Thursday, January 14, 2010


Pachuco’s have always fascinated me. Their rise came around the late 1930’s, early 1940’s. I was born in ’49 so, as an impressionable child born and raised in El Segundo Barrio in El Paso (El Chuco), I was surrounded by the romantic mystique that the uniqueness of Pachuquinismo affected my people.

Pachucos were basically Latino youths who suffered racial discrimination by the Americans (a lot of which included servicemen) who believed that Mexicans should be deported in order to ease the job competition and available resources during a time when these things were scarce.
Answers(dot)com says:
“The Pachuco style originated in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez Mexico and moved westward, following the line of migration of Mexican railroad workers ("traqueros") into Los Angeles, where it developed further. The word "pachuco" originated, probably early in the 20th century, in a Mexican Spanish slang term for a resident of the cities of El Paso and Juarez. Even today, El Paso and Juarez are the "El Chuco Town" or "El Pasiente" by some.”

Latino’s, being segregated into deplorable, poverty stricken areas of the city of Los Angeles (this is where the Zoot Suit Riots took place), developed an emerging sense of culture through their clothing, music and even in their language: Calo.

Here is a short (very short) list of some of the Calo slang spoken by Pachucos.
Glossary of Pachuquismos

Ay Te Watcho:  Saying goodbye or see you later
Ay Te Miro:  (same as above)
Al Rato:  See you soon
Barrio:  Neighborhood, the “hood”
Cali:  California
Calo:  Slang spoken by Pachucos (or cholos)
Chalé:  Used to indicate disagreement with something said
Chingon: Bad Ass
Chisme:  Gossip
Chismoso:  Someone who engages in gossip
Cholo:  Raza on the street (possibly a modern day Pachuco)
Chones:  Underwear
Corazon:  Heart
C/S:  Con Safo: don’t mess with me
Drape:  A Zoot Suit jacket
El Chuco:  El Paso, Texas
Esé:  Used instead of homeboy or “dude”
Fería:  Money
Firme:  To say something is “cool”
Ganas:  Guts, drive, motivation, to the “balls” to do something
Guero:  Light skinned individual or someone from the Caucasian persuasion
Guey:  (pronounced “way”) loosely translated to mean idiot
Lana:  Money
Mero:  The tops as in “the top dog”; el mero perro
Mierda: Shit
Onda:  Often used in asking “What’s up?”: Que onda?
Oralé:  Used to indicate agreement such as “All right!”
Orgullo:  Pride
Pachuco: Chicano term for Zooters
Pelon:  Bald, going bald
Perro:  Dog
Pinche:  F__king this or F__king that
Reina:  Queen
Pespeto:  Respect
Ramfla:  “bad-ass” fixed up car, usually a Chevy
Ruca:  A fine looking woman with a lot of orgullo
Simón:  Used to signify agreement
Tablitas (also known as Spectators): Brand of distinctive patent leather wing-tip shoes worn by Pachucos
Tando:  Broad Brimmed Hat
Tecato:  Junkie
Traje:  Suit
Trapos:  Clothes or outfit
Trucha:  Watch yourself or watchout
Vato:  Used instead of homeboy, like “ese” above
Vavoso:  Dumb ass
Veterano:  Used to indicate an elder in the community (veteran)
Vieja/Viejo:  Old man or woman; wife or husband
Watcha:  Watch yourself
Y Que?:  And what; so what
Zoot Suiter or Zooter:  Someone who wears a Zoot suit or simply a cool bato

Here's a clip of James Edward Olmos in the movie, ZOOT SUIT.   You'll get the idea of what I'm talking about.

To read more about the ZOOT SUIT RIOTS, take a moment to click on these links.  Anyone with an interest in anthropological studies will find these quite fascinating.


Zoot Suit Riots

Sleepy Lagoon Murder (A timeline leading up to the riots)

Suavecito: Zoot Suits Store

To leave you on an upbeat note, here are the Cherry Poppin Daddies with:


ARLENE said...

Teresa, '49 was a good year, amiga. Thank you for another informative post. I had never heard of the Pachuco or the history behind it. I love learning new things!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Nice brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.

Ben said...

I think Pachucos were great! I wish I had met them some of them when they were young and rebel. There were a lot of them in Mexico City, too and even Maldita Vecindad (a chilango rock band) dedicated them a song in the 80's/90's.

And you and my mom are almost the same age. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about, especially food :D

Ivy said...

Thanks for the very informative post. I have never heard of pachuco before so it's nice learning something new.