A Typical Californio Boy (Chapter 3)
by Manuel Hernández
Jose Manuel was Manolo and Maria’s first and only child.
combined the two names from two of his best friends that had
him from the ship that had left the San Juan harbor in 1900.
an American nickname for his son, so he called him Joey. Maria’s
pregnancy was humanly unbearable, and they decided that she
have a second child. Don Pablo argued with his son-in-law
matter, but Manolo reminded him that he still had six daughters
could give him more grandchildren. The old man was extremely
his first grandson. Maria got healthier and went back to work
ranch while one of the younger sisters took care of Joey.
Maria was a great wife and hardworking mother. She ironed
washed the dishes and took care of Joey, without saying a
thing. But the
years passed, and she started getting tired of cleaning the
doing the laundry, preparing the coffee, cleaning the baby
rice and beans for her husband. Manolo was the moody type
complained of not getting enough attention from his adorable
girl. He was never satisfied with Maria’s devotion and love.
There were also discussions between Manolo and Don Pablo.
thought that Don Pablo was always in the way, and Don Pablo
son-in-law had turned into a “sinverguenza”. It just so happened
Manolo started drinking and chasing women, and Manolo and
honeymoon transformed itself into a nightmare.
Joey was already in high school when Puerto Ricans on The
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
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
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
against Spanish rule voluntarily left the Island or were exiled.
the United States obtained political control of the Island,
Puerto Ricans came to New York.
Manolo saw the events as an opportunity to escape the vigilant
watchful eye of his father-in-law. Maria struggled to survive
marriage filled with false promises and a “machista” husband.
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
everything for his mother. She protected her handsome son
and made sure
that he was not like his father. Joey stayed away from problems.
friends admired his poise and tranquility. He was often called
Peacemaker” because he mediated in difficult situations in
neighborhood and at school.
He was a rare combination of sorts. Born American in
California of Puerto Rican and Mexican immigrants. But Joey
extremely proud of his American roots. He spoke English at
Spanish was the primary language in his house and at church.
He lived in
a household where three cultures and two languages became
was no fuss or discussion about when to use English or Spanish.
natural for Joey to speak English with his friends and Spanish
family. He was just another typical American boy who spoke
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.
Pablo was speechless, and Maria was dumbfounded, but Joey
did not mind
much because his father had convinced him about the better
opportunities he would find in New York City.