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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Email: josejosue24@gmail.com
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.
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A Typical Californio Boy (Chapter 3)


by Manuel Hernández

Jose Manuel was Manolo and Maria’s first and only child. Manolo
combined the two names from two of his best friends that had sailed with
him from the ship that had left the San Juan harbor in 1900. He wanted
an American nickname for his son, so he called him Joey. Maria’s
pregnancy was humanly unbearable, and they decided that she would not
have a second child. Don Pablo argued with his son-in-law about the
matter, but Manolo reminded him that he still had six daughters that
could give him more grandchildren. The old man was extremely proud of
his first grandson. Maria got healthier and went back to work in the
ranch while one of the younger sisters took care of Joey.
Maria was a great wife and hardworking mother. She ironed clothes,
washed the dishes and took care of Joey, without saying a thing. But the
years passed, and she started getting tired of cleaning the house,
doing the laundry, preparing the coffee, cleaning the baby and cooking
rice and beans for her husband. Manolo was the moody type and often
complained of not getting enough attention from his adorable Mexican
girl. He was never satisfied with Maria’s devotion and love.
There were also discussions between Manolo and Don Pablo. Manolo
thought that Don Pablo was always in the way, and Don Pablo thought his
son-in-law had turned into a “sinverguenza”. It just so happened that
Manolo started drinking and chasing women, and Manolo and Maria’s
honeymoon transformed itself into a nightmare.
Joey was already in high school when Puerto Ricans on The Island became
American citizens in 1917. It was a big thing for Manolo. He had just
celebrated his fortieth birthday, and it was just the right excuse for a
new beginning. Manolo had settled down, and his beautiful Maria had
forgiven him for all his mishaps. There was a lot of talk about a Puerto
Rican migration to New York City. According to the California
newspapers, commercial ties and the trading of raw materials opened new
window of opportunities for the new Puerto Ricans settlers in New York
City. Then came the Spanish-American War and political circumstances
proved to be the most important migration factor. Puerto Ricans who were
against Spanish rule voluntarily left the Island or were exiled. After
the United States obtained political control of the Island, more working-class
Puerto Ricans came to New York.
Manolo saw the events as an opportunity to escape the vigilant and
watchful eye of his father-in-law. Maria struggled to survive in a
marriage filled with false promises and a “machista” husband. She sought
answers from within but found none.
In spite of their parents’ troubled relationship, Joey did
well in school. He had very poor communication with his father but was
everything for his mother. She protected her handsome son and made sure
that he was not like his father. Joey stayed away from problems. His
friends admired his poise and tranquility. He was often called “The
Peacemaker” because he mediated in difficult situations in the
neighborhood and at school.
He was a rare combination of sorts. Born American in
California of Puerto Rican and Mexican immigrants. But Joey grew up
extremely proud of his American roots. He spoke English at school, but
Spanish was the primary language in his house and at church. He lived in
a household where three cultures and two languages became one. There
was no fuss or discussion about when to use English or Spanish. It was
natural for Joey to speak English with his friends and Spanish with
family. He was just another typical American boy who spoke in two
languages.
It was right after Joey’s high school graduation that Manolo
broke the good news. He was moving his family to New York City, end of
story, no discussions. It was his word that mattered, as always. Don
Pablo was speechless, and Maria was dumbfounded, but Joey did not mind
much because his father had convinced him about the better career
opportunities he would find in New York City.