Our charter flight to Havana leaves from New York–an innovation of the current administration, permitting flights from cities other than Miami. So I took the opportunity to stay a few days at the home of my parents, Katonah, a Westchester town not far from where the Clintons now live. Named for a Native American chief, Katonah is notable also for the distinction of winning a case with Martha Stewart over her attempt to trademark the Katonah name for a furniture collection. The photo shows the ground outside the home where I grew up. The rusted hatch and two airshafts you can see are from our underground fallout shelter. One of my earliest memories is going out with my father to a store to pick out the shelter. We don’t recall exactly what year that was, but it must have been around 1962, when Cuba was in the news. The shelter was about the size and shape of a septic tank. As a child, I remember thinking what fun it would be to go down there and eat crackers.
For decades, that was all I really knew about Cuba, if I thought of Cuba at all. I also knew of Desi Arnaz of course (the one that gave Lucy so much trouble.) Anyway, there are a lot of historical connections between New York and Cuba. New York was where Jose Marti stayed in exile, writing poetry, before he returned to Cuba for his short-lived attempt at revolution. Much later, the poet Reinaldo Arenas went to New York, which he much preferred over what he considered the macho Cuban-American exile community in Miami.
Much as I love New York, I wish something could be done about the pollution. The city, especially the JFK area, have such terrible air and water. It’s really sad, and I notice it so much more on return.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is our flight to Havana.