Las Hijas del Capitán (SS)

Fourteenth Street



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the story

Las Hijas del Capitán (SS)

In a story full of grit, ambition and the pursuit for a better life, María Dueñas narrates the journey of three young daughters who decide to pack their belongings and resettle in the bustling city of Manhattan. Following the death of their father, Victoria, Mona and Luz are forced to assume the family business and mend the financial losses that the business had quickly accumulated. The story discusses the transition in life across borders, specifically centered around 14th Street where the family business lives on and Spanish immigrants often frequent. While learning the ropes of the business, Victoria and her sisters face immediate adversity in struggling to acclimate to the much more hectic streets and noisy nights of New York City.

Las Hijas del Capitán, meaning the Daughters of the Captain, encompasses the stimulating experience of living on Manhattan’s 14th Street – home to an active and inclusive Spanish colony. Dueñas discusses some of 14th Street’s many features and one of the daughters’ perspectives on the city.

Everything became real suddenly: the hectic street, the strong sun from the beginning of the summer, the cars that noisily circulated on the cobblestones, an ice cream street vendor, passers-bys, some van. Life on Fourteenth, one more day” (460).

Towards the end of the family’s journey, Dueñas cites the trends she observes among 14th St and the many landmarks that will forever remain despite the changing periods of people and businesses that often come and go. She highlights,

“The atmosphere of Fourteenth and its surroundings, fortunately, laster far longer, accompanied by the migratory flows that from the Peninsula were decreasing as New York became more and more numerically Latin. With the passing of the years, however, [Fourteenth] assumed new neighbors and businesses that still remain in the memories of many: restaurants like the Oviedo, the Coruña, Trocadero or Café Madrid, bookstores like Macondo or Lectorum and clothing stores like Iberia cohabited over the decades together with establishments and stable institutions such as Casa Moneo, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe or the National, which remained the center of social life of the Compatriots and remains honorably active as the nostalgic remnant of what one day was that connected Chelsea and the Greenwich Village that even some called Little Spain, where people ate rice with chicken on Sundays and cut the street at the end of July to remove the Apostle Santiago in procession” (611).

For original passages released in Spanish, see below:

“Todo se tornó real súbitamente: la calle agitada, el sol contundente del principio del verano, los autos que circulaban ruidosos sobre los adoquines, un vendedor callejero de helados, transeúntes, algún furgón. La vida en la Catorce, un día más” (460).

“El ambiente de la Catorce y sus alrededores, por fortuna, perduró bastante más, acompasándose a los flujos migratorios que desde la Península fueron decreciendo a medida que Nueva York se tornaba cada vez más numéricamente latina. Con el paso de los años, no obstante, se sumaron nuevos vecinos y negocios que aún se mantienen en la memoria de muchos: restaurantes como el Oviedo, el Coruña, Trocadero o el café Madrid, librerías como Macondo o Lectorum y tiendas de ropa como La Iberia cohabitaron a lo largo de las décadas junto a establecimientos e instituciones incombustibles como Casa Moneo, la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe o La Nacional, que siguió siendo el centro de la vida social de los compatriotas y hoy continúa honrosamente activa como el nostálgico remanente de lo que un día fue aquel encaje entre Chelsea y el Greenwich Village que incluso algunos dieron en llamar Little Spain, donde la gente comía arroz con pollo los domingos y cortaba la calle a finales de julio para sacar al apóstol Santiago en procesión” (611).