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Cruz Maria Velazquez is 72 years old and she is my maternal grandmother. My grandmother comes from a family of 12 children. She grew up in poverty and had to drop out of school in the third grade to help bring money into the home. She was growing up in her hometown of Pence, Puerco Rice and had to take a Job in the home off doctor living in San Juan, Puerco Rice. There is a distance of 1 hour and a half of travel, which she did by bus. My grandmother had to leave her family at the age of 9 years old to become a live in nanny. She had to care for two small children, wash and Ron clothes, clean the house and cook.

Her sister Anti, had to do the same thing not far from where my grandmother was… And she was only 8!!! My grandmother shared that when she would write letters to her mom, she would cry and tell her that she wanted to come home. Her mom would tell her, to stop crying and that she had to stay and work. This was very difficult for my grandmother to do as a child. It affected how she had relationships with her own children. She didn’t know how to be affectionate and Just give a hug. It affected in many other ways, except in the area of ark. She was always a hard worker, due to her hard upbringing.

My grandfather was stationed in Germany during World War 2 and had Just returned to Pence. My grandmother ended up getting together with my grandfather at the age of 15 years old. She gave birth to my mom in a little wooded house with the aid of a midwife. They came to Rochester in 1960 at a time of intense racism. My grandparent’s suffered racism everywhere they went. Once my Grandfather went out with two other friends for a drink at a bar and they were refused service. A huge fight broke out, cause he wouldn’t leave until he got service and the bartender pulled out a gun on them.

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After the fight my grandfather was arrested in his home. All he wanted was to be treated like everyone else. My mother witnessed when her dad was arrested and she says that it was so hard for her to see her sweet dad go thru something like that. My grandmother continued to work hard in a factory here in Rochester and on weekends she cleaned the home of her employer. After years of work, she ended up working for a lawyer’s corporation with a 3rd grade education and was making 16. 00 an hour. This is the Job that she retired from.

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