El orgullo de ser mocano: People of Moca, Puerto Rico — Ellen Fernandez-Sacco

El Museo de Don Pedro Mendez
January 7, 2009, 8:39 pm
Filed under: history, Los Enchaquetaos, Moca, museum, Puerto Rico | Tags: ,

Don Pedro, Sept 2006In 2006 I had the honor of visiting Don Pedro Mendez Valentin, one of the founders of Los Enchaquetaos in Moca. Don Pedro built a small building in back of his home, which after my first two visits, he took me on a tour of.

It was a small plywood building with a pitched roof, whose stairs led to an interior lined with shelves. On them were objects that he collected for many years– bottles of products bottled in Moca, that included various sodas, liquors and even seltzer water.

Besides bottles, there were paperweights, a barber’s kit, things that he understood had no value for those discarding them, but that had historic value as the material culture of Moca’s past. Times were changing, and he was fascinated by what was left in its wake.

Don Pedro selecting a bottleMoca actually had its own soda and seltzer plants, small businesses that older people remembered, but it was Don Pedro who saved the bottle. Labels identified what area of Puerto Rico the bottles were from.

It was not only bottles, but other things that spoke of the past– a carved wooden handle that ended in a long sharp point was actually used to test the curing of bales of tobacco. One poked it in and could tell by the smell of the residue whether a bale was ready or not. Underneath are some of the cast iron weights used in a scale.

The soda bottle is from La Puertorriquena, a plant established in Moca that lasted from 1925-1932. It seems the owner was one FC Benejam, whose name appears on top of the logo. The bottle originally had a plug with a metal wire that sealed it. According to Angel M. San Antonio’s Hojas Historica de Moca (2004, p.127), the company made cola, lemonade, raspberry, vanilla and cream of anise flavored sodas. Among the employees were Esteban Lorenzo Mendez (chemist), Cayo Mendez, Chilo Mendez, Antonio Hernandez Lebron, Pablo Gerena & Polo el de Trevo. Their sodas were popular across the district of Aguadilla. I’m not sure if the Mendez mentioned were related to Don Pedro or not.

Wooden tool for testing tobacco bales Soda water bottle from Moca

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18 Comments so far
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Ellen, el Blog está fenómeno. Creo que están haciendo patria ya que así la gente conoce mejor a P.r. y a Moca con todos sus encantos.
Te felicito a ti y los que te ayudan,
Haydée Reichard

Comment by haydee Reichard

I enjoyed reading your first article on your blog about Don Pedro Mendez Valentin.

Comment by Danny Nieves

Wonderful idea. These are the things that keep our history alive. People like Mr. Pedro Méndez that see the value in preserving artifacts and people like you that bring it to our attention.
Cariños, Evelyn

Comment by Evelyn M. Hutto

This is great Ellen! I just read this and it made me very happy to see Don Pedro Mendez who I and my family know personally. Don Pedro is a descendant of the Founding Father of Moca. I have this information and still have not had the opportunity to tell him. Hopfully I can give him this information next time I go to Puerto Rico.

Comment by Carlos Soto

I am always searching for new articles in the WWW about this subject. Thanks.

Comment by Looriason

This is such a wonderful article. Pedro Mendez is my grandfather and I almost cried when I saw this. Unfortunately, the collection does not exist anymore. I remember spending my summers at my grandparents house and always hanging out in the casita with grandpa and looking at all his collectibles. I visited in June 2010 and my grandpa is doing well and I’m hoping to get back there again soon. Thank you again for such a wonderful article.

Comment by Debbie Leon

Great article Ellen. Beautifully written! I also love the pictures.

Comment by blanca gordo

I was born in moca. And i remember when they used to have a t.v in the plaza and the people used to gather and watch some program. Ive seen the plaza transform.i remember going to the plza to buy biandas ina small wooden shack next to tbe precinct. Anyway beautifull article and nice pictures.thankyou.

Comment by Soto

nacio el 23 de mayo de 1917 fue un gran veterano amigo abuelo y bisabuelo.asistio a la guerra de vietnam de 1945 vivio siempre para ayudar a los demas aun sin conocerlos junto a su esposa julia hernandez quien siempre estuvo a su lado.fue uno de los fundadores de los enchaquetaos de moca siendo el mayor de ellos desafortunadamente murio el dia 2 de febrero de 2013 con la edad de 95 en su casa en moca .se le recuerda con amor

Comment by jasmine perez rivas

Gracias Jasmine por los detailes. Era muy orgulloso de fundar los Enchaquetaos, y estoy cierto que ellos hacen falta a muchas personas en Moca.

Comment by efsacco

Thank you so much for bringing Moca to the map in PR. My entire family is from there. I traveled there as a child but have very few memories since I was born and raised in the US. I do remember the candy store sandwiches but I remember the name as Mecos? My aunt was one of the famous Mundillo ladies, Enilda Romero she still lives one house away from the plaza. Please keep the blog going!
Mil gracias,,,

Comment by Anna

Anna, thanks so much for your comments. Perhaps you’re thinking of the Cafetin Monserrate, Meco is America Caban who’s husband was Macho Mendez. I did get to meet Enilda Romero, an amazing lace maker. you might want to check out my blog on mundillo. I hope to be posting again soon, gracias! Ellen

Comment by efsacco

Macho Mendez is Meco son, her husband was Justo. love the pictures and coments, I found my aunt Rosa Lopez (RIP) in one of the pictures in the Plaza. Love my town. Tata Nieves.

Comment by gladysnieves

Thanks so much Tata, I so appreciate your kind words! I was fortunate to have met Rosa (QEPD) and she had such a great smile. I’m sorry she is no longer with us.

Comment by efsacco

Don Pedro Mendez fue mi abuelo me crie con mis abuelos desde los 6 anos en moca ya que naci en chicago.pero me siento mocano y amo a. Este pueblo al cual le sirvo.

Comment by Elwin Rivas

Gracias Elwin por su comentario. Don Pedro era un tremendo ser humano, y queria mucho que la historia de Moca se preservaba, una historia por objectos usado diariamente. A ver si tengo alguno mas fotos para subirlos.

Comment by efsacco

I just love this page, photos, it made me teary eye. I am related to Rosa Lopez, my mother Minerva was her cousin, Rosa was one of a Kind, R.I.P. So many memories from buying my Sandwich and soda…(jamon y queso plancho) y refresco de uva. en el cafetin de Justo y Meco…I was born and raised in Brooklyn N.Y. raised by my grandma, Felicita Cardona (Feli.) we often visited Moca, to see our family. God bless you all Mocanos.. Maria Figueroa (Soto). Hija de Teodoro Soto (Coco) y Minerva Feliciano (Mina).

Comment by Maria Figueroa

[…] that decades later became part of the dress of Los Enchaquetaos, a fraternal group founded by Pedro Mendez Valentin. Here the stiff hat functions much like the formal top hats used by funeral […]

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