When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1944, the Dizon boys were among the first in their neighborhood to sign up for World War II. Dolfo and Daniel joined the Army while Manny opted for the Navy. Dad went in as a radio operator and got shot down by friendly fire over the Pacific on a Navy mission. He ended up with a bad back that bothered him for the rest of his life, but fortunately it didn’t stop him from continuing his boxing career. He signed up for the Navy boxing team and won numerous titles and tournaments in different weight classes. Prestige had its privileges, and Manny partied hardy in the best clubs throughout the West Coast along with his entourage and hangers-on. It was during one of these stops where Manny’s life would change forever.
Sandy just happened to be partying at a local nightclub when the Dizon crew made its way through the door. She caught Manny’s eye and they exchanged glances for a time until Manny came by and dropped a note on her table. He asked her to meet him there the next night, but she thought little of it as she went carousing with her buddies that next evening. Towards the end of the night she remembered the note and decided to stop by to see if he had actually showed. Sure enough, Manny was sitting forlorn on a barstool on his lonesome, waiting beyond hope. When she showed up, well, it was love at first sight, depending on which of them told the story. Regardless, it blossomed into a lifelong relationship that lasted nearly a half-century until Manny died of a heart attack on November 13, 2004.
They got married by a Justice of the Peace, and shortly thereafter caught a ton of flak from Mom’s family for her having married a Spanish fellow. She broke communication with them until the early 50’s when they sent a letter to the Dizons’ address on Douglass Street in Brooklyn, having located them through the directory. Time healed old wounds, and by the time I was born everything was peachy. On the Dizon side, Mom spent some time at Grandpa’s while Manny was making connections in New York to begin his pro boxing career. They fought like tigers for a few months but soon developed an unbreakable bond that would last until Grandpa passed away in 1978.
(To be continued...)