By Daisy Abreu
What I remember most about my fifteenth birthday, mis quinces is that it was an extended family affair. My parents hosted the party at El Club Camajuani, the social club located in Union City, New Jersey, and named for my mother’s Cuban hometown, where my parents and siblings lived until coming to the United States in 1968. I spent many weekends in my childhood at the Club sipping Shirley Temples at the bar, selecting 45s to play on the jukebox, and playing dominos while my parents drank, smoked, and chatted with their oldest friends.
My parents were founding members of the club, so there was never a question that I’d have my party there surrounded by aunts and uncles I wasn’t related to in any way. Tío Cango owned a restaurant, so he and his wife Olga cooked all the food for the party, while another provided soft drinks and liquor at a discount. One tía purchased the fabric for my party dress as another tia, 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, tablecloths, floral centerpieces, and ribbon Recuerdos (keepsakes) printed with my name, birth date, and “Mis Feliz Quinces” that 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 the day. Another way that I relive this beautiful night is through these pictures of my father and I entering the hall and having the father/daughter dance, me wearing the beautiful dress and corsage that all my aunts provided as he beams with love and pride.
This is a picture of my father and I doing the father/daughter dance