|Fredy Babilonia Rodriguez, early 1950s. Photo: E. Fernandez-Sacco|
|Location of Santa Isabel, P.R. Image: Wikimedia|
He began life in Moca, Puerto Rico, on November 23, 1933, the son of Alicides Babilonia Lopez and Felicita Rodriguez Vale. They died, first Felicita and then Alcides, and the family was split up to be cared for by relatives. As soon as they came of age or near it, each sibling left the small town to make a life for themselves between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Perhaps it was the string of deaths begun by his brothers, each named William, dying, one as infant and the other as toddler, followed by his mother and then his father, that kept him moving. He married and had partners, and left a legacy of several children in the city, my wonderful cousins. They too would have liked to know Fredy better.
He loved baseball, and played locally in a team both in Puerto Rico and in New York. He told me about an incident in New York in 1952, where he boarded a bus and the driver had a heart attack along the route. He rushed up to the front, took control of the vehicle and was able to drive the bus and its passengers to safety. It was a newsworthy moment that brought him some coverage in the local press and a degree of pride that he responded so quickly.
|Fredy Babilonia Rodriguez, 2006. Photo: E. Fernandez-Sacco|