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A Baker's Home, Sweet Home

Traditions: For 45 years, Ygnacio Salcedo has baked. And for 45 years, the customers have come to his family's La Mascota in East L.A. for the breads, the tamales--and the memories.


The Salcedos have supplied down payments on homes, purchased used cars for those without and outfitted numerous children's baseball teams. Neighborhood kids have worked their way through high school and college with jobs at the bakery. Employees learning the trade from Salcedo have gone on to open their own bakeries with his support and guidance.

And throughout its 45 years in business, La Mascota has provided wares for shelters and orphanages operated by missionaries here and across the border.

Richard Arias, now a great-grandfather, recalls his mother sending him with a dollar to buy 30 pieces of bread and cookies when he was a teenager. Today, his grandchildren send him to La Mascota--a 40-minute round trip--from his home in Hacienda Heights.

"They don't take any substitutes," Arias says.

Virginia Romo, 38, a special agent with the local office of the Department of the Treasury, was reared in Boyle Heights and spent Sundays at her uncle's barber shop, two blocks from La Mascota. Today she lives in El Sereno and regularly drops in for her usual order of sweetbread and one dozen red and half a dozen green tamales.

"Mr. Salcedo has kept our culture alive. He has introduced it to others. That makes me very proud. He is an icon in the community."

When told about this adoration, Salcedo is filled with humility.

Semiretired now, he says all he has ever aspired to do with his life is "teach my children family values and to always maintain our traditions, our culture."

"And, of course, to work hard and be honest with the customers. That is the life of a simple baker."

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