Chapter 05

Chapter 5 – 1: “Passport photo”

ch5-1The photograph on the old passport is very small, and so easy to overlook. Using a scanner, I enlarged it, bringing its beauty and power into sharp focus. From that moment, the photograph centered me in this writing project, and I knew it must grace the cover of the book.

Chapter 5 – 2: El Encanto

Miguel passed by Havana’s shopping district, strolling the famous streets—Muralla, Neptuno, San Rafael. There was El Encanto, the elegant department store, always with an exclusive clientele. How modern! What progress!

Chapter 5 – 3: “Ready-to-Wear”

“The Jewish presence in their old occupations (trading, providing services and products) persisted to some degree in new urban settings.”

MW = Michael Waterston, AW = Alisse Waterston, author.

Chapter 5 – 4: “The “Department” Store”

My father poured his heart and his lifesavings into the small shop with its specialties, just like they had at the big department store nearby: Ladies Dresses. Ladies Coats. Ladies Underwear. Pocketbooks. Perfume.

Chapter 5 – 5: “Dancing Shoes”


Miguel would see an American tourist and think, “He must be close to God!” He tried on their identity in name and in appearance though in dance style, he acquired Latin forms.

Chapter 5 – 6: “Tiendas Waterston”

ch5-5I found the business card for the store on Calle Neptuno among my father’s papers. The tagline, “Templo de la Elegancia femenina” (Temple of Feminine Elegance) signals this would be a sacred, special place where a woman could become the classiest, most sophisticated, most graceful of all—she could be transformed by American-style fashion. In his book, On Becoming Cuban Louis A. Pérez, Jr. dates the Americanization of retail businesses in Havana to the early 1900s.

Chapter 5 – 7: “A Very Good Dancer”

I couldn’t imagine there was ever a time my father didn’t know how to dance—wasn’t he born with that skill? I could just imagine the girls enveloped in the aura of his fluid, confident motions.

MW = Michael Waterston, AW = Alisse Waterston, author.

Chapter 5 – 8: Casino Deportivo

If he had a bit of cash in his pocket, Miguel would make his way to Casino Deportivo, Alfredo Hornedo’s country club, aplenty with girls and dancing and romance.

Chapter 5 – 9: “Alfredo Hornedo”

In this video clip, my father offers tidbits on Alfredo Hornedo who built the residence hotel Rosita de Hornedo and the country club Casino Deportivo. Someone could start with those tidbits to develop a rich study on the intersections of race, class, prison labor, architecture and tourism in 1950s Cuba.

Chapter 5 – 10: “Anita”

ch5-8As an old man, Miguel kept this photograph on his bedroom wall with those simple words of heartfelt affection: “A Miguel con el sincero afecto de Anita”—for Miguel with sincere affection from Anita.

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