Samuel Morales Cotto

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Librio Morales - 1908



Poor Foolish old mama, don’t you understand that is the way of life? Yesterday I cried for one, so today I must laugh for another. Luigi Pirandello –

Photographs tell a story by freezing the moment; the gestures, the feelings and all that forms the present and transforms the future; something that one can see, like a yesterday in a tomorrow.

Two pictures. No ages. A different hat and background. The same attitude. The same posture.

I didn’t know my grandfather, no one did. But I did know that he grew up like arid terrain, with landmarks so deep and so empty that even he lost some of their stories. He was born in 1901. When he was three-months-old, his father died and with him went the house, the land, and the food.



You are seven-years-old and living with an alcoholic aunt. It’s been almost a week since a grapefruit thorn pierced your leg. She gives you a few drops of bay rum, and sends you back to work. The wound grows. No electric bone saw. No general anesthesia. One leg gone. The next day, back to the fields.

There are many reasons my grandfather was the way he was. Perhaps it was the fact that he only had one leg from the time he was seven-years-old, or that he went to live in an orphanage.


You are eight-years-old, new place, new people, no family, no friends, crippled, tied naked to a chair, over an ant nest, under a burning sun. You want to escape. You scratch. You jump. You fall to the ground and the ants bite your face. With every moment, things get worse.

The Colegio Robinson in Hatillo seemed like a penitentiary to him, full of kids nothing like my grandfather…


When he was nineteen and out of school, his godfather, Don Pedro Vasallo, Utuado’s mayor, found him a job.

¿Tu eres bueno con los números?” a voice asked.

My grandfather, with a shy voice answered a lonely “yes.” Always a “yes,” just like he was taught.

“Dile al mayoral que ya hay quien cuente.”

And that was his job, counting the peons, the pounds of cane, the sacks of sugar and almost everything that could be counted. At thirty-five, he finally married. The story is that Don Vasallo arranged the whole thing. But this new bride, my abuela, didn’t resist.


Your house is far away from the town (three hours and a river.) It is four in the morning. Your wife is about to give birth. You have one leg to get her to the doctor.

One day there were fewer peons. La Central had already sucked their life. That’s when la caña se puso amarga. In the need of a job, my grandfather cleaned guns and shoes at the Plaza. He became a judge at the rooster fights and Bolitero Autorizado of Brooklyn and Puerto Nuevo.

Don Liborio Morales lived in Hatillo, Utuado, Brooklyn, San José, Río Piedras, and finally in Caparra Terrace. Eighty years, nine children, more than twenty grandchildren, some great-grandchildren.

I only remember two things he said to me: “God is everything,” and “No seas pea.”

Don Librios Morales


Reprinted with permission. pastiche, Volume II © Copyright, Estudio Casa Bohemia, Cabo Rojo, 2005. All rights reserved. 


  1. Great story! I could pictured my self in that time. I Liked the way that you narrated your grandfather life was a very simple and specific technique.

  2. Very nice story. One thing I can say I learned from this one, is to never give up. Even though he was “different” from the other, didn’t meant that he wasn’t capeble of doing the things. Very inspirational story.

  3. Really interesting way on writing the story of your grandfather. You actually stated the situation in a way where I could feel as if I was living the situation myself or a “imagine if you were in this situation”kind of piece. Really well done, loved it.

  4. These stories teach us to cherish one another.

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