The Cuellars
Sabino, Maria, and Manuel
December 2011

Our story (Sabino): “My wife and I are from Silao, Guanajuato. It’s in Mexico, about two hours north of Mexico City. I worked for the Mexican government for years; my income was pretty good for a small family. We got here around 1984 or ’85. My mother used to have a brother here in Dayton, and we’d come to visit him. I never thought I’d stay, but he convinced me, and my wife and sons came to join me. Within a few months, my uncle passed away, but I had cousins here, and so I felt comfortable.”

On arts education (Manuel): “I’m the youngest of five, and I’m a senior this year at Stivers School for the Arts. Stivers has been enlightening. Compared to other schools, everyone has their own art and passion, and you get a little of everything. There are kids from the suburbs, kids who are very wealthy, kids who are from the projects, a couple who are homeless. The whole spectrum, and each one of them has something to say artistically. It broadens your horizons and your perspective of people. I try not to be too judgmental of people, and I think that has a lot to do with my Stivers experience. Meeting those people, talking with adults who know the ropes, it’s enlightened me to think on the brighter side.”

On employment

Sabino: “The biggest thing I’m thankful for is that we’ve been able to have jobs, all the time, no matter what the economic situation here in Dayton. So many people, they’ve moved away looking for jobs, and we are still here and still working. I think it’s something to do with your desire to work. We don’t have any education, my wife and I, but we manage to bring the best and keep working for our family. The main thing for me is to be healthy. When you’re healthy, everything else follows. Modern people, they pray to be rich or to have a good job. If you have a good job and you’re not able to perform–no good. I want to my family to be together and be healthy.”
Manuel: “We work for Dorothy Lane Market. At some point, all of us in the family have.”
Maria: “As my husband said, we like it. People there are good. We never feel like… ¿como se dice?
Sabino: “The owners work just as hard as we do. They don’t abuse. It’s up to you to make your opportunity.”
Manuel: “They ask you to do a good job, but they would never ask too much of you. Norman and Calvin [Mayne, CEO and COO of DLM], they ‘re two of the best people I know. They’ve been able to establish their own company, make money, and keep their employees happy. Everything these days is cutthroat, and there they manage to have everybody on the same plane and keep them as equals. Very few places would the owner know everyone’s name, their families, their birthdays…that’s pretty cool.”

Why Dayton? (Manuel): “Dayton has a lot of history. There are so many things happening here, and I don’t feel like I’d be comfortable in another city. Dayton is small for a big city, and you’re likely to know many people, and there’s something about that comfort. I feel like Dayton is a project that’s still ongoing, there’s a lot of work to be done, and abandoning it would be sad.

I want to study industrial design at CCAD, Columbus College of Art and Design. My goal is to gain some knowledge to help out my community. I think Dayton is a great place, and it would be a shame to disrespect it by fleeing. One thing I always appreciated about Mexico–here, if you have a home and it’s old and falling apart, you leave it. There, they take more pride and value in their property, and I feel that way about Dayton. Dayton is my home, and I want to help improve it.”