Monday, March 21, 2011

Growing up Mexican in the 70's

Although I was born in Mexico, I was brought here as a baby and this is the only country I know as my own. My parents were both born in Mexico but came here legally in the 60’s. I’ve lived in the United States most of my life but growing up in a Mexican household in the 70’s meant there were many things that I experienced that only another Mexican would be familiar with. So here goes…how many of these things can you relate to or how many of these things do you remember?

Raul Velazco / Siempre en Domingo

We watched Siempre en Domingo (Always on Sunday) every Sunday. Siempre en Domingo was a variety show hosted by Raul Velazco, a soft spoken little man with a gentle smile that was endeared to millions of Mexicans all over the US and Mexico. They presented popular musical acts, interviews with celebrities and even had many a comical skit. I think I learned a lot about Mexico and its people by watching Siempre en Domingo.

Raul Velazco also hosted a show called Mexico, Magia y Encuentro (Mexico, Magic and Encounter) It was a show that presented highlights of Mexico’s beauty. It showcased beautiful landscapes, quaint little towns and the artisans found throughout Mexico as well.

Lucha Libre / Santos vs Blue Demon

Come on, you’ve seen these guys enough to recognize them even with their masks on. Come to think about it, you probably would not recognize them without their masks as they presented themselves in character wherever they went. The kids had plastic (hard plastic!) Santos (Saints) and Blue Demon wrestler toys with capes. There were movies about the battle between Santos (the good guy) and Blue Demon (obviously, the bad guy) where Santos naturally always won. Later on, El Hijo de Santos (the Son of Santos) came along, but that is a different story.


We visited Mexico every summer during our childhood and one of the highlights of going there was the Ganzito We looked forward to having one cause we could only have some once a year IF we went to Mexico that summer. A Ganzito (gosling) is a chocolate cake made in the style of a Ding Dong or a Twinkie but the Ganzito as well as many other Mexican treats used dark chocolate plus it has strawberry filling! Some Mexicans chill their Ganzitos and eat them semi-frozen. Oh my gosh they were so good. Our uncle who worked for Bimbo/Marinela, the makers of Ganzito, would send us home with a bagful of Ganzitos. Now a days you can find them in any Mexican grocery store in the USA. Thanks a lot Bimbo, now it isn’t special. It is just another pastry…

Vicente Fernandez / Antonio Aguilar

These guys are legends in Mexico. The original of course, is Pedro Infante, the king of them all but Vicente and Antonio were that generations idols. They both sang songs and stared in movies for the common man. People related to them because of their lyrics and their Mexican pride. Mexicans are very patriotic and these two guys were not ashamed to be Mexicans. They’d show up in “Mariach” attire, which is considered formal wear, to large gala events but never had a “Im better than you” attitude.

El Chavo del Ocho

I don’t know why this worked but it did. El Chavo del Ocho (the kid from apt 8) was a slapstick style sit-com, the brain child of “Chespirito” the best loved comedian of the 70’s. The show was about a bunch of kids (played by full grown adults) and their weird parents who lived in a Vecindad (basically a ghetto living complex), their landlord and his kid and their school teacher who was in love with one of the kid’s mom. This show had so many catch phrases that everyone quoted these characters at one time or another, many still do.

No te juntes con esta chusma
Fue sin querer queriendo
Se me chispoteo
Sale y vale
Y no te doy otra nomas porque….
Bueno pero no te enojes
Es que no me tienen paciencia 

Tapatio hot sauce

I don’t think I need to explain this one. Every Mexican has a bottle or two on their kitchen table. Heck, it is so big now that at my work, lots of the white ladies have a bottle in their desk drawer too.


This is how we celebrated many a birthday. Pozole (hominy and pork stew) was served, still is, on special occasions and everyone knew whose Pozole was the best. Personally, the best Pozole I’ve ever had was made by my friend’s mom on her son’s birthday. She made it outside in a huge pot on the coals. That was over 20 years ago but I can still taste it.

Tele Novelas

I’m pretty sure you know what a novela is so I won’t explain it. For Hispanics the novela is an artform. Novelas differ from American soap operas in that they DON’T go on forever. They actually have a storyline and a beginning, a middle and an end. They usually last anywhere from 3-6 months. Think of it more like a long min-series. In the end the protagonist gets his/her revenge, the long lost son/daughter is re-united with his real mom, the evil ex girlfriend is exposed for the lying, cheating, wacko that she is, everything falls into place; it is very satisfying. The best novelas are played during prime time so after dinner everything stops, the house is quiet and everyone gathers around the TV to watch. Among those I remember (many in black and white) are Esmeralda, El Derecho de Nacer and Simplemente Maria.


Singer Songwriter Juan Gabriel

Admit it, you can sing along to “Noa Noa”. Juan Gabriel was a singer/songwriter who was a bit fruity. In complete contrast to the macho Vicente Fernandez, who was a man’s man, Juan Gabriel was an effeminate, delicate character. I like to think of his as the Mexican Elton John. Of course we all know he’s gay now but back then you wouldn’t admit it cause then you’d have to admit that you listened to songs written and performed by a homosexual. I have to give him props though, the guy can write songs. His songs are upbeat and very catchy. He was so good, he wrote many, many songs for other very popular singers in his time.

Christmas traditions

Posadas, Buñuelos, Piñatas, Champurrado, Misa de Gallo, Dia de los Reyes, Mi burrito Sabanero, Tamales and more. In my opinion it beats fruitcake by a landslide.


Most of us grew up with a grandparent or two living at home with us. Mexicans keep their parents at home, they don’t put them in storage (nursing homes) so we heard many a story told by the grandparents, learned morals, manners and cute lullaby songs, many of which were from the legendary Cri-Cri.

I’ll be adding more things to this list as they come back to me. Feel free to leave any comments about your memories or experiences or any questions about the things on this list. Thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. Fun post! My parents are the first generation in the U.S., so I grew up with many of these points you've mentioned.


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