1 My Life Story Edgar Galiñanes
2 Alicia Lamberghini-West, Storykeeper
3 Acknowledgements The Ethnic Life Stories Project continues to emulate the vibrant diversity of the Springfield community. So much is owed to the many individuals from Drury University-Diversity Center, Southwest Missouri State University, Forest Institute, Springfield Public School System, Springfield/Greene County Libraries, and Southwest Missouri Office on Aging who bestowed their talents, their words of encouragement, their generosity of time and contributions in support of this unique opportunity to enrich our community. The resolve and commitment of both the Story Tellers and Story Keepers fashioned the integral foundation of this creative accomplishment. We express our tremendous admiration to the Story Tellers who shared their private and innermost thoughts and memories; some suffering extreme hard-ship and chaos, disappointment and grief before arriving here and achieving the great task of adjusting and assimilating into a different culture. We recognize your work and diligence in your life achievement, not only by keeping your families together, but by sharing, contributing and at the same time enriching our lives and community. We salute you! Special acknowledgement to: Rosalina Hollinger, Editing and layout design Mark Hollinger, Photography Jim Coomb, Mapmaker Idell Lewis, Editing and revision Angie Keller, Susy Mostrom, Teresa Van Slyke, and Sean Kimbell, Translation Lee Lowder, Data Transfer and Storage Heartfelt thanks to Kay Lowder who was responsible for organization and assembly of the stories. Jim Mauldin Ethnic Life Stories Project Coordinator.
4 The Ethnic Life Stories Project....giving the Springfield community a window to its diversity through the life stories of ethnic elders. Liewe Se Storie Afrikaanse Afrikaanse (2) ŌSŌ GAY HĂY WŌ TAN Apache Arabic (2) Ga-no-du Ka-ne-he-lv-s-gi Cherokee Chinese (2) Life Stories Histoires De Ma Vie Mayer rah-khaan Knee-Hindi English French Hindi Japanese Korean Malayalam Povestea Vie Ţii Mele Romanian La Historia de la Vida Spanish (4) Kuwento Ng Aking Buhay Tagalog Yiddish
5 Birthplaces of the Storytellers Class of 2001 Class of 2002 Yohannan Abraham Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India Janet Akaike - Toste Kofu, Japan Martha Baker San Antonio, Texas Grace Ballenger Shanghai,China Olga Codutti Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina Taj Farouki Wadi-Hunayn, Palestine John Hernandez San Antonio, Texas Yung Hwang Okjong, Kyungnam, Korea Hyman Lotven Kapulah, Russia Regina Lotven Nancy, France Ruth L.V. Burgess Poona (Pune), India Edgar Galinanes Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Edward P. Ksara Tangier, Morocco Ioana Popescu Bucharest, Romania Josefina S. Raborar Manila, Philippines Juan Salazar Tuman, Peru Ruth Penaherrera-Norton Archidona, Ecuador Cyril Vermooten Beaufort West, South Africa Joy Vermooten Nqaberie (Natal), South Africa Tobby Yen Chung (Zhongshan), China Sterling Macer Mason City, Iowa
6 A t l a n t i c O c e a n Isla Mona Aguadilla Mayaguez SanGerman Arecibo Manati Bayamon Utuado PUERTO RICO Mayaguez Coamo Cayey Yauco Ponce Guayama San Juan Carolina Caguas Humacao Fajardo Culebra Vieques St. T V C a r i b b e a n S e a Edgar Galinanes Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
7 Personal Acknowledgement I thank every person that contributed in one form or another for me to be able to write my life story from my birth through all the phases of life in different scenarios. To be able to write this story, has great importance to me, looking at the past I can see how my life has been sprinkled with sadness and happiness, that there are many years that I have lived, but I am still on the path that God has set before me without knowing when the end will be. My fondness to Mr. James Mauldin, for collecting all these life stories like mine, I thank him for his continued effort. My acknowledgment to the Ethnic Life Stories Project organization, for it s mission and objectives with the community. With deepest appreciation to my dearest friend, Alicia Lamberghini-West, she led me into writing the story of my life and contributed a great deal in order to be able to develop this story and to reach it s conclusion.
