|Barbara Alonso Novellino
Joined: 22 Oct 2003
Location: Long Island, New York
|Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2003 4:38 pm Post subject: Early History Julius Garcia Alonso
|For those of you who might be interested in the Early Days of Julius Garcia Alonso...Born in Asturias September 8, 1905...Member of the Soccer Hall of Fame...
I will be very happy to give you our family history as much as I know. Many years ago my Dad started to write an autobiography about his life in West Virginia and how he his parents and his brothers and sisters arrived here from Luanco, but unfortunately he never finished it it goes to about the 1920's. My Dad was born in 1905 to Jose and Dionisia Garcia. His siblings were, Marcellino, Jose, Hyneo, Luz, Tomasa, Julio (my father) and Raymond. I think there was another boy who died in West Virginia when he was very young.
This story deals mostly with my Dad and his friends and how he survived in the early days. Not only did his mother have these children but she also took in boarders which was supposed to be something Spaniards did. In looking this story over I'll select the parts that I think would be of interest to you and that tells some of our history.
"I arrived in New York with my mother and two brothers, Joe and Hyneo, on June 8, 1906. (I guess that his father came before with the other children) I was a baby of 9 months. Not until the Monongahela Traction Co. decided to build a streetcar line from Clarksburg, West Virginia to Bridgeport, W. Va., through Grasselli, now Anmoore, W. Va., had I thought of being in the USA. That is far back as I am able to remember. What stands out in my mind very clearly at that time was the leveling of the trackbed by at least 100 mules with twice that many men. The town of Grasselli was named after a Mr. Grasselli, the founder of the Grasselli Chemical Co. They had a very large Zinc Works operated by Spaniards. My father, who had followed the Zinc game in Spain, helped build the plant and later worked as a foreman on the furnaces. About 95% of the workers in the plant were Spanish. I have seen the town of Grasselli transformed from a small farm town to a town whose being was like a town in Asturias (thats where our family are from) At one time, if a stranger got off the streetcar and asked for directions to Wolfe's store, he would be in a fix if he did not speak Spanish." (The Spaniards came from Spain to work these Zinc Works which are called Smelters. Later on, I don't know exactly when but they opened one up in Moundsville and thats where your Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Tomasa went to settle. In those days they built a number of homes for the workers to live in and charged them very little.
"At home we were five brothers. When I grew up, this provided very little attention for me. Particularly since my mother practiced an Asturian custom and we had two uncles board with us. This made me wander away from home."
"The zinc works had plenty of men. At one time they had men come to work for weeks at a time to train without any compensation, you see, those who had come directly from Spain to the plant. Their passage was paid for by a relative, and not knowing the language meant that moving elsewhere was out of the question for them. When war demanded more zinc, the company built a plant in Zeisling, W. Va. and another in Terre Haut, Indiana. Most of the men were taken from Grasselli to operate these plants. All but three foreman were Spanish. The non-Spaniards that worked on the furnaces had to learn Spanish to get along as that was the official language of the furnace men. My father always wanted his kin to work with him and with them he was most exacting. They had to do more and better work than the other men as the old man wanted the world to know that he played no favorites. One day, my brother-in-law wanted to transfer to day work. The old man got so made he threw his lunch pail at the furnace. After that my brother-in-law stayed.
I started as a tubero boy when I was 12 years old. The schools at that time were not very strict about these things. I started with my father. This meant that I was helped by the rest of the furance men. Of course all the boys were helped by the men of their furnace. In the zinc game, when a man was played out, usually in the summer months, his work was done by the other members of the furnace gagn. The work was on open furnaces. If you were not able to perspire freely and quickly you had to leave work as you could not stand the heat. On the furnaces we had right and left chargers depending on what side they worked. The left chargers had their left cheek red from being in front of the heat. It was so that when you were looked over for a job they could tell by your face what side of the furnaces you worked.
In the early days of Grasselli, everyone went to town, at least on pay day, many to deposit money in the banks or to send money home to Spain. No matter when they went or what for, they stopped at Frank Duffy;s Saloon. Duffy was a power in Clarksburg politics. One day, in a search the police found a revolver on my uncle. This was considered an offense no one could get away from without a prison sentence. As my uncle was a great friend of Duffy's so he was let go with a light fine. In Duffy's is where my sister had her wedding reception. The men had many good drinks and I had all the soda pop I could drink. At my sister Lucy's wedding we had a regular Picnic in Grasselli. That was the time it was considered a big thing for fundidores to do things in a big way and to hell with the costs. But when my sister Tomasa got married, the old man had visions of a farm in Spain for which he was saving money, so Tomasa had her reception at Duffy's saloon."
