From the Stacks: Mexico in Your Own Car, 1935

When I moved into the house my sainted parents built in the late 70s, I inherited their vast and dusty collection of Mexico books, magazines, maps, and pamphlets. Some of the collection consists of history and anthropology classics (not to mention an entire shelf devoted to various editions of The People’s Guide to Mexico), but lately I’ve ben leafing through the ephemera: deteriorating maps decorated with señoritas in sombreros, hefty Sanborn’s guides riddled with my Dad’s scrawling notes and dribbled with carnitas grease, and ancient travel pamphlets. Some of these items are real gems, and with that in mind I’m starting a new series: From the Stacks. Each installment will feature scans of and commentary on one of these obscure treasures, such as today’s pick: “Mexico in Your Own Car”, a tourism guide printed in Mexico in 1935.

In addition to naming Monterrey as Mexico’s “most important Touring center” and reminding travelers that “Negro chauffeurs and servants require special permission from Mexico City to enter, which can be arranged at the border. A cash bond of $250 pesos Mexican money is extracted,” the pamphlet contains restaurant recommendations that may seem questionable to today’s reader:

My favorite passages:

“Drinking Water: Usually good and safe, but when it doubt drink Dos Equis or some other good beer.”

“On entering Mexico City, stop and take another look at the map in the center of the guide.”

On Mexico City: “The traffic of the Zocalo is difficult to explain.”

“Mexico City, pop 1,200,000”

I was interested to note that despite the anachronisms, the text on history is detailed and accurate, the copy is impeccable, and the maps are quite fetching. I just may have to pack this for my next trip south. If I can fit it in the Model T…




7 Responses to “From the Stacks: Mexico in Your Own Car, 1935”

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  1. All I can say is WOW, coffee table book coming soon???

  2. churpa says:

    Hmmmm……That is an interesting idea….

  3. -El Codo- says:

    Aw crap, my age is showing. I remember “Superior” beer. I also remember when a majority of Mexicanos thought chilling beer somehow made it unhealthy. Nowadays alongside the highways tiendas and beer distributors have fancy coolers sporting giant glowing red numbers bragging beer temperature in Celsius. Minus two is considered optimal.

    The prefer the idea of “Motoring Mexico”, of course without benefit of a footman. Getting lost is still fun; sorta. Using a candle at night to find the bathroom is still in vogue. But some things are unchanged.

    Smiling people. Passersby who stop and wish you a buenas dias on a sidewalk. Waiting an hour for comida while horrendous noises resound from the kitchen. An unexpected halt to allow a soused campesino aboard a burro who knows the way home time to drift off the center line.

  4. Tina V. Rosa says:

    I love this series! I didn’t even know we had this!

  5. Jana Stephens says:

    What a treasure trove you discovered! Not only do you have this amazing collection of old books about Mexico, but your have your father’s notes and scribblings.