Mementos and Memories
By Maria Reyes Pacheco, Heritage Frederick
Frederick County has long been a crossroads for new Americans, attracting immigrants from all parts of the world, including Latin America. Sept. 15 marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the history and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos. Currently, Frederick County’s population is 10 percent Latino; many are recent immigrants, while others have lived here for generations.
Maria-Teresa Shuck was born in Washington, D.C., in 1959. Her father was Italian and her mother Nicaraguan. The family moved to Nicaragua when she was 8. However, after living conditions grew worse, 18-year-old Maria-Teresa and her younger sister boarded the last flight from Managua to the United States. Shuck has lived in Frederick for the past 30 years and in 2006 she co-founded the Centro Hispano de Frederick, which assists local immigrants.
Some of the items Shuck brought from Nicaragua are on display as part of the “We the People” exhibit at Heritage Frederick. When she immigrated back to the United States, she was allowed to take three sets of clothing, but she also brought this photo album, along with a necklace inscribed with her nickname, Tete. For immigrants, items such as these are especially precious because they are some of the few physical reminders of those they left behind and the memories they made. Photographs, rosaries, identification cards and toys are not just items of nostalgia, but a connection to the heritage and traditions that immigrants build upon in the United States.