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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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El Cheese Ritz: 1939

El Cheese Ritz: 1939

November 24, 1939. Washington, D.C. "Noted in the diplomatic set for his expertness in concocting new salads, Mexican Ambassador Senor Dr. Don Francisco Castillo Najera is now teaching his daughter, Ermita, this culinary art. The Ambassador is especially adept at mixing salad with Mexican ingredients." Ritz Queso among them. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

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Turning over a new leaf?

One year earlier, the Tuscaloosa News of Aug. 28, 1938, reported that Ermita (misspelled as Erma), the ambassador's daughter, was presiding over the annual National Tobacco Festival in South Boston, VA. It states that she "has been chosen to head the court of 'Lady Nicotine.'"

Now the Mexican Cultural Institute

This photograph was taken inside the Mexican Embassy which has since moved downtown. The old embassy building is now the Mexican Cultural Institute and is open to the public. It has charming interiors, and beautiful murals.


This guy gives me the creeps. Not sure exactly where he is staring so intently, but it does NOT appear to be at the salad.

Guess you can expect that from a guy with a lit candle coming out of the top of his head.

Hooda Thunk It?

That tantalizing, yo no se que ingredient in the best Mexican salads is evidently candle wax.

Cheesed Off

The people who open boxes from the bottom are the same people who put the toilet paper roll on backwards. They
really bother me and I believe there should be some sort of fine or punishment involved.

Lovely Lady

Very pretty girl!

No no my dear

You put the Lime in the Coconut, then you drink them both up.

Is that an asp on your arm?

In addition to the spider broach, she's wearing a coiled snake bracelet. Life must have been very interesting at their house, not just on Halloween.

Lift up thine eyes from la preparación de la ensalada

Here's the mural they'd see, most likely one of the embassy works of Roberto Cueva del Río, a Mexican artist who in 1930 had been recommended for the job by muralist Diego Rivera, who possibly was busy frying bigger fish.

The Ritz

It was well known at the time that the best crackers are at the bottom of the box.

I don't know about you

But I am primed for salad lessons.


Is quite a lovely girl, and my guess is she and her mother taught Señor Najera how to mix salads, not the other way around.

Fancy That

All right -- the three small ruffled bowls are by my favorite glass company, Hazel-Atlas, in a pattern now known to collectors as "Fancy," though "Item #730" was good enough for H-A at the time. Would love to ask the Ambassador whether Diego Rivera had any hand in that mural above the food prep table, what with its minimalist-but-interesting images of a woman's legs and then a cat and dog.

Dr. Don and Ermita

First the canaries (seen here), now the salads. This strange father and his icy, subservient daughter with the spider brooch at her neck are really starting to creep me out.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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