1927 to 1987 

With origins in Spain and England, the story how Ofelia Salazar and Harold Abbott Butler met at Hotel Vedado located at M street and 19th Avenue during late 1926 has been woven in these two LINKS. Their friendship quickly gravitated to love as both were in their late 30's and anxious to pass on their genes. On July 4, 1927, they married and shortly later moved four blocks away into a third story walk-up apartment located at Linea and M street in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba.

             When mother became pregnant she gave up her job with Pesant Steel and on September 1, 1929, at 4 pm gave birth to their first son, William, born in the Anglo American Hospital. I love dad's story: 

Mother had been in labor during much of August 30, with acute pains. He had his work to attend to as well as a need to watch the NY stock exchange where stocks were on a daily dip so at 7 am on August 31, 1929, he dropped Ofelia off at the Anglo American Hospital and went to work. He called the hospital at noon and still no baby. Meanwhile, the stock market was taking a humongous dip, which really stung dad. He kept track of the ever dropping market indicators until 4 pm when he got a call from the Hospital to inform him that his son had been born. He closed up shop, drove in, and walked up to the natal section. A nurse brought his newborn out for him to see. Dad took one look, and declared, "Two disasters in one day!!" 

Ken's birth followed on February 11, 1931. Their 3rd story apartment had access to the roof  area, soon to become an ideal playground for the two young lively boys. A large sand box, a swing and a multitude of toys kept them busy and the high walls around the roof area kept it safe. 

In August 1933 political unrest erupted into a revolution. The sitting President of Cuba fled, Army officers hid out in the Hotel National, about 4 blocks from the apartment. Shooting was more than sporadic. The Army ordered us out as they were set to place heavy guns on the roof of our apartment to fire on the Hotel. Harold picked up Kenny and Ofelia grabbed me by the arm amid wild gunfire and the four of us ran up Linea avenue to the home of a friend where we were to spend the next three days until things cooled down and we could return. Soon after, dad started looking for a new home further away from the downtown area. 

            In 1935 dad bought a home in La Sierra neighborhood of Marianao. Three bedrooms and one bath with maid quarters above the one car garage. A large avocado tree shaded the backyard. The stove was coal fired. The ice box worked on just ice. In the years that followed the kitchen was redone with an electric stove and refrigerator. An open outdoor patio area was converted into a guest bedroom with bath, where Benito and my mothers sister Encarnita would sleep when they came to stay.  

On Sundays Ofelia's brothers Emilio and Jose would visit during the afternoon and I would watch the scene unfold week after week. Jose, a heavy duty Catholic, worked on converting Harold. My dad's perennial reply was that he was Mohammedan. Jose would keep pushing and Dad would then fix what he called a Butler special, an extra strong rum and coke. After two drinks, poor Jose could just babble while dad giggled.  

During the week after work, a required stop was at the American Club where Harold and his good friends engaged in games of poker dice to see would pay for the drinks. A macho environment, ladies were not allowed.  

            Unhappy with their two sons' inability to speak fluent English, they began to take summer trips starting in 1936 to Asheville, North Carolina, where they stayed at the Biltmore estate. Cousin Helen would come to visit and would often bring Leslie and Adele Young with her. As Bill and Ken grew older, they were placed in a summer camp in nearby Hendersonville, where they could expend their inexhaustible energy and give Harold and Ofelia a little time on their own to tour and relax.  

            In 1936 the Butler's joined the Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club where dad would meet his friends during noontime Sundays while his family enjoyed the beach. As his sons grew older and harder to handle Ofelia steered them towards sailing and in 1943 dad bought them their first boat that set both boys on a lifelong love for the open ocean.  

            World War II kept most Cubans trapped on the island as enemy submarines lurked in the Atlantic. Their first trip North after the war was during August 1947 when the family flew to Miami where dad rented a car to drive to West Lafayette, Indiana to drop Bill off at Purdue University where Bill was would pursue a career in electrical engineering. Dad returned to continue his career with the Cuban Electric Company as their General Superintendent, in charge of all power generation and distribution facilities.  

