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San Marcos blankets

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Paula Valenzuela, left, ended up accumulating almost 400 San Marcos blankets. The El Centro resident and her teenage daughters, Elizabeth, middle, and Mariana, show a few left from Valenzuela’s collection. She sold the rest on line after her husband threatened to call the “Hoarders” television show.  (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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Paula Valenzuela, left, shows Ilyina Navarro one of her collection of San Marcos blankets in El Centro. The thick, fuzzy Mexican-made blankets have kept Latinos warm for almost 40 years. At one time they were a popular import in Los Angeles. Now they’re now longer manufactured in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where they originated; and originals are sought by collectors.  (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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Collector Paula Valenzuela shows the two sides of a San Marcos blanket. All the blankets are reversible, with one side being the negative image of the other. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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The tag of an original San Marcos blanket, manufactured in Aguascalientes, Mexico.  (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
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Laura Genao, 42, and her mother, Leonor Rodriguez, 71, in Monterey Hills with Laura’s San Marcos blanket. Growing up, Laura considered the blankets tacky. But then her mother gave her a tiger blanket after graduating from law school and she had a change of heart.  (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Comedian Felipe Esparza, 43, with his polar bear San Marcos outside his Los Angeles home. He and his cousins grew up with the blankets. They thought everybody did. “When I’d go to Sears with my mom and we didn’t see them,” he said, “I would think, ‘Damn, this store is cheap. How can they not carry San Marcos cobijas?’” (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Margaret Trujillo, 73, of Alhambra poses with her San Marcos, a gift passed on from her mother. She keeps the blanket sealed in plastic in the linen closet, using it only once in a while. One day, she will leave it to her son to pass on to future generations. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Lucia Torres, 32, of Highland Park shows off her San Marcos, a gift she got from her mother when she was 10. The blanket reminds her of lazy weekend mornings as a child when she would lounge on the couch and her mother would be in the kitchen, making tortillas and humming.  (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Jose Barron, 24, of East Los Angeles got a San Marcos blanket as a gift from his grandmother. It reminded of peaceful times he spent playing at her house. He lost the blanket she had given him at a park years ago, so he replaced it with this imitation he bought at a warehouse. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes poses with his San Marcos and his ’57 Chevy. The blanket went with him to college in the late 1970s. It reminded him of home and his Mexican heritage. He proudly displayed it over his dorm room bed. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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