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T his is only part of my story starting from the year 1918 when I was only six years old. I was starting to go to school in my second week. One day I was crying very much, maybe I did not want to go that day to school for some reason. I was in the backyard with my mother. She didn’t like that I was crying so she went inside the house and came out with a pitcher of cold water and poured it on my head to stop me from crying. All of a sudden, there was a very strong earthquake, then a few minutes after, they were saying that a tidal wave was about to hit us.
While we lived in Puerto Rico we always lived in the city of Mayaguez, the third largest in the island. Our street where we lived was named Mendez Vigo and was within a mile from the ocean. They were telling us that we should go to higher grounds just in case the water gets to us since we were so close.
My mother picked up my little brother and took me by my hand and started walking very fast until we reached El Cerro de las Mesas which means "the hill of tables." There we stayed until they told us that it was safe to go back home.
That day our house was in very bad condition since it was a concrete built home which my father built. The earthquake made some cracks and damaged the roof. We had to go to our neighbors house to stay overnight. The neighbors were very nice people...making a few jokes, making us laugh...serving us coffee and cake. Before that we lived in a street named Barcelona and before that we lived on Calle de la Rosa which means street of roses. Later we moved to Post Street, which was the last house we lived in before we came to New York.
My father was a very good carpenter and a mechanic as well. The factory was next to our house. Only the backyard separated the two buildings. He owned the furniture factory and had a showroom in the lower floor of our house. By then I was about 14; like all boys walking around and playing.
My father called me to his office and started to give me some good advise on what I should be doing instead.
He asked me, “How would you like to stay in the factory and learn the business, like making wooden fumiture?" I liked the idea so I stayed with him from then on. He used to make his own machines and used them to work on wood; making beds, chairs and other kinds of furniture. One day he started to show me how to work on one of the machines. It was one that he made himself...it is called a lathe machine and after I started learning I began to make headboards for the beds. I continued working with him but once in awhile when I wasn’t working I met my friends and went swimming instead since we lived so close to the water. It was walking distance from where I used to live.
I n those days, I always liked the sport of boxing. I must have been about 12 years old when I met a fellow close to the house who owned a boxing ring. I used to go to see the fights once in a while. When the boxing was over, they asked if there was anyone who wanted to fight to speak up. I didn’t hesitate to stand up and say I wanted to fight. They booked me a fight for the following week. Much to my bad luck, they sent someone to my house a few days later to give me laxatives so I wouldn’t get sick with a contagious desease that was going around. Since I already had a contract to fight that week, I went to fight and fought one round...and then the second and third round. Now when the third was ended, the fight was even and they decided to add another round. I began to feel the effects of the laxatives, making me feel weak and my opponent took advantage and hit me very hard almost throwing me out of the ring, so I lost the fight. Later I went home and my mother saw me with a swollen eye. "You were fighting again, right? You want to fight?" She hauled off and hit me in the other eye, giving me a fresh bump. Ever since then I learned my lesson. I don't remember fighting again.
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