1958-1960 Cuban Revolution Archive

Value (2018) | $5,000 Retail$6,000 Retail
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GUEST:
Well, my whole family was a Foreign Service family, and we traveled, we moved about every two-and-a-half years. And in the spring of 1958, my father moved to Santiago de Cuba as the consul at the U.S. Consulate there, and we followed that summer. We lived there for just about two years, during the revolution.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, the Cuban Revolution occurred.

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
So you were eyewitness to the Cuban Revolution?

GUEST:
Eyewitness and ears. You learned to come in if the bullets were flying more than a couple of miles close to the house. You learned to do that. I was nine and ten when I was there, and you kept the windows closed at Christmas because Christmas trees were counter-revolutionary, and things like that. My father was called away soon after we got there because the rebels in Oriente Province and the Sierra Maestra, which was Raúl Castro's area of the revolution...

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
...kidnapped a busload of American sailors, and he was tasked with going and negotiating their release. The person in the white shirt with his back to us, right there, is my dad. And he's listening to a very young Raúl Castro.

APPRAISER:
And the photo below is another close-up of Raúl Castro with your father?

GUEST:
It looks to me like that's later in the progress and perhaps they've come to some agreements by then for the release.

APPRAISER:
And I have to note this armband on the young Raúl Castro here.

GUEST:
Yes. It is the day of their declaration.

APPRAISER:
It's the date the revolution began.

GUEST:
It's the emblematic date that everybody wore on their sleeve. This is an interesting picture just because my dad is there, but also Raúl, and you can see the conversation around the table. That's where they did a lot of their negotiating. The photos up here and down here were in January of 1959, which is just as the Cuban rebels came in and were victorious and moved into Santiago. And so there was a huge celebration and lots of campesinos-- farmers-- were bussed in from the countryside to celebrate.

APPRAISER:
Wow. And the last row of photographs?

GUEST:
That's my dad laying out a signal for landing strip for the Navy helicopters that were coming in from Guantanamo to help pick up the sailors who were being released. And you can see some of the sailors down in that photo. And he received the Department of State Superior Service Medal for that. He never actually met Fidel, but my mother did, and we all were out in the beginning, because it was a very exciting time when the rebels first came into town. It was a very populistic sight, everybody was excited.

APPRAISER:
We've got another photograph on the top of this large pile. We should mention, these are "LIFE" magazine photographs.

GUEST:
They were taken by George Skadding, the "LIFE" photographer, and given as a personal gift following their time together in the mountains to my father. Some of them have appeared in "LIFE" magazine.

APPRAISER:
That's a really interesting point, because many of these are photographs that were published in "LIFE" magazine at the time, but many of these photographs have never been published or ever seen before by the public. So your two years there, it covered the entire pre- to post-revolution, is that correct?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And as well-known and documented as the Cuban Revolution is, your family's story and its history isn't. And your father wrote the story, is that correct?

GUEST:
Yup.

APPRAISER:
This is the manuscript that your father wrote?

GUEST:
Yeah, that's an unpublished manuscript that he put together when he was back in the U.S.

APPRAISER:
This is a truly remarkable archive. I really hope your family's story gets out here, it really deserves to be told.

GUEST:
It was a wonderful place to live. All of that-- revolution aside-- the people were wonderful, and it was a gorgeous place.

APPRAISER:
But yet, as a young girl, weren't you scared sometimes?

GUEST:
Yeah, often. I spent some nights under my mother's bed, unbeknownst to her, sometimes, and I learned to avoid the windows when they were moving medications through our yards as they would shoot around the windows. I collected bullets of various calibers and could identify the size of the holes in my house by the caliber or by ear, at a distance.

APPRAISER:
Really?

GUEST:
(laughing) Yeah, well, you did what you needed to do.

APPRAISER:
So they were actually shooting into your house?

GUEST:
Not into, just to keep us from looking out the windows.

APPRAISER:
You have far more documents, photographs, and other historic materials. For the archive that you've brought here, I would put a value, at retail, on just the collection that we've talked about and have here today, at $5,000.

GUEST:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, UT
Update (2018)
$5,000 Retail$6,000 Retail
Appraised value (2017)
$5,000 Retail
Event
Green Bay, WI (June 17, 2017)
Period
1950s

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