Dario Morell and Dario Morell

Recorded January 30, 2010 Archived January 30, 2010 39:49 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX006303


Dario Morell (57) talks with son Dario Gabriel Morell “Gabriel” (20) about coming to the U.S. at the age of ten, and their visit to Cuba 47 years later to meet long-lost family.

Subject Log / Time Code

Dario talks about the things they left behind in Cuba. He left behind a beloved grandmother, his parents their careers as a doctor and a lawyer. He was asked to remove his coat and his mother her watch at the airport on their way out.
Dario’s mother had been a lawyer in Cuba. She sold flowers here. She raised him to be proud of his Cuban heritage. Dario only became a citizen three years ago out of loyalty to his homeland.
Gabriel was scared to return with Dario to Cuba. He hadn’t been back in 47 years. He was concerned how it would affect him.
Gabriel describes their arrival: picking up bags in a shabby airport to be greeted by long-lost family, who embraced him immediately.
Dario’s family welcomed Gabriel immediately. The bloodlines were strong. They were honored to bring the supplies -- medicine, clothes, money -- that they could.
It meant the world to Dario to have Gabriel accompany him on this very emotional trip.


  • Dario Morell
  • Dario Morell

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:02 Hi, my name is Gabriel Morel. I'm 20 years old. Today's date is January 30th 2010.

00:10 Where Miami Florida and I'm going to be interviewing my father.

00:15 Hi, my name is Daddy home for a i m 57 years old. Today is January 30th, 2010 and worry Miami, Florida and being interviewed by my son I gave you.

00:30 Well

00:33 We're going to be talking about your

00:37 Quest 2

00:40 The us as a young as a young child.

00:45 Let me start off by asking you your

00:50 Your your parents history tell me a little bit about your your mother and your father. My father was a doctor. He was a physician in Cuba. My mother was an attorney Shahid Kapoor and several degrees from Anglo and also she was a diplomat from the University of Havana and we came to the United States back in 1962. When I was 10 years old at the time of my father actually had gone to the us about six months earlier or to bring both his dad and his mother are elderly at the time to reunite them with his brother and his sisters that were already living in the US and my mother stayed behind with me and then six months later. She decided to to come to the u.s. And bring me so I will grow up with my father also.

01:46 It happened that we came to you as we arrived on April 1st, October 1st 1962. And that was if you recall about from history about just nine days short of a Cuban Missile Crisis, so we were very lucky to be able to have made it afterwards October Missile Crisis started under the flights were cancelled and no connections the director for our connections with Cuba who are held for several several years coming to the u.s. For me wasn't very Bittersweet experience. I was very happy.

02:27 On the one side to be able to again be reunited with my dad and with my paternal grandparents and aunts and uncles on his side of the family that were here and my God, but at the same time it was bittersweet because I left behind my maternal grandmother, which I was very close to in Cuba. Her name was Lola and also several aunts and uncles and many many Carson's the experience of coming to the United States are for my family. Also do most Cuban American families. Was it very dramatic one.

03:11 We have to give you hope and idea Gabriel. We had to leave everything behind. We were only allowed to come with their clothes in a box and Biggie a couple of other states of clothing at the most before being allowed to leave the country. And we had to Welcome to our home or government Malaysia person that would take an inventory of every single item that was in that house. It will go through the drawers to give you an idea on the kitchen how many teaspoons how many nice how many Forks everything? I know. When he died, but we had two while we were waiting for the paperwork and the time they have actual date to leave we had to make sure that everything was in working condition and if it's so happened that something broke.

04:05 We will be responsible to get it fixed or find a way because we could even be accused of having done so intentionally having broken it intentionally and he could have put our exit in Jeopardy to give you an example of that. My mother's car the radio broke and she had to ask her brother to find somehow we radio from a friend's car to be able to install this other radio.

04:35 To make sure that that when the day came that we had to hand in our vehicle to the government that it was in perfect condition. Otherwise, they could use as use that against us and maybe not let us leave the country. So you can imagine how we felt. I was 10 years old at the time. I remember that my mother had.

