By the time my parents moved to the Bronx in 1970 they had themselves three boys. Myself, Jesus, and Ricardo accompanied our mother and father to follow some whacked out dream they where sold on by other family members who had left beautiful PuertoRico. We landed at Kennedy Airport, at which time I got my Pan Am wings from the pilot. A life long love affair with flying had been born. I am not sure what the hell kinda story got my parents to leave a tropical paradise for the Bronx. It must have been on hell of a pack of bullshit creatively spun by several of aunts and uncles.
General Background: The 1970s were a disastrous time for the city of New York. The city experienced its greatest loss of population, from its 1970 peak of 7,896,000 to 7,092,000, a loss equal to the population of San Francisco. The city itself came close to virtual bankruptcy. The area of the city most distressed during this period was the south Bronx, located just to the north of Manhattan Island (Manhattan houses the city’s business core, second largest in the world after central Tokyo).
The South Bronx: By 1975, the South Bronx was the most devastated urban landscape in the United States. The three community districts that comprise the core of the South Bronx had fallen 57 percent in population from 383,000 in 1970 to 166,000 in 1980, which has to rival the greatest short term population loss in any urban setting with the possible exception of war’s devastation.
Well, that is some story about the fairytale land overflowing with milk and honey that was our (new?) home. When I started to gather the pictures and info I felt and intense repressed resentment that I had forgotten over the years. I loved my lush green mountain birthplace. Then, at the tender age of four yrs old I was exposed to a war zone! Miles and miles of buildings destroyed in one form or another. Crime, rioting, drug dealing and God knows what else, was the nature of things there in the 1970’s. My heart was broken. I know can say where it was in my life when Victor became scared of the world. I must have cried for months after we landed in the hellhole you see before you. I do recall the building we lived in. It sadly stood was all by itself in the middle of a sea of crumbled bricks. Roaches the size of mice. It had to be a shock to my system when all I knew up to that point was freedom and fearlessness. in a perfect tropical island. That perfection was traded for stench and rot. What the hell where my parents thinking???? When they saw how bad it was in New york why didn’t they just go back to what was peaceful and safe? I am in a great deal of pain over the flood of un-resolved traumas that these images have brought back to the surface. I can understand why I chose to block those times out of my mind for so long. (PRINCESS>>>Thank you!!! I am profoundly grateful to you). I was a free spirit that could roam my red clay land without fear of any kind. Once, my grandmother came to visit and I yelled and screamed for her to take me with her. It wasn’t that I wanted to be with Grandma. I wanted to go back home to my bright sunny and happy life! I can see this now in hindsight. I sit here writing and feeling overwhelming emotions of injustice and resentment towards my parents. I was told often that I was rebellious and had a tendency of act out. I understand that “I was raging against the dying of the light”. Even as young as I was, I could tell what was good for me from what was frightful and horrifying. I resisted, for what seemed like ages, against the ugliness we found ourselves living in.
My personality of unlimited innocence and pure love was slowly being eroded by the dispair surrounding me.