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A Family Holiday

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 22, 2019

I remember one particular Thanksgiving, I fixed everything. Just like this table. You see the table over here? This picture. I set the table. Everything was on it and my family, they were watching football and I kept calling them to the table, but they were watching games. There was my daughter, my son-in-law, my son, my nephew, my grandson, the whole family. So I sat down to eat by myself. I just started. Because they wouldn’t listen, they didn’t call. I kept calling them two times, three times, but then they were too busy. That’s more important. My turkey, my food is more important. It was just like this, a round table. I had a round, big round table.

But we had a lot of fun. Finally, they said, ‘Grandma, you finish cooking?’ Finished cooking? I had it on the table. So then they all came to the table and they all started eating. We had a lot of fun. They laughed, “Are you eating by yourself?A Of course, nobody listened to me. You want to watch sports? Go ahead, eat sports! You’re not going to stop me from eating my food. It was a joyful day.

I like to cook, make my own food. I make pies, I make everything. I make everything. Stuffing, potatoes, the sweet potatoes, everything, everything. And I make them a little piece of pork. Spanish, you know, meat, pork. So yeah, I make a small pork, too because my son likes it. We call it Pernil. For one or two who like to eat pork, too. I make eggnog. Make the whole plate, yeah. I like to make the whole thing, everything by myself.

I stuff myself because I like to watch holiday movies. I watch the parade. In between cooking, I watch the parade. I like to stay home. I get invitations, but I don’t go anywhere.

My favorite holiday movie is Miracle on 34th Street.

Big Risk

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

Yeah. I took a huge risk. I was coming from an office where they gave me a hard time. I don’t know, I wasn’t in the mood. So, I walked up 46th street. I live on 9th Avenue between 46 and… So I go from Eighth Avenue to Ninth Avenue and a guy comes to hold me up with a gun.

And I say, “Get out of here. I’m not in the mood for you. I’m not in the mood.”

He froze. He put the gun down and walked away. And he looked back. He was like this. I said, “Leave me alone, I’m not in the mood for you.”

You know, I looked back I couldn’t believe it. I got home the family went “What? You did that? You did that?” I said, “I just did.” The office thing made me do that. That was a risk.

He could’ve said, “I don’t care how you feel. Give me your money.” Wooh. Because that’s what he wanted. Money. I said, “I’m not in the mood. Leave me alone” and I walked…

Joyful Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

I had two joyous days when I had my children. I had girl, and then I had a boy. That’s a woman’s joy, having children, enjoying them.

It wasn’t going through labor, was it?

I didn’t go through much labor with my daughter. With my son, I went through … Just like a boy. With my girl, who couldn’t wait to be born. She was easy, but my son gave me a hard time. Yeah, I had nine hours of labor, in the hospital.

But beautiful person, they’re both beautiful people. Those are the most joyful, and they’re still around me. They gave me grandchildren, you know.

Were you there for your grandchildren’s births?

Yeah, one of them, the oldest, yeah, but I help my daughter with most of them. You know, I like to babysit with my grandchildren. So I enjoy my life with all my children, my generation. That’s my story of joyful days. Many, many, many.

Do you remember what it was like to see your daughter for the first time?

Oh, it’s always wonderful. It’s always wonderful experience when you see your children first time, and it’s a lovely experience for you. Saw my son for the first time, and it’s a nice experience that you never forget.

My husband was there for the births, too. He was always there. He was in the Navy during the Second World War.

So was he away a lot?

No, after the Second World War they came home and worked, and that’s when we got married. I was 18 and he was 21, 22. He had been in the Navy.

Were you ready to be a mother at first?

Yeah. I always wanted children. I had my daughter’s name. When I was 15, I heard a pretty name and I said, “Oh, if I have a daughter, I’ll name her Sandra.” That’s my daughter’s name, and then my son’s name, I said, “Oh, David.” I want a David, so I had a David. I love that name. It’s a pretty name. It’s a biblical name, too.

Yeah… To me, joyful is … Because I think of all the things that happen to other people, mothers losing their children. I pray for them, so that makes me joyful.

To be thankful for what you have, grateful.

Yeah. And I pray for those mothers who lose their children. Yesterday, two children were killed in the school in California, and things like that. Can you imagine what that family goes through? So it’s a joyful day if I pray for them. That I have my children that’s safe, and I pray for those mothers.

Love Changes

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 8, 2019

How did he change you, your husband?

