Newly married Benito Prats Respall and Mariana Martínez Rodríguez left their wedding reception on Saturday, June 9, 1951, and went directly to the airport in Camaguey for a flight to Havana. After spending the night there, they boarded a flight for the U.S. That day's destination? Detroit.
|The newlyweds at Niagara Falls|
They were on a two week trip of Canada and the United States. The airplanes in 1951 were propeller airplanes, DC-3 and similar. The trip to Detroit would involve stops and perhaps change of plane in Miami (so they could clear customs), Savannah and Washington before they got to Detroit. After an overnight in Detroit they took a bus to Chatham, Ontario, to visit one of the schools that Mariana attended: Ursuline College, known as The Pines.
Then on to Niagara Falls, Montreal (she went to school there
|In a park in Montreal|
too), Quebec City, New York City, Washington and Miami Beach. They took a boat between Montreal and Quebec City, a bus down the coast between New York and Washington to see New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and the train between Washington and Miami.
When she returned, Mariana wrote down brief impressions of their honeymoon. Here is what I found in one of those blank wedding books with preprinted titles.
On Saturday after the ceremony we left for Songorrongo where we stayed until midday Monday when we left to catch a plane to Havana. We stopped at the Hotel Presidente and the following day we left for Detroit. In that city we visited the Parke Davis factory and immediately left for Chatham where we chatted for a while with Mother Angela Claire and Mother Margarite. They liked Benito.
|Mariana sitting on the luggage at a Canadian bus station|
Everyone dressed up to travel back then, even on a bus.
(This slide was probably on the top of the stack when they were
stored because it is dirty and damaged.)
The following day having had almost no time to see the city, we left for “The Niagara.” That place was so beautiful that we stayed a day longer than we had planned. One night we went to a cabaret where we spent an enchanting time. We took many photos in color. From there we went by bus to Toronto, where we stayed at the King Edward hotel and the following day we were en route to Montreal. In that city we spent two days and it was not enough to take in all of the interesting places it has. We left in the afternoon by steamship on the St. Laurence River towards Quebec and slept on the ship.
Quebec City is very picturesque and one of its wonders is the luxurious hotel “Chateau Frontenac” where we stayed. While there we visited the Sainte Anne de Beupré Sanctuary that had many details we preserved on photos.
|Downtown Chatham, Ontario|
They probably stayed at the William Pitt Hotel,
hence this photo. The went to Chatham because
Mariana spent a school year here boarding and
studying English at the Ursuline College,
called “The Pines” with her sister Elia Maria.
They took secretarial courses in downtown
Chatham and enjoyed the Canadian winter
getting to and from class.
We arrived in New York by airplane, and we spent the day shopping and the evening at the theatre and after that we left for Atlantic City but because of lack of reservations we continued to Washington. It is a marvelous city and in a very American way, everything the sightseeing guide showed us was described as biggest or the best in the world.
It was very hot and because of the heat we were not comfortable, so we took the train to Miami Beach where we rested from all the rushing for a week without hardly leaving the area or the movie theatre and where we had a car we could drive ourselves.
|At Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side.|
Anyway, we passed a truly a pleasant time until one good day we said goodbye to all the Americans and arrived at our [new] apartment [in Camaguey] where we continued our “honeymoon.”
Benito packed his Minolta 35mm rangefinder camera, and he loaded it exclusively with Kodak Kodachrome color slide film. It wasn’t cheap to buy and it had to be mailed off to Kodak in Havana for processing. But they wanted their memories to last and as you can see, they did. Mariana took a camera too, her photos were in black-and-white.
Twelve years later the slides were sent out of Cuba two or three at a time tucked in letters to friends before the Prats moved to Maryland. Or maybe they were with the slides and photos that her sister Elia Maria mailed out after they left.
|Perhaps at the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls|
Here are some of the pictures they took, or asked passersby to take. They were scanned in 2008, 57 years after they were taken and were in a remarkably good shape. Click on any photo to see a larger version.
|At Rainbow Gardens, across from the American Falls|
|On a ship arriving at Quebec City from Montreal|
The Chateau Frontenac Hotel, where they stayed for a few days,
is in the background on the left. Looking like a castle with turrets, it was
the most memorable and luxurious lodgings of their trip. Mariana spoke
of it when reminiscing about Canada.
|On the ferry wharf between New York and New Jersey|
(I used Photoshop to lighten Mariana who was in the shadows.)
|On the Lewes-Cape May Ferry between New Jersey and Delaware|
They told us that they choose the bus, and routed the long way
around to experience more than they would on a train or airplane.
A travel agent in Camaguey booked the entire trip.
|Enjoying an ice cream cone at a meal stop en route to Washington|
|On the steps of Washington's Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle|
|Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington DC|
|At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC|
|At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC|
|They stayed at the brand new|
St. Moritz Hotel in Miami Beach
This photo is from the Library of Congress
|The Château Frontenac seen from the Terrasse of Lévis, Canada|
(Photograph by Bernard Gagnon via Wikipedia Commons GNU v1.2)