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Jimmy Dorantes Selected to Write Second Edition of Calexico History Book


In a significant recognition of his love for his hometown and storytelling expertise, renowned photographer and Calexico native Jimmy Dorantes has been selected to write the second edition of a book chronicling the history of Calexico and its golden age from the 1930s to 1960s. The announcement was made by Carmen Durazo during a press conference on June 26.

The Calexico Arts Council initiated a call for authors in March and chose Dorantes due to his deep ties to Calexico and his experience as a published author.

“This is going to be an important era in Calexico’s history. We had the Great Depression, the construction of the All-American Canal, and also Hollywood influences. It will be challenging, but we hope to create a fun read with interesting photographs that people haven’t seen before and didn’t know about Calexico,” Dorantes said.

The second edition will focus on significant events such as World War II and the Vietnam War. The public is encouraged to provide memorabilia related to locals who fought in these wars for inclusion in the book.

“We want to understand how the Great Depression affected people in Calexico, to learn from their stories. Who were our veterans? Are there veterans we lost in World War II? How were our veterans treated when they came back? We aim to bring Calexico’s history to life, learning how families lived without their loved ones during these times. These are things you can’t find on the internet,” Durazo explained.

Dorantes’ journey in photography began in Calexico, where he eagerly took on the role of family photographer from a young age. His passion grew as he worked for local newspapers during his teenage years, setting a lofty goal for himself: to be published in Time Magazine.

His focus on life along the border was shaped by his upbringing on 1st Street in Calexico, providing rich material for his photography. Dorantes expanded his focus to the San Ysidro/San Diego border and continued capturing border life when he moved to Albuquerque to attend the University of New Mexico. On weekends, he visited El Paso, documenting the vibrant border culture.

During his college years, Dorantes achieved his first publication—not of border life, but of a beauty pageant. This milestone marked the beginning of a prolific career that has seen him travel the world, capturing extraordinary moments. His work has been compiled into a book showcasing some of his most memorable photographs.

Now, Dorantes embarks on a new journey, chronicling the golden age of Calexico. This project follows the successful release of the first edition, “The History of Calexico: The Origin,” written by Yolanda Sanchez Ogas. Presented to the public last year, the first volume was a dream project of Carmen Durazo for over 15 years, detailing the early history of Calexico through extensive research and dedication.

Sanchez Ogas gathered historical data from a variety of sources, including archives, books, artifacts, diaries, interviews, letters, and newspapers, to trace the land, people, and culture that shaped Calexico. Similarly, the second edition will invite the community to contribute their knowledge. Two workshops will be held where people can bring memorabilia for the book: on July 13, focusing on the 1930s and 40s, and on July 20, focusing on the 50s and 60s. Both workshops will run from 10 a.m. to noon at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center located on 233 Fourth Street in Calexico. 

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