Trunk of The Tree
Ponce, Puerto Rico
"I'm so proud of what i accomplished in my life"
In school the first thing I learned to do was sign my father’s name and I would play hooky. I would go to the river and swim with my friends. I was born in the second biggest town in Puerto Rico, a town called Ponce. As a kid I loved playing baseball. Ponce has one of the biggest and best teams on the island. Every year we had a carnival and me and my friends would go to that and listen to the music and look at the girls, you know. That’s how life was in my hometown. I didn’t know much about anywhere else.
All I knew about America was what they taught you as a kid and what some of the teachers’ told us that went to New York. I knew that they ate hotdogs, hamburgers, and there was better opportunity over there. The first time I came to America was to see my cousin. He bought me a ticket. We stayed in New York which was really cold and I didn’t like it, then we went to Chicago by greyhound. It was windy and snowy and I didn’t like it. Then we traveled to San Francisco and it was a little bit of everything. I went back to Puerto Rico and told my parents about my trip and they wanted to move.
We took a boat from Puerto Rico to New Orleans because my father was scared to fly. It was ten of us in the family and I was the only one that could speak a little English. On the boat ride I saw the pretty weather and a bunch of dark skinned and light skinned Puerto Ricans. I smelled the fresh water and the fresh air. Then once we got to the New Orleans port, I saw many races and different colors of people. We got on a bus and we were heading for San Francisco, California. The bus ride was rough because it was winter, so a couple of times we were snowed in and it was really cold. My father sold his house in Puerto Rico, so we bought a nice house with three flats. We lived on the top and we rented the bottom two out. That’s how we got established plus my father and I worked.
When I started looking for a job, I looked at the union because I belonged to the union. I got a job at this old factory downtown, after working there for a year I got laid off. I couldn’t find a job so, I signed up for unemployment and they told me I had twenty five dollars a week for six months. Once I got my final check I couldn’t find a job so I joined the navy. My father was an army man. He put twenty five years in the service. He use to tell me to work for the government if I wanted a nice retirement check. I worked at the presidio and that’s how I started my future. The mechanics worked right across the way working on cars and stuff. I liked what they were doing and got involved. I couldn’t drive in those days and yet I got a job working on cars. I became good with my hands and I worked as a mechanic. Working on cars was like a challenge to me. I felt like a doctor, they were sick and I would fix them up kinda like a doctor. It wasn’t always about work, it was about the most important thing in my life and that was family.
I always made time for my kids even though I worked seven days a week. I always took my kids on vocation, just like they do now for their kids. I’m the trunk of the tree. I started this beautiful family I have here. I’m so proud of what I accomplished in my life raising my kids I got a beautiful family, beautiful kids, beautiful grandkids, great grandkids, so I tell you I’ve been blessed.