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Old Friends

Elvira, Andrea, and Zaira, my close friends and classmates at Ruston Academy, appear in Scatter My Ashes over Havana. Our bachillerato graduating class totaled thirty-two students. Elvira, Andrea, Zaira, and I played sports, did homework, prepared for exams together. We went to parties and dreamed teenage dreams together. Only Zaira remained in Cuba.

Team Picture

Here we are, the only four Cubans in the basketball team at Ruston Academy, where many Americans living in Cuba sent their children. Elvira: 21 Andrea: 27 Zaira: 6 Olga: 14

Las Cuatro Amigas
Graduation night at Ruston Academy, 1958.

We were dressed as if for our weddings. Zaira, Elvira, Andrea, Olga. The photo was taken in the school garden, in front of the weeping willow or sauce llorón. Our graduation party that night was at the Tropicana. The following September, Zaira was studying philosophy in Paris, at the Sorbonne. Elvira, Andrea, and I were attending Santo Tomás de Villanueva University in Havana. After two years, all of us except Zaira had left Cuba. 


Ruston Academy class of 1958


 Emi and Olga, 2006
Leaving your country of birth means you lose most of your friends. I am fortunate to have found my closest ones after many many years.

How did I find them? A hermit at a Benedictine monastery near Corning, New York, handed me the booklet of Ruston Academy alumni—names, addresses, and phone numbers. One of his few possessions was that booklet. He too was a Ruston alum. His sister Ada Galbán had been my classmate.