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Karen Torres-Cox Family and others

Born:New York City

Grandmother: Porfidia Romeu;  Mother: Margaret Vargas
Born:Santurce, Puerto Rico


This is a photograph of my family -- part of my family that came from Puerto Rico in 1947. The woman in the back, by the mirror, with the floral dress on and her hair up in a little Pompidour is my grandmother Porfidia Romero and to the left of her -- two women to the left -- is a woman whose my mom, Margaret Vargas -- all you see is her head, she's right by the mirror. And my aunt Titi Iya is sitting in the front with a very sourpuss expression on and her hands folded on her skirt. And the party was on Washington Heights, Uptown on a 100 somewhere in the 140's or 150's, where a lot of Puerto Ricans migrated to as a group during that period, right after the war -- World War II. So this party was their first party, with their first Winter going to be Christmas. It was a Christmas party and the only requirement was to be Puerto Rican to be invited to this party. Since there were not that many of them, that was, you know, pretty cool. If you had a cousin or an aunt, they were invited to the party.

They were here from Puerto Rico and most of these people had met on the boat. They had literally just come off the Marine Tiger Boat. And this boat was originally used in the war. They used to bring stock or some sort of supplies. But when the war finished, they didn't know what to do with these boats so they ended up using them for Puerto Ricans. They brought Puerto Ricans instead of food or--whatever--supplies. And my mother told me she was sick all the way from Puerto Rico to New York. And that as soon as they saw the Statue of Liberty, everybody started crying. And they weren't sick anymore but they were freezing. She said it was freezing. It was cold as hell and they got their first winter coats. And there was a big snowfall--she remembers that. She refused to wear a hat, 'cause she never wore a hat in Puerto Rico, she said, and she wasn't going to mess up her hair. So here's where they met again. They all made a promise they would meet again and they all met at this party Uptown. And that was their introduction to New York City.

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