Monday, March 21, 2016

Cuba nostalgia

When I was a tot, I remember looking through my parents' rather dusty collection of books and finding a book called "The cabby took my rum" or something like that. It was an H. Allen Smith type of travelogue about Havana, but not, I think by him. I remember it started with how cab drivers in Havana always double their rates in "season". Then there is a description of various sites in Havana and surrounding areas with the emphasis on nightclubs, casinos, and bars. The book described a place where well heeled Americans could travel in the the winter, swim, hear some salsa, and perhaps even do things that the wives wouldn't need to know about. Needless to say, the book described the pre-Castro era.

About the same time I remember going to the Bergen County Democratic headquarters in Maywood to see Governor Richard J. Hughes with my parents. Everyone there was staring at the tv. Kennedy was speaking, and the news wasn't good. That night we all went home with the knowledge that the Russians had missiles in Cuba. For a week or two people were planning fallout shelters.

Little by little Cuba got off the front pages, until there was the occasional hi-jacking. We all got used to Cuba as it was, and the politicians knew not to change the status quo if they wanted to hold onto Florida. Of course there were a few hiccoughs along the way. There was the Mariel boat lift, the little boy who went ashore in Florida but was returned back to Cuba. I always said that Reno sending that boy back to Castro cost Al Gore the election.

Now we are entering a new era of relations with Cuba. The Democrats are willing to lose Florida this time around because it looks like the Republicans are going to lose big enough that one state won't matter. People are already talking about traveling to Cuba. I suspect that once most of us get there it will be ruined, and about as exotic as Hoboken. Still it would be something to talk about at parties. I'm holding out til they re-institute the ferry.

Editor's note: I was seriously thinking of bringing back Dear Aunt Agnes to talk about Cuba. The punchline would have been "and don't talk to me about Trump. He'll probably want to open a casino there."

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