04:56 How to order a long coat like a winter coat for me since we were coming to the United States and it was supposed to be going to be cold golden and give up and when we got to the airport one of the officials there decided that the code since it was new and it was from a very nice story Amana decided that I'm going to take the coat and they took it away from me. And of course, I know her type of expensive Julie was allowed or anything Joseph playing watch.

05:26 My mother had bought her complaint was maybe 10 or 20 pesos. I'm the official at the airport also decided that since it look knew she could not bring it with him to get away from her. So that would give you some an idea of what we went through and what we experience preparing for the trip and to finally get to the United States and brand new country different language my parents like I had mentioned earlier professionals and here they they could not practice law or medicine if we had to start fresh. I'll make a life for ourselves and for our children.

06:07 So basically that is how we started and how we got to the states. Okay, and when you arrived here, obviously you were a young a young boy and you may not remember much. But how how did you how did you see?

06:28 How did you see things here just saw I'm sure you of course you were reunited with your father once again.

06:36 What was your were you scared were you happy? It was a combination a little bit of both. I'm glad you mentioned that I was happy. I was so scared that I was scared about the language about going to school. For instance. I went to school in Havana Cuba until the 3rd grade by the time we get the paperwork and I was able to get here when I got into the public school system here. I entered the fifth grade. So I actually ended up skipping 4th grade somehow learning the language. They have Program start date County up program is for giving children avoid coming. So they helping with the language and her finally I was able to learn English and then take my classes in English with my my peers. It was bittersweet also, like I mentioned earlier because I had left behind my

07:26 Oh my God, it Carson's my aunts and my uncles and my special grandmother that I mention Lola in Cuba and I never got to see her again. And neither did my mother will be able to see her as the years progressed after even. The freedom flights are was started by the Johnson Administration. I believe in the maybe in the late 60s Cuban started being able to come back to the US with my family won't my grandmother did not want to leave because she didn't want to leave her little children there. So it happened that as the years progressed. She if he can handle she got a sinus and Parkinson's disease and we were never able to see her again. She passed away in 1976 and we did not even have the comfort of having a beer with him being able to ask some type of closure of senior. I will just let him ask for her hand and it was said it was a very very hard. It was very hard for my mother and for myself on that.

08:26 And in in regards to your

08:31 You said your father had come?

08:34 Earlier. Yes, so he was

08:38 Not stabilized but he was not stable but he was a bit more understanding already. Yes. That was that was very helpful to us. He had already started working out a medical laboratory technician which was a but he was able to get his license on at the time together with his brother-in-law who was also talked to in Cuba. And also when they finally they ended up opening a medical laboratory in which he worked for many years together with his brother-in-law until years later in 1976. He was able to get his medical license from the state of Florida and so was his brother-in-law and they wanted to practice a private practice at that time until his death in 1989. It was very helpful because my father had at least when we got here he had rented a house so we had somewhere to go to plus. We also have the help of my cousins and my aunts and uncles on

09:38 My father's side over here. So that was a very good factor for us. We I was able to enroll in school that you told me in school. And so we started getting up life back together like that one step at a time and And in regards to your to your mother. What did she what did she do when when she came as to?

10:03 Help to help your your father. Support like I mentioned and you know your grandmother and I was an attorney and of course English, Lauren Roman lower two different types of law in in Cuba from the United States is English common law, so it wasn't it was impossible for her to practice law that you have had to take the whole career again all the stories. So she decided to go into and started selling flowers and we when she went into the flower business for some streets selling artificial flower decorations, and I would have going on with her home to help her on that and that the years went by and I should work until I increase she finally one I was able to open the shop. I'll buy into somebody shop and then stop Alicia and boy from artificial flowers into fresh flowers, and we ended up with the progression of the years and a lot of hard work only three flower shops and having several.

11:03 Gleason and even you guys when you were little both are you and your sister which Monica is that three years older than you choose 23 as you guys were little we really know if we still have the flower business and you got I'm sure you remembered that you helped us on holidays. When was Mother's Day or Valentine's Day or Christmas? That was he has work like that. You got you remember that Don t it was quite some work. Hey, what's it wasn't he made it fun? And we we were able to accomplish it and that's how we made a living and of course, I will say while working in the laboratory with

11:43 His brother-in-law

11:46 Okay. Did you when you were here did you?

11:53 Meet

11:56 Did you meet any any any did anybody else come here that you left behind? Were you reunited with anyone?

12:08 I can make from Cuba have family members from Cube No No No Label to come but my mother was able to win 1979 contacts were established and were made available for a cuban-american Exile stupidest it a try to visit their relatives if they had relatives in Cuba still so my mother was brave enough at that time to go back after 17 years, of course, her mother had already passed away and her brother which was her closest in age. Are they both had passed away, but she was able to go back and see her other sister and other two brothers and her nieces and nephews Santa at what age were you at this time at this was in 79. So I was at that time. I was 27 years old I decided I was too young reason you didn't he was kind of afraid afraid Oso.

13:08 I wasn't in school that was doing in school and working so I decided wasn't for me at the time, but I applauded her going and it was very happy that when she was able to go back and visit her mother's grave and her brother's grave and spend maybe I think it was a week or so 10 days in Cuba and she came back a changed person. She was very very grateful for that experience to go out and do a family in 2 hours for for having her go and she also my mother instilled in both myself and later and in you and offer country.

13:49 I love a Cuba and anything that gets killed and feel a detour history or Heritage that I have to give you an example. You can though she was very grateful to this country and for coming here and she made a life for us in this country should be decided never to become an American citizen because she didn't want to talk to her. It was maybe she was

14:14 Not being loyal to her nationality and Heritage and to give you an example soon. As you know, I myself did not become a citizen until she passed away and I have many here living in this country for 45 years before I became an American citizen three years ago. My dad had become a citizen many many years before your mother. My wife on a Connie had also become his head is thinning out of course both you and your sister Monica would want to hear what that love of our native Cuba was instilled a nose by my mother Dolores.

14:54 But your grandmother and then meet us at the years went by read more about Cuba listen to anything having to do with Cuba and get her hands on as much information having to the word homeland and then I'll swing at you and I became a of the years went by Mickey Moulder. I decided to go back that it was time for me to go back and try to catch up and maybe visit my grandmother's grave and my uncles and Grave. I still haven't had an aunt at the time. That was very very old and very ill she was almost in her deathbed and I was lucky enough that I just made it in time to be able to see her and visit her at the hospital and she died a couple months later.

15:43 And I was received by our customs and in a way that it was some describable and one very important things on that. I will always be eternally grateful to you guys is the you decided to accompany me on the lips to Cuba.

16:01 It would meant a world to me to be able to have to be able to go back. By myself, but with you and that you could share it even though it were a native-born American you share the love of her Cuba and things and you learned about that Heritage firsthand and also you were able to meet meet your cousins, which you have never met.

16:26 Let me ask you when was the first time you went back was too. We went back after years ago 808 and we're at the time we spent a week over there at seven or eight days and it was it was again. Very Bittersweet a scene or

16:46 Homeland destroyed in ruins in Ruins completely to the way it was before I recall one when you first told me about

17:02 About that. I was a little a little skeptical.

17:07 Honestly about about going back with you with the

17:14 With the with the current political situation situation

17:22 And just you know many.

17:27 We weave weave weave travels to other.

17:32 Other countries but not

17:36 I would say it was a bit scared. I would say mostly because of the political and of course and because of your of our situation and so I was I was a little hesitant to go. I remember I used to I used to tell my mom I wasn't really sure if I want to go by there want to tell you directly. I know that I didn't want to

17:58 You know, I know you want to go back so I don't want to hurt you or your feelings or anything cruciate that when when we went back, I also I recall as

18:10 I think I think we had to leave like like at 7 in the morning or some baby are very very early with here for like two hours before but we we were so tell me mixed emotions and feelings going through. I think we got out maybe like at 3 in the morning 2 in the morning is indeed and we were on the way we we were just sitting at the airport just

18:36 With nothing to do just pondering about

18:39 Of course you about going back for what was it? How many years are you not I it had been 46 years 46 years and headed back. And of course my my first time write going end.

