May 9, 1920

Celia was delivered by her father, Dr. Manuel Sánchez Silveira, a rural doctor, on May 9, 1920, at 1:00 p.m. at home, in Media Luna. This town is dominated by a sugar mill and is on Cuba’s south-eastern coast. Manuel Sánchez, and his wife Acacia Manduley, took her to the civil registry on October 16, 1920, and registered her as Celia Esther de los Desamparados Sánchez Manduley, naming her after grandfather Juan Sánchez y Barro’s first wife, Celia Ros. They chose her middle name from the liturgical calendar, Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados, our lady of abandoned ones. She was a middle child of eight children, preceded by Silvia, Chela, and Manuel Enrique, and followed by Flavia, Griselda, Orlando, and the baby Acacia, named after their mother. Celia’s mother died when she was six, and Celia had needed special attention following this separation because she had suffered mild anxiety neurosis, began to cry frequently, developed a fever. Her father had kept her out of school, although she was nearly seven, to enter with Flavia who was a year and nine months younger, and had taught her himself, and continued to do this even after she entered school, and hired special tutors.

Image: Celia at 12 years old, Manzanillo, 1932. Courtesy of the Oficina de Asuntos Históricos, Cuba.

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