The Search for Hector’s Childhood Neighborhoods

On our way to the Ozark mountains, we spent a day in Springfield, Missouri.  This was the second city that Hector’s family moved to in the United States after they came here from Cuba and the place where he spent formative years – first through fourth grade.

Amazingly, Hector remembered the names of the two intersecting streets nearest to the second house that his family moved to here in Springfield.  He spotted one little house amongst two other identical little houses that he thinks was the one.  To confirm, he took photos that he plans to show to his mom to see if she can recognize it.

One of my childhood homes

Next, we visited the school where he attended second through fourth grade. We went inside to look around and spoke with a nice lady in the office there.  Hector couldn’t remember the name of the school where he attended first grade, and we asked if she could provide us with a list of the public elementary schools in town and she did.  More photos and on to the next search.

Tracking down the first house that his family moved to here was a bit more difficult as he only remembered the name of the street the house was on.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a very long street and so he was able to narrow down to a couple of blocks in the general neighborhood but unfortunately couldn’t pinpoint the exact one.

The steps to the halls of knowledge … first grade

Then, since Hector remembered that he walked to school, we searched for a nearby school on the list but found none.  So, not wanting to give up, we drove around the area a bit.  That’s when we found a “Community Center” that he thought looked pretty familiar.  It had a small staircase in front, which he remembered as a “huge staircase” since he’d been a little boy at the time.   We went inside and confirmed that this had in fact been Berry Elementary in the years he was there – but had since become a Community Center and alternative elementary school.  This was the one!  More photos for mom.

Berry Elementary, My first grade school

This was a really special day for both of us.

~ Brenda

It still blows my mind that my parents, Hector and Rosa Lopez, where able to pull this off.  Moving from Cuba with nothing and making a life in America.  Winters in Springfield had to be really tough on a young Caribbean family.  It is a source of total inspiration for me.  As a child I never had any awareness of just how poor I now realize we were.  All credit to my dear parents for their success … the American dream in action.

Although I only lived here a relatively short time, I feel that Springfield made a real lasting midwestern America impression on me.  I’m from Missouri … show me!

When I was entering fifth grade, my folks figured out how to move south.  To Miami where I went to the rest of grade school.   So cool to explore Springfield where we lived in our early years as Americans.

Springfield is also home to the HQ of Bass Pro Shops and they have a totally over the top store with giant taxidermy display and every manner of camping, hunting, fishing, camp etc.  A fun place to visit and the biggest tourist attraction in Springfield apparently.  

~ Hector

4 thoughts on “The Search for Hector’s Childhood Neighborhoods

  1. I love this guys! So cool! My dad goes back to Springfield from time to time to golf with his high school buddies! Love that you guys are doing this and love the blog! Safe travels!

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