"Los Tucsonenses, The Mexican Community in Tucson 1854-1941"
(University of Arizona Press, 1986) is a book written in an
academic and scholarly manner that is nevertheless smooth
and enjoyable reading. It tells the story of the Mexican
community of the city of Tucson, Arizona from the pueblo's
beginnings as a presidio on the frontier of New Spain.
Tucson was a Mexican community before the arrival of the Anglo
settlers. Since Tucson was not initially overwhelmed
by Anglo immigrants, Mexicans made up the majority of the
town's population into the early 1900s. Author Thomas
E. Sheridan covers all aspects of the lives of the Mexican
community including family, religion, the school system, urban
and rural life, discrimination, and arts and entertainment.
He describes their lives from the barrios to the parlors of
the Mexican elite. He also devotes chapters to life
during the depression and on the eve of World War II.
246 and 247 are devoted to my dad, Lalo Guerrero, who was
born and raised in Tucson. Mr. Sheridan eloquently describes
my dad's contribution to the Mexican community from the barrios
of Tucson and beyond. My favorite quote is "he
created his own music- music that made people laugh or cry,
music that captured the jazzy spirit of a generation."
Also of special interest to Chicano and popular music fans
is the section on Luisa Espinel, born Luisa Ronstadt, who
was an aunt of pop music legend and Tucson native, Linda Ronstadt.
(According to Mr. Sheridan, whom I asked via e mail, Luisa
was Linda's father's half sister). Luisa was a great
singer and dancer, who performed across the United States
and Europe. Although she was formally trained in music
and dance in New York, Paris, and Madrid, she also became
widely known and respected as a singer of Hispanic folk songs.
Her father, Fred Ronstadt, was the leader of one of Tucson's
earliest and most famous orchestras, the Club Filarmónico.
The book reveals a fact that was new and interesting to me,
that Luisa Espinel published a book of Mexican folk songs
in 1946 entiltled, "Canciones de Mi Padre," dedicated
to her father, Fred. You might remember Linda Ronstadt
used the same title in 1987 for her successful album of mariachi
music. Another early Tucson orchestra mentioned in the
book is the Banda de Musica of the Southern Pacific.
It consisted of Mexican mechanics employed by the railroad.
My grandfather, Eduardo Guerrero, who was a boilermaker, was
a member of that band playing the French horn. Yes,
music does run in families. I finally met the author,
Thomas Sheridan, last year (2002) at a concert my dad did
for the Tucson Jazz Society. I was happy to meet the
man who did such an enormous amount of research and work to
complete a book of such scope and quality. For more
information or to order the book, "Los Tucsonenses,"
visit the University of Arizona Press website,
or purchase at the amazon.com link below. The cover
of the book has changed from the one pictured above, but it's
the same book.
For the Record
On Page 247, the book refers to my dad's East Los Angeles
night club as "Lalo's Place." The correct
name of the club was simply "Lalo's."