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Professor Has a Novel Way of Sharing Tales of Ancestors' Lives

April 28, 1991|SHAWN DOHERTY and CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

When Daniel Cano's uncle died recently at age 93, it was a time of sadness for the Cano family. But Cano has just published a novel containing many tales his uncle, Yndalecio Gonzalez, told him about life in Mexico, and, it seems to Cano, the old patriarch will live on.

"Pepe Rios," published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston, is the story of a young man's search for peace as the world around him became a battlefield. It is based on the life of Cano's grandfather, Maximiano Cano, who grew up during the Mexican revolution and later immigrated to the United States. "It's an important thing for the entire Mexican-American community, because most people my age have essentially the same background," said Cano, an English professor at Santa Monica College who grew up in Santa Monica.

Cano said that as a child he was more interested in baseball and parties than in his uncle's stories of the old days. He learned little about his culture in school. "I was taught more about the Europeans coming through Ellis Island than about my own people," he said.

But one day Cano picked up Ernest Hemingway's novel about bullfighting, "Death in the Afternoon," and became fascinated by his roots. After he returned from combat in Vietnam, he decided to become a writer. Soon, he was working night jobs and writing his family's saga during the day. During summers, he traveled to his family's old villages in Mexico. It took seven years to write "Pepe Rios." "I was struggling," he said. "But the story was a part of me. It had to be told."

Cano has already started on the second volume of what will be a trilogy of his family's odyssey. He plans to conclude with an account of his clan's life in modern-day West Los Angeles.

He says he hopes that the stories will lead to a better understanding of Mexican immigrants. "Now when I look at the people waiting for work on the street corners," he said, "I think how they made the same treacherous journey that my grandfather and uncle did. They have so many stories to tell, too. "

Cano will give a reading from his book on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Santa Monica College Concert Hall.

Dr. Richard Corlin was voted president-elect of the California Medical Assn. during the group's annual meeting last month.

Corlin, who practices gastroenterology in Santa Monica, will become president of the 38,000-member association when his one-year term as president-elect ends next March. He is a past president of the Los Angeles County Medical Assn. and is a member of the LACMA Board of Trustees.

Two Westside architects have been appointed to key city and county boards. Marina del Rey resident Seraphima Lamb was selected to serve on the seven-member Los Angeles County Architectural Evaluation Board for a four-year term. Katherine Diamond of West Los Angeles was appointed to a five-year term as a member of the Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals. Both women serve on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District has named Carol Katzman as assistant superintendent of the district.

Katzman, who began teaching in Beverly Hills in 1961, has served as director of curriculum and a consultant to the state Department of Education.

The district also selected new administrative teams at El Rodeo and Hawthorne Schools. The two principals are Steve Fisher at El Rodeo and Dick Douglas at Hawthorne. Assistant principals are Diane Dawson and Rochelle Ginsburg.

Beverly Hills audiologist Kenneth Wolf has been elected president of the California Speech Language Hearing Assn.

Wolf, who will serve until May, 1993, is also director of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at King-Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Temple Beth Am and the University of Judaism honored Leonard Smith and Rabbi Elliot Dorff in the Crystal Room at the temple April 14.

Smith, a longtime supporter of the Los Angeles Jewish community, has played a key role in the development of Temple Beth Am.

Rabbi Dorff was recognized for his leadership and preservation of Jewish heritage in the Los Angeles area. He also serves as a member of the board of directors for Jewish Family Service and chairs its Jewish Hospice Commission.

Items can be mailed to People, Los Angeles Times, Suite 200, 1717 4th St., Santa Monica 90401.

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