Norma I García Pettit

Norma I. García Pettit was born in San Francisco, California to Puerto Rican parents. A retired middle-school Spanish teacher with four grown children, she now resides in El Dorado County, California with her husband. With many close family ties, the couple regularly spends extended time in Puerto Rico, where they own a second home.

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Mal de Ojo (Evil Eye) and Other Superstitions

by Norma I García Pettit
     Superstitions can be found in every culture around the world, and Puerto Rico is no exception. Evil Eye is one such belief. Essentially, it attributes the ability to harm others or cause illness or death simply by a stare.
     My introduction to this belief came with a conversation that I had with an elderly family member some fifty years ago. She was telling me about her little daughter that had died as a tot. She had been a beautiful child with abundant curly hair, but she got sick and died quite suddenly. When I asked about the cause of death, the woman firmly declared that her daughter had received the evil eye from a jealous neighbor woman.

Café con Leche

Café con Leche
by Norma I García Pettit
For me, having been born and raised in San Francisco, California, I can’t say that I was used to having a three o’clock cup of coffee, but from ages 18 to 29 I lived in Puerto Rico and quickly acquired the custom.  My family knows that I like to have my coffee with enough milk in it to make it the color of a brown paper bag. My sister and my brother used to tease me about this until one time when the three of us were on a trip to Puerto Rico together. We ordered cups of café con leche and the waitress brought us three cups of the hot beverage…all of them the color of paper bags!  I had the last laugh on that one.

What Are the Odds of This Happening?

by Norma I García Pettit

When a casual conversation leads to discovering a distant relative…

                We rent out our Puerto Rico home as a short term vacation rental. Recently, a couple rented it for an entire month. The day before they left, the lady casually mentioned that they had visited Adjuntas because their daughter’s neighbor was from that town. That prompted me to tell her that my mother was born in Adjuntas and that I had written a book based on my great-grandmother’s family. I was curious as to what part of Adjuntas her daughter’s neighbor was from. She inquired and reported back to me that Joana’s family was from Juan González, the same as my ancestors!

If You Thought Ironing Is a Chore Now...

If You Thought Ironing Is a Chore Now...
by Norma I García Pettit
        Imagine having to heat up an iron like the one pictured below on a wood or coal burning stove to do the ironing. As the iron cooled, it had to be set back on the stove to get hot again. This made the task take ever so much longer. Clothes were sprinkled with water to create a steaming effect when the hot iron came in contact with the damp article of clothing since steam irons did not exist.

What Life Was Like

What Life Was Like
by Norma I García Pettit

 

                It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Puerto Ricans living in the late 1800s were for the most part poor and faced hard times, at least by today’s standards. Houses in the mountainous regions of the island were simple wooden structures usually built on piers and with corrugated metal roofs and no indoor plumbing. As described in chapter one of Luisa, the interior walls did not go all the way up to the rafters and curtains hung in the doorways of bedrooms instead of doors. Some homes had their kitchens outdoors in a lean-to, and stoves were wood burning or coal burning. If the kitchen was inside the house, the sink was generally suspended from the kitchen window. Water for consumption, cooking, doing dishes, and bathing had to be hauled in containers from creeks and springs.