attend the funeral, I went to Malibu Beach and cried for hours. RIP Bonita Helen.


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