For Father’s Day weekend this year, I bring you a pic of my step-grandfather, Joe Duran. This is his certificate of naturalization in 1944 and recently found in a safe deposit box, along with his original birth certificate. He was brought from the Hacienda de Burras (more now known by the nearby San Jose de Llanos) near Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico when he was a baby, to Muskogee, OK. His name was Jose Tarcisio Cesareo Duran. I don’t know the immigration status of his parents between 1920 and 1944 — maybe Joe might have been characterized as a “Dreamer” in today’s charged immigration language.
Joe was fluent in Spanish and French and imparted his interests in science, engineering, and a love of Sci-Fi. He made fan blades at Acme Engineering in Muskogee. He was the only grandfather I knew really; thanks to the Cold War my Hungarian grandfather was only able to come to the U.S. once when I was 6 years old for 2 weeks. My Mother’s 1/4 Cherokee father had died 30 years before I was born.
I’ve written before about the “cosmopolitan” experiences I had around the dinner table in the Muskogee of my youth; I guess it was there in my own family all along.
Joe and his family enveloped me with a boisterous and overflowing love that meant a lot to me as a little kid. Sadly, he died when I was 12 years old — I would have loved to have had his wise counsel in my teen years and beyond. Next year, I’ll be the same age as he was when he passed. The year before we took a family vacation to Mexico and got to see his birth area.
Note that he completed his U.S. Citizenship during WWII. My life would be poorer if someone would have kicked this gentle soul out of the country before he was able to enrich my life and the life of my family.