Every now and then, you have to stop and think about how you got here. In my case, I came from England, on both sides of my family, but not directly.
My father’s family came to America from England by way of Cuba. John Clark, a gardener from the County of Derby, had a son by his wife, Countess Catherine Winfield. This son, John, would father six children, two of whom were boys, John and Thomas.
The boys, John and Thomas, would later acquire a Letter of Marque from the King of England. They were actual pirates, with authority to chase Spanish galleons and pretty Cuban girls throughout the Caribbean. I imagine they caught some of the Spanish ships during the two years they sailed the Straits of Florida and the Bahamas.
Thomas Clark, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, decided to stay in Havana, Cuba when his brother John returned home to England. On April 21, 1800 he married Maria Del Pilar Mir in San Francisco de Paula, Regla, Havana, Cuba. He was 26 and she was only 18.
They lived in Havana and over the course of their lives, the two young people had 15 children, 10 of whom were boys. In the order of their birth, they were Antonio Abad Jose Clark, Pedro Tomas Inocencio Clark, Tomas Apolonio Clark, Diego Andres (Taitica) Clark, Maria de las Dolores (Lolita) Clark, Juan Pedro Clark, Jose Joaquin de Jesus Clark, Felix de Jesus Clark, Maria del Pilar Clark, Maria de las Mercedes Clark, Pedro Marcos Clark, Catalina Apolonia Clark, Antonio de Jesus Clark, Petronila Eusebia Rosario Clark, and the baby, Maria Concepcion Viviana Clark. Each of the boys, with Latin blood coursing through their veins, also went out and found their mates and had more children. Many of whom were, again, males of the species.
From Thomas Clark, my great-grandfathers include his son, Diego Andres (Taitica) Clark, Tomas Mateo Clark, Jose (Che) Clark, and Dr. Jose Clark. My grandfather was Dr. Jose F. Clark and my father was Jose Francisco (Pepito) Clark.
People rarely believe me when I tell them I am half-Cuban. The typical response is, “You don’t look Cuban.” Then I have to explain how I am really from England. After that, I have to go into the whole routine about the Gonzalez or Ramirez family who has lived in the United States for five generations. They are as American as apple pie, but they have a Hispanic background.
My father’s family, we are exactly the opposite. My family just happens to be Cuban with an English background – for eight generations.
I hope, one day it won’t matter where we have come from, no matter where that might be in the world. I would hope we will all be proud of our backgrounds and never forget our customs, the land from which we have come, the native foods we have found so tasty.
I would also hope we will, one day, be tolerant of one another in the truest sense.
© 2010 J. Clark