Family Twins Old Friends Places Recent



Mama Angélica Tía Consuelo and Tío Miguel

We don’t choose our parents, but we do get to choose our favorite aunt and uncle. Tía Consuelo and Tío Miguel had no children. Lucky me. They gave me hundreds of weekends out in the countryside, free to get to know rural Cuba on horseback all by myself since I was twelve years old. They had a small weekend farm there: RINCONCITO ("Little Corner"). Their only rule: come back in time for meals.

Papa Juan

My mysterious grandfatherdescendant of the wealthy Terry family. His branch of the Terrys sympathized with the Cuban patriots during the war against Spain, fled to New Orleans, and then moved to New York in the late 19th century. Papa Juan and my mother returned to Havana in 1917not at all wealthy. He lived alone in a rooming house, read Jules Verne, spoke English mostly, and practiced something he called diathermy.
Abuela Olga

Although I was named after her, we were never close. She and Papa Juan were divorced, and she never came to live in Cuba. She visited us in Havana and complained of the heat. Her apartment in Bronxville, New York had non-Cuban household items: an elevator and an incinerator chute. We hid candy under our mattress there, and the dye stained everything. Much suffering ensued after we were discovered. Her last name was Frowein. Her father was German; her mother was Scottish.


How beautiful she was and how gifted: painter, gourmet cook, gardener, seamstress, knitter, lover of classical music, director of personnel at our big department store in Havana: El Encanto. She read voraciously and spoke three languages although she never went to college. She spoke to us in English quite often, read us "Dick and Jane," asked us to repeat after her: "Run, Puff, run."
Papa Karman

He was from France, near Strasbourg, came to Havana very young, met my grandmother Angélica, and never returned to France. On his porch in Vedado, I’d read him Paris Match after I’d learned a little French in 11th grade. He made a delicious French fish soup for us once a year. It was bouillabaisse.

Olguita Olga and Mama Angélica

Some Saturdays, Mama would take me to the horse races. Stationed just above the paddock, I was her lookout at the track. I studied the horses; she stayed high up in the stands close to the betting windows. After I’d picked my winner and yelled his name up to her, she’d hurry to place her bet, opening her black purse as she went. If we won, she’d send me home with a dollar.
Olga in
Jungle Gym

Olga and Tío Miguel At Rinconcito, with my pet monkey

Olga and Sultán Olga, 1958

Ruston Graduation, 1958 Engagement

Mami, Carla and Olga.

 Mystic, Connecticut Mother left Cuba in 1964. Here she is, soon after her arrival, with her granddaughter Carla and with me. At an advanced age, she had to make a new life for herself. My father would not leave Cuba for another 3 years because he was looking after his mother, Mama Angélica.
Connecticut College Graduation, 1965

Harvard Graduation Olga and Mariposa

Medina, NY 1983 Olga, Sailing

Mami, Painting Harvard Gown to Good Use

Mami and Papi

They drove all the way from Dallas, where they began their American life together, to Western New York to see my family. How happy they were to see Niagara Falls and to take a vacation together after having lived apart for 4 yearsFather in Cuba, Mother here. How proud they were of their very used Mercury, their road maps, the fact that they had predicted when they’d be pulling up our driveway, leaning on the horn and waving.