José E. March Naon
José E.'s Story
I arrived in Miami on February 22,1962. Friends of my parents (Graciela Ponce and her family) picked me up from the airport and took me to their home for the night. The next day they put me on a flight to Norfolk Va to be reunited with my aunt and uncle who had left Cuba in 1961. I lived with them in Virginia and then Maryland until March 1966 when my parents arrived.
And today 50 years later February 22,2012 the rest of the story.
My parents woke me up at 4am on February 22,1962 and told me that today I was heading to the USA. I remember getting dressed in the suit that they had bought in Fin De Siglo a few months back. I had breakfast, cafe con leche y pan. A few minutes later my Uncle Carlos came to the door. It turns out they had arranged for him and my father to drive to Jose Marti airport. My mom was to distraut to see me off so I still can remember kissing her and my nanny Irene before heading out the door. My dad bought a thermos full of cafe con leche for the ride to the airport.
When we arrived at the airport around 7 am.I kissed my Dad and my Uncle good bye and heading to the Pecera. I could see them through that thick glass but could not hear them. I was excited to go as all my friends had left before me. I stayed in the Pecera for about 3 or 4 hours before they called my name to check my luggage. I had a pair of slippers, 3 underwears, 3 t shirt,3 polo shirts and 3 pairs of socks. It was a huge suit case to just be carrying that.
I remember the plane taxing and and as it was leaving the terminal I could see my father (holding the thermos bottle) and my uncle waving goodbye, at that moment I started to cry and the gentlemen next to me just said "it would be ok".
We landed in Miami, we walked down the stairs of the plane on to the tarmac and into the building. A lady was standing by the entrance calling my name Jose March, Jose March. I responded and she took me through what I figure today was customs, took me out of the area were two strangers I had never seen in my life were waiting for me. It was Graciela Ponce and her husband- friends of my parents.
They took me to their home for the day, had lunch. Still remember Hot Dogs with Ketchup.
Had not seen a HOTDOG or Ketchup in over a year.
The next morning they fed me breakfast, another treat- Kellogs Cornflakes.
We headed to the airport as I had an 8 hour flight to Norfolk Va to meet my Aunt and Uncle who had left Cuba a year earlier.
It was a long flight but I remember sitting in the first seats and I could watch the pilots in the cockpit. At one point in the flight they invited me to see them fly. They kept talking to me but I did not understand one word of what they were saying. I could only say Yes, No, Chiclets. The stewardess loaded me up with Chiclets another favorite of years past. We made various stops along the way and during the day it was fun looking out the window but then night time fell and I could only see some lights. By 8pm we had not landed and the stewardess said in English something about Washington DC. Turns out that Norfolk was fogged in so the plane was diverted to DC.
When I got off the plane a lady calling my name took me to a bus (Trailways Type Bus) and sat me on the first sit next to the driver. Next to me sat a man in an US Army Uniform. He told the lady that he would make sure I would get to Norfolk. The trip seemed like it took for ever, we made a stop in a rest area with a restaurant and the Army guy pointed to the menu on the wall and gesture for me to order something. I could only read Sundaes, Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry. Guess what I had, another favorite. It was freezing outside and the asked me if I was chilly as I was shivering so he gave me his coat. Here I was in 20 degree weather with a suit made in Cuba.
We finally arrived at Norfolk airport at 1am and I ran to my aunt and uncle. My uncle until he died loved to tell the story as how he was going to take my suitcase from me and I said "dont bother there is nothing in it but 3..... as I swong it over my head".
We headed to the airport motel were my two cousins were sleeping.
The next morning we headed VPI (VA TECH) in Blacksburg Va to see my other cousin for the weekend.
We arrived in Nassawadox Va that Sunday and the next morning I experienced my first day in 4th Grade not knowing the language.
Later.... the rest of the story.
I hope I did not bore you with such long story but this is the first time in 50 years that I have written it down.