¡Yo Creo en Pancho Clos!

The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library recently debuted a new exhibit entitled “¡Yo Creo en Pancho Clos!” Items in this exhibit come from the SWC’s Bidal and Olga Agüero Papers and the Robert Narvaiz Collection, with some artifacts are on loan from Olga Agüero.

Chicano music legend Lalo Guerrero recorded his song “Pancho Claus” in 1956. The tune was a Chicano adaptation of the famous “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and created a figure that Chicano and Latino children could identify with. In Lubbock, Pancho Clos has become an endearing West Texas twist on Santa Claus, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The figure highlights the Mexican American community’s desire to incorporate a bit of their own culture into the city’s landscape.

According to SWC oral histories and local media articles, the tradition began in 1971 after Agustín T. Medina, Sr., Jesse Reyes, and Bidal Agüero presented the idea to the Lubbock American G. I. Forum. The membership loved it. After a flurry of ideas and suggestions the beloved character was born. Pancho Clos would have a full black beard, wear a serape, and don a sombrero. 

The first event was an instant success. 3,000 children posed with Pancho Clos and received a sack filled with candy and other treats. As local churches began clamoring for Pancho Clos, his joyful spirit spread across the region. Soon, Pancho’s giving nature appeared in San Antonio, cities throughout Texas quickly adopting their own iterations. Houston’s Pancho, for instance, adopted a Pachuco-like flair, wearing a flashy red zoot suit and delivering gifts by lowrider.

Over the years the event has relied on numerous volunteers, organizations, and people believing in Pancho Clos. Local bike and car clubs, the American G. I. Forum, Fiestas Del Llano, Girl Scout Troops, the Maggie Trejo Center-City of Lubbock, Los Hermanos Familia, and El Editor have stepped in to keep the tradition alive. Many have embraced the chance to wear the suit: Mike Torres (the first Pancho Clos), Edward Quirino, Gonzalo Garza, and Julian Perez are just a few.

Additional tales of Pancho Clos can be found not just in the collections mentioned above, but also in the SWC’s Hispanic Oral History Collection, including the oral history interviews of Robert Narvaiz, Christy Martinez-Garcia, and Gonzalo Garza.

A Short History of the Lubbock Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

awards banquetflyerCinco de Mayo, coming up this Tuesday, has got us thinking about Latino history, which in turn got us looking into our collections related to that subject locall and regionally. Our El Editor newspapers and the papers of Bidal Aguero, for example, are used regularly by our patrons. A more recent addition is the records of the Lubbock Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (LHCC). While neither as fulsome as El Editor and Aguero collections, nor full of eye-popping photographs like some of our collections, it nonetheless offers insight into this facet of Lubbock, Texas’ history. Local Chambers of Commerce are critical to many communities, not just financially, but as a socially unifying force. Take for example this flyer for the LHCC’s 2007 award banquet. This event is held every year, and on that occasion featured such luminaries as Congressman Randy Neugebauer and prominent Texas Tech Univeristy figures such as former senator and then-Chancellor Kent Hance.COMA008

The LHCC had its genesis in the early 1970s when a group of local Hispanic business leaders formed Comerciantes Organizados Mexico America (COMA), a roster of which can be seen here. In fact, business leader Bidal Aguero (founder of the aforementioned El Editor and long-time organizer in local politics ranging from the La Raza Unida party to lawsuits against LISD) was key to starting both the COMA and the LHCC. COMA actually ceased operations during the handful of years Aguero was not present in Lubbock in the mid-1970s, but returned strong until its slow metamorphosis into the LHCC.Census combo

While the LHCC was helping businesses to grow and develop over the course of decades, its own growth and development expanded noticeably in 2001 when it was named as the Small Chamber of the Year in statewide and national competitions. The term “small chamber” refers to cities below 200,000 in population (a level that Lubbock has since surpassed.) The LHCC’s success was based on its close involvement with a growing Lubbock Hispanic population. Just look at these portions of a study they conducted using the 2000 U.S. Census (part of reams of such documents in the LHCC Records.) Fully 27.5% of Lubbock’s population was Hispanic at that time. Latinos were present in every neighborhood in the city limits, and the population has only increased over the intervening 15 years.step up pamphlet cover

Events such as the LHCC’s “Step up to Success” in 2005, seen above and below, were also successful. The LHCC had become a significant force for the promotion of Latino business by that time, so much so that by 2008 the organization was ready to take its next big step. That April, its membership voted to become a part of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, thereby expanding their influence. The Lubbock Chamber’s membership was quick to approve the merger, and subsequently the Hispanic Business Division of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce was formed.step up pamphlet interior

The LHCC’s story is much fuller than that presented here, of course. But if you’d like to get an idea of the larger picture (or if you’re curious about this or any of the other collections mentioned above), our Reference Staff would be happy to arrange a chance for you to peruse the records. So head on over!

National Hispanic Heritage Month & the TTU Hispanic Student Society

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Submissions for the logo of 1991’s Hispanic Culture Week at TTU, which is held every April.

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This week, we’d like to tell you about Texas Tech’s Hispanic Student Society (HSS) and our University Archive’s collection of its records. The collection contains details about the association’s activities from 1978 to 2006, including financial materials, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, membership rosters, posters, one scrapbook, and over 100 photographs.

In 1964, the Mexican-American organization of Los Tertulianos, which means “the Social Gatherers,” became Texas Tech University’s first student organization composed of minority students. Socializing was a key element of their daily routine, as was encouraging, supporting, and embracing their individual quest for a college degree. A natural progression of its their at an academic institution, students via the association promoted the importance of education, spoke out on social causes, and left a legacy for others to emulate.

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This is a promotional flyer for one of the HSS’s many events. This event, Café con Leche, featured several Latino poets and authors sharing their work.

By the early 1970s, Los Tertulianos had assimilated into the University and yet maintained an independent voice. They participated in intramural sports, handcrafted Homecoming floats (their entry won the 1967 Sweepstakes Award,) sponsored a Homecoming Queen, and held an educational seminar for Mexican American high school students. Change in the status quo is never easy, and some viewed Los Tertulianos as militant. Undaunted, the organization continued maturing, and with each new class new challenges were faced and overcome.

At some point the association lost focus, so in 1980 the students refocused and became more active on the social issues front. They renamed the organization the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS.) Like the rising phoenix, this rebirth signaled resurgence in their quest for knowledge of self and heritage. UMAS maintained a foothold on the traditional collegiate experience tempered with a palatable Mexican American flair.

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A submission for the HSS logo when the group underwent its most recent reorganization. Many logos were submitted, all of which can be found in this HSS Records.

The next generation of Mexican Americans students decided to remake the group in their own image and created the Hispanic Student Society (HSS). HSS continues to promote education, find avenues of academic support, and contribute to our community.

As always, our Reference Department is always happy to arrange access to the collection, as well as many of our other materials.

– Daniel Sanchez, Oral Historian at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.