El Paso del Norte Loteria is a companion to An Introduction of Paseño History, as part of the EP360 Initiative for El Paso Guide.
If we compare our mountain park to Central Park in New York City: The Franklin Mountain State Park is 65% larger than the island of Manhattan!
never had cotton.
never had chocolate.
never had vanilla.
never had potatoes.
never had tomatoes.
Mainstream culture might think of indigenous people as ancient or extinct populations. But, there are indigenous people still living throughout Cemanahuac today. Whether in remote areas or populated towns, natives further away from foreign conquests were able to survive and, in some cases, thrive. Mexico’s large land mass and sometimes arduous terrain offered an insular environment. This separated them enough from central areas of genocide like West Indies and the Trail of Tears. Which might explain why today there are over 25 million indigenous people still living in Mexico. China and India are the only countries to have larger indigenous populations.
Among the first to be baptized and converted into the faith was an indigenous man and his wife from the Cuautitlán (kwou-teet-lan) area of Tenochtitlan. A few years after in December of 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (kwou-tlaa-tot-sing) saw multiple apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the hill of Tepeyac.
According to Juan Diego, the woman spoke in his native language and asked for a church to be built on the site. This darker-skinned, Nahuatl-speaking, Marian apparition became known as the Virgen de Guadalupe and helped convert waves of indigenous people. To this day the religious icon is synonymous with Mexico and its people. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (near the hill of Tepeyac) receives more visitors than the Vatican.
The Iberian kingdoms designed a governing social system for these identities known as the “Casta.” As a way to maintain power in the “New World,” Iberians restricted authoritative positions to “Peninsulares” only. Peninsulares were those who were born on Spanish/Portuguese soil. Entirely Spanish children born in this hemisphere, known as “Criollos,” were secondary to the imported population. These second-class citizens in Spanish Viceroyalties (jurisdictions that encompassed most of the hemisphere between the 1500-1800s), were still able to live quality lives. Third, fourth, and fifth-class citizens, however, were not as fortunate.
It’s important to keep in mind that this all happened at a time when people traveled by horse! Because there’s no denying we’re far, even by today’s standards. El Paso is actually closer to four other state capitals than its own. Which is why faster transportation can completely change our home.
The False Start
One pair that won’t be leaving the El Paso showroom, is the giant-sized 328D set at Rocketbuster Boots. In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records certified this local creation as the largest pair of western boots in the world! San Antonio might show off some big sculptures, but –– like their Spanish history –– if you’re looking for the real thing, you’ll find it in El Paso del Norte. These genuine leather, hand-made boots, were stretched over a giant shoe mold (known as a last) and tacked onto a real leather sole. The side panels feature a classic cut-and-sew vintage design that mirror one of Rocketbuster’s original styles. If Paul Bunyan were real, this is where he’d be heading.
To millions of Mexican-food eating families, our home is literally synonymous. In 1873, when the Texas part of our home was officially incorporated, they named themselves El Paso after the legacy created by the Spanish. At the time, much of the appeal of the new city was its proximity to El Paso del Norte. But using the same name on both sides of the river lead to confusion. That’s partially what motivated the southern “El Paso” to change their name in 1888. Despite northern El Paso’s efforts to market Ciudad Juárez as “Old Mexico,” both cities would develop their own identities. But, because the region’s cultural heritage was so influential, a food manufacturer was able to build a brand around the legacy. That’s why today, “Old El Paso” can still be found in supermarkets throughout the world.
At one point throughout history, there was a good chance pants being worn in the United States were handcrafted in El Paso. Levi’s, Lee, Calvin Klein, Haggar, and of course Farah, are just some of the brands who depended on our region’s skilled labor force.
Mansour Farah, a Lebanese immigrant by way of Canada, came to El Paso after learning clothing design and production in New York. In 1920, he opened Farah Shirt Manufacturing Company, which was able to produce shirts priced at just 37 cents. However, in the years that followed, it would be pants that would define his business.
After his death, his wife and sons took over the operation, which began producing military uniforms during WWII. Once the war was over, the company shifted back to consumer fashion and focused on an emerging casual wear market. With the opening of a new plant in 1961, which added almost half a million square feet of production space, this local brand grew into a domestic powerhouse. Farah began supplying JC Penny and Montgomery Ward stores across the country.
By the late 1960’s, the once small business became a publicly traded company, and Farah would soon be known around the world. After opening up their first UK store, the brand became an international fashion staple. But back home, production demands would spike to all-time highs.
Military service disrupting a traditional family life is an ancient concept. Within the past few centuries, conflicts and diplomacy have become more global than ever before. Thus, a disrupted home life became so common, the British Regiment Attached Traveler started giving this culture an identity. These BRAT titles were given to families who were able to travel abroad with service members. Over time, the “military brat” descriptor has evolved to specifically describe children of service members, who often live a modern nomadic lifestyle.
This culture and subculture can have reciprocal affects, especially during formative years. Which is why social psychologists have made it a point to study these children. On one side, they’re usually more resilient, adaptable, and worldly than non-brat children. But on the other side, they often struggle with self-identity, belonging, and reverberated consequences from a lack of stability. More commonly than not, they usually never feel as if they have a hometown.
Home to a garrison which serves more family members and retirees than active military personnel, the narrative of a “military brat” entering an El Paso school seems fairly unremarkable. Even adding agreeable Paseños as a major supporting role, does little to make a chronicle unique. For centuries this humble setting and hospitable group have greeted conquistadors and presidents, they’ve welcomed migrants and comedic actors as their own. But the variable that repeatedly makes Khalid Robinson’s story truly extraordinary is speed.
Pat O’Rouke won that race to become commissioner, and eventually served a term as county judge too. The boisterous personality known to string-together a few swearwords from time to time, made him a distinctive presence in local politics. Despite his wife being a life-long republican, Pat helped Jesse Jackson make two consecutive bids for president throughout the 80’s. During his transformative campaign, the Democratic candidate was the first national platform to speak on a “Rainbow Coalition.” The first presidential campaign to acknowledge Indian, Muslim, Asian, Hispanic, and other marginalized races are equally American.
©2020 NNWLLC / AJP