Saturday, February 7, 2015

Happy for Cuba

By TOMIE V. PARKS
Special to the Taylor Press

Losing a loved one is never easy. It's even harder when you can't say goodbye.
In her case, it was the law that prevented Maria Newman of Taylor from giving her dying grandmother in Cuba a proper farewell.
“The only thing worse was watching how that affected my mother,” Newman said. “She was distraught.”
With the trade embargo, travel restrictions and uneasy relations between Cuba and the United States, Newman's Ohio-based mother couldn't offer emotional support to her immediate family members in Cuba or attend her mother's funeral.
“It was out of the question,” Newman said. “It wasn't legal to travel there at the time, and she was told by the U.S. State Department that if she were to travel to through a third-party country, she wouldn't be allowed to re-enter America.”
She had to stay to protect her U.S. Citizenship and her livelihood, no matter the guilt and sadness she felt.
“That blockade (between Cuba and the United States) tore our family apart,” Newman said, clearly remembering when the tension began in 1959. “Our annual visits to the family stopped abruptly. Gifts stopped. It all stopped.”
At that time, Newman lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her parents and three siblings.
“My parents were proud, naturalized citizens of the United States,” she said. “And I was the first of four children born in America.”
All of her extended family lived in Cuba, so the ability to stay connected was of the utmost importance.
It still is. That's why she cried tears of joy when President Obama announced his intent to normalize relations with Cuba last December.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Disney magic alive on high school stage

By TOMIE PARKS
Special to the Hutto News
Full of color and sparkle, the set of “Beauty and the Beast” transported the audience to a world of adventure and mystique.
People of all ages seemed entranced by Hutto High School's production of the familiar tale.
Several young girls wore princess dresses and sang along with the cast and some of the grandparents who were there in support of family members wept during the grand finale.
“It's a great turnout of family and friends,” said Linda Rosenbusch, director and theatre teacher at Hutto High School.
She welcomed audience members with a wave or hand shake before the 2 p.m. matinee performance started on Jan. 31.
The show went without incident or noticeable flaw.
“It's going smoothly,” said Shanon Markham of Hutto at intermission.
She was there with seven relatives to watch her daughter on stage ― chorus member Rebecca Lockhart.
“We are impressed,” Markham said. “From the costumes to the set, it's obvious a lot of work went into it.”
Jeffrey Smith, the play's technical director, laughed when asked about the show's quality of light and sound.
“Oh, it's been perfect,” Smith said, joking. His remarks prompted a fit of giggles in the sound booth.
“But the good thing,” Smith said regaining his composure, “is that if the audience doesn't notice anything wrong, then it's all great.”
The matinee performances of the play's run at Hutto High School were special.
“Some select students from our elementary schools were able to help out on stage,” Rosenbusch said. Students from Cottonwood Creek and Veterans Hill Elementary Schools participated in the Jan. 31 matinee performance. They portrayed the plates in the musical number “Be Our Guest,” and their artwork was on display in the lobby at intermission.
Students were selected by music teachers based on grades and participation.