Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Visiting an Old Friend

Very light, the posting, this month. Time is short, the "To Do" list too long. Some may call it the "Honey Do" list. But, it is not all work-no-fun. So when the opportunity to drop in on an Old Friend came up, the Mrs., ably aided and abetted by Number One daughter, booked us suitable passage and on we will soar towards our destination. Not expecting dinner with all the trimmings on board, regardless that Thanksgiving is upon us, there are plans to pack sandwiches for the journey. "Man doth not live on little bags of peanuts and/or pretzels alone."

It just happens that a little over 50 years ago, the writer and his Old Friend first became acquainted. Now, you may call it teasing, but this time you - the reader - will be given the opportunity to guess the identity of the destination, of the Old Friend, of whom there are so many fond memories, both happy and sad.

July 1957 was the first time, happily not the last - in fact, several re acquaintances there have been, in between.

The view was good from this spot. We went to visit a certain Lady, a very impressive Lady, who stands for a concept we should be grateful for, and give thanks we can live the concept as we have our Thanksgiving supper. Remember to thank God for all you have and say a prayer for those who do not have freedom, food, and a lot of other things we take for granted.

Nice to have some Guy Time with one's dad on a sunny, yet not oppressively hot summer day, taking in the sights...quite an experience for a Havana boy. It was on that same trip, thanks to father, who took us there, the Havana boy learned who was actually buried in Grant's tomb! OK, that was bad...remember, you are being teased. That is also one of the positional clues.

We took the opportunity to soar to new heights during our pleasant sojourn - it was windy up there; what an incredible view - call it an Imperial View, if you like.

That July we also paid a call to our good friends, Generoso "Gene" and Maria Teresa "Tete" Garcia. We knew them simply as "Gene and Tete." Both originally hailed from Manzanillo, Cuba. Early in the 20th Century - remember that one? - they emigrated, called to do so by the same Lady whom we greeted that summer of '57. As fate would have it, though they did not know each other in Cuba, they met and married in their new homeland.

At the time the Quirogas visited, they lived on Henry Street - another geographical clue for you. A year later, we met them in Key West, Florida, during another vacation stateside.

That's Gene standing on the left, mother in the middle, Tete Garcia on the right. Wonder who the annoying-lookin' lil' kid is, sitting in his father's '55 Chevy Bel-Air? In case you're wondering and if you've kept abreast of the news the past year or two regarding current Cuban "travel" inventiveness, the car was not modified to float and drive through the waves in the Straits of Florida. Back then, Cubans could come and go freely and did not have to come up with ingenious solutions to the problem of fleeing the bearded slave driver's plantation. We simply transported the Chevy on the Havana-Key West ferry. Drove the Chevy to the ferry, not to the levee. Teasing you again, but perhaps a few of you will recognize the words of a certain song having to do with Americana, and a Pie, though not necessarily an apple one.

Sobering to think that, just 90 miles from the spot where that July 1958 slide photograph was taken by father, today millions exist - cannot say "live" - in misery. So as you gather with your loved ones this Thanksgiving, give thanks over and over for what you have, and pray those unfortunates, maybe a year from now, are free to journey - again; to dream, to do, to pray and give thanks to the Almighty. Just as we do; may God bless your Giving Thanks day and may he bless and preserve the Lady who will greet future generations of Cubans at liberty to visit her, free again to come and go as they please.