I wrote a book, They Were Legal: Balzac y Lopez, the History of an Hispanic Family, New York 1901-1960, in honor of my Puerto Rican grandfather, who came to New York at the age of 19 with $30 in his pocket, three years after the Annexation. He worked as a compositor and translator and married Birdie Lopez, an Hispanic Jamaican refugee from the Great Kingston Earthquake of 1907.
Together they lived the American dream, raised 6 children and thrived — despite the Triangle Factory Fire that killed Birdie’s sister, Daisy Lopez, despite deaths attributable to WWI and the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918-19, despite the privations of the Great Depression and the horrors of WWII that destroyed, semper fi, one of their sons.
My grandfather was religious without being a communicant of any church. His religion proclaimed the unfathomable beauty of creation and the dignity of man as its creed. The True, the Good and the Beautiful were his Trinity. He taught his children that to live in accord with these principles was the Summum Bonum, the highest virtue.
His name was Pepin Balzac, and his middle name was Love.