Great story today. I came to the U.S. on the Freedom Flights on Dec. 7, 1967 and settled up north. Five years or so after arriving, my family and I down to Hollywood, Florida. I went to Cooper City High and in 1974 went to work for the City of Hollywood and retired as an Engineering Inspector in 2005 and moved to Vermont for a while. I wrote a letter to my US born half-sister a couple of years ago describing my memories of those pre and post flight days. I just started a letter and kept going, and going... I arrived Dec. 7, 1967 on the 7 a.m flight, Varadero to MIA.) Hey Rosie. This last December 7, 2006 was a different one. It was my "Happy America Anniversary" and it has come around about 4 times in 39 years again on a Thursday. For some weird reason, I noticed it more last year. Actually, t here's no weird reason; this time I'm back up north.
I remember that last week in El Diezmero. My parents allowed me to stay home from school for the last three days there. Who would care anyway? "Oliamos a jamon" already. It was an exciting time since the household "inventario" the prior week. I remember on Tuesday the 5th going a couple of blocks away to my one-room schoolhouse, I don't remember why, but it must have been to say goodbye to my classmates and teacher and to get my report card. I remember walking home and seeing some of the kids, whose names sadly I do not remember, in the school waving goodbye out of the side window. I can still see their faces in my mind's eye.
I was on top of the world. I was going to get to see family that I hadn't seen for some years who had gone to El Norte. Dario, Hilda, Salvador y Pura, Sergio y Coloma. They all seeme d to be having a good time in the photos that we used to get in letters and I was excited about joining them in that life. I was also get to see Lisardo, and meet Oraida, Rosemarie y Lisardito. I had a photo of you two and the old man wearing coats on an (apparent) winter day from the prior year or so then. You and Lisardito were little kids. The photo came in a letter that old man Lisardo had sent me. Your mom must have shot the photo since she wasn't in it. Lisardo had squinting eyes and the trademark slightly tight, unsmiling lips. You remember that look. You were standing next to him and he was holding Lisardito. He looked larger than life. I really don't know whatever happened to that photo, but I'll do some detective work to see if it came with us.
Wednesday the 6th went quick, or at least the morning did, and it came time to leave. We had to be in the airport in Varadero for processing at 7:00 pm. A crowd of around 40 well wishers, mostly immediate neighbors, were there in front of our house. "Alfredo El Loco's" sister, another forgotten name, gave me a surprising kiss on the cheek and smiled a "good luck" smile for me. Alfredo was a long time childhood friend from down the hill but I don't remember him seeing me off. I think that my other childhood friend, "Willie", may have been there as well as another Alfredo. That later Alfredo's last name was Molina, and his father ran a a small grocery store, also down the hill (coincidentally across from Alfredo El Loco's house). Alfredito Molina had been my good friend and classmate for the last couple of years before leaving. I remember him having a larger than normal forehead than most kids his age. Some kids called him Jose Marti in school.