When an ex-communist named Lotterman came down from Florida to start the Al's Backyard became the English-language press club, because none of the drifters andthe dreamers who came to work for Lotterman's new paper could afford the high-price "New York"bars that were springing up all over the city like a rash of neon toadstools. The day-shiftreporters and deskmen straggled in about seven, and the night-shift types -- sports people,proofreaders and make-up men -- usually arrived en masse around midnight. Once in a whilesomeone had a date, but on any normal night a girl in Al's Backyard was a rare and eroticsight. White girls were not plentiful in San Juan, and most of them were either tourists,hustlers or airline stewardesses. It was not surprising that they preferred the casinos or theterrace bar at the Hilton.
It was a pleasant place to drink, especially in the mornings when the sun was still cool andthe salt mist came up from the ocean to give the air a crisp, healthy smell that for a fewearly hours would hold its own against the steaming, sweaty heat that clamps San Juan at noonand remains until long after sundown.
In 1521, the city of San Juan was established