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Guest correspondent Caz Dolowicz remembers, sorta: It goddamn kills me to get calls like this: they took Rafael Tufiño. Who? The kid from Bridge Street– there aren’t too many of us old-timers left. He was an artist, I went to work for the IND after the war. Now we’re both here again– Rafael! Willie Sutton was from the neighborhood too: High Street. I grew up on Sands Street & went to P.S. 1 at Navy & Concord, just like Willie did. He was a little older than us & not yet the Willie Sutton: who could be? Not Stuart Levites of the Times– I never heard of the guy– who did their Rafael obituary, nor Carlos Rodriguez Martorell, glancing deathwards for the Daily News. Almost all the old neighborhood is gone now: it was our home, Robert Moses, not a “slum,” you craven piece of shit. Moses is in hell now, & most of the old folks, they just disappeared: no Irish, no Germans, no Japanese, not even that many Puerto Ricans outside of Farragut Houses these days, & tonight there’s one less amigo to drink with.

Rafael Tufiño, a child of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1922 to Puerto Rican parents. At the turn of the century, large numbers of Puerto Ricans began relocating from the Island to the United States in search of jobs. Tufiño’s parents had come from Puerto Rico during that early migration; his mother was a tobacco worker and his father a merchant marine. He was born on Bridge Street, Brooklyn, beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, in a neighborhood that has since been dubbed Dumbo. Tufiño first visited his parents’ homeland at age four. From 1927 to 1932 he traveled between Puerto Rico and New York, attending schools in both locations.

So says Puerto Rico & The American Dream, to whom I’m indebted for letting me catch up with Rafael a few years back. One thing, however: Bridge Street does not– & did not– ever cross under the Br1916’s OKooklyn Bridge. It used to run from Fulton to John but that got busted up with East River Bridge #3– it was really called that while under construction– & the Flatbush Avenue Extension; Flatbush, many will recall, used to end at Atlantic. Anyway, this is not to lessen the achievement of Rafael, nor my love for the Puerto Rican people (my first and third wives were from P.R.), but, for the sake of future Brooklyn art historians, I might add that, technically speaking, Bridge St does not– & did not– run “under” the Manhattan Bridge either. As for this goddamn “Dumbo” jive…

Caz Dolowicz was born on Sands Street in 1923. A retired New York City Transit Authority Tower Operator, he lives with his wife & two cats in Bay Ridge.

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