The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my grandmother, Margarita Bernardini Fernandez-Cuervo, at my Bucks County, Pennsylvania home on Thanksgiving of 2017. In 1951, Margarita moved from Madrid, Spain to Manila, Iowa. This is another story of Margarita adapting to her new American life and spending time with her new family. Moments like these helped her grow and adapt while reminding her of how culturally different the two countries are. Today, Margarita looks back on this memories with great humor.

Margarita trekked through Manila, Iowa on a September morning. The Spanish immigrant had spent the past few weeks in the small town with her new family. Margarita was accompanied by her husband, Robert, and his parents and friends. The group headed towards a baseball field on the other side of the town.

After several minutes, they reached the fields. Margarita stared at the giant metal fence that sat behind a barren field of dirt. She observed the benches behind the fences as well as small white squares on the field. She was confused as to how this field would host a game, as it looked quite desolate. The only thing she knew about baseball is a ball that is thrown and then is hit with a bat, so she planned on doing just this.

“We should make two teams. The Ash family will all be on one side,” Robert proclaimed.

That left Margarita with Robert, his parents, and a few other family members who called Manila home.

Margarita passively listened and followed Robert. His mother asked, “do you know how to play, Margarita?”

 “Of course she knows how to play,” Robert claimed, cutting his mother off, “everybody knows how to play baseball! I always put baseball on the television.”

While this was true, Margarita never paid attention to any sports, let alone American sports. So, when baseball was airing in front of her, she mostly spent her time doing other things. She knew she just had to hit the ball, so she kept quiet and didn’t want to inconvenience everyone with asking for all the rules. She figured that she would observe the game until it was her turn to bat.

“How about if Margarita goes first? She is the newest family member,” said Robert.

Margarita complied, and she grabbed the bat and walked to the closest white object she saw on the ground, knowing that this is where a ball would be thrown to her. She felt confident, at least up to this point. A neighbor stood in front of her with the ball in his hand.

Margarita stood and waited with the bat in her hand until the ball was ready to be thrown to her. Seconds later, she blindly swung the bat forward as hard as she could. Closing her eyes, she was expecting to miss to ball. To her surprise, all she heard was the crack of the wooden bat. She opened her eyes, but she didn’t see a ball, all she saw was her opponents looking up and far away. She hit the ball so far, she couldn’t even see it! Her joy was halted once she realized she had no idea what to do now, as she now stood there frozen.

“Run, run, run!”

She heard voices from all around her, but nobody was telling her where to run, assuming she knew. A few moments later, a friend stepped on one of the squares with the ball in his hand.

“You’re out,” they said.

Learning Baseball

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1951
Manila, Iowa

I interviewed my grandmother, Margarita Bernardini Fernandez-Cuervo, at my Bucks County, Pennsylvania home on Thanksgiving of 2017. In 1951, Margarita moved from Madrid, Spain to Manila, Iowa. This is another story of Margarita adapting to her new American life and spending time with her new family. Moments like these helped her grow and adapt while reminding her of how culturally different the two countries are. Today, Margarita looks back on this memories with great humor.

Decade: 1950s
Rating:
Recorded by Gavin Redican on December 11, 2017
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