            In June, 1951, he and Ofelia flew to Indiana to joined Bill and Elsie Covell at their marriage on June 9 and to attend Bill's graduation June 10. Also attending was Aunt Helen May Butler (Nell), cousin Helen and many other family members. 

            His career with the Cuban Electric Company went well all the way to his retirement in June, 1956. He and mother settled into their new easy lifestyle without dad's daily commute to his office which often became tedious. Since the day they had first mover in, Dad roamed the neighborhood on a daily basis to shop for groceries, or on occasion, headed to the main markets downtown. Every one knew him as his six foot two height made him a standout everywhere. Fresh vegetables were provided by Chinese pushing large carts that they would park in front of the house and call out advising they had arrived. The butcher always had fine cuts ready for dads liking. Chickens would be bought alive and butchered at home, dipped in boiling water to remove the feathers, and prepared for dinner. Our maid/cook was Maria who as well headed out to the street to pull Ken and I out trouble when chased by neighborhood boys. The Butler's lived comfortably and at ease. 

Bill had been drafted in June 1954 and after basic training sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Elsie provided our first grandchild, Susan, on September 7, 1955. That Christmas Bill and family flew to Havana and we got to meet Susan. A beauty. When Bill was released from the Army in June 1956, they went to New York where he reported back to GE for a rehabilitation program then sent to Havana on his first overseas assignment together with new born Billy. A third grandson, Jimmy, was born Christmas eve, 1957, at the same hospital where Bill was born in 1929. 

Meanwhile son Kenny was working in the New York City area, had a nice girlfriend and owned a small sailboat. One day he and a friend took the boat up to New Haven for a series of weekend races. On a Sunday in the fall of 1957, while at the helm, he had a brain hemorrhage. His friend sailed the boat onto the beach in front of the New Haven Yacht Club where several doctors diagnosed the problem and got him to the Yale Hospital. When word reached Havana of what happened Bill flew to New Haven and stayed until mom and dad arrived. They stayed for two months then brought Ken back to Havana and cared for him at home as he slowly improved. Ken slowly went down hill, was sent to a clinic in Tampa, then to a Military Hospital in Marion, Indiana, where he died on December 26, 1961. With mother and dad unable to leave Cuba without lengthy waits, Bill flew from Manila to Marion for the funeral 

Fidel arrived in early 1959 but life went on almost as usual for the Butlers. Dad always expected the Castro regime to succumb as had the 3 previous revolutions he had experienced. That was until 1964 when he decided to leave. The process to obtain an exit permit was long and tedious. When I left Cuba on August 8, 1960, I just turned the house over to a friend and left with my original property deeds and was able to ship out all of our furniture. Appliances were not permitted and I had all of them delivered to mom and dad. Soon after, the government instituted regulations requiring people who wanted to leave the island to turn their property over to the state. These people, at the moment they were about to leave their home, destroyed their furniture and appliances which brought about new regulations. Mother and dad had to turn over their deed to the state after inspectors made a full inventory of ALL items in the house. When their departure time came, inspectors once again checked the full inventory, and if was all there, they OK'd their departure at which time mother and dad had to turn over their keys and abandon their home. 

Friends provided lodging until their plane flew out via Mexico where they arrived with but two dollars in their pockets. A good GE friend met them at the airport and helped them out as they departed for Miami. After two years in a Hotel in downtown Miami they moved to the Dallas Park Hotel where they lived very comfortably in a large apartment walking distance from downtown Miami. Bill and family visited them yearly starting in 1965 during their visits from Manila and were put up in a nearby apartment. When Bill was transferred to Caracas in 1969, we saw much more of Bill on his business trips, as Elsie and the children could only travel during summer vacation. In early 1974 the Dallas Park Hotel announced it would closed and that it had to be evacuated in 30 days. It was demolished in 1974.  

Meanwhile Bill had located a one bedroom apartment in a condominium in Coral Gables purchased with dad's help and helped furnish and move Harold and Ofelia into their new quarters during June 1974. They settled right in and lived there comfortably.  

            Bill's transfer to Miami in 1978 was fortuitous as mother and dad needed family close at hand.