Memories of the Past and Present
My name is Carmen Rodriguez and I was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico in 1943. I’ve been married for 57 years and I have three adult children. I first came to N.Y.C in 1952 to live with my uncle and aunt. I attended elementary school for a few years and began learning english. In 1954, I went back to Puerto Rico to live with my parents again. I always loved New York and in 1959 my dreams came true. I was fifteen and I had to decide whether I wanted to go to school or work and help my mother, brother and sister. I decided to work. During this time, I made it my business to learn how to read and write english. I got married in 1963 and raised my family. I received my high school equivalency diploma and worked from 1984 to 2005 for the Board of Education as a school guide. Later, I retired and joined Castle Hill Senior Center.
Volunteer work and arts and crafts are some of my passions. All these years I’ve taken classes in sewing, ceramics, painting, drama and now photography. When the Bronx Senior Photo League came to our senior center I had the opportunity to participate. I am thankful to our director and community leaders who helped with the funds. My experience during the COVID-19 pandemic is that even when I was indoors I could do my arts and crafts and photograph them. Keeping busy was very important to me during this time. Composing and looking for little details when you photograph, is very important when you want to tell a story. Spring was a wonderful time to photograph the trees and flowers in bloom. The quiet and the absence of people was very scary when we were outside.
My brother in law, who was a victim of COVID-19, is a part of our family we will never forget. He was a family man and was married to his wife for over 65 years. A responsible loving father, grandfather and brother. My husband was traumatized by his unexpected death. He was his older brother and he looked up to him. The hardest part was not being able to have a traditional funeral with all of the family together.