My father ended these pages with the following comment:
"For many years I have wanted to record the history of the Asturianos in the United States. They are a people that came from the Province of Asturias in Spain and settled mostly in those states having zinc smelter plants. They came here in the early part of the 20th century. Pedro Menendez, the founder of St. Augustine Floirida came from Aviles a seaport of Asturias 60 years before the Mayflowere landed at Plymouth Rock. My father came from Lunaco, another small seaport, not many miles from Aviles. I had many happy days there going to the Instituto del Santisimo Socorro, from 1919 to 1921."
Sometime before that my Grandparents went back to Spain and bought that farm that they thought about while in the USA and they never returned. The only son that stayed in Spain was Raymond who was slightly retarded and he stayed on the farm with them until they died and then years later he did. My parents lived until they were well up in their 90's. My Dad was able to visit them in 1949 and then again in 1972 for the last time. The house is still there and is tended by some relatives (I think) whos family or whoever took care of Grandmother and Grandfather and then Raymond until they died.
It is my understanding and my memory that the name Figales was given to us because there was a fig tree on my Grandfathers farm and that is how we got that name. Our family was known for their hot temper and that was always attributed to the Figales temper.
As my father explains it...he didn't want a future in the Smelter so sometime in the later 1920 he went to Bliss Electrical School in Tacoma Park, Washington DC and got a degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation he was offered a job with Consolidated Edison Co. of New York and moved there. My mother lived on the farm in Moundsville a block away from Tomasa and Jose...My Mom was best friends with Pilar...Tomasa was looking for a match for her brother Hyneo and the time, but my mother had no interest in him and commented that the brother from New York seemed like a nice guy. Well my Mom and Dad had a very short courtship and married in 1934 and moved to Brooklyn New York where they lived until my Dad died in 1988.
I forgot. All his brothers last name was Garcia...my father took the old Spanish custom and used his mother's maiden name Alonso...he was knows as Julio Garcia Alonso
WORLD WAR II
My Dad still was working for Consolidated Edison Company, in fact he retired from there after 42 years. During the war he was asked to go to work for The Aluminum Company of America as a wartime worker on leave from Con Edison which he did for about 18 months. Then he was approached to go to Oak Ridge Tennesse and work on the Manhattan Project. He was in charge of all the electricity in the plant and worked there for 18 months. Of course, no one, not even he, knew what he was working on and as it turned out it was the Atomic Bomb. After the end of the war he returned home and to Con Edison. He had a really important job there and he received a citation from the Secretary of War. After the war they wanted him to stay there and they would send for us, but he refused. My Dad always was in love with New York...
Now comes an important part of his life. He loved his family but boy did he love the game of Soccer. As a young boy in Grasselli he would play Soccer with his friends...they didn't have much of a soccer ball but thats when it must have gotten it in his blood. As the years went by he, as he always said, realized that he wasn't much of a player so he turned to referreing. He loved doing this and of course he made a few dollars to help...he was newly married and I was born. During this time he came in contact with the owner of the Brooklyn Hispano a team that was in the American Soccer League. It wasn't long before he was doing work for them and became an officer in the team, and then in the American Soccer League. I don't know the time this all took but it seemed like he was always in the American Soccer League and the Hispano. He was so very well respected for his knowledge of Soccer and its rules and regulations that he earned the name Mr. American Soccer League. In the 1950's the League decided to bring teams over from England and Scotland to try and make some money. They needed someone to tour with them as a Road Manager and my Dad was the one. For many years every year he would tour the country with the team that came over for 2 weeks. I remember Manchester United and the Celtics. He really enjoyed this he was seeing the country and watching his passion Soccer. His dream was always for the World Cup to be played in the USA. In fact, in 1988 6 months before he died he was interviewed in Oneonta (where the Soccer Hall of Fame is) and he stated his desire for the Cup to come here. And it did I think in 1992 and he didn't get to see his dream come true.
He always hoped that Soccer would become a big sport here but it never happened in his time. During the years he and some of his friends thought about a Soccer Hall of Fame and he worked very hard to establish it and it was in Oneonta New York. He was inducted in it in Alaska, I don't remember the year but it was some time ago. Also, during his Soccer years they would have a convention yearly in a different state and he and my mother attended all of them for years. He was a sought after expert in Soccer and loved every minute of it.
My Dad was a wonderful man as anyone who knew him would tell you. He was gentle, soft spoken who loved the New York Times, Classical Music and the news. He never went to College but he was smarter than most who had degrees. You could always go to him with a problem and he would never judge and would always give the best advice. He could talk to anyone about anything and when you talked to him he gave you his attention 110%. I wish you could have known him. He was a man who loved his family and of course his soccer. He watched the games on TV until practically the day he died. He died in 1988 after a brief illness and its still hard to think about. When he was alive he would always say that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes thrown over Times Square...but of course we didn't do that. He is buried out here near me. I live 65 miles from where they lived I live on Long Island.