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Boots - A Family Tradition
Article first published in Vol. 10, 1992.
By Lili Guijarro
With the push of a few buttons and three generations of know-how, Carlos Guijarro designs the complex stitch patterns for boot tops at Tony Lama Boots working on the computer terminal at his desk. With machines, computers and advanced technology, he follows the same profession as his father and grandfather, but these boots are not handcrafted.
Carlos' grandfather, Pedro Guijarro, was born in 1895. A shoemaker in Durango, Mexico, he ordered leather from a local store and then waited for two weeks for the material to arrive. He loved his work so much that he taught his son, Marcos, who was born in 1918, the art of making shoes and boots.
Marcos helped his father make shoes and boots ever since he was a small boy. He says, "I have been a shoemaker for 57 years and counting. This is my job and I love it." He made his first pair of boots when he was 16.
He left home and opened his first shoe shop in Chihuahua, Mexico. It was unfortunately unsuccessful, so he decided to travel with his cousins to Zacatecas, Aguas Calientes, Guadalajara and finally to Júarez. During his travels he worked as a shoemaker to realize his dream of once again having his own shoe shop.
He met and married Lorenza Luevano. They had three sons, and he opened his first shoe shop in his home. He saved and eventually opened his own separate shoe shop. While his sons were growing up, he did not teach them his craft. Little did he know that one day his son Carlos would also be in the same profession.
At his job with Tony Lama, Carlos has made boots for many famous people and has met some in person. He has made boots for Sylvester Stallone, Hulk Hogan, John Travolta, Jane Fonda, LaToya Jackson, the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and others. He worked on a special pair of boots with diamonds made expressly for Pope John Paul II as a gift from the company. At work, Carlos has met George Strait, Bo Derek and Jim McMahon.
His father Marcos may not have had the same adventures in meeting these famous boots wearers, but he enjoys the stories his son tells him. And even in his 70s, Marcos still practices his first love, making handmade boots.