“By Daisy Abreu”
What I remember most about my fifteenth birthday, mis quinces, was that it was an extended family affair. My parents hosted the party at El Club Camajuani, the social club named after my mother’s Cuban hometown it is where my family lived until they immigrated to the U.S. in 1968. The club is located in Union City, New Jersey. It is also the place where I’d spent many weekends of my childhood sipping Shirley Temples at the bar, selecting 45s to play on the jukebox, and playing dominos, meanwhile, my parents drank, smoked, and chatted with their oldest friends.
My parents were the founding members of the club. This meant that it was a given to have my party there, surrounded by aunts and uncles that I wasn’t related to in any way. Tío Cango owned a restaurant, so he and his wife Olga took it upon themselves to cook all the food for the party. As they worked hard on the food, another one of my Tio’s provided soft drinks and liquor at a discount. One tía purchased the fabric for my party dress as another tia, that was also named Olga, sewed the dress and fit it to my form. My mother’s best friend, Rosita, decorated the hall with an arch of pink and white balloons. She also picked out the tablecloths, floral centerpieces, and the ribbon recuerdos (memories) printed with my name, birth date, and “Mis Feliz Quinces” where guests could pin to their lapels and dresses.
My corsage consisted of fifteen tiny pink roses and I kept it in the refrigerator for years, occasionally taking it out of its plastic box to breathe in the faded scent and remember this beautiful day filled with all of my family’s energy. Another way that I relive this beautiful night is through this picture of my father and I, having the father/daughter dance at my Quince while wearing the beautiful corsage that all my aunts put together.
This is a picture of my father and me dancing at my Quinceanera in June of 1987