Meeting My Puerto Rican Tenants

In the 1950’s, two internal migrant families, the Torres’ and the Rivera’s, moved into my building. Hannah and Alice, my Chocolate Ladies (who worked in nearby Fowlers Chocolate Factory) immediately went to the Buffalo Public Library and began to research Puerto Rican culture and traditions. Thankfully, the ladies would read aloud to each other, so I too learned about my newest new tenants.

To my shock, I found out that the families were actually only considered to be American citizens if they live in one of the 50 states that make up the U.S. You’ll find out more about these unbelievable details when you read my upcoming novel FRED: Building of Dreams.

Hannah and Alice befriended the two families after they moved. They would often visit with them when everyone sat outside cooling themselves on a hot summer day, in my back lot off Potomac Ave. on the West Side of Buffalo, N.Y.  At first, the families were a little reluctant to open up to strangers, but their warm smiles, pleasant personalities and of course some chocolate treats, won them over. Afterall, who can refuse a gift of chocolate from welcoming people!

Before long, everyone was exchanging stories about their lives in America. It was sad to hear that the families form Puerto Rico didn’t feel comfortable in the country they loved. I sat and watched as Hannah and Alice slowly broke down the barriers to understanding their culture. A major breakthrough came when Milagros Rivera and her Abuela Consuela invited the ladies to attend Milagros’ younger sister Rosario’s Quinceanera on her fifteenth birthday. The ladies were honored to be included in this cherished cultural celebration. Little did they all know I was there too, celebrating Rosario’s “coming of age” right alongside.

You’ll soon read more about the importance of the Quinceanera celebration,  the Torres’ and Rivera’s and what it was like for these families in the 1950’s to be internal migrants from Puerto Rico in the United States of America. My long road to publication will end in 2020. Thanks to all for sticking by me, waiting for this humble building’s stories to become a book. I can’t wait to share all I’ve seen and learned!