18:55 Remember when we got on the plane? I was I was already feel a little more comfortable but still.

19:03 Course still you know

19:07 Skeptical and then

19:10 I would just remember as we landed as the plane is landing. We landed in.

19:17 In Havana

19:19 As as it was Landing over there you were I I saw you and I I I I got nervous myself because

19:32 I didn't know what was going to be your reaction. Right right coming going back in and I was afraid that you know something I don't know some anything right now, but I have not affected even my hell exactly emotional touchdown you you wouldn't you weren't shaking but you were you were you were very nervous. And of course I myself was nervous. So seeing that I'm going with you being committed words for you. I know it was

20:08 It was it was an experience quite an experience. Yes, indeed and I remember us we got as we got

20:17 Got down I start to see.

20:20 So many just a difference right away.

20:24 And as a plane touchdown everyone started plotting right away we went was with I'm sure it was a lot of

20:35 A lot of other cuban-americans. I'm sure who might have knocked on back.

20:39 And in a while and as we got there, I I was

20:49 Again, nervous wasn't I wasn't sure of of what to expect we had. A lot of we had a lot of luggage on us.

21:00 I hadn't I have some I have a cup. I have a lot of of Cuban Cuban born friends. Then that have gone back and do go back. Of course to still visit their families their mothers fathers brothers and sisters and they they told me all the time. I was I was hesitant that maybe somebody might take our bags, you know, we we didn't know the system. We were we were we were new new to this this it was so different. It's so different from the Liberties that we're accustomed to enjoy mean in the United States and our new country and I don't know which we take for granted every day on the other side. When you go back and you don't you or you will have to follow the rules of Regina that is completely different language anyting and they can do to you whatever they want to do to you and anything can happen in letting time and you

22:00 Apollo Crews, but then again for me. What's the time to go to be able to see my homeland to visit the places that I grew up with an m and that I used to go to go to the cemetery to visit my grandmother's and the rest of the relative to our Graves and those two to reunite with those long-lost cousins that made us feel like of those 46 on years and not come by I want to ask you son. What how did your Artisans make you feel? How did you feel when you were there a little later? I'll just tell you what I felt it when I went back. I was able to go back to my grams paternal grandparents home.

22:58 Which we have on the 2nd and on my second trip back into 9, if we went back last year the first year in the house for 2 hours and we couldn't get him and this second time around will lucky enough that a couple of ladies are left in the house where they allowed us to go in the house was divided into like now for five different families lived in that house at this lady was very kind enough and let us go or cousin Gabriel which outside as you can see. There's a lot of Gabriel's in the family our cousin Gabriel from Cuba to us there. He goes to remember visiting that a house when he was a young man and it was quite an experience. And yeah, we took the camera was filmed. We took pictures we took video it was undescribable. I also did it and be seated at the house to tell my cousin that used to live in it are they are they listen to in Tampa is a doctor in Tampa to tell her that I went back to her.

23:57 I don't want her to grandparents home and it was very sad because it wasn't in shambles. He was in shambles. It was destroyed just like most of the structures we we visit and we sold but it's still meant for us turn at 4 me a tremendous amount to be able to do see that that that that I was on the floor in which we celebrated Christmas has to order big family noche. Buena Christmas day. He be Epiphany happy memories so many I have 50 40 50 years before so many different Generations together, as you know, a lot of things and Cubans are very multi-generational then the families they live two or three generations together and we celebrate we believe in letting others traditions and we celebrate for everything birthday his anniversary noche buena a promotions graduations everything and anything.

24:57 Yes, that's it. How did you feel that you were I was asking you earlier when you were able to to go back and and and see that house that used to be your great-grandparents.

