To Change the World: My Years in Cuba

By Margaret Randall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
SCARSDALE TO HAVANA

A POLITICALLY LIBERAL, SOMEWHAT ADVENTUROUS FAMILY

My parents were New Yorkers, assimilated Jews of the upper middle class. “Upper” because my father’s family had money. “Middle” because Dad sold men’s clothing in department stores and later became a public school music teacher. Mother was a sculptor early on, eventually devoting her life to Spanish/English translation; José Martí became a lasting passion. She never worked outside the home. With my younger sister and brother we were five. Gradually, ours would become a politically liberal, somewhat adventurous family, in which the deep tensions woven throughout our parents’ marriage produced an unacknowledged but ever-present undercurrent. The oldest, I both appreciated my parents’ love and support and fled as soon as I was able.

In 1947 the family moved to New Mexico. Mother and Dad were tired of Scarsdale’s constricted social propriety and their own parents’ hold on their lives. They piled us into the family Studebaker and we headed west, looking for a place to live. Santa Fe appealed to them but they thought it would be easier for my father to get a job in larger Albuquerque, then a typical southwestern city of about forty thousand.

From the time I was a small child I knew I would one day be a writer. I’d produced my first single-paragraph stories almost as soon as I learned to form letters at the age of six. At nine I bought my first typewriter, with money earned on a paper route and matching funds from my parents.

-7-

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To Change the World: My Years in Cuba
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents viii
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Prologue - Some Reflections before I Begin 1
  • Chapter 1 - Scarsdale to Havana 7
  • Chapter 2 - Transition 25
  • Chapter 3 - Settling in 41
  • Chapter 4 - Food, Food, Food 61
  • Chapter 5 - Ten Million Tons of Sugar and Eleven Fishermen 71
  • Chapter 6 - A Poetry Contest and a Beauty Pageant 83
  • Chapter 7 - Women and Difference 95
  • Chapter 8 - Information and Consciousness 115
  • Chapter 9 - Changing Hearts, Minds, and Law 125
  • Chapter 10 - "Poetry, like Bread, Is for Everyone" 145
  • Chapter 11 - El Quinquenio Gris 171
  • Chapter 12 - The Sandinistas 191
  • Chapter 13 - A Question of Power 217
  • Chapter 14 - Epilogue 237
  • Notes 257
  • Index 263
  • About the Author 274
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