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Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010.

MobileBooth East kicked off the first stop of 2010 amid the palm trees and students of Miami Dade’s Wolfson Campus. On an unseasonably cold day in Miami, outdoor heaters warmed the crowd as we snacked on guava pastelitos and caf&#233 con leche.

Whitney Henry-Lester, Virginia Lora, and Miami Dade Students

Site Supervisor Whitney Henry-Lester, Facilitator Virginia Lora, and Miami-Dade Community College students

While in Miami, MobileBooth East is partnering with WDNA public radio to record the stories of Latino and Hispanic communities as part of StoryCorps Historias. And we were thrilled to welcome new Mobile Facilitator—and Miami local-Virginia Lora to the road.

Manuel and Mercy Quiroga

Manuel and Mercedes Quiroga

For the first conversation of the day, Mercy and Manny Quiroga talked about family. Manny began the conversation by sharing memories of his father, Manuel Quiroga, who Manny remembers as a strong, determined man, “with great hands.” Manny particularly remembers the time that his father sawed through a ficus tree in their backyard in Havana, Cuba. Fifteen feet in diameter, the tree was so large that its roots were interfering with the house’s plumbing. Manny’s father only had access to a tiny pruning saw, so he spent every Saturday and Sunday for two years sawing, stroke by stroke, through the ficus’s huge trunk.

A few years ago, Manny decided to commission artists Hayd&#233e and Sahara Scull to create a portrait of his father in his typical plaid shorts, t-shirt, black socks, and loafers. After some thought, however, Manny realized that the portrait would really be incomplete without his mother. Yet he could hardly include his mother while omitting the rest of the family. Plans for the portrait eventually grew to include Manny’s entire family, their business, their car, and the street on which they lived in Havana. At this point, Manny’s wife Mercy pointed out that her family also lived on that block. Their mothers, after all, were old friends: the ones who introduced them.

Its evolution complete, the painting now hangs in the Quiroga home: an enormous, three-dimensional street scene of both families on their block in La Habana Vieja.

Quiroga Hermanos, Calle Muralla 458, through the artistry of the Scull sisters.

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