Salamaca nun declares “You’re a Jew”; Barrels to the new world
Sometime in the 1990s my gay partner James Doig Anderson (now of 41 years) gave a lecture at the Pontificia Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. At a reception afterwards, I was chatting with a nun, all in starched white habit from Barcelona. When she learned of my name, Catala, she proclaimed, “You are a Jew!” My response: “I am?” I learned that my ancestors were kicked out of Barcelona in 1492 and fled to Majorca; they didn’t have a proper last name, but they were speaking Catala, the language of Catalunya, hence my last name. Later I learned stories of Catala boys being shipped to the new world in barrels, with air holes, food, water, etc. Two barrels landed in Cuba, where I grew up, a Catholic like just about everyone there; another barrel landed in Puerto Rico.
I love your show. I think this would be a great story on your show, and I would love for you and your staff to fill in all the missing pieces! Rafael Catala, St. Petersburg Florida
(PS I left Cuba after high school on the last commercial flight from Havana. I earned BA, MA, and PhD degrees from NYU.)