Ana Soler

Ana Soler was born in Puerto Rico in 1943. She grew up without a toilet or refrigerator, and by the time she was six she was cooking for the family while her mother worked in a cigar factory. Her father was in the Army. She migrated to El Barrio in 1953. She remembers midnight Christmas parandas and a close neighborhood culture. Her father was paralyzed in a factory accident when she was a teenager, and she dropped out of school to care for him. She moved to Mott Haven, 139th Street and Cypress Avenue, in 1965, right after she got married (after an extended courtship) to a musician she met at a dance. They had three children and moved to Millbrook Houses. Against her husband’s wishes, she went to work at a dry cleaners at 145th Street and Willis Avenue, where she worked for 27 years, until the repeated robberies got to be too much for her. She was involved with local youth baseball and the Catholic church, mainly St. Pius, until it closed. She now lives in Mitchel Houses and attends St. Jerome’s. At age 76, she still cares for foster children, and visits housebound sick and elderly people in her spare time. She loves eating in restaurants and going to the casino with her best friend (also named Ana) and she loves New York City, especially in the winter.