My Father’s Early Days in Chicago: 1948

Gilbert Cayetano Huesca (1915 – 2009)

My handsome father, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca,
Chicago, Illinois, about 1948.

Nearly a year after his first visit to Chicago in 1947, the record of Border Crossings:  From Mexico to U.S., 1895 – 1957, of Gilbert Cayetano Huesca’s second trip to the U.S., lists him as “Cayetano Huesca y Perrotin.*”  It describes him as 33 years old and measuring five foot six inches, with black hair and brown eyes.   

The record goes on to note that he intends to join “his second cousin, Luis Algarin, 702 W. 61 Place, Chicago, Ill.,” and shows he crossed the border on July 14, 1948, with $50 dollars in his possession.

Although the bond between my father (and our family) and the Algarins and their children remained strong over several decades, I do not recall hearing him mention that they were our cousins.  Were they blood relations, or just close family friends?  

A brief foray into the Algarin genealogy does not reveal at first glance a direct connection with the Huesca family, although they might have been connected via the Charles Huesca branch, either as relatives, or friends who felt close enough to think of each other as family.    
The border crossing record continues: “. . . he states that he is now coming to the U.S. as much to study and be with his relatives as to work, and that he can readily find work as a designer.  It appears that he is not excludable as an alien contract laborer.”  He returned to  his job at the Metalcraft company as a designer.  He may have been a designer of printed circuit boards, which at the time were designed manually.  He had an eye for detail and precision, traits that were essential for such a job.

The Algarins offered my father a place to stay, which he accepted on the condition that they let him pay for his room and board.  He began taking night courses in English and forced himself to eat out frequently so he would have to practice speaking his new language and would not have to impose too much on his gracious friends.  
He often stopped for dinner at a nearby diner on his way home from work.  Still new at reading English, he had learned how to order an apple pie and a cup of coffee, and this became his usual meal for lack of knowing what else was on the menu! This went on for several months until the kind waitress at the counter figured out the problem.  My father said that the day she brought him a steak for the first time, he left her a big tip.
*  Note:  I refer here to my father by his given name: Gilbert Huesca, though at this time he was known as Cayetano Huesca.  To learn the story behind his name, click here.
Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully



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