Tellez: We didn’t cross the borders…

My great-great grandmother and father, Flora Tellez Martinez and Zacarias Tellez Sr.

The idea of legacy has been on my mind for awhile now. I sometimes joke my ancestors survived plagues and genocide in order to keep their lineage going, so I better do something useful with my life. That brings me to this photo, it’s the oldest known photo I have of my antecedents. It’s of my maternal great-great grandfather and mother. They were freighters and miners in New Mexico and Arizona and lived a hard life, I’m sure. They survived the annexation of Mexico by the US and the death of their son, my great-grandfather, to miners lung. They are both buried in Tucson, Arizona. Thanks to them, I’m here now.

Porch Life

Please click for larger view

My grandmother, sisters, brother, mother, neighbors and her soon-to-be-husband, my grandfather Atanasio. In front of their original home on North La Fayette Park Place. The house is no longer there, torn down to make way for a parking lot many decades ago.

By the way, they were the first Mexicans on the block. There were racial covenants at the time but I suppose they were allowed to move there because they could pass as ‘white’ and maybe because they were all young, attractive females.

Baja Mexico

Every year my grandmother and grandfather would take road trips to Mexico. San Felipe, Baja California on the Sea of Cortez was a favored spot.



My great-great grandmother Matilde Vizcarra Tellez, Los Angeles, circa early 1930s.
Such mystery behind her small smile.

Back to the Future

My Great-Grandfather Zacarias Tellez Jr. and his documentation

In case you think what’s happening in Arizona is something new, I’d like to share this small bit of my family history with you. As cliche as it is to say, those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. Or is it those that know history remember how to repeat it?

In the early 1900s my great-grandfather Zacarias Tellez Jr. along with his parents and siblings traveled from Arizona to Cananea, Sonora, MX to work in the copper mines. It was a fortuitous journey. It is where he met and married my great-grandmother Matilde. However, returning from one of his trips to Cananea, a strange thing happened…

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Hollywood Jail


Teens and novelty photos, does anyone remember the good times? The concept of a Hollywood jail is a peculiar one, I don’t quite understand the appeal. A novelty photo on a stuffed donkey, now that I understand. Despite the kitsch, their faces say so much, too much.

In this photo: my mother, some of her cousins from Mexico and a very young future Silver Lake optometrist.