ElevArte Blog

ElevArte Studio

Pilsen, Presente: Alex & Faustino Gonzalez

Taken by African-American author Willard Motley, this photo shows a young Alex Gonzalez resting after long day of work in 1939 when he earned 62.5 cents an hour at a steel mill. Through various jobs Gonzalez, helped support his family and was saving up to buy a car and marry his girlfriend.

Gonzalez also served as Motley’s man on the ground guiding him around the Latino community and introducing him to the people of the Pilsen neighborhood. Motley used these stories as subjects in his books, two of which were best selling and made into major movies starring actors such as Humphrey Bogart. These books were “Knock on Any Door” and “Let No Man Write My Epitaph”.  Son, Faustino Gonzalez adds, “The original photo is in the archives of Northern Illinois University. I believe this is a good opportunity to bring this forgotten history to life.”

Faustino Gonzalez also remembers his grandfather and namesake, Faustino Gonzalez, who in 1945 was photographed selling newspapers. Gonzalez was well known and loved by many in Pilsen.