Syrians Immigrate to El Paso

The Texas Story Project.

In 1920 my grandfather (Jidu in Arabic) Najib Habib Haddad and a few brothers fled Syria because of French occupation and war. My Jidu told me that our family was royalty in Syria, the only house with plumbing in the area and no camels, they had Arabian horses. Their father and some family stayed behind and some were killed during war with France. The brothers traveled by freighter first to France then to Mexico where they entered through El Paso, Texas and settled there.  Other family went to Brazil and Central America but Najib, his brother Goson and Michael settled in the US.

Najib and Goson started Santa Fe furniture and that proved to be a success. Najib traveled to Pennsylvania to find a Syrian wife and shortly thereafter met his wife Julia and started a family that saw 6 children born. I have seen upwards of 100 people coming to family gatherings that Najib and Julia hosted, people wanted to be in their orbit. It was something to see so many people being fed, entertained and you just had a feeling you were a part of something bigger than yourself. Success followed Najib, who spoke three languages and he eventually started H and H Car Wash with his three sons. One of them is my dad. H and H Car Wash has been an El Paso staple for over 60 years. The restaurant has been visited by Presidents and first ladies, Julia Child and a host of other dignitaries. The legend of Najib Haddad continues to grow as his sons get older and the tales get taller.

Lastly, I'd like to share a story about my grandfathers patriotism and love of this country that took him in and gave him the opportunity to succeed which he took and passed down a work ethic that is now in its third generation. In 1984 my aunt had worked at the Olympics in LA. She had procured the Syrian Flag that flew over the stadium and at Christmas gave it to Najib, he asked why the flag was a gift and it was explained about it having flown over Olympic Stadium. Najib stated that he was American and did not want the flag.

My name is Chirs Haddad and I'm from El Paso, TX born and raised. I'm a Customs Officer and now live in Oroville, WA. Najib is my grandfather and was such a well respected man in El Paso, a street is named after him.

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