Thursday, May 22, 2008

F.W. Woolworth: Memories in 2 Languages

This is a bilingual entry. The photos above show the famous corner of Galiano and San Rafael streets before –and after- the "debacle" of the Cuban Revolution.
I still cannot fathom why everything had to be left to decay and self-destroy! You can also see the small townhouse building (like a ‘jewelry-box’) of the jewelry store La Casa Quintana (see how it looks today!) --and some other stores which in 1958 were varied, stylish and filled with modern and beautiful merchandise accesible to every budget!


¡Me encantaba merendar allí con mami cuando íbamos de tiendas!

Por eso recuerdo los deliciosos “especiales” de la fuente de sodas del Ten Cent de Galiano. Valían $0.10, venían en unos sobrecitos de ‘wax paper’, estaban hechos de una pasta de jamón con queso crema y eran riquísimos. También me gustaba tomar “frozens” de chocolate, y comer “cosas americanas” –como el “pie” de limón con un merengue altísimo- mientras alguien esperaba turno, parado detrás de nosotros, con una extraña demostración de paciencia cubana.

Cada vez que pienso en aquellas visitas al legendario F.W. Woolworth cubano, vuelven a mi boca instantáneamente los conocidos sabores del pasado.


I loved eating there when Mami and I went shopping!

Located in the old downtown Havana area –in Galiano and San Rafael Streets- where all the big departments stores like El Encanto, Fin de Siglo and the gorgeous jewelry store La Casa Quinta, were located, the big F.W.Woolworth (which we called “the Ten Cent”, albeit pronounced in a very Cuban way “el Ten Cén”) was quite a landmark of my childhood memories.

I especially remember its Soda Fountain and its yummy ‘Especiales’ Sandwiches, made with a creamy mix of ham and cream cheese in a soft hamburger bun. Wrapped inside of a wax paper little envelope, they cost $0.10 and were amazing! I also loved their ‘chocolate ice cream frozens’ (similar to those served now at New York's trendy "Serendipity") --and all the very ‘American’ things they served, like scrumptious, mile-high Lemon Meringue Pie.

And I also remember –with a sense of wonder!- the unusual demonstration of patience we all showed --as we waited for our turn to sit, quietly standing behind those who were seated and finishing their meal at Woolworth's soda fountain counter. (The picture above shows how it looks today!) --It was such an un-Cuban thing to do-- but we did!

Every time I think about those weekly outings to Havana’s legendary F.W. Woolworth --my mouth still waters and I can ‘virtually’ taste the delicious flavors and smells of our Cuban past!