With his kindness and niceness and his friendship with my brother. And, I noticed he was a nice person.

I learned how to love someone. I mean, I had never loved any boy in high school or anything. I just didn’t like them. So, he taught me how to love, you know, how to love someone.

He was kind and he had been in the Navy and we were all grateful for that. You know, the soldiers … and they would come and leave and that was it. That’s how he changed my life of course. We got married after he came back and had my children. I have a daughter and I have a son also.

Is there anything about marriage that you wish you were told about before you went through with it?

No, not really. He remained the same in other words, in marriage, nice, kind. It was a nice marriage, that’s what I learned. I thought every marriage was like that and I used to be shocked when people got a divorce or something like that because I thought everybody… I was young and thought everybody was happy.

Everybody happy! But, no, it’s not like that. So, that’s what I learned. It’s not perfection, the marriage.

You never fought?

No, we used to fight and make up. Yeah, yeah. We used to fight. He used to say I’d get him in trouble. You know, “Oh, you do this and get me in trouble. One day somebody gonna beat me up. You’re too friendly with people. And, you smile at people, and this and that. One day somebody’s not going to like it.” You know, silly things. Yeah, at another man, or couple, when we were at a party and I would dance with somebody else. You know, they pick me up to dance. I was very sociable all of my life. I danced since I was little. I like to dance. Nobody was gonna stop me.

Was he sociable?

Oh, he was sociable.

Is he still around?

No, my husband passed 15 years ago. His name was Manny. Manuel, Manny. We called him Manny. It was painful in the beginning. Yeah, it’s painful, but you have other things. You have your children and we have grandchildren. I have grandchildren, four grandchildren. Two boys, and two girls.

First Date

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 8, 2019

Oh, yeah. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like him at all. I kept dating, but I didn’t like him at all. But eventually he was like a nice person and I fell in love with him. We fell in love. He had been in the Navy in the second world war. So when he came back, he changed my life. We got married. That’s Sandy’s father. Our daughter. Yeah, she knows. Yeah…

And we fell in love and we were in love already and we wrote to each other until he came back and he changed my life. We had children and that’s it. I married my first husband. The first serious date I met. We married.

So how did he convince you to go on a date if you didn’t like him in the beginning?

I don’t know why. He kept taking me to movies and I noticed he was a nice guy. And he met my brother and my brother liked him. My brother was in the army. He was in the Navy. And they talked a lot and I noticed they got along. They were nice. He was family parts in life. So eventually, I fell in love.

So what was your first date? A movie?

Yeah. At Times Square. In those times, it was nice. And he bought me a gardenia. They used to sell flowers along and he bought me my first gardenia. I will remember that. I love gardenias. They used to do nice things in Times Square. Sell flowers and things like that.

Do you remember the movie?

I think it was Cleopatra

Extraordinary Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

Well, I used to work for a boss, he was a bully. Everybody was afraid of him in the job, but I wasn’t afraid of him. Everybody was because he used to make a mistake and he would blame the person. So he told me what to do one day. I did it, turned out wrong, but he told me to do it. So then he said, “You know, Yolanda, you did it wrong.” I said, “No, you told me to do it that way.” Then he’d say, “Oh no I didn’t.” I said, “Oh yes you did.” It so happened that he had been brought up with the mobs as a teenager. He got that toughness. He had that toughness in him all his life. He had to be the boss. So I told him no. We argued back and forth and everybody was looking. We argued back and forth. He knew I wasn’t afraid of him. People used to tremble. They used to be so afraid of him.

I wasn’t so then he tells me, he grabs me by the neck softly, but he grabbed me by the neck and I had a sweater, a heavy sweater, and I folded it and I hit him on his butt. So he turns around and we bust out laughing.

Well, he became my best friend. We became friends forever. Then he went off to be a bigger boss. I always used to work with him until I retired.We became friends because he knew I wasn’t afraid of him. And I knew what I was doing. He respected me and we both laughed at the incident because he didn’t choke me hard. He just grabbed me. So I hit him on his butt. I folded the sweater. He turns around and we laugh. We got hysterical. I know. We became the bestest..I have pictures, we have pictures of each other. He moved to Florida. We still connect.

Talent

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

Well, my teachers discovered, since I was in first grade, that I used to, and I didn’t know it for years and years, that I used to draw art and that I was good in art. And I didn’t get it. You know, I figured, little dolls and little of this, little of that. But as the years went by, I got better and better, you know, at art, and making faces and all kinds of things.

And so I thought, you know, as a young girl, I joined an art class, you know? So, the teacher said, “Well, you are very good at what you do.” So that’s how, then I got very, you know enthusiastic because a professional told me that I was very good. So I started drawing and I drew and I sold a few paintings. And I paint and…Now I been lazy for years now. I been lazy for years, though. I don’t do it anymore. I have-

Was it oil painting? What was it?

Anything, I… Anything. I love faces. I like landscapes or animal. Anything, you know. But now I’m so lazy I don’t do anything. Even make a line now. Like my husband used to say, “I wish I could draw a line the, you paint. You do these, I wish, I can’t even make a line.” He admired me for that.

Young Trouble

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 25, 2019

My problem was that you know I love to dance. I love to dance since I with little so in Puerto Rico, they have little houses, and anywhere I heard music I would crash the party and my family didn’t know where I was, they’d be looking for me. So one uncle said of this music somewhere, she’s there. So they would go over there and take me out of there. One day I got very angry because I was having so much fun dancing fast fast. So I climbed up a tree and I stayed there till nighttime and then we’re looking for me. I was looking down at them and I was all over like a monkey, all the way up. I have a grandson who does that, he climbs, he takes after me, he’s got a monkey trade about him… And I was looking down at them. And it was nighttime and they were going crazy. They said, “Oh she’s taking advantage, she’s taking revenge.” My uncle, my aunt, my mother, my father, everybody, and my two brothers, were looking for me. Everybody was looking for me till I decide to come down. And then when I came down then they gave me a little spanking. I used to do that quite often. Go dancing, crash a party. It was worth it. I still dance, I still love to dance. 

Family Tradition

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 25, 2019

It was Thanksgiving occasion. Except we had turkey and being Puerto Rican we’d have pork also. So the kids would fight over the pork. No, I want the pork. No I want to Turkey, so that was a lot of fun. Some wanted pork and some wanted turkey. The pork was always smaller than the turkey. For some reason my mother didn’t want us to eat too much pork. She wanted us to eat healthy, so the turkey was bigger. Anyway we would have that feast. And then we, like nowadays after Thanksgiving you watch football on TV. We used to go to the movies and take up a whole row and we would fall asleep half of us, because we ate so much. My uncles, everybody, we’d take up a whole row. And the movies was 10 cents at the time. Yeah that’s a good part of it too. So that’s my favorite. 

I do that now with my kids. I do the cooking when they come over. 

Has anyone taken on your cooking skills, the cooking tradition? 

Yeah my daughter, my daughter does, so she continues. 

Do you remember a particular movie?

Oh you know we saw, the first time we ever saw, Judy Garland – her daughter’s movie? The Wizard of Oz! We saw the Wizard of Oz we saw a lot of great movies, in color too.  Her daughter is Liza Minelli. She’s alive yeah.

My neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 18, 2019

Hello. My name’s Yolanda. I was born in Puerto Rico. The whole family, we came here when I was eight years old. We went to live in Harlem, 117 and Lenox Avenue. And the families, we used to get along. Everyone used to get along there at that time. And the families were different from then. The liquor stores weren’t open, so Sundays, you would go to church, children, they would dress up, everybody would dress up and go to church. It’s not like now, Sunday means nothing. And on Saturdays, we would go to the movies, the kids would go to the movies. And then we all come home and eat. And Sunday we’d go to the movies as teenagers, we would go to the movies, come home and eat and we’d watch the old programs. The old programs that used to be on, we had no TV, because we were happy with what we had. We had radio, we listen to the radio.

And on Wednesdays the whole family would go to the movies again. The whole row, we would take up the whole row. My father, my mother, my brother, my aunt, we’d take up the whole row. And it was a happy time. It was a happy time then. It’s not like now, the families were together more. They had certain days when you’d get together. Not now. We used to eat together, and the kids used to help out a lot around. I used to do the dishes, I didn’t like it, but I’d do them anyway. I had to do, we all had a chore. Kids were taught to work, they were taught to. At 14, when I was 13, I said I was 14, so I could get working papers, I was only 13, but I looked older, so they gave me working papers. I started working at 14, part-time after school. At 14 yes. You got working papers. And I was 13, but I looked older, so I got my working papers anyway. So since I was 13, I worked. Until I retired at 62, some years ago. And that’s it. And I got married, I had children, I have grandchildren, one of my grandsons will be very interested in this…

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