Brian Ferguson

Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey

My fieldwork was in Barrio Jauca, Santa Isabel, where Sid worked in the People of Puerto Rico project. Before going, I contacted Sid out of the blue, and told him I wanted to restudy "his village." This is not something all anthropologists would relish. From the first moment, Sid was entirely helpful and friendly. I visited him in Baltimore, we talked for a good while, he gave me copies of unpublished papers on Jauca, and from that moment on, he came through right away with anything I asked for.

It was his name and good will that got me right into the village, and led to me living with a branch of the Zayas family. Getting to know Don Taso Zayas and Dona Eli Villaronga was, as those familiar with their lives might imagine, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Moreover, Sid's chapter in The People of Puerto Rico and Worker in the Cane were the indispensable bases for my historical reconstructions.

Only one problem. Sid, as a fieldworker, was a very tough act to follow. I ate dinner with Taso every day, and always told him about my day's work, and took copious notes while he talked about whatever topic was on hand. I cannot recall the times when Taso, in his gentle way, would try to steer me, based on Sid. "Sid did not do it that way." After I had scribbled furiously away, Taso would tell me, Sid did not do that while talking to people. "He kept it all in here", pointing to his head. "Sid would write it all down when he got home at night," and he talked about how people could hear the typewriter clacking away on and on, after everyone had gone to sleep. I developed a kind of Sid-envy. But for all that he gave me, it was easy to live with.