The year was 1969. Our father, Martin Hernandez Sr., was 29 years old. He had been tailoring since he was 17. I remember his letting me and my brother and sisters stay up late to watch the news. As soon as the news was over we knew without him telling us that it was time to go to bed. We lived in a two-bedroom house on Rose Street, right off of Washington Avenue and Waugh Drive. I remember that first morning when my father and mother, Maria, woke us up earlier than usual. I did not know what was going on. Our living room was being transformed into what would become my father's own tailor shop. The old console television went to the back room. A three-way mirror and a single sewing machine were brought into the living room, along with an office desk. The cash register was a small metal-box. I remember as we were leaving home to walk to school I asked my mother what my Dad was doing sitting in the living room at a desk by himself with a sewing machine and a mirror. She told me he was waiting for customers. Being the smart aleck kid I was, I quickly pointed out that we didn't have any customers. When school was over that day, we got home and my father was still sitting at that desk. At six o'clock p.m. the sewing machine and mirror along with the desk went out and the television came back in. Then the next morning, the furniture moved again. This went on and on, but still, no customers.
Then one day walking home, as me and my brother and sisters got to the corner of our house, we saw a big ole' car in front of our home. We knew it was not ours because we did not own a car. We knew it wasn't for our neighbors because they couldn't afford a car like that. As soon as we turned the corner, Mom was scurrying up to hurry us into the back door of the house. Unsure of what was going on, I quickly ran to take a peek into our living room. I wanted to know who was in our house. The tailor shop was on that corner for 19 years. In December of 1989, we bought the corner property on Feagan and Shephard. By this time, my sisters, Martha and Carolina, and my brother, Johnny, were all helping in the shop. I can remember my father working day and night for six months, converting that duplex into a tailor shop. As I peeked through the door, I saw the biggest man I had ever seen in my life. He was wearing a suit and he was so tall, only a portion of his reflection fit into the three-way mirror he was looking into. I remember my father stretching out his arms to mark his shoulders. That man in the middle of our living room would be our first customer. As soon as the man left, my parents started working on his suit. I remember watching my father work on that suit like it was the most important thing he'd ever done in his life. Within a few hours, the suit was done. As months passed, more and more cars would be parked out front of our house.
A few more months passed, and we rented a house on the corner of Snover and Feagan Street. For the longest time, when customers would come in and ask if I was the owner, I would not know how to answer. Then, one day my father asked my brother and I to open up the next day because he was feeling tired. That day almost ten years ago. My father suffered a series of strokes a few years ago, and since then, his health has been a down-hill battle. He is now 69 years old and has dialysis three times a week. Me and my brother Johnny, along with my son, Martin III, are now running the family business along with Hilda and Andrea, my wife and daughter-in-law. Our nephew, David, the son of Carolina, is our driver. Our Mother is there every morning helping us out for a few hours. We work together to make our business all that it is. The only thing left from that first house on Washington Avenue is my father's first sewing machine and his desk. When times get rough and I feel tired or frustrated with something, I look to the right of my marking table where my father's first desk is sitting. I go back to 1969 and see that man sitting there wondering how he was going to feed his four children and his 26-year old wife; much less pay the rent. My dream is to see his great-grand children, Martin IV and Daniel, one day running the shop. Like I said, we are not perfect, we are all human beings that make mistakes. Just give Martin Tailor's a shot though, and we'll do our best to keep you coming back. God bless you and your families.