Family Ties

josé ureño I don’t live on the Eastside, neither the actual Eastside nor the area confused transplants mis-label as the Eastside.

I’m squarely on the Westside. I’ve lived here for the last 10 years while going to school and working at UCLA. I’ve never even lived on the Eastside. I grew up east of East LA in an unincorporated town of the San Gabriel Valley, Hacienda Heights.

Like a lot of LA-area Latinos, I have close ties to Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights despite never having lived in the area.

When my maternal grandfather, José, first came to work to LA in the 1940s, he lived in Lincoln Heights. José took the street cars to work to orchards in the valley and would watch movies at the theaters on Broadway. Several years later, he’d bring the rest of the family north. First, they’d leave Zacatecas for Tijuana. Then when everyone got their papers in order they migrated from Tijuana to LA. The first home they lived in was in Lincoln Heights. José worked as a gardener, my grandma Antonia helped.

bartolo mosqueda When my paternal grandfather, Bartolo, left Guanajuato, he went to work in South Texas as a ranch hand. At first, he was there as a bracero, but later the rest of the family — a wife and six children — joined him.

In the early ’60s, Bartolo packed the family and their belongings up in his brother-in-law’s station wagon. The family lived up north in Stockton before coming to LA. They settled in Boyle Heights. Bartolo worked in South Gate in heavy industry. My grandmother, Juana, worked as a seamstress. They supplemented their income with Bartolo’s informal sobador business.

My parents grew up in East LA. They did all their schooling in the area.

Mom graduated from Roosevelt, dad from Garfield. They met while involved in the vibrant youth group at Assumption Church. They got married there. I was baptized there as were the rest of my siblings.

But they didn’t stick around East LA for too long. They’d been married a little more than a year when they bought a home 20 minutes east in Hacienda Heights. I asked my parents recently why they decided to move out of East LA despite the fact that all of their friends and most of their family members still lived in the area. My mom explained that they started looking at homes in the area when they’d go shopping at the Puente Hills Mall. Hmm. They moved for the shopping? Well, the schools too.

Mom would takes us on the RTD to spend afternoons at our grandparents’ house. Every Sunday was spent visiting Grandpa Bartolo and Grandma Juana. By the time I was six years old, I was able to provide directions to East LA for a family friend.

blanchard house By the late 1980s, José and Antonia had sold their home on Blanchard and Evergreen near El Tepeyac and Assumption Church. Most of my parents’ siblings moved out of East LA, either to the San Gabriel Valley or to the Inland Empire. My grandparents Bartolo and Juana lived in their home at Hicks and Cesar Chavez/Brooklyn until they passed away in 1996 and 2000, respectively.

I still have family members in East LA. I stop to visit them on the long, traffic-filled trip from Palms to Hacienda Heights sometimes. East LA is in the middle, at the heart of my LA.

My family’s ties to the Eastside have slowly eroded with the passage of time, but they’re never going away. My grandparents Bartolo and Juana are buried at Calvary Cemetery. Many other family members have purchased plots in Monterey Park (close enough) at Resurrection Cemetery.

Que ironía.

15 thoughts on “Family Ties

  1. What a small world. I also grew up in BH and my parents still live at the same house by Mott and Wabash.

  2. Oh yeah, another eastside lovin’ westsider. I live in Palms but work in Boyle Heights. Most of our neighbors don’t know what they’re missing.

  3. Teck,
    I guess you only had to walk a short way to get a giant burrito. You know, I never actually ate inside until two years ago. Every other time, we’d get food and take it home to my grandparents who lived right around the corner.

    Gracias. I know my story is probably quite similar to a lot of the people who now live in the SGV, IE or in some other far off corner of the greater LA area.

    Yeah, East Los is a small world. All kinds of connections and links.

    I don’t consider myself a Westsider. I live in Palms too. I think more people in the area than you would expect have ties to East LA (like me and the roommate).

    Gracias. There’s plenty of history here. It’s just been paved and stuccoed.

