Stories

Familia Cacho y Familia Tamayo: The Fruits of Hard Work

September 9, 2016

By Augie Bareño  OTAY FARMS

In the history of Chula Vista, and in the South Bay area, the names Cacho and Tamayo signify success in family farming. These names reflect the struggle and triumph from another era and remain as examples of family businesses which have stood the test of time.

Residents of southwest Chula Vista know and love Otay Farms Produce Market on the corner of Main and Broadway and recognize Don Luis Estates Mobile Home Park on Orange Avenue. Both Otay Farms and Cacho Farms were started on two basic ideas: hard work and familia.

The founders of Cacho farms, Antonio and Hermina Cacho, and the founders of Don Luis Estates, Paul and Amelia Tamayo, learned early in life the virtue of hard work and were tempered with the understanding of its potential. Understanding that life could be difficult but that by working together as a family, pulling together,respecting each other and those that they encounter they would find a dignified and respectable living.

 

La Familia Cacho

One of Mexico’s great composers, Alfonso Esparza Oteo, wrote a song about the Mexican State of Michoacan and the its people. “El Corrido De Juan Colorado” extols the virtue of bravery and facing whatever challenges confront you by  meeting them head on and to never, ever back down. With that Michocan spirit, Antonio and Hermina Cacho ventured  on to the United States, crossing into Texas in 1928. They found work in the fields, as it was the only job opportunity open to Mexican immigrants at the time in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. By 1930,they had followed farm work to San Diego County settling in the Pala area of North County. It was there where the first Cacho children were born starting with Rosa, their eldest, followed by Luis, the first son. The other Cacho siblings Irene and Emilia, Petra, Antonio, and Delia, the youngest, were also born in San Diego County but outside the Pala area.

It was in the loss of Hermina’s first child, who became ill at six months deeply affected her. She felt humiliated and disrespected by the nurses, she understood enough English to know that they were making fun of her because her slip was showing,at the bottom of her dress. Ironically,from that experience,all the Cacho children were born at home,with the exception of Delia,the youngest child.

The loss of her daughter was an experience that profoundly affected Hermina. It was the first step in understanding how things were done in California and it reinforced her personal belief that you must treat everybody with respect. She vowed then that her children would learn how things were done in the real world, and that they would be empowered with respect for themselves and others.

Hermina’s desire to learn about how things were done in California,would one day bear fruits, far beyond,anything she could have imagined in 1930. One of her grandsons would emerge to become the Majority Leader of the California State Assembly.

Little by little, Antonio and Hermina Cacho began buying small parcels of land in Chula Vista and other parts of the South Bay and working the land, selling their goods, and saving to be ready for the next opportunity. They worked hard, always willing to help out their fellow farmers. It didn’t matter to the Cachos who they were helping and they worked closely with the Japanese-American farming families in the pre-war hysteria.

Opportunities came for the Cachos and eventually their holdings became substantial. Throughout the years, after harvest time they would have great fiestas where the workers and family members would perform, recalling their parents’ time in Michoacan. A

change in the family dynamic brought about new challenges for Hermina Cacho and she responded in the only way she knew how: head on, Michoacan style. She passed her twilight years enjoying her children and grandchildren. Hermina was preceded in death by her husband Antonio.

Her and Antonio’s children all went on to make contributions to the United States, California, San Diego County, Chula Vista, and the South Bay area. Just a few examples are noted. Luis Cacho formed Mariachi Cacho and performed for Mexican-American soldiers in Vietnam during periods of heavy combat and composed a song for the troops.

Luis was an early contributor to the campaigns for Mexican-American candidates in the ‘60s and early ‘70s in the South Bay area, battled against abuses by the Border Patrol, often taking them on at great personal and economic sacrifice.

Little known fact: Luis Cacho, at the request of Herman Baca through the intervention of his sister, Delia Cacho Talamantez, lent one of his tractors with a digging scoop to the takeover of Chicano Park in its first days.

Delia Cacho Talamantez was an activist and advocate for more than 40 years. Delia was in the forefront of every major social justice and gender equity issue in San Diego County. She served many years as affirmative action adviser in the UC system.

Hermina and Antonio’s grandson Dario Frommer  was a California State Assembly Member and majority leader.

 

La Familia Tamayo

Natives of Baja California are affectionately referred to as “Cachanillas,” a colloquialism that over time has come to mean people of strong character, not afraid of risks and hard work. The natives of the Mexican state of Chihuahua are also regarded as strong spirited people, who don’t back down from adversity or challenge.

