Childhood Photograph

In Fun
My 3rd Birthday With the Favorite Gift - a Prized Toy Car
My 3rd Birthday With the Favorite Gift - a Prized Toy Car

I was born in Havana, Cuba and when I turned 3, I received my favorite gift of all - a toy station wagon which I'm holding in this photo taken at my birthday party (my friend Norma is sitting next to me). This started a lifetime love of toy cars. The Cuban Revolution happened shortly after my 3rd birthday and life changed completely.  In 1961, my father, mother, and I fled Havana after the United States opened its doors to Cubans escaping Communism in the aftermath of the 1959 Cuban revolution. We left behind almost all of our possessions and boarded a plane for Miami with just one suitcase, all that was allowed for each family. We were among the nearly 500,000 Cubans who entered the United States as refugees between 1959 and 1973 and benefited from humane policies like the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA), created by President John F. Kennedy through an executive order in 1961. Among the things we stuffed into that suitcase when we left Cuba was the toy station wagon you see me holding tightly in this photo. Since we were only allowed to take only what could fit in that suitcase, we only took what was most important - family photos, etc. My mother knew how important this car was to me so she stuffed it into the suitcase and it was my only possession as we began our new life in America so it to me it represented my past and my future.

Place(s): Cuba, Havana, United States
Year: 1961

– David Eng

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child