8 Dedication With all my heart I dedicate this short story of my life to my dearest family; my son, Edgar Lorenzo, my daughter-in-law Jean Marie, and my grandchildren Edgar Luis and Jan Grabielle, to each of you, I dedicate these memories of my life. I wish that when my grandchildren grow up they can find in these pages images and stories of their grandparents, mima and mimo, these are the nicknames that the children bestowed upon my wife and I. As you can see, my entire life is interwoven with work combined with vacations which we enjoyed immensely. Here, there are many aspects of my life, my youth and my family. In my writings, there will be certain dates and moments to remember that would capture our souls.
9 Introduction I am pleased to present the story of my dear friend Edgar Galiñanes. When I started to speak with him about this project, I never could imagine the impact his story would have on my life. His appreciation for the persons, his constant search for meaning, his gratitude for everything that he receives, his unfailing hope, all these things come through in every aspect of his life, like a compass guiding each one of his steps. He speaks to us about his hopes and his missions, about his constant effort to serve his community from different perspectives with practicality, drive, and from a profound human vision. His clear memories and his sensitivity for everything that he has lived, shows faithfully in this story. The author talks about himself and his family, but also covers world events and their consequences. He relates these as a true witness of the circumstances. In a very personal way, Edgar Galiñanes gives us his story, but it is much more than that. It is a testimony of life itself, and a testimony of an entire era. Alicia Lamberghini-West
10 CONTENTS Chapter One: FAMILY HISTORY My Name My Birth Place of Birth My Parents My siblings Our Homes Chapter Two: EARLY CHILDHOOD AND MEMORIES Nicknames A Typical Day Food Our Religion Our House Rules At Home My Bedroom Our Pets The School Celebrations Funerals Special Memories Friends The Year 1917 USA and my Citizenship Working Conditions Prohibition Chapter Three: THE TEEN YEARS Introduction Education Transportation Traditions My Readings Television and Movie Theaters The Square The Depression Second World War Penicillin Gandhi The Civil War in Spain Nicaraguan Guerilla Warfare
11 Chapter Four: ADULT YEARS Businesses My Engagement Our Wedding Our First House My Dear Wife Her Passing My Son My Daughter-In-Law God The Houses Where We Lived Our Dogs My Job The Origin of the Penas Havana Before the Cuban Revolution The Atomic Bomb Philippines Independence Post War The Salk Vaccine Soviet Union and The Cold War Kennedy Assassination Chapter Five: LIFE MISSION Years in Politics Nursing Home My Life Reflections To Be Rich Writings Chapter Six: SPRINGFIELD EXPERIENCE The Reason I Came How did we feel What I miss How do I feel now Cultural Interest Experiences of the Children My Integration My Comments
12 Chapter Seven: LATER YEARS Introduction How is my Life My grandchildren My best Friend Things I would live again Wishes to future generations Chapter Eight: IMAGES OF PUERTO RICO The Typical Puerto Rico The Hurricanes Sayings
13 CHAPTER ONE: FAMILY HISTORY My Name My full name is Edgar Galiñanes López de Victoria. I don t share my first name with many people in Puerto Rico because it is Anglo-Saxon, not Spanish. My mother chose the name Edgar for two reasons. One was because of an aunt who was reading The Raven, which was written by an Edgar Edgar Allen Poe. She told my mother that Edgar was a name full of history and that if the child my mother was currently expecting turned out to be boy, she should name him Edgar. Besides my aunt s input, the King of England at that time was also named Edgar. That s the story of how my mother decided to call me Edgar. My Birth I was born on April 21, I was not born in a hospital, in those days expectant mothers didn t go to hospitals to give birth. Usually a midwife was called and she was the one responsible for taking care of everything during the birth. Being the last child, I was the baby of the family. For my older brothers and the rest of the family, I was the main attraction. The Birthplace I was born in the Juvenile Correction Institution, where my father worked as a director for more than fifteen years. The city of my birthplace was Mayaguez, the third largest city in Puerto Rico. I was born in the suburbs of the city in front of one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. This is where the institution that my father ran was located. A few months after I was born, we moved to the old city of San Juan, which was surrounded by fortified walls. Our language is the Castilian language, inherited from Spain. Most people worked on the sugar cane and coffee plantations. Those were the most important products of exportation. During harvest time, there would be fifteen giant sugar mills all in operation, milling the sugar cane. The sugar plantations during those years were spread throughout various regions where the cultivation of the sugar cane was more extensive. The biggest sugar plantations were North American properties, leaving the small properties