Dr. Manuel Sanchez and his wife Acacia in front of their house in Media Luna circa 1922. Celia (seated left) and Chela with their parents. Acacia holds the new baby, Flavia. In 1926, Acacia gave birth to her eighth child but never recovered. She died on December 19, 1926, at the age of 38, after having asked her husband to promise her that he would keep all the children together and that he would raise them under one roof. Manuel was a very loving, modern father, so Acacia’s fears, regarding her children, would seem unfounded. But her own father had died when he was quite young, and the Manduley women had never quite recovered.
Her father, Jose Dolores Manduley del Rio, was a traveling salesman and while traveling to a remote place in Oriente Province he’d died of acute appendicitis. Unknown, he was buried there and about a week later a horse and rider found and informed his family. He had been too young, at the time of his death, to have accumlated many savings, so his wife was at the mercy of her in-laws to decide on her income. Her brother-in-law, Rafael Manduley, was the governor of Oriente Province and rich enough to raise all his brother’s family comfortably, and, at the very least, under one roof. But Manduley followed Spanish custom: he took the boys. The girls (Amanda, Gloria, and Acacia) stayed with their mother and lived on very limited income until they were old enough to work or marry. One of the boys, Alfredo, was sent to study in the United States; the other two, Arturo and Pepe, stayed in Cuba with their uncle. They had no further contact with their mother or sisters. The Manduley women, eventually and much later, came into an inheritance.
The positive part of this story is that Manuel devoted himself to bringing up his children. And he taught them respect his wife’s family by providing the good parts of their family history. Colonel Rafael Manduely del Rio, whose autocracy split the family, had been an important local leader in the War of Independence providing soldier against Spain; he’d been a Cuban patriot and a revolutionary. Manuel’s father, on the other hand, was a Spaniard and a merchant. He supplied the Spanish army with uniforms and had grown wealthy from it. Celia’s generation had a vivid personal link to Cuban history. They were schooled on stories of glory, anarchy, and compromise.
Courtesy of the Oficina de Asuntos Históricos, Cuba.