Chapter 09

Chapter 9 – 1: “A Hallmark Card, 1950s”


For the king of the household.

Chapter 9 – 2: Sinding’s Rustle of Spring

Louise grew up with music and in a family that fell apart. Once upon a time, her mother Marjorie would play Sinding’s Rustle of Spring on the upright in the family’s tiny living room.

Chapter 9 – 3: Bizet’s La Habanera from the opera Carmen

There were many evenings when Marjorie would sing La Habanera and dance like Carmen while Maxwell metamorphized into Don Jose. Louise and her two siblings would sit cross-legged on the floor, fully enchanted by their parents.

Chapter 9 – 4: “Exhibit Hall at Meredith Place”


The Spanish painter Ramon Raluy posed with Louise and Michael’s cousin Frances in the Waterston living room. Linda is featured in the portrait on the far right.

Chapter 9 – 5: “Rosita de Hornedo”


For the Waterston family, Christmastime at the hotel Rosita de Hornedo in 1958 was just as it had always been. The children swam in the hotel’s two pools, played in the sandlot with their Cuban cousins, and trekked the rocky walkway next door to the Casino Deportivo, a country club where even kids could play the slot machines. To them, there was little outward sign Batista would soon be out, Fidel in.

Chapter 9 – 6: “Hotel Capri, Post the Revolution”


On stationary from the Hotel Capri, famed for “sparkling resort luxury with a Champagne flair,” Michael sent a dispatch to Louise, dated May 4, 1959.

Chapter 9 – 7: “Sara’s Letter”


Michael received an alarming letter from Sara, his trusted bookkeeper, dated June 27, 1960, describing the aftermaths of an explosion that was a stone’s throw from the shopping district in Havana, an event also reported in the New York Times: “Arms Dump Blast Shakes Havana-Two Killed, 200 Reported Hurt—Castro Hints at Sabotage Charges”

Chapter 9 – 8: “El Imperio and the Revolution”


The mannequin in the window of El Imperio (The Empire) dons a hat with a five-pointed star, symbol of Cuba and the Revolution.

Chapter 9 – 9: “El Imperio”


I also found the business card for the store on Calle Muralla, Numero 424 on the corner of Villegas among my father’s papers. The logo features a slender, queenly figure draped in a full circle of fine fabrics, her head topped with a crown. The tagline reads “Telas Majestuosas”—Majestic Fabrics.

Chapter 9 – 10: “La Floridita”

One evening in Havana, my father, my brother David and I strolled into the famous restaurant frequented by Hemingway, and known as cuna de daiquiri, the birthplace of the daiquiri. Before long, a violinist named Omar Gonzalez Alvarez came to our table, with two accompanists to play a beautiful, affecting Besame Mucho.

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