  4. Cindy, thanks for sharing your family story!
    My family almost moved to Hacienda Heights when they left Boyle Heights in the 70s. It was between two houses and they chose South San Gabriel. To this day my mother wonders how different our life would be if they had chose the house in Hacienda Heights all those years ago.

  5. I grew up on Mott Street at Whittier Blvd., across the street from “El Hoyo,” otherwise known as the Boyle Heights Recreation Center, although I know of noone who calls it by its official name. My parents still live there. The rest of us spread out over the southland, but never far away. We have great memories of our mom turning the water hose on the 1980s cruisers peeing on her rose bushes–all the while shouting, “Somovabeesh!” We still run into people who say, “Oh my god! Don’t tell your mom, but I think I was one of those cruisers.”

    When I was in college, an anti-nationalist used to say, “Not every Chicana was born in Boyle Heights.” Having been born and raised there (at the former Lincoln Hospital at 4th & Soto and homes on Soto, Pennsylvania, Fickett, and Mott) I suppose I could have been offended, but I always thought that every Chicana had some tie to Boyle Heights, whether or not she has she’d ever lived there. I’m was glad to read some confirmation of my theory.

  6. When my paternal grandfather came to the U.S. in the 60s, he lived in Boyle Heights and played with other mariachis. When my dad and uncles came to the U.S., they also went to Boyle Heights. When my dad first came to the U.S., he lived in an apartment on Cincinnati. To this day he often refers to César Chávez as Brooklyn. Great post, Cindy.

  7. Nice story and history, cindylu. While I am not even an angelino, I have nevertheless long had ties with east L.A. too: first through deathmetal (I usta manage Mindrot, out of Orange County, in 1990/91, as well as put out the band’s first 7″ vinyl; I knew Enrique and Sadistic Intent; Richard and Wild Rags—not quite East L.A. but an unquestionable influence from Whittier—and Jess from Terrorizer long before he went to UK to play guitar for the band that Digby launched via his little crusty label Earache, Napalm Death.

    Then there was my olde friend Danny Weizmann, whom I hosted recently when he was visiting from Israel in January during a reading. One of his last feature articles before he moved to New York was in The Reader in September of 18995: “In Search of The Last Jews in Boyle Heights” (A picture of the cover may be found at; for anybody deeply interested in the article, I have it in PDF form scanned from the print edition.) Like the chinese, jews were the primary Boyle Heights populace in the early history of Los Angeles.

    Quite a bit of history here. I only hope that the arrival of the Gold Line does not prompt the development that razed Chavez Ravine and Bunker Hill.

  8. Bustard, until about ten years ago, there were still a number of Jewish owned stores on Cesar Chavez. I used to work on Cesar Chavez and some of these guys (Mr. Zellman!) were well known for their sense of humor, friendliness and overall good natured attitude. I would love to see the article.
    Besides, Jews, Mexicans and Japanese, Boyle Heights also had a large Armenian population throughout the early to mid 1900s.

  9. I enjoyed reading about your family and the comments that were shared by others.
    I lived on Lamar St. in the mid 1950’s and I would like information on the home that I lived in at that time.
    Can you help me find out what kind of home it was? I have vivid memories but unanswered questions regarding the home and my family does not remember much. I still remember the address, 651 Lamar St. Our home was very close to the San Antonio Winery.

  10. Is there anyone out there that grew up on Lamar Lincoln Height? I lived on that street in the early 1950’s next door to the Morales girls. I researching information the home where I lived, the address was 651 Lamar St. The home had a basement that was as big as the house with a wine cellar and a bar. We used the basement to ride our bikes etc…
    I remember that the Dutch Boy paint shop was on corner of Main/Lamar and we used to play with the owners son “Georgie”
    His father would allow to use the loading dock to put on plays for the neighborhood kids. We would sell lemonade and tickets to see the show.

  11. Is there anyone still around who lived in or around El Hoyo back in the 1950’s? Who are familiar with ex-boxers back then? Very important to me—Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *