Estrellita Salinas*, a popular singer from Puerto Rico, is my Grandmother. In the late 1950’s she earned a Gold Record as a Latin recording artist. In the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, she sang at a very popular restaurant in Manhattan named La Sambra. This restaurant, known for its Spanish dish called Paella was located next door to the world famous night club Copa Cabana. The owner of La Sambra was a gentleman by the name of Ramon Zabala. Ramon acted as agent/manager for my grandmother. My grandmother had two children at the time. Her oldest child was a boy she named Francisco (Frank) and her second child was a girl named Evelyn.
Pursuing a singing career requires frequent traveling. Estrellita spent a good deal of time on the road. When she was gone, her son Frank went to live with her ex-husband Francisco Flores in Long Island, New York. Her daughter Evelyn lived at the apartment Estrellita kept in New York City. Evelyn’s close friend was Ilda (Hilda) Medina. Hilda would come and stay with Evelyn while Estrellita was traveling. Ramon would come by nightly after he closed the restaurant and check on the girls to make sure all was well. He soon became a father figure to both of the girls.
Francisco Flores (Frank), Evelyn’s brother, met Hilda in school when they were in the 7th grade. Hilda and Frank started dating in their mid-teens. Eventually, Hilda and Frank got married in January of 1962. They had their first child, a son, just before Christmas of that year. Like his father, his first name was to be Frank. His middle name was to be Raymond after her father figure Ramon Zabala.
Ramon Zabala passed away shortly after the birth of Hilda and Frank’s first child, Frank Raymond Flores.
I am Frank Raymond Flores. Throughout my childhood, my father, Frank Flores worked in the apparel industry. As a teenager, my father gave me part-time summer jobs counting inventory in department stores. In 1984, my dad moved our family to Los Angeles as a result of a large career promotion. Two weeks after our family arrived in Los Angles, my dad died in a motorcycle accident on Topanga Canyon.
I decided on frankyray, to honor my heritage and the name it represents.
*Estrellita Salinas is alive and well currently living in New York City.