This great combination of character came together in the marriage of Paul Estrada Tamayo and Amelia Lozoya LaChica and would be the foundation upon which the Tamayo family was formed. The labor of the Tamayo family would produce a neighborhood institution that today Chula Vista knows and loves: Otay Farms.

Paul Estrada Tamayo was born in San Jose Del Cabo, Baja California Sur during the early part of the 1900s. Amelia Lozoya Lachica was born in Chihuahua, Mexico during that same time period.They both came from families,who hungered for a better life and understood to reach for such a possibility, would require a fundamental change in their lives, involving many risks and challenges.

Both Paul and Amelia had to decide to leave their native Mexico to pursue the hope of a better life. The prospect of a better life energized a generation of Mexicans to migrate north to the United States during the early 1900s.

The migratory patterns of Mexican nationals tend to reflect a regional approach. Mexicans from inner states would generally cross at El Paso, Texas and then follow the jobs either to New Mexico, Arizona, or California. The Migrants from Baja California and Sonora would generally congregate in Mexicali, cross at Calexico and seek work, which at the time was concentrated in El Centro. Some of the Baja Californianos would venture east from Mexicali to Arizona to places like Mesa, Chandler, Globe, Glendale and other little towns where field work was available.

It was the convergence of two families migrating and finding themselves in the Imperial Valley during the 1930s that brought about the marriage of Paul Estrada Tamayo and Amelia Lozoya La Chica.

The Tamayo family was formed by two people,each strong of spirit, hard working, loving and oriented to family. Family emerged as the single most important part of the migrant experience. For many it was family that saved them in their darkest hours.

By the mid 1930s, it was time to start a family. Hector Tamayo, their firstborn,
was born in 1935 in Brawley,California. He was followed by Paul Tamayo, born in San Diego in 1937. Evangelina was born in 1939,also in San Diego. Evangelina was  followed by Alessandro, the youngest and the last Tamayo sibling alive today, born in 1954.

Paul and Amelia Tamayo approached life as a team,supporting each other in whatever they were doing, but they always remained focused on their children.

Paul Tamayo Sr. had worked hard all of his life, but he especially liked working in the produce business: buying, selling, transporting, packing and doing whatever was required to get the job done. He found personal reward in finding the best products at the best prices and passing the savings on to his customers. He had always wanted to start a business  that would be run by and for his family.

Tamayo’s  dream came true when in 1961 he started Paul and Sons Produce on Moss and Broadway in Chula Vista.Things were tough at the beginning, but with time and hard work, success was just around the corner. Plus he was now joined in this effort by his sons Hector and Paul. The opportunity to acquire a bigger site presented itself and thus Paul and Sons moved to its current site at the corner of Main and Broadway in Chula Vista.

Paul and Son’s transition to Otay Farms would be gradual. Many changes were dictated by having to be competitive in the marketplace and customer preference. Acquisition and ownership of the store parcel also influenced what would be the future direction of the business.

By the 1970s, Paul’s sons Hector and Paul Jr. and their families were running the business and with this, the personality of the Otay Farms began to emerge beyond just being a produce market.

First came the meat department, then the tortilleria and little by little, utilizing recipes from Amelia Tamayo and the wives of Paul and Hector Tamayo, the fast food section became a big part of the business.The panaderia came soon afterward with the assistance of a baker named Santiago, who through his experience, essentially laid out that aspect of the business.

The Otay Farms of today is something that Paul and Amelia Tamayo could have never imagined in their dreams of  America, but it gave them the chance to maintain the idea that was most precious to them: Familia.

Paul and Amelia Tamayo have gone to their rest; they are joined by three of their children: Hector, Paul, and Evangelina.

Family Farming, as a way of life, has pretty much disappeared in America. The reasons are mostly economic. Our country’s history recognizes that family farming played a vital role in our nation’s growth.The farming history of California and San Diego County is rich with examples of successful family farm efforts. Quietly tucked in to that perception, are the contributions of Mexican immigrants to family farming. Usually, the role of Mexican immigrants is perceived to be in the workforce. However, in the South Bay area, the familias of Antonio and Hermina Cacho and Paul and Amelia Tamayo changed that dynamic through their hard work and faith in the family structure. Both the Tamayos and the Cachos affirmed that Mexican immigrants participated in the building of America, even in a simplified and quiet way. Perhaps their voice was not loud, but what they did, and how they did it, is no less great.

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