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Larry Wilson: These success stories make for a good read
By Larry Wilson   - 04/18/2009

Pasadena Star News

More Info on This Book: Latinos in Pasadena

Among the hundreds of reasons - including hundreds of photographs - to pick up Roberta Martinez's new "Latinos in Pasadena" is a photo on Page 102 that should be mandatory viewing for the good officers of the Sierra Madre P.D.

It depicts Marilyn Diaz in 1974 as she became the first woman Pasadena officer assigned directly to patrol. Riot-helmeted, billy-sticked, gun-belted, hair tucked up and away - and yet unable to disguise the fact she is as beautiful as she is today - Diaz stands at full attention smiling at the camera. The only difference from three male rookie comrades being the turtleneck she sports instead of a tie.

Diaz went through the ranks to commander and now is a chief. She's just one of many success stories - along with tough stories of a "minority" that was here first in the Mexican and Californio days, yet has struggled for equality for centuies - chronicled in Martinez's book, part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series.

The book also answers an Old Pasadena question I've had for 30 years. Back then South Pas musician Brad Thiel and I wrote a song called "Club Danzon" based on my staring out my Parsons office window and seeing that fading name painted on the side of a Union Street building. Turns out the club was started in what looks to be the late '40s by entrepreneur Danny Castro during the danzon dance craze out of Cuba and featuring an elegant interior, a white grand piano and huge neon street sign.

Abel Franco, Ramon Cortines, Canto Robledo, Oscar Palmer, Roberta Menchu Tom, Abel Ramirez, Lalo Guerrero, Jesucita Hernandez, Ed Roybal, Nick Rodriguez, Leonora Barron, Ed Maya, Elias Galvan - all these prominent Pasadenans and Pasadena visitors are here. And so in its early sections of Southern California history is a story still not nearly well enough known to those who have followed.

Buy It Now: Latinos in Pasadena $21.99




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