Shared Stories: Coming to America in 1973

Nida Ferrer worked hard to build a good life for her children and persevered when faced with an obstacle. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Nida Ferrer

On September 26, 1973, the petition of my husband was approved for us to join him in America. My husband had been working in the United States for Bechtel for five years. I was excited to come here and to be reunited with my husband and for my kids to be with their dad.

Before this happened, I had to complete all of the paperwork.  I went to the Philippine Embassy many times for them to approve all of the papers first.  I applied for all of our green cards as immigrants.

It took three months to complete all of my papers and to prepare everything.  I took my children for their shots.  My oldest son Peter was eleven years old, my daughter Elvira was ten, my daughter Wilhelmina was eight and my son Robert was five.

I went to apply for our flight tickets to the airport.  After a week our tickets were ready.  I prepared our luggage and packed all of the clothes needed.  During this week I received a letter from my husband, special delivery, saying for us not to come.  He said he could not find a house for us.

I was so angry and disappointed, but I told my children that we have to go. Your daddy can not stop us.  My decision was to write to my Uncle Eddie, the brother of my father, and tell him that I and my four children were coming, and, if possible, could he meet us at the airport.

He responded to my request and said he would come.  I told him that our flight was American Air Lines and that we would be in LAX around 4 p.m.  

I met my uncle only one time before when I was a little girl, so I sent a picture of me and my children.  When I and my children arrived at the airport I would have to imagine how my uncle would look.  I thought he must look like my father.   When I saw him, he did resemble my father.

When I saw Uncle Eddie, I was so happy.  Finally, we were in America.  We stayed at their house for one week.  He already reserved the first floor for us.  They had a three-story house.  His wife was a German lady and very sweet.  Their two children, my cousins, were already grown.  I met them as well.

I saw my husband for the first few months, but it didn’t work out.  A fifth child was born, but after a year we divorced.        

We all ended up staying at Uncle Eddie’s house for 14 years, and I paid only $100 per month.  I got a job with Prudential Insurance for six years.  Then they offered me a job in New Jersey, but I couldn’t move my family.  I got a job with Kaiser in Los Angeles and I worked there for 16 years.

My children grew up.  They all went to college.  I helped them until they finished their careers.  I bought a car for my son Robert so he could go to college and also find a job.  I also helped my youngest daughter Josephine.  She went to Biola University and graduated in accounting.  She also went to USC for her master’s degree.  I did my best to help them all, because I cherish them.