My Look at the 60’s: Kennedy, Cuban Missiles, Music and Women’s Lib
Every school that I attended was in the city of Matanzas. In wartime especially, we did not have enough gasoline for the car. So many times the car would stop. A mechanic would put in a mixture of gasoline and alcohol. The car ran all right but I don’t know what it did to the motor.
I went to a school called the School of the Professors. It was called that because every teacher had a doctoral degree. The requirements were very demanding. The demands increased my anxiety and decreased how much I liked the school. But I did like some of the teachers; I remember some of them even nowadays. To this day I remember my grammar teacher who instilled in me the enjoyment of grammar. I’ve enjoyed it in all the languages I’ve studied.
High school was a good time although it was very hard. High school classes sometimes went on for eight hours a day. In the fifth grade I had two hours of French every afternoon for example. That made me a bilingual. I also had classes like logic and philosophy. They were hard classes.
I lived in Havana before Castro but under another dictator named Bautista. He ran a fascist government, and the students were not happy with him. He wasn’t happy with the students, either.
We had a series of little revolutions and strikes. We would go and strike to protest any government decision. I started at the University of Havana one year after Bautista had taken over.
At first Cubans kidded about the take over. They even made a song that was kind of funny. Them and saying about having to change the small sticker on his license plate now that Bautista was in power.
Bautista’s predecessor had been elected, but he was very corrupt. Then Bautista came to power in a Coup d’état and ruled for at least six years. During that time the University of Havana was closed and my father sent me to study in Louisiana.
In Havana I was studying physical chemistry and I was struggling with it. When I got to Louisiana state university my struggles came to a head. To understand physics exams in English was just beyond me. Meanwhile, I was doing all right in English, German, and French.
So I finished my bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1960, two years after I arrived in the United States. I came to the United States in 1958. I visited Cuba again in 1959 after Castro had taken over. Then I came back to the United States.
As soon as I finished my bachelor’s degree in chemistry I completed another bachelor’s degree in French. A year later, in 1961, I was able to go teach in Wichita, Kansas. They helped me get permanent residency in the United States. The superintendent wrote to the school district a letter stating that he needed my services.
I was teaching Spanish, French, and Russian at the school in which it all. I had only two semesters of Russian, but I had the background of being able to study the language and the grammar. With that plus tapes I was able to teach the students a lot more Russian then I actually knew!
Of course in 1961 I was worried about my family. Part of my study of Russian was with the idea that I might eventually work for the intelligence community one day.
I was teaching in Wichita for two years. By the end of the second year and wanted a change. I wanted to go to a university and start graduate school. I applied to Louisiana State University and they offered me an assistant ship teaching Spanish and French. My plan was to go on and do graduate work in French. I accepted it, but at the same time I had applied to about fourteen other schools. Three other schools offered me something. But the University of Southern California offered me an alternate position for one of four scholarships that were available.
I was about to pack my bags for Louisiana when the advisor at USC called me and told me that one of the four scholarships was now suddenly available. He asked me if I wanted the scholarship.
I told him that I had a commitment to Louisiana and that I needed to call my adviser and asked him if he could hang on for awhile.
He told me that I could take a few days if I needed to. That they I called the advisor and Louisiana. He was the Dean of the school and I knew him well.
I asked him what I should do and he told me: “look, Analydia, Louisiana has a capricious governor and he could cancel your assistant ship at any time. But a fellowship of the United States government is solid as commission point”
He told me that USC was a prestigious university and that I would enjoy it. He told me that he Let me go with regrets for the program at Louisiana State and wished me good luck.
So I called Dr. Malone at USC and told him that I would accept their fellowship, and started making arrangements to move to California.
I Correspond with President Kennedy About Build-Up of Russian Missiles in Cuba
All this happened in February and March of 1963. In 1962 I bought a car, a Volkswagen, and put all my worldly possessions inside.
In fact at the time I had in my posession a copy of a letter that I had sent to John Kennedy saying that there was movement of heavy equipment along the highways in Cuba. I learned this information in letters from my father.
My father used to write letters in ink. Between the lines he wouldn’t write in lemon juice and he would tell me for example: “It is very hot these days. Thank goodness we have lemons.”
