One of the best times in our lives.


Our first baby boy

The following has nothing to do with Rochester itself, but we were there on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Our landlady met us at the door when we came back from school, shaken up with tears in her eyes and invited us, asked us, to watch the news on her TV and keep her company. We lived on the second floor of her home and we didn’t have a TV set. We were very saddened by that tragedy and we grieved with our landlady and the neighbors, as well as with the good friends we had already made at school, students and staff members. There was a widespread and genuine period of mourning.

At the end of 1963 we took a vacation in December. My wife’s parents had rented a house in Acapulco for a couple of weeks and invited us and my parents to join them for the holidays. At that time a medical doctor from Ghana and his wife had arrived in Rochester with a fellowship to study in the Department under Dr. Lotspeich’s guidance. They had not been able to find accommodations yet and since we were going away for about 10 days, we asked our landlady permission to offer them our rooms while they looked for their own living arrangements. She accepted without any concern. So we lent our keys to the Ghanaian couple and left for the beach and warm weather and to visit with our families without a second thought. We had a great time in Acapulco: relaxed, no snow, beautiful beaches. When we returned our friends from Ghana had already found their own apartment. When we retrieved our keys from the landlady, she reported to us that she had received considerable pushback and angry comments from her neighbors on account that she had sheltered a black married couple in her house. We were astounded by this news. We did not have the historical and social perspectives at that time in January 1964 to understand such a reaction from the neighbors in this northern city that had been home to notable civil rights leaders with international renown. It was quite an education. A very sad one.

Now back to the good news. In August 1964, my wife was quite pregnant, and we thought it was our last chance to take a vacation trip through the Eastern coast. We drove our green VW Bug from Rochester to Boston. Stayed in Boston for a couple of days and drove north up the coast of New Hampshire and Maine and then turned West to drive through the White Mountains and the Green Mountains to reach the New York Thruway at Schenectady and return home. We had a wonderful time: swam a little in freezing water (in August!); rowed a boat in a spectacularly foggy morning in Bar Harbor; visited interesting petting zoos; purchased exceptional maple syrup; and ate the best possible lobsters on the boardwalk on the beach in New Hampshire and Maine.

Shortly after our return from the New England trip, on September 20, 1964 we got the most precious reward in Rochester. Our first son was born at 2 or 3 in the morning at Strong Memorial Hospital -great Obstetrics, great Pediatrics and great medical and nursing care. So, we had come to Rochester for a degree for me and we got a little big bonus for the two of us. The Rockefeller Foundation added $50 a month to our stipend to accommodate the family expansion.

In August of 1965, exactly three years after we arrived in Rochester, the larger Dies-Cobos family returned to Mexico City and a couple of years later expanded further with the arrival of another beautiful son who was born at the ABC Hospital on February 5, 1967 at about noon, which was more considerate than his older brother had been.

These are disconnected memories of what can be legitimately described as one of the best times of our lives. We reminisce frequently about those happy times and rejoice again every time.

Contributed by: Federico Dies

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