to rich, local families. It s possible that some of these properties were originally owned by Spaniards, during the Spanish colonization, because the greatest exportation from Puerto Rico during that time was sugar. As a historical reference, I can say that the sugar cane was brought by Christopher Columbus to the Canary Islands, the same as bananas, beef, etc., in his second voyage in Around 1511, the first African slave arrived to work in the sugar cane plantations. Puerto Rican coffee was one of the best of the entire world during that time. It was highly valued in the world markets. El Vaticano, was the coffee of those days. Many of the coffee plantation owners would send the first hundred pounds they harvested to the Vatican, that s how the name El Vaticano originated. Almost all these land-owner families were of Corzo origin and were Catholic. Most European capitals had many coffee shops which would advertise with great displays that their coffee was from Puerto Rico. Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
14 Coffee was introduced to America by the French, and Martinique Island was the first place where coffee was planted in the new world. From Martinique, it went to the Antilles. Puerto Rico was one of the first places where coffee was harvested. This was around the 1800s. As a consequence of the wars and revolutions in Haiti, there was an avalanche of coffee farmers from Corzo. In Puerto Rico they found good soil, especially in the mountains where the coffee grows much better. The farm worker made one dollar a day for ten to twelve hours of work under the blazing sun or in the pouring rain. It was a very difficult time for the working class, because with that dollar, they had to feed their entire family. These plantations and mills were worked five to six months out of the year. The rest of the time, the worker had to look for another occupation. During those years, the government changed and a new program of industrialization was projected in the island. This brought different industries from around the world to Puerto Rico. The majority of these industries were North American, many were pharmaceutical. From that point, a change began from agricultural to industrial. The city of San Juan has varied topography. It is an island with a mountain that goes from east to west, all surrounded by water. It has the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and a great, guarded bay, along with the Caribbean Sea to the south. The entire mountain was cut down during the colonial design that was implemented during Streets were built up and down the hill, and very high lateral streets were built as well. Churches were built, convents, the town hall, and in this way it was developed as a colonial capital of the island of San Juan, later called Puerto Rico. Throughout the years, they built forts around the city that later were connected through a series of walls. The city was transformed into a fortified stronghold. San Juan was attacked several times by the English. One of the attackers was Francis Drake, who was defeated and had to retreat. During the bombing from the fort, Hawkins, Drakes cousin and right hand man, was killed. During the first years of colonization there were attacks by the Caribbean Indians, the Dutch and English also attacked and took over the city. On the other hand, we had the inquisition persecution that brought so many sorrows to the colony with the unjust accusations. In addition to all these battles, there were also natural disasters, tornados and hurricanes that would destroyed everything, with winds of more than 150 miles per hour, sometimes lasting more than ten to twelve hours. For four hundred years, Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony, but by the time the North Americans came to Puerto Rico, things were changing. Because of the distance, and the amount of time that had gone by, Puerto Rico was really running itself. Puerto Rico has tropical weather, with trade winds blowing in from the south. It is very hot during the summer months, but in the mountainous towns the temperature ranges from 45 to 60 degrees in December, January, February and sometimes in March. I have many memories, especially stories that my grandmother and grandfather would tell about the time of the Spanish colonization and the Spanish-American War. My father and my Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
15 grandmother had to leave the city when the North American squadron started to bombard San Juan. Commander Simpson, as an officer of the North American squadron, thought that part of the Spanish squadron was in the port of San Juan. They bombed on top of the houses in order to attack Commander Cervera s squadron. However, the squadron was not there, it was in Cuba. In the attack, many houses in San Juan were damaged by the canon balls. People were so frightened by the canon balls coming in over their heads that most simply took off running towards the outskirts of town. I have never forgetten this story of the mass hysteria of an entire, defenseless population running, terrified, to the explosive sound of the bombs. My Parents My dear parents, Felicita and José, at the summer farm in Puerto Rico. My