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Born: San Francisco, California

Luis Reyes, His Grandfather
Born: Coamo, Puerto Rico

In 1921 there was a big storm that hit the island of Puerto Rico. This is how mi abuelo tells the story. The storm passed through Coamo, destroying la familia Reyes's crops. They had nothing to take to the market and would be financially devastated.

On the tail of the storm came a man, Mr. Cane, recruiting healthy families to work in the sugarcane fields of Hawaii. He told people they would make ten dollars a day, and showed them pictures of the nice houses they would stay in.

Don Felix (my great grandfather) and Doña Antonia (my great grandmother) decided to take their seven children (Juan, Francis, Blasie, Louis, Catherine and Gloria) to Hawaii. My grandfather Louis was only 15.

Before leaving the island of Borinquen, Doña Antonia made a promise to the Three Kings; That if they guided the family safely on their journey she would devotedly celebrate their feast day.

Hawaii was hard, and Mr. Cane had deceived the families. The houses were shacks and the pay was less than the amount promised. People worked 9-10 hours a day 6 and sometimes seven days a week.

In 1923 Juan, the eldest of the children was hurt in the fields. My grandfather had no choice but to drop out of school to help the family earn money. Louis worked with Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese and Hawaiians, and he learned to speak comfortably in all their dialects. He loved to show people his ability to speak and write fluently in Hawaiian.

Since Juan was hurt and couldn´t work, he would spend his days talking with some of the older men who were also not working in the fields. One of the Families was the Riveras. (Ignacio and Lartia Rivera)The Youngest daughter of the Riveras was Carmela, mi abuela.

Both families migrated to California in 1924 and settled in Oakland. In 1926 Louis Reyes and Carmela Rivera were married at San Francisco´s City hall.

Doña Antonia devoutly celebrated the feast of Los Santos Reyes, and the family has carried on the tradition.

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