Unlocking an Old Memory with Discarded Keys

One of my fondest memories growing up was going to the movies with my parents. Even in San Diego, we had our version of the Million Dollar Theatre, but ours was in Logan Heights.“El Coronet” was where Mexican cinema was a weekly Mecca for the culturally starved and homesick. It didn’t matter if I had a small Spanish vocabulary, at 8 years old I began to understand the tension between women and men giving into love, keeping their principles and resolving their differences to come together. All this visual-audio negotiation took place in a spectacular romantic Ranchera Musical, with fabulous costumes, handsome leading men and strong principled women. It was there that the emotionally charged scaled notes began to send chills up my spine, at the same time made my heart well up with cultural pride. My friend, John Santos an Afro-Cuban drummer told me he feels the same deep emotion when he hears bagpipes, because he is part Irish. Makes me wonder if sounds are also part of our genetic make-up. Denise Chavez’novel Loving Pedro Infante reaffirms that we Chicanitas learn about our ideal hombre through these icons of Mexican cinema.

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