parents were already older when I was born. My mother s name is Felicita de Galiñanes López de Victoria. My father s name is José Galiñanes Sanchez. During the colonization, it was traditional to use your full last name, and then after the last name, you would put the name of the Spanish city where you were born. My mother was born in the late 1800s, as were her three sisters, in a town called Sabana Grande. The town was surrounded by mountains and forests, and there is a river which had many streams. It had the Spanish design, with a central square. To one side was the municipal court, on the other side was the church, and the square was surrounded by houses from the rich families of the town. The plaza was decorated with trees, there were benches all around to sit on, and many tropical flowers. This town was founded by the Spanish government in the late 1700s. My mother loved Sabana Grande. The stories of her childhood were delightful. They were full of detailed anecdotes describing her life as a child. She would tell us stories about her adventures walking through the fields and wading in the rivers and streams. There were lots of cliffs there. The landscape of her childhood was beautiful, everything covered with trees and tropical fruits. She learned the arts of sewing and embroidery at school, and she did these beautifully. She was raised with her sisters and cousins. First her mother and then her father died, leaving her orphaned. Her youth was full of activity, as was very common in the towns of that area. Being a daughter in a privileged family, she never worked. My mother had a great heart, full of kindness, her entire life was dedicated to helping people. Anyone who approached her for food or money was welcomed and helped. I remember my mother as a housewife. She organized her family much like the old days, in the traditional ways of Spain, our mother country. In the kitchen, she was a chef, with her hands she would make appetizing dishes. She was the same with confectionaries. She would instruct the cook in the daily menus. With her Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
16 own hands she made clothing for the newborn babies in the family. She would knit these clothes with exquisiteness. The neighbors respected her and treated her with lots of love; she was always returning that love. For years, those neighbors kept a friendship as if they were family members. My mom loved picnics, she would invite the neighbors and everyone would bring their favorite dish and share with each other. The picnics were usually held at one of our beautiful beaches, in the country, or at one of our friends farm, always close to the bank of a river. We would combine picnicking with swimming. My father was born in San Juan, it was a walled city, one of the oldest in America. He was a son of a Puerto Rican mother and a Spaniard father. His father was in the Spanish military, stationed in Puerto Rico. My mother went to a Catholic school in that same town for some years. She was a very pretty Puerto Rican, not so tall, she was average height, with Spaniard features. My father was a good looking gentleman, well dressed, as was the custom for that time: suit, starched collar and shirt, vest with a watch chain, and a felt hat. My father studied and received a teacher s degree from the Dominican school. He also studied telegraphy. He worked as a teacher and he was sent to my mother s town and later on she became one of his students. My father was a very intelligent man and he efficiently fulfilled every position he had with the government. Both of my parents are dead. My father died first, and twenty years later my mother. My father had a stroke that left him half paralyzed for several years and eventually caused his death. My mother died of a bleeding ulcer that today with modern medicine probably could have been cured. Those days nobody talked about cholesterol or high blood pressure or tri-glicerous; most of the illnesses were treated with home remedies and a family doctor. I very much felt the loss of my mother and my father. I loved them dearly. I was already forty years old before they died, so I had many years with them. The love of my wife and son helped me to cope with the sadness of their death. My Siblings None of my siblings are still living. Of the six boys and one girl in my wonderful family, I am the only one left. As I mentioned to you before, I was the youngest of the family. My oldest brother was José Angel, next was Julio César, then Luis Enrique, followed by Rosa Camelia, Rafael, and Segismundo. Then the last -- me -- Edgar. Our family grew overnight when my aunt Rosa died. My mother took over the job of raising her sister s five children. We now had two more girls and three more boys. We were happy to have more children with whom to play. They lived with us for many years, until they were grown and their father took some of them home with him, the girls stayed under my mother s care. Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
