Married: Alicia Milanes del Prado
Alfredo Gonzalez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1903. Stricken by TB as a young college student, he came to Saranac Lake in 1920 seeking a cure. He found it in thoracoplasty, a radical operation in which ribs were removed in order to collapse and thus provide rest for the diseased lung. In 1926, Alfredo met and married a visitor from Havana, Alicia Milanes del Prado, a short, stout, soft-spoken woman twenty years his senior. The couple soon opened their first cure cottage catering to Latin American patients; over the next forty years they would operate several such cottages in Saranac Lake, the largest and longest-running one at 80 Park Avenue.
From the 1930s to the 1950s, Alfredo also inaugurated a number of community projects, including the annual Harvest Hop dance at the Hotel Saranac from 1942 to 1952. The first hop was a gala affair with a Latin American theme. The Pan-American Union in Washington, D.C. loaned a set of large flags representing the twenty-one Latin republics to decorate the hotel ballroom. The event included a Latin dance contest; a beauty pageant with each female contestant representing a different Latin American country; a New York City band, Señor Uvanni and His Caballeros; and the singer Louisa Paván Hennessey.
Several local Latin American families helped Alfredo with the organization and planning of 1948’s hop, retitled the Fiesta Hop. Events included a costume ball; a samba exhibition by Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Serralles (of the wealthy Don Q Rum Company family); and entertainment by Benito Collada, owner of the El Chico Nightclub in New York, famous singer and dancer Rosita Ríos, and Raúl Barragan’s five-piece orchestra. Local photographer Bernard M. Acosta of Costa Rica recorded the festivities. The Fiesta Hop also showcased one of Alfredo’s most prestigious guests, Lieutenant Colonel Mario Vargas, the Venezuelan war hero and chief of the armed forces. Some old-timers in Saranac Lake still remember the general’s heavily medaled uniform, as well as the two Venezuelan presidents, Rómulo Gallegos and Rómulo Betancourt, who came to visit him in town.
Alfredo Gonzalez was known to his friend, Dorothy Stephen, as "Uncle."
|Gonzalez Cottages and homes|
|24 Franklin Avenue|
|93 Riverside Drive||1931 - 1932|
|144 Main Street||1933|
|14 Park Place||10/2/33 - 3/31/34|
|49 Shepard Avenue||1934 - private address, no patients recorded|
|38 Margaret Street||1935 - private address, no patients recorded|
|80 Park Avenue||1936 - 1950 cure cottage and home 1950 - 1957 rented as apartments|
|84 Park Avenue||1949 - 1962 cure cottage and home|
See also: Latin American Patients