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Hispanic Heritage Month: Mayor Gilbert Gomez and Robstown's cotton picking roots

“We’re always there to help each other"
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Posted at 10:19 AM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 12:14:08-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Cotton-picking is an integral part of Robstown’s history.

Cotton-picking is something Robstown Mayor Gilbert Gomez said he did as early as 3 years old. He said he worked with his father up in Northern Texas after school, and during summers.

Much of the physical labor was done by migrant workers, leading to deep Latino and Hispanic roots being laid in the small town just west of Corpus Christi.

“All of us here from Robstown are very proud to say that we’re Robstown Cotton Pickers,” Gomez said.

He said he grew up in a poor family, and cotton-picking was a way of life for his family.

“It was very hard work, but also very rewarding knowing that we were learning some work ethic that would help us later on in life,” Gomez said.

Before becoming mayor, Gomez worked as a contractor for refineries, and served as a Robstown police officer and later chief of police for 32 years. He said getting to know the community so well is what motivated him to run for mayor.

The Robstown Area Historical Museum details the history of Robstown, telling about how it started out as a single railroad crossing in the early 1900s. A store named Rob’s Place came soon thereafter, and the name stuck. The town eventually was named Robstown in 1907.

“In 1910, I believe it was, they established the Brindle Cotton Gin, and soon after that several other cotton gins became established in the area, so this became sort of a cotton center,” said museum director Rumaldo Juarez.

Gomez said that because he’s lived in Robstown his whole life, he’s gotten to know, and become a part of, the culture and history at the museum. He said the city is a special place because it’s a small town, and many families have known each other for generations.

“We’re always there to help each other," he said. "Whether we agree with each other or we don’t agree with each other, but we’re always going to come out and help each other."