Narratives are personal stories that help enrich the reader’s understanding of a time period, person, place, or event. These are first-person views of history taken from personal recollections, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.

Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Narrative is entirely responsible for its content.

I was a first lieutenant assigned to General “Bulldog” Drummond’s staff as the assistant adjutant. The summer of 1980 was brutally hot, and we worked seven days a week, ten- and twelve-hour days. One of my duties was to oversee and facilitate the refugees’ publishing of their weekly newspaper. Not being bilingual at the time, communication would have been a problem had it not been for the fact that several of the Cuban newspaper staff spoke almost perfect English. Now, I was told that English wasn’t even taught in Cuban schools at that time; amazingly, they had learned the language by listening to outlawed/forbidden radio stations from southern Florida. Not surprisingly, they were also well versed in American music, especially rock music.

We didn’t have a lot of time off that summer, but I remember going to the pool on Post to cool off on a rare Sunday afternoon that we didn’t have to work. Shortly after I got there, I noticed smoke rising above a row of barracks down the street. Soon after, a general alarm sounded and we were told to vacate the pool and report to our duty stations. We learned later that some of the Cubans had rioted and set fire to their barracks. Not long after that, Bill Clinton (governor at the time) visited. I got his autograph on a sheet of General Drummond’s stationery. The general’s secretary (I wish I could remember her name—she was stately, wore her gray hair in a bun, and was very nice but was also no-nonsense) told me to be sure and save that autograph because rumor had it that he would be president someday. I’m proud to say I still have it.

Jim Tabor
, AR