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Tio Jose

Life Story Club Contributor

​Well, I have a story about my uncle. My mother’s brother. And he was a very interesting individual. He spoke seven languages, was an accountant, and for a time was offered a job here with the state department. And he came to New York. His first time from Puerto Rico. And my uncle always wore a three-piece suit. Now, Puerto Rico is also in the Caribbean and you know, the average temperature is 80, 90 degrees. Always had a three-piece suit and tie. I mean, always. 

So he comes to New York. It’s his first time here. And I was a little girl. I would say maybe… I don’t know, maybe 6 or 7-years-old. But I remember because he stayed with us. And I found it… I actually realized for the first time that I wasn’t unusual because I’m always cold. And my uncle was always cold. So we, of course, bonded over that. And he always found New York very cold even though he came in June, in the summertime. So he went out to take his interview. And he got to the interview late. Got to the interview late because as a gentleman, he waited for people to get on the bus. And he kept waiting for people to get on the bus.

And in New York, you know nobody has those stabilities. So by the time he got to his interview, he was late, but they interviewed him anyway and he thanked them very much. And then he came back home. And my mother was very… my mother was elated because my mother thought he was going to come to New York to stay. And he very nicely told my mother, “I can’t live here. First of all, it’s too cold.” He said, “Second of all, people have no manners.” He said, “And I have to go back to Puerto Rico.” And so my mother was devastated.

But I always remember that because the next day we went out, and he would … he would hold the door for everyone. I would say, “Theo we’re never gonna get to where we’re going if you keep holding the door for everybody.” And he was like, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand you know, this place.” He couldn’t get to it. But he passed away close to 100 years old. And the last time I saw him he was in his 90s, and still with the suit and tie.

So he also was in his youth, he was what I would say a gigolo. But my mother would not be happy if I said, gigolo. Because she used to say he was… a lot of women would ask him to take them dancing because he was a great dancer. So they would pay for him to take him out dancing. And I was like, “Ma that’s a gigolo.” She says, “No it’s an escort.” I said, “Ma escort is code name for gigolo.”

So, he was a great character. His name was Jose. May he rest in peace. He was like Maurice DeValia [Chevalier]. I have a picture of him, but I could get on the Zoom. But he had that type of look but very tall. And always with the hat you know, the whole thing. It was hilarious now to think about it. But just different, you know? It’s funny because we don’t think about, unfortunately, having good manners in passing. He was like, “Hell no, I’m not coming here. I’m staying in Puerto Rico.” He said it was cold. It was June, the middle of June. 

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