I was 19 when Hitler arrived in my hometown of Vienna. Harassment of Jews began immediately, so my parents and I made arrangements to emigrate to Palestine. It was easier for students to leave the country, so my parents sent me on ahead.
In 1946, my grandfather and his six brothers started an industrial landscaping company in Jamaica, Queens. In their first 20 years, the company expanded and became the first and largest black owned construction company in New York. Today, L.B.
I’m going to be an engineer when I grow up, so I practice building things everyday in my afterschool program. When my friends need something made out of paper, they come to me because I’m creative and so fast.
When I came to New York, I had $60 in my pocket and three suitcases to my name. I slept on the toilet at Port Authority with my feet up so no one would see me. After a few weeks, I found a job as a factory seamstress in Brooklyn.
I’ve been creating art ever since I was a child. I spent years under my mother’s piano sketching my father and reading music books. Growing up in my country, art wasn’t considered a necessity, so when it came time for college, my mother pushed me to become a doctor.
When I first started cutting hair, I was averaging about 80 customers a day from my house in Woodside. Back then I was a household name. Everyone was talking about the Filipino kid that opened up a shop at his mom’s basement.
As an architect, I used to design projects in my country, Dominican Republic. I never considered moving to the United States, but one day, I was robbed at gunpoint in my house. Nothing was the same after that. This, and other details, led me to travel all over the US.