Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Iris Pereles Suarez: Family Bonds Prevail in Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Iris Pereles Suarez: Family Bonds Prevail in Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I had a big family and was the youngest of eight siblings--three boys and five girls. I was born in 1925, but it was not until the following year that I was registered with the county. My father had become very ill that same year and had died. He had been the only breadwinner in the family.

Those who knew my father described him as a tall, Black man, elegant, with Greek features. He ran the main horse racing track in Puerto Rico's second-largest city at the time. He was respected and loved by everyone. My mother was in charge of the household, and she took care of the children. She was White, of medium height, pretty, and naturally graceful.

We lived in a rented house in the town of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, but after my father's death we had to find a new home that we could afford. During that time we lived day to day, at times accepting help from my mother's side of the family and at other times depending on the mercy of others to survive.

As the living situation got worse we moved into a room in Catano, which was a slum in a swamp. The area was starting to fill in with small and simple wooden and cardboard shacks. We were all poor, hungry, and in need of basic necessities. We used oil lamps at night and drank swamp water that we cooked in a fire box. …

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