25:10 Well, first of all as as we got there as as we finally cleared, I think it may have taken about about an hour or even or even more may be about to easily two hours to get out of that helpful as we got a lot airport, which was was not well lit

25:30 No air conditioning Maybe

25:38 There was I couldn't even tell you how many people they were there were in that space where?

25:43 Such a small room and the hundreds of baggage hundreds of of bags everywhere that you had these these police officers with with

25:56 With dogs, of course checking checking for for drugs and other other other Contraband. I'm sure I remember for me. It was another kind of setback because as you know, I don't I'm

26:12 I don't like dogs and I normally hear that usually have them on leashes or or somebody will be holding them in and I just remember they were just roaming around the house like this is not going to be good. But but after we cleared all of that we got out as you as you get out. It's true sliding glass doors with the windows. The windows are our kind of ice to the point that the people outside cannot see in and then

26:45 And then there's a person they are opening the door and just as soon as you walk out day, they slam the door kind of to to not let the dogs outside if you want to sightsee in Seattle, and as you step outside their there is there's I guess you said chain link this like a chain link fence in the back just crowds a sea of humanity older relatives or your family members. Just waiting waiting forever least waiting for you. You were like, I feel exactly and and honestly you just you just coming to

27:28 What you what you what you bring to them is is not even enough to survive a month, but it mean if need be but to them just even if you would come empty-handed it's it would be great for them. It would be great for just for the visit exactly as we step out there. I I was like, how are we going to first? I didn't know what the people look like what they look like and I was like, how are we going to find and that that mean in easily over 1,000 2,000 people and and I are together. And then I remember you were you were very excited and happy and I so was I and then we finally we saw him. I think they were they were back at the at the right at the right corner. Then we finally got out and then my dad and then you hug them of course right away. A lot of emotions started started crying.

28:28 Of course the first time you you see them you speak to them over the phone, but that's nothing like like seeing them in person. And I had of course honestly, not not never seen them no idea who they were totally new people to me and they and they gave me just as big of a of a hug and a kiss as they did to you accepting me as as as one of their own as their own flesh and blood so then we meet them there then were then we go out.

29:06 The I think that it was about five or four at least four of them and they came in and of course, you know that car situation everybody they came in.

29:21 In a little blue car. I don't I don't know what to compare it to let me beseech about 5 and it's at least 40 years old lost. And if so, yeah just car in in just horrible condition that I as as soon as cuz as you come out of here for you can't see the cars do dog people and as soon as I saw the cars, I was just in all the taxis they were in such and such poor such poor condition and we had so much luggage being them and us I was I was Harry when I get there cuz I'm going to make it and then I remember right away.

30:03 They talk up they talk to to somebody there cuz over there it's all about Connections and French. Everyone has has each other's backs and it's whatever you need. You know, you're at your friend your neighbor. I will do you the favor if he has a truck to lend you the truck to to help you out without asking you for anything in return?

30:26 As as

30:29 As we we get we get in every call, we got into a a little a minivan style taxi and then we go home. We're on the way home on the way home from that that that airport. There's a the Central Road. I remember seeing a lot of a lot of signs from the governor of the socialist government propaganda. I couldn't believe it. I reading everything that that it had to that. They said looking at the buildings the the start the condition and the condition of the buildings which which here they would be deemed unlivable on how to hold on a second. It was it was

31:15 And and and these buildings were people's homes where they worked where these were schools the streets going through the streets. I don't know how the cars made it without being like a four-by-four because the the streets just potholes everywhere.

31:34 And it's it's it's a eyesight to be a different a different style of living SS we get home you park in everybody.

31:44 Everybody comes to see you. In other even people who don't know if they have anything. They genuinely they will come to an end. Once again without asking for anything in return without with no interest. Yes indeed. Just just out of out of there. I don't know if I'm not that way they are that way. They're just genuine like that feel welcome and they will do for you and give you whatever or whatever little they have if you need something they would find a way to get it for you.

