The sinking of the SS Ocean Eagle in San Juan, Puerto Rico –

I remember as a kid in 1968 that a ship had sunk at the entrance of San Juan Bay. I have tried for many days to make memories of this event. I was 7 years old so I have a vague recollection of what it look liked. I did some research and I felt a torrent of memories coming to me.

I don’t know were I saw it from, I think it was from the Puerta de San Juan gate looking towards the entrance of the bay. I remember that I was looking from afar and I could see the bow straight up.

For the time from what I have read over 3,000,000 gallons of crude oil from Venezuela spilled into the bay, this was not as much as the Exxon Valdez but it was a major oil spill nevertheless.

My grandmother took me to see this, she was always interested in the latest news and I am sure that this was such.

Here is a report on the investigation which I find as fascinating reading.

Coast Guard report on sinking of SS Ocean Eagle

Charlie Billups Classic Images – Old San Juan Cemetery

Jose De Diego, Daniel Santos, Don Luis A. Ferre, Pedro Albizu Campos, Tite Curet Alonzo, Rafael Hernandez, Sylvia Rexach,  Muna Lee, Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia, Ismael Rivera, Sylvia Rexach and many more including my great grandfather Andres Fernandez even the inventor of Kola Champagne is buried there. I think it is an idillic setting maybe I can be buried there!

41 Years Later – A meeting with my 6th grade elementary school teacher in Chicago at TJ Maxx far from Puerto Rico

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

The oldest image that I have in my library that I took – 126 Film Instamatic Camera

Top-55I took this image in front of my parents home in Laguna Gardens, Carolina Puerto Rico.  I cannot pinpoint the date that I took this but it has to be around 1975. It was not taken with my Yashica Mat because it was not a square 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 image as the YM will have produced.

The image is of the San Jose Lagoon on the Carolina side near the airport.

I have to say we have come a long way and now there is a big bridge that crosses the lagoon over.

San Juan Puerto Rico – Icono de la Calle Loiza cierra sus puertas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespues de 65 anos el negocio mas antiguo de la Calle Loiza cierra sus puertas El San Jose 5 y 10. Me siento que en el ultimo ano muchas cosas han pasado la muerte de mi madre y otros familiares. Pero hoy simplemente celebro lo que fue un sitio al cual todos los que vivimos en el vecindario le tuvimos gran afinidad. Era el sitio donde ivamos mi hermana y yo a comprar regalos de emergencia para el dia de las madres y las navidades para regalar a nuestra madre y a nuestra abuela. Mi abuela siempre me mandaba al 5 Y 10 para comprar platos, vasos, cosas para la escuela, fotocopias y otras cosas. Mi abuela me decia que siempre preguntara por Millita amiga personal de ella y la matriarca del la familia. La ultima vez que pase por alli  lo que me toco fue que estaba su nieta atendiendo el negocio. Ese negocio proveyo y trajo sustento a muchas familias.  Fue un placer haber sido parte de su historia! Saludos a Millita!

Puerto Rico – Secret Places – Jardin Botanico de Puerto Rico

jardin_botanico1Puerto Rico has many many wonders, beautiful beaches, quiet sleepy towns in the mountains and also a world class botanical garden that on most days is an oasis of solitude in the middle of the bustling metropolis of San Juan. The images are old so they reflect camera equipment from 7 years ago, nevertheless the beauty is reflected in the images. I can not wait to go back and once again a explore a truly urban oasis.

View the flickr gallery @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/titoytitabillups/sets/72157600648759062/

Visit the Botanical Garden Page (Spanish)  http://www.upr.edu/?type=page&id=servicios_jardin_botanico&ancla=jardin_botanico&r_type=items&r_id=8