Greetings! How are you on this beautiful Monday morning? I woke up early and got to work. I fed the cats, made some coffee and got my day off on the right foot. I always hated waking up and rushing out the door. I love taking my time in the morning and really thinking about my day, my plans and what I wanted to get out of it. Even when I was junked up, I still woke up early to start scamming. You think about your life and where you got some of your habits from. This waking up shit was something I picked up from my mom.
My mother's name was Dinorah Valdez. She was born in Havana Cuba. She had 8 other brothers and sisters and they were taught to hustle from an early age. My Grandpa collected junk, refurbished it and the kids sold it door to door. As they got older they sold there stuff to tourist. One night my mom and her younger sister went out to a dance. Some guy started to harrass them and my Mom stabbed the guy. My uncle said she went out with a white dress on and when she returned it was covered in blood. They got her out of Cuba into the States. We had cousins in New York City at the time. While she was there she met some Puerto Rican girl named Sofia Cecilio. My mom borrowed her ID and snuck back into Cuba with that name. When she returned to the States, Sofia became her alias and she used it till the day she died. Some paperwork was in Sofia's name like her Bar, and some paperwork was in her real name Dinorah like our house.
My Dad and her met in the early 50's. They opened a business called "The OK". A restaurant in Union City, New Jersey on 38th and New York Avenue.While they were running that business they were also running a lucrative betting operation that specialed in Numbers(The Last 3 digits of the Paramutual amount at the local horse track) to the Latino markets. In 63' before I was born they also opened a Bar called, "El Reloj Club" also in Union City on 29th and Bergenline. They were rocking with both hands.
Then in February of 66' my Father died. My mom immediately sold 'The OK' but kept the Bar. She also kept the numbers operation alive and at the same time, raised me. First in New York City, where I broke her balls to no end. I got to know who my mother was and what she was about at a very young age. One time we were at a Chinese restaurant on Broadway and 86th Street. We would go in there 4 or 5 times a week for lunch. Even then my mom was hung over every day. When you own a Bar your job is to sell drinks she'd say, every once in a while you have to drink a few and even then I understood. We would have the same waiter every day and he would make her this special soup. My mom would give him a few extra bucks and it was usually no problem. On this day there was a different waiter and he kept saying no! Finally my mom offers him money and the guy still has a stick up his ass. They start arguing and my mom stabs the guy with the fork. The guy is bleeding, chinese people are yelling! The kitchen empties but this one Manager comes to our help. The guy knew us. He calmed everyone one down. My mom gave them a few extra twenties and it was squashed. The only thing was we weren't allowed to go in there anymore. I was 5 at the time and I remember it like it was yesterday.
My mom believed in sticking up for yourself and what you believed in. My mom did a lot of bad things in front of me but she also did a lot of great things that stayed with me forever. I remember going to the bar in the day time. It was packed with everything but Spanish people. Irish, Italian, Polish all at the Bar eating Cuban food and having a good time. Some of them were Mailmen and construction workers, some of them were Doctors and Lawyers eating, drinking then putting in a bet with a lady who knew 10 words in English but the beauty was, they understood one another, it was amazing.
As a kid my mom taught me the importance of the hustle. My mom would make me get up early and go to work with her. She would make me clean the bathrooms at the bar and at home with no gloves on. She would make me take out garbage and sweep floors then mop them. She would make me stock the beer and the ice. I would work my ass off. As I got older she would make me do laundry, wash dishes and iron clothes at the house. I would get pissed and yell and scream and asked her why I had to clean and she'd tell me that someday I was going to be married and these were the things a Man did to help his wife.
My Mom did a lot of good things but a lot of bad things, but you know what? She never hid anything from me and was always 100% honest with me at all times. When ever my mom got home from the bar at 3:20 Am every night she had a bad habit of waking me up. She would yell up, Jose Antonio! When I wouldn't answer she would come up with a BLT or a Cuban Sandwich and tell me about her day. While I was eating, she'd drink her night cap, empty her bra of betting slips, cash and her last bump of the night and then we'd both go to bed. Those moments 3:30 in the morning was our special time. A week before she passed it was Halloween and I had stayed out late. When I got in at 6AM she was up waiting for me. She asked why I hadn't called? I was 15 at the time and I thought I was a man. I told her I didn't need to call because of that reason and she smacked me. She told me a real man would call home. I blew her off and went to sleep. The next morning when I woke up she told me she cooked breakfast. She told me that she was sorry for hitting me but that all she wanted from me was to grow up and be a man, thats it. She didn't cared what I did, but as a man you had certain responsibilities and that was one of them. That being a man wasn't about slinging dick but about acting a certain way. A week later a found her dead. I remember looking at her and hearing those words. The funny thing is she's been gone for 31 years and I hear those words everyday at some point of the day.
I've done a lot of bad things in my life. One thing I've tried to do to the best of my ability in good and bad has been to live up her expectations. Today is May 9th, its her birthday she would have been 80 years old today................Thank you for reading, have a great week and Stay Black!
Brea Improv Wednesday Night @ 8PM Come on down! 714 482 0700 for tickets!