Josean Martínez Badillo

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Lucy, René, José Luis, Marialena and Hilda


My grandmother took this beautiful picture many years ago in her house, which was located in Lares, P. R. For those who have never been there, let me give you a little description to help you travel there for a few seconds through the amazing magic of words.

Lares is a very pretty and friendly place to live, set in the mountains. It is known for celebrating El Grito de Lares which marks a very famous revolt against the Spanish and to this day represents many Puerto Rican’s sympathy towards independence. Lares is also known by its very curious ice cream flavors such as: Rice and Beans, Ajonjolí and others.

Based on information from my father, the photograph was taken in 1971. As one can see, it’s black and white. Black and white pictures inspire mystery. They make me want to know more about them.

In this photograph are Lucy, René, José Luis, Marialena and Hilda. The camera that took this picture was a new toy for my grandfather. He got the camera for a small price and remembers the good times he captured like birthdays, baptisms and simple family moments at home.

The location of the picture is my grandmother’s living room, in front of her curtains. The picture was taken for a purpose, which was to send it to my grandmother’s brother, Calin who lived on the mainland United States. Calin was known for being very neglectful of his family. I guess this was my grandmother’s attempt to keep him involved.

The boy in the middle is my father, José Luis. It’s incredible to see how much he has changed over the years, which is not surprising after all he has gone through in life in order to keep my family together, healthy and with a happy tummy. The rest of the kids in the picture are my aunts and uncles.

My father told me he didn’t wanted to be a part of this photograph, because he was wearing the same pants as his brother, René. René is the one standing in front. I laughed because the first thing I noticed about the picture was the funny pants my dad and my uncle were wearing. I also noticed that the camera had captured the fact that there was a conflict going on between the brothers. It was my grandmother who had forced them to wear matching pants because she thought it looked cute.

“Uncle Calin doesn’t give a crap about us,” my father remembers telling my grandmother that day.  She got mad and demanded he stand still for the picture. At the instant the shutter on the camera clicked, my father remembers he was arguing with René because both of them wanted to stand behind their sisters so the pants wouldn’t be so noticeable. But finally my father got his way and there he is hiding behind his sisters.

My grandmother sent the picture to Uncle Calin in New York. Years later, he had economic problems and moved back to Puerto Rico to live with his sister.  After he lived a couple of months, he failed to show any initiative in bonding with my dad and his siblings, so he moved but left the picture. Finally my grandmother realized that Calin was a person who never gave a damn about his family.

It’s interesting to see how a picture can last so long and even travel more than a person. This photograph has seen the big city and then back again to the island of enchantment.  It has also gone through many hands and eyes. I hope one day I can visit the big city and come back with pictures of my memories. And I would love for someone to keep a picture of me, even if it’s wet, torn apart, wrinkled or loosing color. That will tell me that I meant something to someone who maybe talked about me and most importantly, remembered me.

1 Comment

  1. I wanted to know a little more about what happened with Calin, and why he showed no interest in his family. Thanks for sharing this little piece of your family history.

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