Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Kind of Nostalgia Is Not Like the Miami Gusano's Kind

It is so nice to just sit back, relax and reminisce and remember about the good times when a person was growing up. Care-free and no worries, back then.

Unfortunately for me, I grew up in an era of Cuba that can only be described as a real bad era, politically.

On March 10, 1952, very early in the morning, I was waiting for my school bus. I was eight years old. My family was not wealthy. My father was a mid-level manager who worked for la Compañia Cubana de Teléfonos, which was a subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), an American-owned company. 

A neighbor comes out and sees me. He tells me: "Go back upstairs, there is no school today." When I asked him why, he said: "Tell your dad that Batista staged a coup." I did not know this Batista fellow, but I was very happy. Thanks to him I did not have to go to school that day. Ahh! The innocence of children!

Later on, I do not remember exactly when, we would move a couple of blocks to a new building. It was located on twenty first street, between 24th and 22nd avenue, in el Vedado.

My life revolved around a triangle formed by my home address, my school address, 13th street, between B and C avenues, and my favorite corner of 23rd street and 12th avenue. That was my territory.

Veintitres y Doce was my favorite hangout place. Why? There was this timbiriche where you could buy fritas cubanas. (See: Cook's Corner: Fritas and Fries, A Cuban original). They were soooo gooood! And the best part was that they only cost ten cents each, and came fully loaded with very fine and fluffy french fries. I would buy three, and eat them in less than fifteen minutes.

For desert, I would walk a block north to 21 and 12. There was this Tropicream place, that sold delicious ice-cream cones for only ten cents each. I would have two of them. Barriga llena, corazon contento! (Full stomach, happy heart!)

Just about everything that I needed would cost me ten cents, the fritas, the ice cream. Used comic books were also ten cents each at 23 and 12, sold by a midget cojo. If I wanted a brand new comic book, I would have to pay thirty cents. I was cheap. I would buy used comic books.

A Coke was five cents, lollipops were a penny each. But my favorite was the boniatillo: two sizes, small for two cents and large for four cents.


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