Marcelo Jiménez, or “Chelo,” is one of the younger sons of Cristina (Tino) and Gregorio Jiménez. Mr.
Jiménez grew up in San Salvador, Caguas, Puerto Rico and did work in that mountain barrio like the
others, laboring on different farms or helping to construct neighbors’ homes, and migrating back and
forth to the United States to work in fields, factories, and hotels. Mr. Jiménez also worked in a foundry
on Armitage Avenue by the Chicago River branch in Lincoln Park for many years. Back in Puerto Rico he
continued to help his father plow or turn the soil on the farm, using two bulls and a small plow. He also
hung tobacco to dry in the tall rancho that they made from the bamboo that grew next to the creek. The
creek served as the boundary of the farm in the 1940s through the 1980s when some of the plots were
sold by some of the family. Mr. Jiménez would load the produce in his truck, or a cow when money was
needed, and head to La Plaza Mercado in Caguas, near La Salida, or exit, to Aguas Buenas. When José
“Cha-Cha” Jiménez lived in Puerto Rico in 1963-64, he became Mr. Jiménez’s assistant in his cow feed
distribution business. Each morning they would fill up Mr. Jiménez truck with 100 lbs. bags of cow feed.
They would then drink their coffee with cow’s milk from the can, a few soda crackers and butter and
Tino and Don Goyo would wave them on. The two of them would leave in darkness and travel to nearly
every town on the Island, delivering and selling the bags of feed, and would not return until late. When
business was slow Mr. Jiménez and Cha-Cha would hang out with the Titeres de La Plaza, or the
Huckleberry Finns clique, of San Salvador, sometimes even barefoot. The youth clique is centuries old.
No one is excluded. It is like a life passage that exists today in a varied fashion. There was rarely any
harm done. Everyone knew them, and then there was no police to bother them. But back In Chicago Mr.
Jiménez would sometimes hang out with his cousins of the Hacha Viejas. Most of the time they did the
same thing but in a rougher manner. In Chicago the neighborhood was unstable and transient. There
was prejudice and hunger (poverty). The culture in Chicago was “everyone for themselves,” as Mr.
Jiménez recalls. And then there was police intimidation and many times unnecessary arrests that served
to served as bragging points and hardened the group. For Mr. Jiménez, he was lucky to join with other
groups for support, like the Caballeros de San Juan. And most of the time he just worked long hours and
enjoyed his children and family. His relatives were also part of the Caballeros and Damas de María. He
became one of the first immigrants to Chicago during what some called the Great Migration of Puerto
Ricans, between 1950 and 1960. This was the era when Puerto Ricans were going back and forth from
Puerto Rico to Chicago. Mr. Jiménez built a mansion in San Salvador and today lives content in the town
Jiménez, José, 1948-
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