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ERIC Number: EJ760981
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0005-2604
Chickens on the Bus
Anreus, Alejandro
Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, v32 n1 p191-195 Spr 2007
In this article the author describes his first winter in Elizabeth, New Jersey with his family in 1972. His family included: his mother Margarita; his aunts Dinorah and Nereyda; the family matriarch, his grandmother Maria Otilia Anreus; and himself, an underweight and scrawny twelve-year-old named after the infamous anarchist, Alexander Berkman. His family had come to the United States less than two years earlier, lived briefly in Miami, and then left that city in search of jobs and a life away from right-wing fellow Cubans. His family, like the majority of working-class families in 1950s Cuba, had welcomed the revolution on January 1, 1959. Members of his extended family ranged from liberal to socialist in their political identity and political past. Overall, the family was anti-Batista, anti-Americano (of the U.S. variety), and anticommunist (of the Stalinist variety, the one most available in pre-1959 Cuba). So it was natural that they hid weapons, students, and publications during Batista's reign in the mid- to late 1950s. When the revolution triumphed, they were ecstatic. The early enthusiasm for Castro's revolution started to wane when he declared himself a Marxist-Leninist after the Bay of Pigs. Disillusionment grew as independent labor unions ceased to exist and homosexuals were persecuted, the newspaper "Revolucion" was taken away from independent socialist Carlos Franqui, Castro supported the invasion of Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968, and the poet Heberto Padilla was forced to make a public confession at the Writers and Artists Union in 1970. The Cuban road to utopia had become dystopic. It was on August 19, 1970 that the author's family boarded one of the "freedom flights" sponsored by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Half the family stayed behind for a variety of reasons, both personal and political. His mother was working in a factory (Magnus Organs, in Linden), his aunt Dinorah was a receptionist for a Cuban surgeon, his aunt Nereyda was home struggling with the early stages of sclerodermia and muscular dystrophy, and his grandmother, as usual, was running the household and taking care of him when he was not in school. They had very little money; they walked a lot, used coupons, received free food from the local Catholic charities, and bought their clothes and furniture used and piecemeal at the Salvation Army. And above all, they were not ready for winter, physically or psychologically. In this article, the author narrates an incident that occurred on a week day shortly before Christmas. Classes were over, and he was home with his grandmother and his ill aunt. The family had saved enough money to buy some yucca, rice and beans, plenty of Spanish nougat (Sanchiz Mira), and a nice bottle of Rioja. There was not enough for pork or Guinea hens or turkey, but there was enough to buy two fresh chickens. The author describes his experience going with his grandmother to la placita--the open-air market in Peterstown, the Italian neighborhood in Elizabeth--to buy two live chickens that they were then going to bring home, kill, and roast for Noche Buena, Christmas Eve dinner. In Cuba they did this all the time. But that was Cuba, their homeland; they knew the ropes there, they knew what to do. No one knew how this would be done in an Italian community in New Jersey.
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. 193 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1544. Tel: 310-794-9380; Tel: 310-825-2642; Fax: 310-206-1784; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey