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Archive for December 17th, 2009

No Santa in Vieques

Joseph Pacheco was the first Latino superintendent of schools in New York. Now he is an elderly, retired gentleman who lives in Sanibel Island, Florida. But as a native Nuyorican, he grew up bilingual. And one of his earliest childhood memories was a holiday trip to his mother’s native town on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

It was on that trip that Pacheco experienced holiday parrandas first-hand. But, as a youth, he was surprised that Santa Claus didn’t make it to the island every Christmas Day. Instead, Tres Reyes Magos brought presents on January 6th.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Holiday Memories

Over the years, Latino USA has aired many holiday stories. From tamale-making traditions within the Mexican-American communities, to parrandas in the Puerto Rican communities, to the making of the lechón in the Cuban and Cuban-American communities.

One of our most popular holiday shows, however, was originally produced in 1999 called “Las Christmas” and was based on a book of the same title by Vintage Books. It’s actually a collection of holiday memories by Latino writers.

We turned some of the stories from the book into an award-winning radio show. But by far, our favorite story is author Denise Chavez’s story titled, “Big Calzones.”

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Charro Claus

Santa Claus, of course, is known for his holiday gift-giving. But he is known by different names in different cultures around the world. Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Papa Noellë, are some examples of Santa’s names. Also, many regional “Santa’s helpers” can be found that are more culturally specific to the communities.

Lessor known than his famous cousin, Charro Claus speaks both English and Spanish, wears a big Mexican sombrero, and helps his cousin from the North Pole. San Antonio writer Xavier Garza captured his story in a children’s book titled Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

StoryCorps: Historias

Latino USA now continues our special series in conjunction with StoryCorps Historias.

The Torres family actually came from San Francisco. Richard Torres was the eldest male in a family of 10 children. He has 3 daughters, 3 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. They live in San Francisco, New Mexico and Philadelphia. Not too long ago, at StoryCorp in Taos, New Mexico, Richard shared with his daughter Kathy Namba how the love and family commitment he has shown to his children and grandchildren actually came from his parents.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

The Mascareñas family had been farming near Urraca, New Mexico for generations before Lucille married into the family in the 1960s. She recalled a time when she met the family matriarch, Candelaria Mascareñas. Since Candelaria did not speak English and Lucille did not understand Spanish well, it took some time for “acceptance” to set in.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

These audio segments were produced by Nadia Reiman. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

José Feliciano

In 2005, legendary musician José Feliciano sat down with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa. The final result was one of the most intimate radio conversations in the program’s history. If you didn’t know it before, you should know that Feliciano is a great musician. Inspired by Flamenco guitarist Andres Segovia, Feliciano emerged just as the classical guitar was finally being recognized as an instrument of great artistic dimension. But it took time for Feliciano to be recognized in his own country.

Born blind in Puerto Rico in 1945, Feliciano was one of eleven boys. Unable to compete in the physical sports of his brothers, he took up the guitar beginning at age three. By age five, the family moved to New York. He learned the concertina, but soon took up guitar again, listening to records and learning by ear. He would spend as much as 14 hours a day on his guitar. By the age of 17, he began playing clubs.

At a concert in Argentina, promoters convinced Feliciano to stay a little longer and to make a record. In 1966, his old-style Boleros became an international hit throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The success was credited to Feliciano’s style of taking known, old song and adding fresh arrangements, energy and musical twists. Two Spanish albums quickly followed.

By the time he was 23, Feliciano had earned five Grammy nominations. His 1968 hit “Light My Fire,” brought him an English-language audience. And more work went his way, including the theme song for the television show “Chico and the The Man.”

But by far, his most popular song is the 1970 classic, “Feliz Navidad.”

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.


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