“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Charlie Billups Puerto Rico Trip July 2015
Today as I returned from having lunch at Bebo’s Restaurant in Loiza Street, I drove south on San Jorge Avenue to get into the expressway to go to my home away from home and as I passed by the Parroquia San Jorge (San Jorge Parish) and I thought should I turn around and go back? Thought about for several blocks and then My heart said yes! and so I turned around went back.
I took several pictures of the outside of the building and I went in. The mass was over so pretty much there was some people doing cleanup and there was a gathering outside in the parking lot were they were having a fellowship lunch so I was alone inside the church. As I came in I smelled the strong scent of candles burning, as I felt it, I was overcome with emotions and memories as the smell was the same as when I was a kid, and all of the sudden I remembered my catechism classes, the old lady that thought me the ten commandments, I remembered my first communion and I realized on thing, this is where the journey began, encouraged by my catholic grandmother Tata this is was the place where my love for God was first encouraged and nurtured.
I realized that this was a full circle moment deja vu experience and here I was. It was a very profound moment especially since I had left the Catholic faith many many years ago. I realized that I wont go back, but it was great to be there and it was a moment of thankful reflection for all the many years that God has been with me and has had the grace to saved me through difficult moments and decisions in life. So many moments in my life that I thought I was not going to make it, however I am always thankful for learning to confess my sins to God and ask for his forgiveness.
I thank my grandmother for all this. Everyday I think of the impact she had in my life. I hope that somehow I can have this impact in my children.
Nydia Dalmau my elemantary school teacher
Nydia Dalmau and her husband with Sarah and Charlie Billups
What would you think the chance would be that you see a person that the last time you see each other was at your grade school graduation, 41 years ago? Besides my family members I have not physically seen somebody from 41 years ago ever. Today this incredible twist of providential goodness from God happened to me. I was shopping with Lorena and Sarah at the TJ Maxx store on Fullerton Avenue near Lakeview, when I was complaining to Sarah about the prices in the store in Spanish and gentleman was passing by overheard and he laughed and we got into a conversation and first I noticed his accent and it was obvious that he was from my beloved Puerto Rico and we got into a conversation and I found out he was from Barrio Obrero and I was from La Calle Loiza and all of the sudden he tells me Wait! My wife used to teach in the Pedro Goyco elementary school in La Calle Loiza, and I said NO way! and he said yes and all of the sudden there she was Nydia Dalmau! I ask who she was and she told me and I cried and I was overcome with emotions. She was my favorite teacher! She remembered clearly who I was and recounted details about my Grandmother, My sister and me. I have not been able to stop thinking about this all day. I think of my Calle Loiza so often, I relieve so many memories on daily basis. I preside over the Facebook group that is fast approaching 1500 members of former residents and residents of La Calle Loiza that I can not fathom how much this means to me.
I know that this meeting has a purpose and I am sure that this story has more to it so I will keep you posted.
Charlie Billups 04/04/14
Ayer pase el dia viendo peliculas con mi hija Sarah. Vimos el Mago de Oz. Cuando la veia mi mente viajaba al Teatro Riviera en mi querida Calle Loiza. Creo que fue un Domingo por la tarde cuando la vi con mi Mama y mi hermana Diane Leslie Billups. Me acuerdo que cuando entre la duena nos vendio los boletos y tambien los dulces y eramos muy pocos en el teatro. Antes de que pusieran la pelicula dieron los cortos que eran cortos de los anos 50. Me acuerdo que era un nino y cuando salio la bruja verde estaba muy asustado. Desde ayer no e podido parar de pensar en esos recuerdos de mi ninez. Por eso ayer se lo mostre a otra generacion de los Billups epserando contarles y caminar un dia con ellos donde vi por primera vez al Mago de Oz. Carmen Alicia Morales debes hacer un cuento cangrejero sobre la viuda del Teatro Riviera siempre vestida de negro cuidando el legado de su esposo.