Smiles, everyone smiles! Look at the joy on the faces of the law students at Havana University in 1947. What hopes they had for the lives ahead of them.
On an aside, all of these images were taken by Melville Bell Grosvenor, editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine and the grandson of inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Who knew?
Here we see a honeymooning couple in Matanzas, having their portrait made in front of the statue of Jose Martí, poet and national hero.
During this time, many Americans visited the island (and Cubans were able to freely leave the island to travel as well, which they have not been able to do for 58 years now). As such, this peddler on the Prado made sure to have Old Glory handy among his Cuban flags. Now tell me, what American would go to Cuba and buy an American flag? I don’t get it.
The new generation of women, unlike their mothers, were allowed to work and vote and attend the university, rather than staying at home. I just love their outfits and the bus behind them.
Other woman (albeit still fabulously-garbed) chose to work in the tobacco industry, grading and selecting the best Pinar del Rio tobacco. Some of the finest in the world, it was grown under cheesecloth to protect it from insects and the hot sun. Leaves that were thin and silky with tiny veins were ideal, and each leaf wrapped two cigars.
This last image shows a home where doors and windows were almost always left open to allow the breezes to sweep through the homes.
One can only assume that this lovely home still exists, now crumbling and in disrepair, as with nearly every other building in Cuba.
A 2011 New York Times article stated “There are no vacancies in Havana. Every dwelling has someone living in it. Most Cubans are essentially stuck where they are.” Cubans don’t build custom homes; most of them live in dwellings older than they are, older than their parents are. At best, you can hope to trade apartments or pray a relative drops dead. However, with recent law changes and the realization that capitalism brings a struggling country much-needed income, even Airbnb now offers homes to visit, including a one bedroom for only $24 per night. Wow! Seems to good to be true.