I asked my mother and she was able to pin it down. She said it was called "Backyard Bake" and "Backyard Tamales" at the parties she remembered from that time and she gave me this recipes (which I immediately sent to Suzanne who wrote back, "THAT'S IT!!!!").
This is a can recipe plus one ripe tomato, one onion and cheese.
1 fresh tomato, chopped or 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped (white works best in this recipe but you can use red or yellow)
1 can of corn
1 can of refried beans
1 small can of chilies
1 can tamales
1 cup of cheese shredded
My mother said the rectangle dish was what people used back then but that you can use any casserole dish. Grease the dish lightly with butter or butter substitute.
You're going to layer. This is the order. Refried beans, corn, tomatoes, onions green chilies. You should have two layers. (If you have a really large pan and only one layer, that's fine too.) Add tamales (I drained the can but my mother said the juices in the can were actually used in the casserole.) Be sure to spread the tamales out around the casserole. I would actually use the 32 ounce can -- the bigger can -- of tamales if I'd thought ahead of time.
Cover the dish (with a lid or aluminum foil) and pop this into a 350 degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Take the dish out after 45 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve.
My mother also notes that to fancy it up, you can make "Spanish Rice" via Rice a Roni and make that a layer in the casserole as well. It would go on top of the beans (making rice the second layer, not corn which would then become the third layer). She also notes that picante sauce was popular then but not salsa. With salsa so popular today, you can easily get a good one in the grocery store and if you're in a rush you can use that instead of a fresh tomato and onion (or Rotel and onion). If you're using sour cream, my mother says they garnished it back then with sour cream and put that garnish on top of the cheese.
Yesterday while going over the economy highlights, I noted car sales were up and said I had no idea why that was. Today on NPR's Morning Edition, they explained it was due to easier access to car loans. Also on the show, a dish I won't be trying anytime soon because I'm really not into bread puddings but, if you are, click here for tomato pudding.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday: