Faded photographs...covered now with lines and creases...
The title is from the song "Traces (Of Love)" by Buie, Cobb, and Gordy. This song was popular in '69-'70. I thought it was an appropriate title for the subject of this post. The faded photograph is the image of a very dear couple - dear to us indeed. The gentleman was my maternal uncle, Manuel ("Manolo") Granja; the lady, his wife, Emerita Farinas. There should be a tilde over the "n" in Farinas, but since these accents and diacriticals do not always show up properly, depending on the browser used, we are regretfully dispensing with them.
The photograph is from the mid to late '40s, and may have been taken in one or other of the popular parks and retreats which dotted Havana, such as "El Laguito (The Little Lake)" or "La Coronela (The Lady Colonel??)." The photographer is unknown.
Most of the images which have appeared - or hopefully will appear - in this blog we have thanks to Manolo and Emerita. Recall that, when we left in 1960, it was with the expectation our absence would be relatively short. Therefore, the only family photos we carried were the ones in our passports, including those required by the powers that be as part of the process of being allowed a more or less "gracious exit." Such as seen in these "revolutionary permits," essentially certifying mom and dad were not considered "fleeing felons," or felons according to the definition of the authorities then-and now-in charge.
As time went by, it became obvious our exile would be permanent and, resigned to that, we moved forward to create a new life. We were starting from scratch, nada, as if Havana had been merely a very pleasant dream from which we had been abruptly awakened.
Then one day, sometime before the mid'60's, the friendly US Post Office mailman (it was not the Postal Service then and there were no mailwomen that I recall in Miami) delivered a manila envelope mailed by uncle Manolo and aunt Emerita from Havana. To our surprise, it contained black-and-white photos, color slides sans their cardboard jackets, and other bits and pieces, such as newspaper clippings. And for several years afterwards, the envelopes kept coming - even a large one which enclosed yours truly's baby photo album from our days at Calle LaCret. Eventually, these treasured envelopes stopped coming, but mostly because the supply of treasure needed to fill them was drying up. It appears about 90% of our photo and slide archives made it out to an exile of their own. To this day, we remain amazed this was possible. But perhaps, as we were I suppose, unknown and unimportant entities as far as the bearded babbler and his postal inspectors were concerned, there was no objection on their part to the departure of these boring, bourgeois, "gusano" photos and slides. See how nice it is when nobody notices you? No papparazzi, no "revolutionary" postal inspectors interested. Worked for us!
And so, this posting is dedicated to tio, or uncle, Manolo, and to tia, or aunt, Emerita. Did you know Emerita is Latin for "meritorious?" Which leads to this: we would not be able to share what to us are wonderful images and a remembrance of a unique and beautiful time past, if it were not for them. Unlike us, circumstances kept them from being able to leave Cuba, although they came close during the Mariel Boatlift. Manolo passed away in 1993; Emerita in 2003. They gave us a wonderful gift - a gift of love; a meritorious act if you will. We love them and we will never forget them.