My father, Tomás Ignacio Morán Santos, came to the United States with his family in August 1961 from Cuba. He was accompanied by his wife Laydée and his three very young children, Tomas (me), Enrique, and Susana.
While the entire family had opposed the Batista regime and supported the Cuban revolution, my father grew concerned in early 1961 when the government nationalized the schools – most of which were private – in order to offer education for all. Rumors of schools becoming ‘communist indoctrination camps’ began to circulate, and he and my uncle Cesar decided to leave later that year, each taking his family to the United States. My mother’s family, who was actively involved in various facets of the Cuban government, has remained there.
Tomas Sr. had worked as an electrical engineer for Westinghouse in Cuba, and he sought work with them in Miami FL. I was enrolled in school, and was having a difficult time because I – then 7 years old — hardly spoke English. So in November 1961, my father accepted a position in San Juan, Puerto Rico, launching a new Elevator Division for Westinghouse in the island. Puerto Rico was experiencing a rapid growth in the building of high rise apartments/condominiums, and the island’s Spanish-speaking population made this a better fit for our family. He would work in this small division for the rest of his life, only to find at retirement that Westinghouse would not credit his work years in Cuba toward retirement, claiming that the Cuban entity was a different company altogether.
Our family integrated well in Puerto Rico, which is very similar to Cuba in weather, flora, music, and many other aspects. And Puerto Ricans are very welcoming – bringing us into their lives and families with their love and generosity. However, it was very difficult to live apart from our cousins – some growing up in Miami and some in La Habana.
He worked hard all his life, but was never able to own a home on the much smaller salaries paid to employees in Puerto Rico as compared to the mainland. Yet Tomas Sr. managed to help all three children through college and on to better lives in this country. One of his children still lives in Puerto Rico, and two of us live in the San Francisco Bay Area. His children and his seven grandchildren are all grateful for his hard work and his determination to give his offspring a better life.
Shared by: Tomas Moran of Palo Alto, CA