17 Of my siblings, the first one to pass away was my brother Rafael. He was only 14 when he died, I was young and I don t remember him much. He died from Typhoid, in San Juan. My mother suffered greatly when my brother died. She was disconsolate for many years. I remember that during Christmas when the music from the street was heard, she would go to her room to cry. Being the youngest one, I would run after her to console her. I was so sad to see her that way. It was many years later when José Angel, my oldest brother, died at the age of 78. He had a purebred Labrador hunting dog that he cared about greatly. One day he was outside with the dog. The avenue that ran in front of his house was a busy one with many cars speeding past. The dog got away from José Angel and ran to go across the street. My brother was terrified! He was afraid a car would hit the dog and kill it. José Angel suffered from heart problems, as well as being a chain smoker. The incident with his dog caused him to have a heart attack.. There was a hospital across from my brother s house; he was taken there. They did all they could for him, but in those days there was no intensive care unit with instruments to monitor his heart. With all the advances that have been made in medicine and science, he could have lived if it had happened now. I admired José Angel and I saw him as a second father. He was the one who reprimanded us the most, because our parents were too nice and complacent. José Angel was one of the best marksmen in Puerto Rico. He was a member of different clubs and he represented Puerto Rico in the Helsinki Olympics. Another brother that I loved dearly was Julio, who was very nice to me. He would give us toys and never chastised us. He was a commercial decorator for the biggest store in Puerto Rico those days. He was also a great painter, he won several awards in different expositions. My brother Quique, Luis Enrique, was the most similar to me. I admire him because he was a great athlete, and he was a member of one of the best basketball teams. He dressed very elegantly. My brother Segismundo and I we were almost the same age. We played together the majority of time. We always fought, but that was a way of life that we were used to. Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
18 Our Homes We changed homes seven times. Whenever my parents saw an unoccupied house that was that was better than the one we were living in, they would do the paperwork to rent it. The last place where we lived was an apartment, where we occupied the top floor, and had the rights to the rooftop. This apartment had only one family per floor. The apartments were huge, with a view of the entire bay. To us, the young ones, it was an adventure and an opportunity to make new friends in the new neighborhoods. All of our homes were in the old city of San Juan. A drawing of my first childhood home. Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
19 CHAPTER TWO: INFANCY AND EARLY MEMORIES My Nickname I was the most robust of the children, so my brothers and family called me Gordo. The nickname stuck with me for many years. My brother Segismundo and his wife never stopped calling me Gordo. A Typical Day On a typical childhood day, we would spend the morning and afternoon in school. Upon leaving school, I would meet young family members to go out and play ball, ride bicycles, or skate all in the street. In those days, there were very few cars, so the streets were empty. Sometimes we would go to the marina to watch the ships and schooners that came in from different islands. In the winter months we would watch the tides form gigantic waves that would crash up against the boulevard of the Port of San Juan. Cars and pedestrians would pass through the boulevard. We loved it when a car or people would get soaked from the waves. There was a major problem in those days, the principle drain of the city emptied into part of the sea, making those waters constantly dirty. Food The staples of our diet were rice and beans, meat filets, salads, fish, pastas, eggs, vegetables and soup. In our home there were always three dishes for lunch and for dinner. Soup was served in the afternoon. In the cooler months, hot chocolate was served with cheese and crackers around 9:00 pm, this was a custom inherited from Spain. We ate all kinds of fried foods, and had many different desserts. French bread and butter were never lacking at breakfast, lunch or dinner. We never knew what we were going to eat until it was served. The table in those years was varied and I enjoyed it very much. I always finished eating everything on my plate, and I liked everything. The dishes had Creole and Spanish influences. Our Religion Our religion is Apostolic Roman Catholic, which we inherited from Spain. We were obligated to go to church on Sundays, which the whole population of San Juan attended. In the city there were four large churches, the Cathedral and St. Joseph being the two most popular. These were the oldest churches in the New World. I was three years old when I began to have knowledge of my surroundings. I began to fill my mind with memories. Our House Our house was two stories with a large balcony, in the traditional Spanish colonial style. The balcony faced the ancient Plaza of San José, which had an equestrian statue of Don Ponce de Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
