Mario R Sanchez Lopez

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Mario R's Story

i just turned six years old when i left cuba.

i first recall some confusion at the airport in havana that necessitated some last minute negotiations. then helped onto the airplane by a nice klm flight attendant.

arriving in miami i was sent to the camp in florida city. i am surprised to read how this camp is being referenced - i seem to recall it was a camp for juvenile delinquents and not just the peter pan kids that had no one in the u.s.

my first day in the camp i was beaten up. no big deal, just bumps and bruises. the "nurse" that took care of me said 'bienvenido a los estados unidos'. i now laugh at that line, somewhat akin to the movie 'welcome to america'.

lasted about 2 weeks in the camp. then sent to mt. saint john academy in northern new jersey. it was (now closed) until i got there a cloistered convent for nuns and priests. within a few weeks some more kids arrived. all older than me, boys segregated from the girls, about 30-40 in total (i guess).

what a nightmare. many, many issues. my favorite (not) was the punishment for such offenses as speaking spanish (like we had a choice, right???): soap in the mouth.

i spent two years at the convent. i learned english REAL FAST as well as latin.

after those 2 years i was adopted by a russian family with 5 daughters. they lived in oak ridge new jersey. i had to work for room and board doing household type stuff. not bad actually - great lesson in values and humility. the father of the house was a phenomenal man - joe - worked sunrise to sunset in a rock quarry. great memories of him, and of the outdoor life in that part of new jersey.

after about 3 years with that family, my parents 'escaped' in a sense. we were reunited. i was 12.

i left home at 17 and joined the u.s. marine corps. paratrooper in a special forces unit.

then college and life.

i have a B.A. in finance, a M.S. in computer science, a Ph.D. in computer science.

i have 2 boys Matthew and Michael and a daughter - that i named Mariel.

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Mario R has updated their profile.

Status update | Oct 21st 2013

Mario: Gracias por escribirme tú a mí. Como debes saber, ya se han producido varios y muy valiosos libros, artículos, estudios y reportajes referentes a la experiencia emigratoria forzosa que pasamos los niños de Operación Pedro Pan. Quiero que sepas que, ahora que gracias a este registro muchas más de nuestras historias han salido a relucir, yo personalmente he recibido mucho aliento para que escribiera algo más sobre ellas. De modo que entre otra “niña” Pedro Pan -quien es escritora profesional- y yo por fín estamos proyectando producir una obra que sea algo diferente a las otras, quizas tan inclusiva como extensiva, no solamente con el enfoque de perpetuar nuestras historias para nuestros descendientes, sino a la vez que nuestras experiencias sirvan de ejemplo para otras generaciones porque, desgraciadamente, dondequiera surgen y seguirán surgiendo niños desplazados. Para esta tarea vamos a necesitar leer muchas historias con muchos más detalles. Quisiera poder seguir en contacto contigo, porque tu historia y la de tu hermano me parecen que son muy significativas. Sin intentar meterte en compromisos, te invito a que me escribas a mi dirección de correos que aparece en mi profile. Si quieres/puedes y como puedas. Repito, sin compromisos ni empujones ni motivaciones ocultas, porque creo que si algo aprendimos muchos Pedro Pan es a vivir de cara al sol y a confiar en la parte buena de la humanidad. Agradecida por tu atención, Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Feb 6th 2010

Mario: First of all I give you my condolences for the loss of your brother. I read about his passing and his enduring sorrows in your note to Guillermo Jaume. I am very moved by your story. I hope to exchange some more thoughts and memories with you, as you bring up some fundamental topics regarding our experiences as displaced children. I am interested in the lessons we have learned and how our knowledge and insights can help others. I’d love to hear more from you, but I would understand if you prefer not to get into this subject. Just know that here is another sister in spirit. –By the way, I have a couple of M&M kids too: a son named Matthew and a daughter named Myra. Hugs to you and your beautiful family, Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Feb 3rd 2010

Mario R has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jan 21st 2010

Hola. Mario. Estuve contigo en Mount St. John's despues que llegamos de Cuba y pasamos 2 an~os en esa escuela. Ahora vivo en Ft Lauderdale y me gustaria comunicarme contigo. ?Tienes contacto con los demas de nuestro grupo? Willy Jaume

Message by William Jaume | Jan 20th 2010

WOW you sure made a good lemonade out of your lemons. So did I! It's called LIFE. It happens to some better than to others; at the end is what you do with it that counts. BUT look at us now! I find the "bruises" well worth it.

Message by Maria de las Nieves Aulet de Velazquez Pizarrosa | May 28th 2009

I consider your narrative a very candid account of your Peter Pan journey. My compliments to you!

Message by Juan L Puig | May 24th 2009

Mario, I have to tell you that I love that picture that you downloaded. How I wish I had my passport picture to do the same.

Message by Martha Ginory | May 17th 2009

HI Mario I came on June 3, 1962, but surely love that picture of yours..tell us about your story...keep me as in my connections and I will keep you in mine..ileana

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | May 17th 2009

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