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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

A Typical Californio Boy (Chapter 2)

by Manuel Hernández

They met at church. Between the singing and worshipping, Manolo dazed
at his young and attractive love. Maria was a beautiful Christian girl.
The pastor had strict seating arrangements, and men were not allowed to
sit next to women in the temple. Her father and mother carefully guarded
her, and Maria’s parents sat her in between them, making it practically
impossible for him to get a glimpse at her. Manolo came out of every
service with neck pains. He just had to look at her more than once.
She was sixteen years old, and Manolo was twenty-one. She was light-skinned,
five feet three inches tall with translucent hazel eyes, a guitar-like
body and natural blonde hair. Having a touch of the American ideal woman,
Maria was a Mexican girl. Her family had crossed the border from
Tijuana five years before. Every time Manolo visited her house, he
smelled her all over. Her perfume was enchanting. It was a while before
he learned that she was sixteen years old, but it was too late because
she was already in his heart and part of his every day thoughts. Manolo
needed motivation and inspiration; he got that and a whole lot more in
his sweetheart.
“Los vecinos” admired Manolo and Maria. They were both very good
looking, and everyone thought they looked good together. Maria’s family
lived on a ranch, and Manolo worked side by side his father-in-law. They
worked together in the same cornfields, and no one was surprised when
Manolo asked his soon to be father-in-law for her hand in matrimony. Don
Pablo was a stern man, but Manolo had won his friendship and respect
and was sure to gain the hand of his oldest daughter. Maria’s father was
a little uncomfortable at first.
“You’re a good boy Manolo, but she’s only sixteen.”
“She’ll be seventeen next month. I’ll take good care of her
“ I know.”
“I love her, and I’ll make sure she visits you often.”
After a mild yet heated discussion, Manolo convinced Don Pablo. There
was celebration in the house. Maria was the oldest of seven daughters,
and the girls and mother rejoiced at news of the forthcoming family
Manolo and Maria got married on December 27, 1903. It was a typical
Puerto Rican-Mexican American wedding. There were about three hundred
guests. Manolo had sent invitations to his parents, friends and
relatives from the Island. More than a dozen of relatives took the long
and torturous steamboat saga to attend the wedding. His long forgotten
uncle was the first one who got off the boat, and he swallowed hard when
Uncle Pepe smiled in his face but decided to bury the hatchet. This was
a time of joy for Manolo, and he did not want to spoil the occasion.
His parents did not make the trip, and Manolo was heartbroken. They sent
him a letter with the deed of a small farm in the forsaken hills of
Naguabo, Puerto Rico. He thanked his uncle for coming and being the
forbearer of such good news, but he knew deep inside his heart that he
would never again go back to “La Isla”.
His soon to be wife was about an-hour and a half late, and he feared
the worst. But she made it, and Manolo felt his stomach twist and turn
when the wedding music announced the bride. The church was full with the
invited and uninvited. He wanted to elope with the bride before the
ceremony was over, but Maria wanted to make sure all the guests were
well attended. There was music, joy and laughter. They finally headed
out for their honeymoon at about 3:00 am.
Manolo always wanted an old-fashion girl, but it meant that he would
have to work harder. He carried the financial burden of the wedding and
was deeply in debt. A month after the wedding, Maria gave Manolo the
good news; she was pregnant and quit her job at the ranch. Her belly
started jumping during the night, and Manolo barely slept three hours
each night. It was getting hectic, and Manolo was already thinking of
jumping on the next steamboat ride back to “La Isla”, but his love for
Maria and the excitement of becoming a father held him through tough
times, turmoil and hardship.