Brendan O'Shaughnessy | June 11, 2019
Pilo Bueno Jr. grew up as a migrant farm worker traveling around the country, following the harvests in a circle that started in Texas, went through the Carolinas and Indiana, and ended in Michigan or Colorado. Then it repeated, nonstop.
He was born in South Bend when his parents and their older kids had jobs picking tomatoes in Michigan. The family of eight traveled in one car. Between all the work and the constant moves, Bueno dropped out of school in fifth grade.
“We never had a home; home was where the next crop was,” Bueno said. “It was hard. My knees were always dirty and the fertilizer would turn our hands green. People would look at us funny and not want to touch us.”
He eventually ran away at age 16, drifting into manufacturing and truck driving before returning to South Bend and working his way up in auto repair. He earned a GED and business degree later in life and opened his own auto body and sales shop in Mishawaka. His parents finally stopped traveling and settled nearby.
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