René Lorenzo Luaces
I was only 7 1/2 years old and mad as hell to leave Cuba because my father had given me a beautiful horse for my 7th birthday. We broke-in the horse in time for me to ride him twice. The first time was a long ride all over the ranch with my father, which I had never done before. Having 10 siblings, his time was sort of hard to come by. LOL
I was very fortunate compared to many of the other Pedro Pan children. When my PanAm flight touched down on 3/30/62, I had family already in Miami, including my oldest brother, my four sisters, grandparents and a handful of aunts and uncles. All I had to tolerate was 3 families living in the same 3-bedroom house. As #10 of 11 brothers and sisters, I must have already been used to large numbers under one roof, because I don't think I minded it at all.
Life as one of the only 3 Cuban boys in the entire elementary school was not easy, though. It was commonplace for someone to call me a "spic" and then a fist-fight would ensue! But within the first year I found baseball, my gateway to countless friendships with other little ball players, as well as my acclimation into the American culture and way of life.
One of the few things I regret in life is not thanking my parents enough while they were alive for having the courage to send us kids to America. Now that it is my turn to be the parent, I have a much better understanding of what a difficult choice that must have been for them, and I am eternally grateful for their choice.