Los Angeles and My Family

Trini y Enrique, Los Angeles 1920

It wasn’t until the last few years that I discovered my family had been living in Los Angeles much longer than I thought. I always assumed it was my great-grandmother Matilde who decided to move west after my 32 year old great-grandfather Zacarias died from turberculosis (a disease most likely related to his working in the Arizona copper mines.) Apparently, Matilde’s mother, known in our family as Nana Grande had already been living here in Los Angeles and according to family hearsay had also been running a boarding house in New York City. I can’t imagine this last part is true because the rumor concerns some salacious rumors of secret offspring and such and furthermore, how in the world does a Mexican woman of limited economic means move between Sonora, Los Angeles and New York in the early 1900s? I suppose it’s somehow possible.
As I slowly make my way through the old family photos, I see “Los Angeles” on a great number of them, such as this photo of my great-great aunt Trinidad and her husband Enrique Porter. I often wonder what life was like for them? My grandmother has told me countless stories of discrimination and yet, it seems she and her family easily intermarried and mixed/socialized with non-Mexicans. Not too much has changed in this city.

5 thoughts on “Los Angeles and My Family

  1. EL CHAVO! says:

    You mean to say families have been living in this city for more than 4 years? I bet Trini and Enrique came to be part of the film industry right? JK. I love these posts that trace roots in Los Angeles, it challenges the myth newbies keep repeating that this place has no history, thus it can by altered by the latest visitors.

    BTW, what does that handwriting on the pic say?

  2. Chimatli says:

    Photo inscription:
    “Un recuerdo cariñoso para nuestra queridas hermanos Zacarias y Matilde- Enrique y Trini 3/28/20 Los Angeles”

    Thanks for the comments, lots more photos and stories to come!

  3. browne says:

    I’m so jealous. I wish I had old pictures like that. I don’t even have any pictures of myself before 2000. It’s a beautiful thing to have a documented history. I used to think Randall was stupid for dragging around cases of pictures. “They are only pictures I would tell him,” but now he can use those pictures to tell stories of the past and I just have my wild imagination and some stick drawings.

    Luckily Randall does keep pictures of me, so now I’m part of his traveling memorial to the past, though currently I am part of his present. In twenty years I will tell them to look up Randall for proof of my existence 🙂

  4. cindylu says:

    Really cool.

    I like picking my grandpa’s brain about what LA was like when he first got here in the 1940s. Of course he went back and forth (wife and kids were still in Zacatecas), but he still got the chance to explore.

    Another thing, I took a sociology class a few years about immigrant and ethnic communities. I got to thinking that for Mexicans such concepts as 1st generation, 2nd generation, etc, are really too rigid as some of our families have longstanding ties and cross migration. I remember being really surprised as a 4th grader to learn that my paternal grandmother was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She started grade school there and then returned to Mexico (kinda like what happened with Gustavo Arellano’s family).

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