The story of Paul Murrieta, the founder of Oasis Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., is an example of the pursuit of the American Dream, our national philosophy which includes the definition of freedom as equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative; success cultivated in the rich soil of a society with few barriers to upward social mobility.
Paul was born in Mexico and adopted as an infant by relatives who moved to the US through the Bracero Program (from Spanish: bracero- meaning “manual laborer” or “one who works using his arms”). This worker program was initiated in 1942 when the US and Mexico signed the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement, a series of diplomatic promises, which guaranteed humane living conditions (sanitation, adequate shelter and food) and a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour.
Paul’s father, David, was a ranch hand on the Manning’s Canoa Ranch, historically known as the San Ignacio de la Canoa Land Grant or La Hacienda de la Canoa. Paul’s family lived on the ranch full-time where his father worked 7-days-a-week keeping precious water flowing through the irrigation channels and wrangling horses and cattle. The ranch-raised cattle and cotton among other agricultural commodities were a verdant Oasis in the Santa Cruz River Valley, complete with lakes, fish and waterfowl. Paul describes an idyllic childhood hunting, fishing and exploring the Oasis-like riparian habitat and desert for miles from sunrise to sunset. He says his father’s unfaltering example is the source of his work ethic and the lushness of his boyhood home is the reason he named his business Oasis.
According to those who lived there, Pima County has done a good job restoring the Manning family ranch to its former 1950’s condition “except that it was greener back then.” The Friends of the Canoa Ranch production of “Canoa Ranch, a Place in Time” video-documents a moment of life growing up in the 1950s on the historic Canoa Ranch. Paul, his cousins and childhood friends were invited to participate in the filming of “Kids of Canoa” (March 18, 2018). They recounted for posterity a little of what it was like for them to grow up on the Canoa Ranch.