Interview with Ismael García



Interview with Ismael García


Janine Carambot Santoro


Ismael García



Location of interview

Residence of Ismael García


Ismael was born on November 23, 1928 and was one of seven brothers and sisters and was raised primarily by his hard-working father in Puerto Rico after his mother passed away shortly after giving birth to Ismael and his younger sister. He describes going to school until the 5th grade and working for a widow at 13 years old. At 22 years old, he moved to New Jersey to work on a farm with four friends for six months and then returned to Puerto Rico, but then came to live in Allentown with a friend and cousin in 1952 (about 2 years later). Ismael recounts his time learning English through television and reading the Morning Call. He moved to Bethlehem in 1953, and worked for Bethlehem Steel with those who identified as “Mexican, Spanish, Colored, Portuguese, and American.” He discussed the difficulty of working three shifts, his role as a shop steward, and his role as a representative for the union.

Ismael discusses the last strike in 1959 around health benefits and vacation time, and his trip to Washington, DC to visit OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) in order to tell them about the working conditions at Bethlehem Steel. Ismael co-founded the Puerto Rico Beneficial Society in 1952 and the Hispanic Center, which at the time was known as the Council for Spanish Speaking Organizations. Ismael addresses a perceived hierarchy in the Latino community, discrimination, and his journey to become a foreman for Coke Works. He discusses creating two Puerto Rican Class A baseball leagues: a church league and tri-county league. Ismael ends the interview by discussing his 31-year retirement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the future.

Spatial coverage: Puerto Rico, San Juan, Woodbury, New Jersey, farms, hotel, Coke Works, Bethlehem Steel, Allentown, Bethlehem, Washington, DC, 4th Street, Hispanic Center, Northampton Community College (NCC), Easton, South Bethlehem, Moravian College.


CC BY-NC 4.0

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