Alfredo de Jesus
In 1950, I was working on a farm in Puerto Rico where I met a lovely young woman who became my wife and the mother of my children. We moved to Boston in 1951 in search of a better life. It’s hard when you move to a place where you don’t know anyone.
In the South End, I met Mel King, who was a social worker, and he let us use the basement of a local community center to start the first Puerto Rican baseball league called the “Borinquen Stars.” We played with leagues from other towns and we were good! We played hard ball and got known for that. Then people began to notice there was a large number of Puerto Ricans in Boston.
Back then there was a Greek gang, an Irish gang, an Italian gang and a Puerto Rican group. When we walked through Blackstone Park, we had to carry knives because otherwise we would get attacked. We would get beat up and the police wouldn’t do anything.
Chico Muñoz and I went to the Puerto Rican festival in New York. We talked with Bobby Capo (a Puerto Rican musician) and from there the Boston Puerto Rican Festival was born. El Gallito de Manati was the first artist to perform in the Puerto Rican Festival in Boston.
Ever since I was a child in Puerto Rico, I loved listening to the radio. When I was in high school, my friend and I would report on the baseball games. I loved following sports. When I moved to Boston, I was interested in becoming a radio broadcaster and found out about a school called Cambridge Broadcasting. I ended up paying $2,100 for the classes and graduated with a solid understanding of radio & tv production.
I then went to work on a radio show in Medford with a friend of mine. The listeners liked my voice and asked for me a lot but my friend didn’t like that so he fired me. So I went to Lynn where I paid $60 an hour to rent time on the radio for a show I called, “Ritmos Latinos.”
Since I was spending a lot of money on records, I decided to buy a record store for $1,000 that I named Casa Noel. The store was full of merchandise and one or two good souls would come by each day and I worried about how I would pay my bills and support my family. I have always been a man of faith and I prayed. Then one day when I arrived at the store, I saw a long line of people outside and thought something horrible had happened. That day we made $800. People had come to buy music and Corin Tellado novels.
When Radio Mundo Hispano opened its doors at the Bradford Hotel, there were four of us: Tony Molina, Bobby Serrano, Hector Rivera and me. We conducted interviews and liked to help Puerto Ricans because we suffered from so much discrimination and still do.
Since we bought Latino food products in New York City, that’s where we connected with the Goya company and they bought our first radio ad.
I became a man and a father in Boston. I found opportunities – and challenges – in this city.
My life story is an example for the younger generations that you don’t need to be a millionaire or have lots of diplomas in order to be successful. Work hard and in earnest, and do good. Read the Bible for five minutes a day and it will help you.