When I think of my childhood, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are present many times in my thoughts. Those were difficult times also for Cubans, who felt the American "Great Depression" in our pockets. But in better years, we also lived to enjoy the American good times. It's not just the 90 nautical miles from Cuba to the United States that made us close friends.


When I think of my childhood, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are present many times in my thoughts. Those were difficult times also for Cubans, who felt the American "Great Depression" in our pockets. But in better years, we also lived to enjoy the American good times. It's not just the 90 nautical miles from Cuba to the United States that made us close friends.
    The U.S. helped us become independent from Spain, giving the Cubans a chance to rule themselves. And, in an epic and generous move, they took the American flag down and hoisted the Cuban one, in 1902. Many years later, the Russians showed us that a strategically located island cannot be on its own, but this belongs in the recent pages of the history of Cuba.
    The United States benefited Cuba in many ways. There were many American businesses, buildings, schools, factories, all kind of investments and so on. The value of the Cuban peso equaled the dollar. We rode U.S. vehicles and learned in schools about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other chapters of American history as well. We met at the movies Mickey Mouse as one of the first  Walt Disney’s "kids" and Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire as leaders of entertainment.
    I have been a fan of the Astaire-Rogers couple since I can remember. As a matter of curiosity, I was born the same year Rogers married for the second time.
     When I was a kid, I used to sing "Cheek to Cheek" in English, not knowing the language, just following the words the way they sounded to me: "Heven, I'm in heven, an my hart beetso that I can hardly speek..."
    When I was teaching at DCHS, one year at the annual show some teachers represented different years of American music, like the "Rat Pack" (Sinatra, Lawford, Martin and Davis Jr.) by some English teachers. My husband and me were — who else? — Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, as we danced — what else? — "Cheek to Cheek.” We couldn't believe it, and neither could the students, but we all had a great time.
    Ginger and Fred were kind of a representation of America the Beautiful because of their songs, their wardrobe, the light and funny subjects of their movies, their acting, and his way of singing "Let's Face the Music and Dance,” starting with, "There must be troubles ahead..."
     The famous dancing couple made millions of Americans (and Cubans) happy during the financial crash. They helped the American spirit up, when it was heard in the street corners, "Can you spare a dime?" And it was real. They made us optimistic with their rhythm following Fred's famous steps. He was and still is, with Gene Kelly, one of the masters of modern American dancing. Fred wore tails, and Gene was in a T-shirt. Sometimes I watched some of their movies  on Turner Classic Movies, Chanel 65.
    Well, this year, my son sent me for Mother's Day the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers complete movie collection, with some CDs and interviews. If I ever tried to have a beautiful dream, it would be my son giving me what he just did.
    I'll be dancing and singing around the house for a long time, because "They can’t take that away from me."