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When Padrica was a little girl in the 1940s, the Cuban community in Jacksonville surrounded her and her family with love and a yet larger sense of family.
One night as she left the opera in Rome, a photographer snapped her picture, wrote, “in omaggio alla sua bellezza,” or “in homage of your beauty,” on the back of the photograph, and gave it to her.
The fire that consumed the great two-story house next door jumped sparks at Padrica’s house.
Still what most struck Padrica were the cadences she heard in the Orthodox music of ancient Ethiopia that reminded her dearly, tearfully, of rhymes and end-lines from old “Negro spirituals.”