Haydee Torres Manresa

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Haydee's Story

My sister, Aleida, and I arrived on September 12, 1961; I was 10 and she was 7. I remember very little of our departure from Cuba and our arrival in Miami. I don’t remember who greeted us and took us to the Kendall facility.

After two days in the Kendall camp we were sent to an orphanage in Buffalo, NY. The name of the orphanage was Immaculate Heart of Mary. I have terrible memories of our lives in the orphanage. The first thing they did was separate my sister and I and put us in separate groups and sleeping rooms. After a few days of my sister not talking, eating or sleeping, they moved me to be with her. The nun that was in charge of our floor and the nun that was principal of the orphanage were not kind at all. It took almost a week before I was allowed to contact my parents in Cuba to let them know where we were. They would withhold from us the letters our parents wrote until one day that I went to the office and found a stack of five letters on the principal’s desk. My sister will not discuss her experiences during this time. However, several years ago she took a family trip to New York and drove by to see the orphanage. She found that it had been abandoned and some walls were crumbling. She went in, piced up and brought back two red bricks. I still have mine and use it as a door stop.

After a couple of months in the orphanage, we started weekend visits to a wonderful family in Arcade, NY, which eventually became our foster home. By December we were living with them. They were farmers; dairy cows, fields of corn, production of maple syrup, a whole new experience for us that we enjoyed. They had 4 children, a girl my age and three younger boys. My sister and I were treated no different than their own, bless them. We kept in touch with them for many years after we left their home.

My parents and younger sister (4 years old at the time) came from Cuba via Jamaica in May of 1962. We reunited in Miami a few months later and moved to Belle Glade, Florida, where my father worked as a chemical engineer. Sadly, my father passed away the following year and our happy family life was again disrupted. We moved to Miami to live with kind and excellent friends who took us in. Eventually my mother started working in a “factoria”, learned how to drive and then devoted the rest of her life to my sisters and I. She’s my role model and idol.

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Hi my friend and I would like to meet you and interview you. We are intersed in your story due to the fact that we are working on a project about Operation Peter Pan. We will be honor to meet you !

Message by Maria | Mar 21st 2014

Haydee. I am Isabel Martinez. I was at Immaculate Heart /Buffalo from Dec 17,1961 to August 1962. In my group I remember Lourdes and her sister Teresita

Message by Isabel Martinez Hernandez | Mar 15th 2014

Haydee has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Oct 26th 2010

BTW, did you get her name on arrival and see if we can locate her here? :)

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jul 28th 2010

Great story, Haydee! I was wondering where you were going w/it on the previous message that was cut off. I'm happy to see the full thing. That's one thing I've discovered in the past year, as soon as 2 people identify themselves as Pedro Pan, all barriers tumble to the ground and it's like catching up with a long lost relative. That is sooooooooo great! Un abrazo PP.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jul 28th 2010

I would like to share this with you. I was in Marco Island last week with my family for a week of relaxation. My husband and I were at the beach and a man (Americano) stopped to ask us a question about the island. We got to talking and he told us he’s from Hartford, Connecticut and Cuban by marriage. When we asked him how he met his Cuban wife in Hartford, he told us she was a Pedro Pan who has lived in Hartford since 1962. Immediately I told him I am also a Pedro Pan and that I would love to meet his wife. He is was very personable, told us he loves Cubans and that we all have a “story to tell”. About an hour later he came back with his wife, Teresa. Teresa and I hugged, kissed and shared our experiences. It was very emotional; here we were, two women who had never met but with a very strong common bond. The connections, the ties, the emotions, that binds all Pedro Pans is very powerful and unique. It makes me proud!

Message by Haydee Torres Mestre | Jul 28th 2010

Hayde, Hi, I'm Bruce Reisdorf, the youngest of the 4 children "from the farm in Arcade". My wife, Anita & I have 1 son, Alex and we have lived in Metropolitan New York for about 30 yrs. We enjoyed visiting Miami last year when we took Alex to the "Ultra Music Festival" in downtown Miami. His kind of music-not ours-way too loud!! We enjoyed some great Cuban food and learned a new word-mojito. Would love to re-connect w/ you.

Message by Bruce Reisdorf | Jan 17th 2010

Hello Haydeé, mi hermanita del orfelinato de Buffalo. I wish I had gone back to see the orphanage building before it was demolished. But, such is life! It was nice speaking with you yesterday. Muchos cariños, Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Jan 17th 2010

Hi Haydee, I am Roseanne, Mariannes sister who you lived with. Marianne passed away Sept 26 2006. Joe is 92 and lives alone in their house near me. Rosemary died of heart problems at age 20. Mirtha is coming to see me on Feb 11. My email is rpogo165@yahoo.com. Say hello to Aleida and your Mom. Let me know all you girls. Love Roseanne

Message by Roseanne Torrey Kern | Jan 16th 2010

Haydee que bueno que te encontre. Yo soy Mirta la que fue a vivir con Roseanne, la hermana de Marianne en Buffalo. Me encantaria verlas. Besos, Mirta

Message by Mirta Iglesias | Jan 15th 2010

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