On November 24, 1960, the first Cuban San Giving was held in a non-disclosed location of Hialeah, Florida by the Rodriguez family who lived in the duplex next to my grandmother’s house.
In attendance were Maria “Guaperia” Perez (a neighbor), Tia Lola, her boyfriend-hubby (marinovio) Cheito, the Mother, Socorro, the father, Eusebio and the two children, twin sisters, my friends, Clara and Celeste. I had been invited to join the Rodriguez clan for their meal so I was at the table too.
The meal consisted of Roast Pork, Black Beans and Rice, Sweet Plantains and a Salad made with Iceberg Lettuce and Green Tomato. The dressing was olive oil, vinegar and salt. There was no pepper shaker at the table. They had cuban bread with butter from a tub (so it probably was not butter). Nowhere on the table was there a turkey, a pan with stuffing or mashed potatoes. The food was delicious. (For desert I know we were having something called Guayaba with some white cheese! Yum!)
Mami (as Eusebio called his wife) was glad to be home on a Thursday from the clothing factory she worked at everyday.
Before we ate, I asked if anyone was going to say grace (Clara translated for her parents). Papi (as Socorro called her husband) said he had already prayed earlier in the day. In fact he said he had prayed everyday to the most benevolent American Saint he had met since leaving Cuba fourteen months earlier:
Everyday he prayed to San Giving, the Patron Saint of Cubans everywhere (especially at El Refugio) and today he was having a dinner in his honor.