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Strictly: Human Interest

April 13, 2007 |  6:17 am

April 8, 1957
Los Angeles

Latin Holiday
by Pepe Arciga

1957_arciga_3Here's how the anguished voice of a stricken lady, Norberta Venegas, pleaded for what should not be perhaps a lost cause. This she said to me in hesitant Spanish:

"Senor Arciga... I do not know how to begin. My name is Norberta Venegas and I live alone here at 2827 Rokeby St. in Los Angeles.

"One week ago my daughter, Maria, she is 21 years old, and I had a disagreement. Not very serious, Senor Arciga, and now she has gone. I don't know where.

"The other day I believe I had an attack of the heart. Now I am in bed and cannot move. My husband, Vicente Herrera, is far away. I think in Mendota.

"Perhaps you can say something in your radio program or in your column so that my Maria returns. I will forgive her, of course. Now please tell me how much I owe you for this service."

And there you are. Words of a mother who prays so that family spats shouldn't be home-breakers. As this goes to press, wandering Maria (last named Rivera) was being sought all over.


Now the voice of Senora Julia Ramirez, daughter of a prominent mortician in East Los Angeles. Dona Julia, always cocking a sharp eye when someone's welfare is at stake, delivers her message to Arciga:

"My good friend, Senora Muriel Scott, who lives in Rivera and is very active with the American Legion Post there, wants to do her bit, on April 16, at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital.

"She wishes, Pepe, to take over there a band of mariachis and serenade those unfortunate GIs. Do you think, Pepe, there's a mariachi band that would want to go see them and play for a while? Mrs.  Scott can be reached evenings at OX 9-2075."

That, Senora Ramirez, is a most noble idea. As to the availability of mariachi bands, it's been said that outside of Mexico City and Guadalajara, this li'l old pueblo of ours is the world's third-ranking mecca for mariachi balladeers.

The question, now, who'll volunteer? Please raise your right hand.

Note: The Daily Mirror is pleased to introduce another generation of readers to Joseph "Pepe" Arciga, a writer for the Mirror and The Times, and a personality on Spanish-language KALI-AM. Writing in a chatty, familiar style, completely different from Paul Coates or Matt Weinstock, Arciga vividly captures a portion of L.A. that was mostly ignored by the mainstream press.

ps: Maria, go home!

Update: Mrs. John Jamar, 621 Venice Way, Inglewood, like una buena Samaritana, puts in her dos centavos' worth en la siguiente forma:

"That story of yours about the stricken lady Norberta Venegas and the squabble she had with her daughter.... I know what this is like.... I sincerely hope she is reunited with her daughter."

Por fortuna, Senora Jamar, all is now well. Not only have they reunited, but last reports indicate that both mother and daughter plan a free-for-all taco shindig for the buenos vecinos of the neighborhood.
Signed, Pepe.