I would put the letters in the oven and the writing would appear as brown text. He would tell me about transportation of heavy equipment along the highways at night. With his background in mathematics and physics he was making calculations that this was a big deal. In fact, it was the setting up of the missile bases.
When I wrote this information to Kennedy he answered it personally. He signed it John F. Kennedy and put little initials JFK beneath his signature.
I kept that letter as if it were a treasure!
But in that drive across country, somehow I lost that letter. It never showed up again. I don’t know if it was lost in the bottom of a drawer.
In his letters back to me Kennedy told me that he had had news from intelligence reports that some big deal was being set up in Cuba. Soon after that there was the missile crisis.
I Say “Adios” to Cuba
At this time part of me said “adios” to Cuba. I became too accustomed to living in the United States. I became a too accustomed to the opportunities that we’re opening up to me.
But of course one never severs ties completely with one’s country. I still call myself a Cuban. I don’t like Cuban-American. I am an American of Cuban origin.
My children identify with being Cuban, but I don’t think they call themselves Cuban-American, either. My youngest daughter has a boyfriend now who I can a love, and he is a Cuban. He was born on my birthday!
At this time I was seeing the wide right since I had in America as opposed to those I had in Cuba.
Most Cubans are quite stubborn and opinionated. They are always right. The person speaking is the only one who has the truth. I haven’t been able to be like that in a long time. I always say you that there is one part of the truth and other possibilities. Nothing is black-and-white.
I’m sorry but politics is the only thing where I have one point of view. I am a democrat and only a democrat. I cannot accept opinions of the other people.
But some republicans are nice people. I can’t hold it against them.
I had my first daughter two years after we were married. That was in 1966 Deanna was born. In 1968 Leonard came along. In 1970 my daughter Sandra was born. She now lives in Oakland.
At the University of Southern California I was studying comparative literature. It was a struggle. I got to the dormitory. I found out that I didn’t have a parking space. I was told that I would have to park three or four blocks from the dormitory. It was in an area called Exposition Park that wasn’t very good.
When I asked the house mother about the situation she told me that parking spaces were limited and preference was given to people who had been students in the previous year.
I thought to myself that the university was getting thousands of dollars from the government for me to attend. I was getting about $2,000.00 a year, barely enough to cover my expenses.
So I went to the housing department at the university and told them that I didn’t give a damn about the university and its name and all that. I told them that I would resign and go back to Louisiana state university. I was wanted there, they would welcome me back, and they would give me a parking space. I was ready to resign.
The administrator told me not to resign and that they would fix it. When I got back to the dormitory the house mother told me that I had been assigned her parking space!
I realized that everything you do there it is done according to some kind of politics. That’s a cynical view, but it’s helpful.
Later on it showed up that I was going to the university but I hadn’t been formally admitted because I had not taken the graduate record examination. So I signed up for the GRE, took it, and I don’t think I did great but I was already in the university and they were not going to get rid of me!
After all, what does a test prove? I did the best on the math test because math is an exact science. On the languages section I didn’t do all that well.
I was Liberated Long Before the “Women’s Lib” Movement
On the sixteenth of November I was invited to the home of a professor for an evening party. I was exhausted but a part of me told me that I needed to have a life. I wanted to meet someone that I could date or go out. I was studying sixteen hours a day and getting nowhere because this was just a bunch of politics.
I went to the party dressed in red and that’s when I met Howard. At the time two or three other fellows had asked me out that there was no attraction. No chemistry.
I was in liberated woman long before they called it “women’s liberation.” But I didn’t believe that burning your bra had anything to do with liberation. The things they did were foolish in my opinion, childish.
I liked the flower children. They were generally sweet people who perhaps didn’t have a very happy life at home. I learned of many broken homes and difficulties that women were having in their marriages.
That made me sad. I had been raised that you needed to give-and-take in a relationship. You can be one-sided. There will be arguments with your spouse and your children, but somewhere between the two extremes there will be a middle ground.
I didn’t like electric guitars when they came out. Noisy things!
Even nowadays I enjoy the songs of the Beatles but at a lower volume than most people play them. I like the Who and all those groups, but in the right perspective. I enjoy classical music; I like good old American jazz. Tough like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” I like Louis Armstrong. And like good Latin music, congas from Brazil. I enjoyed music!
Variety is the spice of life.