JESJS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Stories from the Barrio: A History of Mexican Fort Worth. By Carlos E. Cudllar. (Fort
Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2003. Pp. xvi+240. Preface,
acknowledgments, photographs, map, figures, appendixes, notes, bibliogra-
phy, index. ISBN o-87565-275-1. $35.00, cloth.)
Mexicans have lived in Fort Worth since the late nineteenth century. Today,
they constitute about one-third of its population of half a million. Yet, with the
exception of J'Nell Pate's North of the River (1994), most history books on the
north Texas city lack information on these longtime residents. Carlos Cudllar's
Stores from the Barrio holds the distinction of being the first in-depth study of the
Mexican influence on Fort Worth. Though not without its faults, the book is
informative, readable, and visually appealing, a welcome addition to the field of
Chicano urban history.
Cullar covers a wide range of topics. In the first part of the book, he
employs directories and census data to trace the formation of barrios and the
settlement patterns of the first Mexican inhabitants of the city. He then uses
oral history in his treatment of subjects such as education, families, employ-
ment, community life, politics, and the arts. Readers will learn about the jobs
that first lured Mexicans into the city, the schools and churches that helped
many immigrants adjust to their new homes, and the festivals and rites of pas-
sage that contributed to the development of a Mexican community. They will
also encounter many fascinating individuals in the biographical sketches sprin-
kled throughout the text, people like restaurateur Joe T. Garcia, football star
and war hero Rail Manriquez, and Louis J. Zapata, the first Mexican-American
city councilman in Fort Worth history. In the end, Cuellar proves his con-
tention that Mexicans have contributed a great deal to the culture and history
of Fort Worth.
The book is a pleasure to read. A beautiful work with an eye-catching cover
design, it has text printed in large font and on high-quality glossy paper.
Photographs and illustrations appear on almost every other page, making it easi-
er for readers to follow along and remember the persons and institutions fea-
tured in the chapters. Not only that, Cudllar's frequent use of anecdotes as
explanatory devices lends the book a folksy quality that will likely charm most
readers. His writing is clear, concise, and free of the sort of jargon that makes
most academic books inaccessible to the general public. Both Cuellar and TCU
Press deserve praise for producing such a well-written and attractive item.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed March 2, 2015.