32:26 Yeah, and it was I remember us we're going to that house it had it there was

32:34 There was just too too small to small AC AC units which were only turned on at night due to government regulation and and so forth and just the even though it wasn't much to do or the first time we went around just being there and in family made it made it. So so comfortable for me that I was it was it was such a change as the first day out. I was I was like I said nervous the second day. I was I was fine with being there recalling when we went back the second time. I was looking forward to going back to second time when we went we wasn't just we we went to go see other other families on the promises and other cities we we went to to the the world's world-class world-renowned Beach Varadero right where the water is just just crystal blue and white sandy beaches.

33:32 And it was It was a

33:35 It was just it was it was remember then and memorable and I felt more more comfortable.

33:45 I I I know you did and you enjoyed it and know that you were hesitant at first to go on the first trip and I will be always grateful to you that you are gone. I need me but I realized as soon as we were there that first day the next day that you were already comfortable and you enjoyed it and you mangle the and the and the Bloodlines are united you to your second cousins and they made her feel so so welcome and we were so grateful that we were able to do they come a little bit of medicine a little bit of food a little bit of clothing with for them meant a lot that anyting out of there is needed and welcomed and and it was just a wonderful experience. We were able to the last year also like you mentioned go to Varadero and take them something that they are not allowed to do the one on their own because they have no access to that type of currency as opposed to what are the real.

34:45 I'm going to take on a currency in Cuba. So we were able to afford to share with them like for 5 days and a hotel in Varadero and they were able to see like a like and enjoy like an all-inclusive type of menu which for them a Cuba daily the citizen. It's it's just an ordeal to be able to to find food in their table for their family. So it was quite an experience for them at constant struggle. So for them to be able to go to be in this hotel with us with those four or five days and not have to worry about food and being able to to to just a sea like a buffet-style that offer it was quite an experience.

35:29 Please play store.

35:34 Hope it was so much so much emotion so much and I know it's a connection. It was an immediate connection an immediate connection. And I think it also happened to my son even though it was just a blood is it genetics because they made him feel the same way that they made me feel.

35:54 How he said you were right about recognizing and how did you recognize they have sent like a picture to a my older cousins when you more or less how she look like and as we age we been to look like our parents used to do so we'll also that helped a little bit. I remember what her mother used to look like. So it's so that's how we found them in that crowd, but it wasn't reminder 6 today. And what's the time in the six days? It seems they really as

36:24 Like we said it was they just accepted you as without.

36:32 Without any hesitation question me any any interest in did they did they bring me anything to just you know, they were willing to give it up to you right? Even if if they were to to stay with nothing just to to give it to you so and then just so thankful for we just took him some cuz you know, the limits deed are there regulations of limitations as to what you can bring in. So those minor minor things that you said you brought to them to which here if I if I bring it to you would look at me. Like what is this weird? Things ain't granted to take everything. They were just it was like we're so grateful and they made us realize what this country has done for us and we're so grateful for the United States of America and now I'm being American citizens and and were able to compare and see the things that we enjoy and like we said we

37:32 Take for granted and the things that

37:34 People in Cuba in other countries do not have access to this and they don't even know that they exist. So we're very very grateful for that.

37:45 Well, that's that's about it. I want to thank you for

37:50 Letting me letting me interview and then talk about this.

37:57 My dear son Gabriel. I mean I will eternally grateful to you that you decided and to accompany me to Cuba and then we went back and then you share that are a Heritage and that what your grandmother my mother instilled in you about our nationality and Heritage. You also enjoy that and an explore that and that you were kind enough to to go with me and share those wonderful precious moments with me.

38:32 Taste

38:38 Tune to me. I can honestly and I don't want to break down and cry and I almost cry but it meant the world to me. It meant the world it it meant having support and it was almost like I've had an extension of my mother who I left you the wet as a 10 year old child. And now I had I was going back literally I was afraid to go back by myself. And I meant Priceless I will never ever be able to do even

39:14 Remotely, explain to you what I meant.

39:18 Priceless

39:20 If it was it was a a true life experience and

39:27 And I'm happy that I was

39:30 Able to be there with you two to be at your side and and also to to also see my my my background as well. Thank you son's thank you so much for for going with me. Thank you.