Jan 26, 2016

“A Grandmother Remembers”

For Christmas in 1984 Mariana M. Prats’ youngest sister’s daughter gave her a book titled “A Grandmother Remembers: A Book of Special Memories for the Family to Share.” It was a fill-in-the-blank book designed for a grandmother to fill in and present to a grandchild. I found it with her things when we helped pack up her Mayfair Manor condo. Here is what she completed with pen and ink, some of it in Spanish, but most of it in English. 

Mariana is a Maryland Prats Generation One. The text is addressed to each of her grandchildren (Generation Three). 
Mariana M. Prats
circa 1984

This memory book is dedicated a todos mis hijos y nietos y a mi sobrina Natalia María Salces que me regaló este cuaderno.  to all my children and grandchildren and to my niece Natalia Maria Salces who gave me this book.

BY Mariana Martinez Prats

DATE begun Christmas 1984.

My given name was Mariana Guadalupe and I was named that because mi abuela paterna se llamaba Mariana y la abuela de mi mamá se llamaba Mariana y el abuelo Mariano. my paternal grandmother was named Mariana and my mother’s grandmother was named Mariana and her grandfather Mariano.

I was born in Camagüey Cuba at my home attended by the midwife Altagracia the 12 of December 1926.

The rest of my family included … I was the first born, after me were born Elia Maria, Ofelia, Joaquin Ventura, Juan Antonio and Natalia. I had special names for them, a Elia Maria le deciamos Mamia. … We called Elia Maria “Mamia”.  The house where we lived was large, with 14 rooms and in it lived Mamá, Papá, my godfather Antonio (Toto); Mayo, Panchita, and Menina [aunts]. [My aunt] Natalia lived nearby and spent her days there.

Our Family Tree:
Your grandmother (me): Mariana G Martínez
Her parents: Joaquín V. Martínez Martínez, Elia Rodríguez Casas
Her mother’s parents: Gaspar Rodríguez Porro and Araceli de las Casas
Her father’s parents: Joaquín V. Martínez Dias and Mariana Martínez Seijas
Gaspar Rodriguez Porro and his wife Araceli de las Casas
Joaquin Martínez Díaz (1863–1918) and his wife Mariana Martínez Seijas (1865–1914)
Your grandfather: Benito Humberto Prats
                His parents: José Prats Amat; Eduvigis Respall
His mother’s parents: Casimirio Respall and Rufina Pereira Ortega
His father’s  parents: Enrique Prats and Paulita Amat Roig.
Casimirio Respall ( –1921) and his wife Rufina Pereira (1874–1969)

The earliest ancestor I know on my mother’s side of the family was the Rodriguez Porro ancestors’ names that were Mariana and Mariano.

The earliest ancestor I know on my father’s side of the family was José Martínez from Guines, Cuba.

My surname comes from España and means Son of Martin.

Certain foods and family traditions that come from national and/or religious origins. Some of ours that do are: Sidra, Arroz con Pollo, Pierna asada, pudín de pan, arroz frito, flan, pastelón camagüeyano, arroz con carne de puerco, y plátano pintón. sparkling cider, chicken and rice, pork leg roast, bread pudding, fried rice, flan, camagueyan [chicken] pot pie, rice with pork, semi-ripe (yellow) plantains [typically boiled].

Mariana as a Toddler
at Republica #208
I was born in the house at Republica #57 whose street number was later changed to #208, [and lived there] from 1926 to 1951. When I married I lived on Avellaneda [street] in an apartment on the corner of San Esteban from 1951 to 1954. Afterwards we moved to a house that we had built at Honduras #55 between Chile and Argentina streets to 1965, when we came here to the USA.

I went to school at Las Salecianas on Luaces street in Camagúey for grades Kinder thru 2nd. Then I went to school at El Angel de la Guarda in Havana for grades 2 to 10th. I graduated Bachillerato [a bachelors degree in arts] from Institute #1 in Havana while I was still boarding at El Angel de la Guarda. Then I spent two years studying in Canada, first in a College in Montreal and then in a high school in Chatham, Ontario [so I could attend secretarial school in town].

