Alexandra Lawhon’s grandmother, Eva Pacheco, was born in Santiago, Cuba. Her grandfather was a Merchant Marine serving in Cuba where he met and married her grandmother. Eva immigrated to the US in 1946 via New Orleans and became a US Citizen. She had 4 children, one of whom is Alexandra’s mother and is named after her (Eva).
In 1946 when Eva came to Midlothian, Virginia from the busy city life of Santiago, Cuba, she neither spoke the language nor was she familiar with the Southern way of life. But her Latin flair and personality gained her acceptance within the community, not to mention her popularity with the teenage girls who were mesmerized with her black hair, red lipstick, and fashion.
In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, our home in Midlothian became a rest stop for Cubans on their way to Miami or New York City. Relatives and friends sat at the kitchen table drinking ‘tazzas” of espresso and rambling in Spanish until late in the evening. On one occasion a group of young men camped out in the back yard armed with rifles and pistols. We would later discover that they had been recruited by the CIA to take part in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
Eva’s family was by no means wealthy. Her father was a pharmacist and owned a small apartment building to support his family of 7 children. Her older sister Mercedes married Jorge Solis, whose family owned an upscale department store in Havana, called El Encanto. When they fled Cuba in the 1960’s, their home was used to house a foreign ambassador. Her brother Bilin went to law school with Fidel Castro and became quite active politically in the early days of the revolution. He was forced to flee the island or face arrest by the Batista regime and returned when Castro took control. He left soon after and settled in Puerto Rico. Two of her sisters and one brother remained in Cuba along with her parents.
-Excerpt from Anderson History, The Cuban Connection.
“My mom said my grandmother only spoke Spanish when she was mad, they had rice with every meal, and would mention sometimes that she was very close with her family before she left Cuba. One thing that really ticked my grandmother off was when people would say Cuban food was like all Spanish food.”
Traditional Cuban recipes from Alexandra’s grandma.
Alexandra Lawhon lives in Americana with her family. She and her husband and two daughters moved to Zachary from Virginia.