Continued from: “The Early Years – Part Five: A Lifetime of Lessons – Calasanz Extended Biography”
I arrived in Bridgeport on June 15, 1979. My first introduction to this country was not a pleasant one. While I had studied English in the Dominican Republic, I had a lot of trouble understanding the language. I met this guy who seemed trustworthy at first and helped me translate and showed me around. Unfortunately, I became very trusting of him and he stole $2,500 from me. This was of no surprise to my family. The one character flaw I had to work on was being too trusting of people. I had been taken advantage of many times in my native country because of my trusting nature and it was starting to happen here. After this experience, I worked very hard at perfecting my language skills and depending less on others for help.
I had no desire to get into tournaments when I came to the United States, even though they were very popular and great emphasis was placed in participating in them. I did like sparring with well-known instructors and their best competitors. I went to take classes at this one school were three huge guys were teaching karate. I started training with them and they asked me to help teach. Later I thought about how crazy I was for going to their school in the first place and risking getting beat up!! The next day I scheduled a fight with a martial artist who had a very good reputation. We were supposed to fight in one of the basements at the University of Bridgeport, but my opponent refused to fight me. His excuse was that he forgot his uniform. I won the fight without fighting, just on the reputation I was starting to build in the area.
The first thing I did when I came to the Norwalk area was to find a job. I went to Victoria Station in Darien. Victoria Station was a steak house designed like a train station, which even included a few authentic train cars. I wanted a job as a waiter, but none was available. They did however need a busboy and dishwasher, so I was hired for those positions. The first day I started work, I had to do the work of three people who all called out. I worked so hard and so fast that the Mike, the general manager, asked me if I knew how to write English. I said yes. Within eight months I was promoted to waiter and eventually to bartender.
I worked very hard because I had to fund my martial arts training. It was the money that I earned at Victoria Station that made this possible. I bought my first car in 1982. I remember taking a ride through Darien. The police stopped me and I asked them what I did wrong. I told them that I worked at Victoria Station and they let me go. Eventually, these police officers would come to know me as the crazy guy who jogged on the Post Road wearing a t-shirt in below zero temperatures or jogging barefoot wearing leg weights in the summer. To this day, many of my older students, including law enforcement officers, remember my jogs through lower Fairfield County.
To be continued…
Calasanz Martial Arts and Fitness
507 Westport Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851