MEXICO CITY — Santos Hernandez, patriarch of the family described in the best-selling "The Children of Sanchez," a significant account of poverty as a culture unto itself, died when he was struck by a car while on his way to work, the newspaper Excelsior said Jan. 7. He was thought to be almost 90.
Anthropologist Oscar Lewis had sought to disguise the identify of the family he lived with and tape recorded in the late 1950s and called Hernandez "Jesus Sanchez" in his study of Mexico's urban poor. Lewis' book, a first-person account of the lives of four of Hernandez's children, was published in 1961 and is widely used as a text in both U.S. and Mexican universities. The book, considered an anthropological classic, was translated into several languages and sparked a sequel in 1970, "A Death in the Sanchez Family."
The newspaper said a neighbor had found Hernandez's body at dawn Jan. 5 on a dusty street in the Iztapalapa sector of southeastern Mexico City where he lived with his second wife and nine of his younger children, Excelsior said.
He had left for his job at the Cafe Tacuba downtown, where he worked when Lewis was researching the book.