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Conversations About and Among Friends and Neighbors in Cuba, New Mexico
By Esther V. Cordova May

Northern New Mexico regional Hispanic history and folklore.


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The community of Cuba, New Mexico, its institutions and economy are changing rapidly and radically. Our town is losing its former identity and its precious historical resources. Personally, I feel an urgent need to capture as much of our history as possible. I hope to share what I can from my perspective in the form of pláticas. In Spanish, pláticas means conversation, talk or chat, as well as discourse or a communication of ideas or information. Those of us who experienced Cuba before the age of electronic devices used to relate through pláticas. With our passing, the resources from the past will become less accessible unless they are written down. The stories and the fascinating people who once made our world special will fade away. The modern reader is invited to share our history and join in appreciating who we were as a community. Like any other place, Cuba’s history illustrates compassion and pain as well as conflict, cooperation and endurance. These stories and observations have relevance in this place and elsewhere, now and in the future.

Esther V. Cordova May was born in Cuba, New Mexico before World War II. As a child, she experienced the pre-industrial, rural life as prior generations of her family had done in Cuba and surrounding villages. Esther earned her Bachelor’s degree in history at Mills College in Oakland, California and a Masters degree in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Since returning to Cuba nearly forty years ago, she has continued her research of verbal accounts of pre-World War II life and her collection of photographs started in 1972 as a student research scholar. Esther is the author of the highly acclaimed Antes: Stories from the Past, Rural Cuba New Mexico, 1769–1949, published by Sunstone Press in 2011.

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