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Costumes Once Headed For Trash Are Now Part Of Huge Tejano Music Collection Just Added To The Wittli

Women's costumes from Hernández's collection.
Photo courtesy of The Wittliff Collections.
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Women's costumes from Hernández's collection.

From Texas Standard:

Ramón Hernández says Tejano music – which he describes as Texans performing Mexican music – has always been a part of his life. He grew up with it on the radio and then spent 35 years working with Tejano musicians as a publicist and journalist. Over the years, he began a collection of photos, sheet music, rare recordings, and other memorabilia and documents. Today, some of the most striking items in his huge archive are the costumes.

"When I was working for Little Joe y La Familia, he had a closet full of outfits and he instructed one of his guys to take them out to the trash can and I said, 'What? You're going to throw them away?' 'Yeah.' 'Can I have them?' 'Sure.' – and that's how it started," Hernández says.

He considered one day starting a museum – but says he found that to be an "impossible task" – and one he decided would not be right for his collection.

"It takes money and it takes a philanthropist," Hernández says. "And when you have a museum, you put everything in one building and you saturate it with all these objects on display. It's going to be like the locals going to the Alamo – they'll go to the Alamo when they're in elementary school, they'll go to the Alamo when they have family coming over but, other than that, they'll never go back again. And the same applies to a museum: once you've seen it once or twice, that's it, you've fulfilled your need to see it."

Hernández says The Wittliff Collections seemed like the perfect home.

"What was I going to do with it? It's nice to have the collection at home but I wanted to share all that information with the people, with the public," Hernández says.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Leah Scarpelli joined Texas Standard in September 2015 from NPR’s Morning Edition, where she spent seven years as a producer, director and occasional reporter of music and arts pieces. As Texas Standard director, Leah is responsible for the overall practical and creative interpretation of each day’s program: choosing segue music, managing the prep of show content, and providing explicit directions for the host and technical director during the live broadcast. She graduated from Ithaca College in New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Radio. She enjoys riding her Triumph motorcycle and getting out for hikes in the Texas countryside. Her late grandfather was from Yoakum.
Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.