This is Francisco
Walking home from Verdi Park, I saw a very dapper gentleman having an animated conversation with two construction workers eating lunch outside the food store, Gracefully. I decided to inject myself into the conversation by telling this wonderfully dressed gentleman how much I loved his shoes. He smiled and looked at me, and said, "I am old-fashioned, do you remember 1933?
Francisco is an eighty-nine-year-old Sephardic Jew, born and raised in the Dominican Republic. He spoke with a heavy Spanish accent, so I was more than just a little surprised to find out that he is Sephardic. He then pushed up his shirt sleeve and proudly showed me the Jewish star he always wears. I told him that I, too, am Sephardic. His face lit up with surprise, and shook my hand. His ancestors are from Salonica.
When he was 17 years old, Francisco left the Dominican Republic alone to live in New York City. He moved in with two friends in the Bronx and has lived in the Bronx ever since. He loves the Bronx, has many friends, and would never consider living elsewhere. Francisco married in the Bronx, and they had 2 daughters. His wife died in 2007. He threw up his hands when asked how often he sees his daughters. They both moved out of New York. He speaks with them frequently but rarely gets to see them. He has no grandchildren but wishes he did.
Francisco found work through a friend, became a linotype worker, and maintained that job in the same place until he retired at the age of 72. He is proud that rarely missed a day of work. He retired with a good pension from the International Typographical Union. He believes New York City is the best place to live in retirement. He is able to afford the rent for his one-bedroom apartment.
Francisco lives close to Yankee stadium and will attend an occasional ball game. The high price of tickets makes it impossible to go to more than one or two games a season which saddens him.
Francisco is a man of great pride and said he loves getting dressed in a suit, tie, and hat daily. He will only go out looking his best. "I guess I am just old-fashioned."
Francisco likes traveling in Manhattan and seeing all the city's sites. Coming to the Upper West Side to the medical clinic to treat an ulcer on his foot becomes more of a joy than a dread. It's another chance to see and talk to strangers on the streets. He loves when people he doesn't know come up and talk to him about how dapper he looks.
Asked about what he dislikes about the city, Francisco said it is too expensive, and he doesn't like the gentrification.
Francisco is getting old, but he will never be out of style.