BlogCuba – Dave Tepper

On my first visit to Dave’s blog Interrobang!, I was shocked to find a picture of Che Guevara. I asked why the heck he would have a picture of El Che on his blog and his response was It isn’t Che, it’s a picture of me. Whew! Interrobang is one of my daily multi-stops in blogdom. His entry for BlogCuba hits home as, I remember the days of checking under the hood and wincing when turning the ignition:

When I was younger, I lived in an apartment building that my grandparents owned. There was a mix of tenants there, some students, some younger couples just starting out, some elderly people on fixed incomes. My parents would look after the place and knew pretty much everybody in the building.

There was one older couple whose name I can’t remember, but I can still see their faces. I was maybe 3, 4 years old, 5 at the most, when I first noticed them. Looking back, I think they must have been in their 50s or 60s, but I was at the age where they were just “old”. They were quite friendly, always giving us a smile whenever we’d cross paths.

In the mornings, however, they would always open the hood of the car, inspect it for a bit, and then slam the hood down, enter the car, and drive off. Every single time.

This continued for several years, smiles, inspections, and all. Finally my parents explained to me that the older couple had escaped from an island called Cuba. Cuba, they told me, was a place that mistreated people badly, and they left in order to start a better life in the States. They were always scared that they would be caught, however, so that’s why they inspected their car every day. They were looking for bombs or traps that the Cubans might have set.

To a young child, it seemed a fantastic story. I imagined Cuba as a magical land with a bad king, a king so evil he couldn’t stand to see his subjects happy. I felt sad for the couple that they always had be careful of the bad king and his men, but I don’t think the reality of communism and what Cuba was really registered with me at the time.

So I think eventually the couple moved away, and some years later we moved in with my grandmother after my grandfather died when I was 11. And during those intervening years I went to Jewish day school and learned about Nazism and fascism, which at the time had shaped recent Jewish history and consciousness a lot more than communism had. There were reports and rumors of Jewish people trapped in the Soviet Union, and throughout the 80s there were efforts to get the Jews of that communist state resettled in Israel.

But believe it or not, until I wrote about that Cuban couple just now, I hadn’t remembered them for decades, nor had I really made the mental connection between their plight and that of the Soviet Jews. What a lost opportunity to explain to a young child what freedom means, and why the human rights abuses under communism are just as terrible as the abuses under fascism.

2 thoughts on “BlogCuba – Dave Tepper”

  1. And here again is a lesson, the fear that never leaves many Cubans, the fear that they live under every day of their lives in Cuba, the fear that they will even be accused of doing something wrong when they’re entirely innocent, but they don’t have Consititutional guarantees to a fair trial.

    And again, Cubans must adopt the Jewish tactics that helped get hundreds of Jews out of Russia, that helped them to escape legally, and that put Russia’s policies under an international microscope. The Jews make the world’s media work for them! That’s what Fidel has been doing. He gets more press than the Presidents of Germany and France put together.

    Your “writers” are too nice. They don’t understand that Communists are simply not nice, not even those people in some of the peace-parades are nice! They’re thugs. Have you read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. You can buy it for $16.00, and it is a good place to start learning about communist prison camps.

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