Wilda M. Bello Quintana
Wilda M.'s Story
November 16, 1961: My Aunt and I arrive in Miami. I did not understand why I was being sent here, only that I had to come. After being pampered by my mother, I was now expected to "fend for myself". My Aunt had never been married nor did she have any children. The "mother" instinct was really not in her. Or so was the perspective of my seven year old eyes.
I don't remember saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, Abuela y Abuelo. I don't remember my luggage being taken away from me, I don't remember the plane ride, nor do I remember the arrival and how we wound up at the two room apartment above the wooden house on 12th Avenue where it meets 8th Street.
I remember allotments. We were given food for the month. I remember the tears rolling down my eyes as I ate the awful tasting "quaker oats" I gagged on. My Aunt made me eat them, I thought she was very mean to make me eat something I did not like; cafe con leche was a luxury for Wednesdays only. I remember having to walk to school or hitch a ride on the handle bars of my friend's bike (a boy, whose name I cannot remember). He lived in the house downstairs. Getting lost on the way home from school one day, I distinctly remember (as if it was yesterday), looking up into the Miami sky, yelling "Mami" in hopes that my Mom could hear me in Cuba. As if that was possible. Eating on the table in the kitchen while the roaches dropped from the ceiling is a vivid memory.
In Cuba (508 Luis Estevez, entre Juan Delgado y Goicuria, Apartamento F) we lived with my Mom's parents. My Abuela, Francisca Marturelos, who was such a sweet lady, died in Cuba. I never saw her again. My Abuelo, Antonio Quintana; born in Las Islas de Gran Canaria, La Palma, made it out of Cuba and lived with us until he passed in 1994. He took me to his home land in 1976; beautiful Canary Islands! There I met all his siblings (there were 11) and all the cousins.
My favorite memory of life in our apartment was that when it rained, el pasillo se convertia en una pisina. My neighbor, Miguelito would come out into the pasillo with his bathing suit on and a bar of soap to bathe in the rain water. Another good memory is the "quicos" that my Abuelo would bring me. "Quicos" is what I called los platanitos chiquiticos, that to this day, I love so much.
After moving a couple of times, my father was offered a job at "Central Hardware" on 41st Street in Miami Beach. At the same time, came an opportunity to manage a 12 apartment building on 85th between Harding and Collins, the "Faulkner Apartments". My parents were delighted as they would be living there rent free. My Dad would do the maintenance, while Mom would clean the apartments as they vacated. It was there I experienced by first Hurricane in 1964, "Cleo". I distinctly remember opening the jalousie windows to watch the dead fish go by in pools of water from the ocean. We were one block away. With my friends we explored the debris brought ashore by the storm. I learned to ride bicycle in the parking lot of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, where I made my Communion and Confirmation.
Mom and Dad, 82 and 78 respectively are still thriving and live close by. My sister, born in Miami also lives nearby with her family. All of us live in Broward within a 10 mile radius.
I live a happy life, proud of who I am. I thank Parents and Grandparents for the sacrifices they made for me.