Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2020

Guadalupe’s Artists

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Colonia Guadalupe was named for the grandmother, Guadalupe Domenzain Fonseca, of my home’s builder.  His grandfather, Luis Alvarez Tellez Giron, owned the Fabrica Aurora and built the neighborhood of Guadalupe as employee housing featuring dirt streets until fairly recently. 

During the 1930s large land owners feared the government would confiscate property to distribute to the poor so the colonia Guadalupe started with no formal plan beyond quickly establishing employee housing.  Payments for the property were then subtracted from the worker’s pay.  The nearby village of Soria features some of the most picturesque employee housing I’ve seen in a factory town.

Apparently my builder’s grandparents were art lovers as the majority of streets are named for famous and fascinating Mexican artists.  Also his grandfather invited input from his grandsons and is where some of the sillier names came from, along with streets named for then popular tunes heard over the radio.

Cri Cri – named for the composer and performer of children’s songs, Francisco Gabilondo Soler, commonly known as Cri Cri, the cricket.  A marvel of voices and vocal tricks, Cri Cri wrote songs from the point of view of an animal, or other underdog, that has problems fitting in.  His most famous song, The Ugly Doll, tells the tale of the unwanted doll who became friends with the broom, spider, mouse and alike. 

Cri-Cri was a unique musician due to the multi-generational endurance of his songs.  If you ever want to get your Mexican pals singing from their childhood memories simply hum a few bars of a Cri Cri song.

Maria Felix – the elegant, gorgeous and arrogant leading lady of Mexico’s Golden Age of Film.  She started her career as Miss Guadalajara, a city still known as the home of Mexico’s most beautiful women.

Similar in looks and time frame to North Carolina’s own Ava Gardner, they were competitors for the same parts though Felix refused any Hollywood offers fearful of “Forever being cast as a Native American”.  Also known for her many husbands and museum-quality jewelry and art worth over seven million US dollars.

Maria Felix was a polarizing figure, loved or hated, but little felt in between for her.  When appearing as the Virgin as Guadalupe in a film she quipped she was prettier than the original.  This attitude kept her name off the streets of Guadalupe until her name was surreptitious put up following the developer’s death!

Agustín Lara – one of the most popular songwriters of the 20th century, his songs are still being reinterpreted by popular singers.  One of the spouses of Maria Felix and, luckily, their streets, like their lives, no longer intersect.

Mario Moreno – better known as Cantinflas, the most accomplished Mexican comedian of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema.  He was a genius of physical comedy on par with Charlie Chaplin or Lucille Ball.  Cantinaflas is best known to English speaking audiences for his Golden Globe winning performances in the film, Around the World in 80 Days.

Cantinflas owned two hotels by the mirador on the Real de Queretaro, one with a statue of him in the lobby and the other with a grand mural featuring his pal, Maria Felix, coming to the hotel.

Calzada de la Luz – I had always assumed it named for the Virgin of the Light (Maria de la Luz) an image of Mary that is the patron of electricians like the men that worked at the Fabrica Aurora.  Others assumed the street was named after the nearby CFE facility providing electricity (luz).  Neither is correct. 

La Luz is named for Colonia Guadalupe’s namesake’s sister, Luz.  Why it has the grandiose title Calazada, implying a main and grandly decorated road, is still a mystery.

Jaime Nunó Roca – the composer for the Mexican national anthem. 

Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra – the poet who wrote the lyrics for the Mexican national anthem with his street running parallel to the anthem’s composer.

Maria Gerver – the first female Mexican composer to achieve international acclaim. She is best known for the song “What a Difference a Day Makes” which was popularized in English by Dinah Washington and has been covered by numerous singers.

Guty Cárdenas – composer, singer and guitarist that promoted the Yucatan style of music to a wider audience in the United States.   Shot and killed, at the age of 27, in a bar fight.

Amado Nervo – one of the most important Mexican poets of the 19th century.  His most popular work, The Immovable Loved One, was published posthumously about the death of his wife a decade prior than his.

Pancho Pantera – an advertising cartoon of a young boy used since the 1950’s to promote the nutritional value of Choco Milk, a chocolate milk powder on par with the rabbit that promoted Quik in the North. 

Over the decades Pancho Pantera evolved from a simple country boy to a sporty modern youth.  Pantera means panther and his shirt features a black panther across his chest accenting his health from drinking chocolate milk much like spinach aided PopEye.

Mararito Ledesma – poetry written by Leobino Zavala under this nom de plume.  Zavala was one of two San Miguel notaries then, and a pal of the developer.

Today the developer, his spouse (Guadalupe) and her sister (Luz) all rest in the colonia Guadalupe church, Christo Rey or Christ the King where they had donated the land.  They also donated the land for the bus station and other civic projects around town.

I still find Guadalupe’s meandering streets one of the easiest neighborhoods to get momentarily lost in. When I do it is easy enough to distract my disorientation by viewing the street names recalling the artists and their contributions to present day art and culture.

by Joseph Toone

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed hereby are those of the author and not necessarily those of the San Miguel Times.

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