20 León, conqueror and first governor, in the center. I used to admire that statue of the Conqueror of Puerto Rico and discoverer of Florida, majestically mounted on his horse, sword in hand. In my eyes, I saw him as a giant. I took my first steps in that plaza, in During my childhood, we would always go there to run and play. The plaza was surrounded by trees, there were benches to sit on, and a kiosk where sweets were sold. In the background was the ancient St. Joseph Church, which was built at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Rules of the House A very important rule in my house was that the whole family be present at the same time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The children had to be in bed at nine p.m. Our elders would return at different hours, so a chair was placed inside the door they pushed to enter. The door to our home remained permanently open. I don t recall there ever being a robbery on our street. My Room I shared my room with a brother and a cousin. The room had three beds, with doors connected to other rooms, and a door leading to a open corridor. In those days, the rooms were very large and some didn t have windows, instead they had skylights. Our Pets There were always a dog and two cats in the house. They ate leftovers and table scraps. Back then, there was no special dog or cat food. There were also no veterinarians in the city. Animal illnesses were cured with household remedies. The animals rarely got sick. We had a rooster that I brought home as a chick. It grew up to be an enormous rooster that would walk all over the house. One fine day the rooster was killed to make rice and chicken. The death of Pachin disturbed my brother Segismundo so much that he never again ate chicken in any form for the rest of his life. We had a dovecote on the roof with more than a hundred doves. This was customary in San Juan. The doves were cooked in a soup, especially when someone was sick. They were very tasty and nourishing. One dove was used for each bowl of soup. We had a little piglet that grew in our home until it was two years old. My brother would bathe him and put big ribbons on him. One day the pig, which had a habit of climbing onto the roof, leaned through the holes of the balusters that faced the street. Perhaps the height made him dizzy, causing him to fall to the street below. It was the grand finale of little Bombón. School I began my education at a school owned by a lady near our house. She taught us the reader or primer. Later I attended preschool. The traditional Spanish-style preschool was Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes
21 directed by Catholic sisters. There were no student desks. We all sat on platforms of varying heights, situated around the teacher s desk in the center. She taught us our first letters and the Catechism. When I was five, I began to attend Lincoln School. It was located inside a large commercial building adapted for the school, and very close to our house. The director of the school was a great, very old fashioned lady. Her wardrobe was of early 1900s fashions. This caught my attention. She was kind and treated us affectionately. Mrs. Timothe was probably about seventy years old, her family was well known and lived in San Juan. Her husband and sons were doctors. They lived in a large old house in the city, with a very long balcony full of flowers. Mrs. Timothe gave herself the task of a erecting a statue of President Lincoln. She began to ask for pennies from the students, a penny per week. A penny in the 1920s had some value, since with it one could buy a little glass of ice cream from the street carts, a big ginger cookie, a piece of bread and butter, seven pieces of candy, a piragua of different flavors, or a snow cone in the form of sorbet with different syrups. Many street carts lined the streets of the city, and to our delight, much could be bought with just a penny. Penny after penny went into the completion of the Lincoln statue. The marble statue was of Lincoln sitting in a great chair. The legs of the chair were eagles. All of San Juan admired this great work of art. The Lincoln School was built at the former site of the San Sebastian Polvorín. The ancient monument was built by Spain in the 1700s. It was an enormous mistake to destroy a work of art so monumental and full of history. I remember the monument very well, situated not far from our house. During its destruction with dynamite, San Juan shuttered with the explosions. It s crazy how the world turns. At the exact same site, many years later, a large Spanish restaurant was built. The restaurant, I believe, was called the Barrachina. This was where the pina colada was created. Its specialties included Valencian paella cooked in view of everyone. All the schools I attended were close to home. I would go with my sister, who was only a year older than me. The teachers were very good women. They treated us well and dressed in a professional, elegant way. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Montilla, our history teacher. Back then, music wasn t taught at school. In its place were carpentry, plumbing, and electricity workshops. I studied at all the workshops during different years of my education. Ethnic Life Stories Edgar Galiñanes