Elia Rodríguez de las Casas
My mother was Elia del Rosario and I called her Mamá. She was born in Camagüey on 1 Oct 1904. When I was a child she was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds. She had black hair and  black eyes.  What I remember most about her: She learned to sew and embroider all by herself. She was very close to her sisters and visited them daily. She took care of all of Papá’s aunts for many years until their death. She said she had 4 mothers-in-law.

Joaquín Ventura Martínez
My father was Joaquín Buenaventura and I called him Papá. He was born in Habana on April 1, 1898. When I was a child, he was 5 foot 7 inches tall. He had black hair and black eyes.  What I remember most about him: He liked the countryside very much and he himself fixed appliances and machinery that broke. He liked to go out partying but never touched a drop of liquor.

A young Mariana hiding behind
the callas in the patio
of her childhood home
My childhood home: We lived in a big house in the center of the city of Camagüey, with 14 bedrooms, an interior patio and the parlor had two large windows to the street.  Our cook was called Conelia Noriega, who had been Godfather’s [Antonio Martínez’] nanny.  She had a nephew that had won an Olympic medal for running and another who was a music composer. When she reached 70 or 80 years, Padrino gave her a pension and later he paid for a nursing home where she died.

My brothers and sisters: I am the eldest. After came Elia Maria with 3½ years difference, then Ofelia and then Venturita. When Venturita was 7 or 8 years old Juan Antonio was born and then Natalia.

Mariana and her Cousin Fina
(Josefina Martínez Álvarez)
on the roof of Republica #208
My best friends: My cousins Fina and Angelita; Conchita Blanco; Teresita Martínez Lamo; Esperancita Biosca.

My pets: A fox terrier called “Cupey” and another called “Prince” and “Cosita” [Little Thing]. In my house in Retiro [name of the subdivision where Honduras #55 was] we had “Valentina Tereshkova” [named after the first Russian cosmonaut in space] and here in the US a canary named “Piolindo” and “Peanuts” and “Chester” [dogs].

Growing Up.

The dances they were dancing: El Botecito; the chachachá, bolero, and danzón.
The music they were playing: Benny Moré, Frank Sinatra
The books we were reading: Novels by E. M. Kelly, Corin Tellado, Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen.
What people were talking about: The second world war.
The fads that were popular: A radio soap opera that lasted a long time called “Mamá Dolores”.
What I wanted to be when I grew up: An engineer that made cosmetics and perfumes.

Some relatives nicknames: Peralta, Aunt Conchita’s husband, was called “El Perro.”  Papá was called “El Burro Alegre.”

A sad time: El fracaso de la Bahia de Cochinos. La ida de mis hijos y dejar my patria y mi familia. The utter failure of the Bay of Pigs [invasión of Cuba]; sending my children ahead and abandoning my country and my family.

This was special to me.

I had one dress I’ll remember: The shoes I wore to my First Communion had holes like little stars.

Mercedes Prado and Conchita Blanco
Dressed in the uniform of
Mariana Lola Alvarez’ school.
My most unforgettable friend: Conchita Blanco was my friend at Mariana Lola’s school [Angel de la Guarda boarding school in Havana]. Conchita lost her right hand to her wrist when she was little in an accident, and I was amazed how well she kept her hand hidden.

A vacation I’ll never forget: A vacation in Baradero Beach in 1941 in a DuPont house we rented.  We spent two months. We bathed in the sea twice a day. We played bowling and I tried to learn how to ride a bicycle without success. 

Pamela Style Hat
A gift I’ll always Remember: A bisque [porcelain] doll my size and a large pamela [sun hat] that my aunts sent from Havana.

When I was a little girl:  We would ride horses in Songorrongo [her mother’s ranch], [first] on a horse called Tropicál, a white horse that did not want to walk and that allowed one to mount by climbing up his legs.

Our Wedding.

Benito H. Prats
Mariana’s future husband
I met him at Christmas chorus practice at the Cathedral. He invited me to the movies a few times. We went out for a year before we were engaged.

We were married on June 9, 1951 at la iglesia del Sagrado Corazón  by the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Mos. Perez Serente. I was 24 years old and grandpa was 33. The wedding ceremony was at 8 in the morning in the Mass of the Veils.