Those Places Thursday: North to Chicago

Gilbert Cayetano Huesca (1915 – 2009)
My father, Gilbert Huesca, on one of his business trips,
climbing up a Pemex Mexican Petroleum oil tank,
Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
In 1947, the man who would become my beloved father, Gilbert Huesca, was a 32- year-old commercial artist from Mexico City who was eager to see the world and meet new people. 

Before venturing into graphic arts, he had traveled throughout 29 of the 31 Mexican states as a salesman, first for the Huesca family’s hotels and casino and later for the family’s embroidery business, Sábanas y Manteles Huesca (Huesca Linens and Tablecloths).  
Known at this time as “Cayetano*” to family and friends, he had learned a lot from his entrepreneur father, Jose Alberto Gil Cayetano Huesca, and from his own experiences of working in the family businesses. He felt he was ready to make his own mark on the world when his cousin, Charles Huesca, who was a few years older, invited him to visit his relatives in Chicago.
Encouraged by his family to accept Charles’ invitation, Gilbert kissed his widowed mother, Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca and his brothers and sisters goodbye and set out on the long journey north to Chicago.

Charles, his parents, and his sister had moved from eastern Mexico to Chicago in the early 1900s and already had lived there for most of their lives, but they visited their home country often and kept in close contact with their many relatives south of the border, so the reunion between the cousins was an emotional one. 

My grandmother, Catalina Huesca, surrounded by five of
her six sons.  Left to right:  Edilberto, Eduardo, Gilbert,
Mario and Enrique Huesca.  Circa 1946, at my grandmother’s
home at 145 Carpio Street, Mexico City

Charles and his family made their cousin feel at home and introduced him to a number of friends, including Louis and Theresa (Mireles) Algarin, who in time would come to consider my father as part of their own family.  He became a frequent guest in their home.

My father, Gilbert, fell in love with Chicago – its vibrant sense of progress, its scenic lakefront, and its friendly people. He felt comfortable there and began to consider petitioning for residency, with a view to calling the city his new home.   As his visa allowed him to stay and work in the U.S. for up to 1o months, he decided to stay, and Charles found him a position as a designer for the Metalcraft Corporation on New Orleans Street.  
My father, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca, had this
portrait taken with his mother,  Catalina
 (Perrotin) Huesca, just before he left Mexico 
City  for the United  States in 1948.  He was 
the fourth of her 11 children. 
Just before his visa expired in April 1948, Gilbert returned to Mexico City.  He had several conversations with his mother, whom he respected deeply, about his stay in Chicago and his desire to move there permanently.  Catalina saw the look in his eyes and knew she could not say no to her son.  She reluctantly gave him her blessing and promised to pray for him daily.
Gilbert was elated and began preparing for his return to the States. Shortly before leaving Mexico City, he took Catalina to the Tinoco Photography Studio for a mother and son portrait. Both he and Catalina would treasure their copies for the rest of their lives.  Indeed, the picture would grace the walls of the homes of his brothers and sisters in years to come.
His new visa arrived fairly quickly, and Gilbert returned to the United States on July 14, 1948, barely two months after he had left Chicago.  
*  To learn the story behind my father’s name, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca, click here.
Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully

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