Hector Negrón García

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Yolanda Cintron & Rafael Garcia Adorno on their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba - 1948

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT A STRANGER –

A while ago, I found an antique photograph which my grandmother, Yolanda Cintron says was taken somewhere between 1948 and 1949. As soon as I held, it had a smell that reminded me of her house in El Viejo San Juan.

Since the beginning of my memories, I’ve seen my grandmother as a hardworking widow. Since the discovery of this photo, my perception of her and her life has changed somewhat.

I found out that the person accompanying her in this photograph was my grandfather. His name was Rafael Garcia Adorno. It made me ponder and questions arose. I was determined to find out as much about him as I could.

She told me that this picture was taken in Havana, Cuba on their honeymoon. I don’t recall my grandmother telling me she smoked cigarettes nor that she used to drink. Either way, by the looks of it, she was really happy. On the other hand, if you focus on my grandfather, Rafael, his facial expressions are a bit ambiguous. Maybe he was unhappy or simply starting to show signs of the jerk he was about to become during the next few years.

Being the head of a popular gambling business in Santurce called “Bolitas,” he was well known and respected. This made every girl fancy him. No wonder. Just to give you some background as to who he was, I’ll mention a few things. Apart from the fact that he cheated on my grandmother various times, he was a lousy father but at least a good provider.

Fortunately, my grandmother found out about his tendency towards other women and decided to divorce him. In those days, it was really difficult to be a divorcée and even harder to be a divorcée with two kids. My Grandfather Rafael García Adorno never appeared in their lives again. The last word Yolanda heard about Rafael was that he fled Puerto Rico because some local gangsters were looking for him.

As to who took the picture, she didn’t know. He was just a paid photographer who made his living by taking photos in that particular restaurant called “Cristal.” It was the restaurant where they first ate as a couple. If you closely observe the picture, you can see that every table is empty and everyone is standing far away. Why may that be? I questioned myself and eventually discovered the answer. Everyone in the restaurant respectfully waited for my grandparent’s picture to be taken. So clearly this picture is posed.

Unfortunately many of this pictures were lost after Rafael left the house and was erased from their lives. Many were burned, others were thrown away and the rest were stored in boxes in an old isolated, dusty, and unopened room in her house. So as you can imagine, finding this photo was like finding Waldo in the children’s book “Where’s Waldo?”

As soon as I found it and showed it to my grandmother, she told me it sat every day during their marriage on the night table beside the antique, Caoba wood, queen-sized bed. After the divorce she instantly stored this photo among dozens of others. And there she left them for decades and decades, until I found them.

 

1 Comment

  1. Very nice story of grandmother and grandfather. It is awesome to know the power that one simple picture can do. If it hadn’t been for that picture, you had never heard about the story. The simile you used, “finding this photo was like finding Waldo” was very funny.

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