Justo Alejandro Martinez Monzon
Justo Alejandro's Story
SIXTY-FIVE YEARS, IN SIXTY-FIVE SECONDS.
-----JULY 9,1946 THRU JANUARY 1,1959------- "HAPPY CUBAN CHILD"
Hijo de un Oficial Militar de Carrera y una Madre que era una SANTA.
Naci y creci en 7AVE entre 44 & 46, a unas cuadras de "La Copa de Miramar" (5 y 42). Fui al Colegio "La Luz" con los PP Rafael Calleja y Emilio Ortega y al "El Salvador de Miramar" con PP Cesar Calvet (now my weekly golf buddy). Nadaba y jugaba "Squash" por el "Circulo Militar" , y si no, estaba con la pandilla del barrio los PP Leo Munoz, Jose Menes, y Serafin Menendez---Happy days, pero "La vida es una caja de sorpresa" dijo Gump, nunca sabes lo que te va a tocar.
---JANUARY 1,1959 THRU JULY 31,1961-------- "CONFUSED CUBAN CHILD"
At the end of 59' beginning of 60', I was aware of my parents discussing getting me out, but my Mother would not agree to that. My brother, a Cuban Air Force Pilot, had upon his returned in 1955, from few years of training in the U.S.A. Air Force had died, so she did not want to loose another one. I was moved around a lot of different schools, and spend a lot of time in Matanzas, where both parents (Martinez-Martell) & (Monzon-Melis) came from, it seems like I was related to half of the city by blood, and the other half by marriages. I remember beginning of 61, my Mother agreeing to let me go thru Jamaica to Miami to be with her sister. After getting all the paperwork done, one day I was told, we need to start over again, all the papers have vanish. Finally, the morning of July 31 1961, I was told, if the phone rings, we have to get to the airport right away, so tell all your friends you are going to Camaguey, and get back here right away. The phone rang and my father took me to the airport counter, and said, this is the one. Who does not remember the departure date, "la pecera" and looking back to their parents and seeing their face. I got to Miami, with my two boxes of cigars, worth $100 for my aunt, who told me: you have to get on that line, I do not have space in the Apartment, they will take care of you, do not worry your parents know, I will visit you and everything will be OK. She forgot to tell me, get ready for the "Monta~na Rusa". So what a hell of a ride has been.
------JULY 31,1961 THRU JULY 9,1964------ "UNACCOMPANIED REFUGEE CUBAN CHILD"
We got to Kendall at night, so I could not look for all my friends from Matanzas, Tony Moreno, Rogelito Consuegra, German Alvarez, Julito Nunez, that I knew had come before me, next morning I got the disappointing news they had been sent to Orlando, I was there until the mid or end of August that I was honored to be a founder (has a better sound than Mafioso) of "Camp Matacumbe", for the record, the original Mafia never abused anyone, yes we did "novatadas de bien venida" y por su puesto las despedidas en la piscina. Lived with my friend and who became like a big brother to me, Sergio Garcia Miro until November 6 1961, that I was told -----
Do not look for anyone to take your place, you are going to Washington, D.C. and you are taking seven with you. Since I wanted to go either to Orlando or with Msgr. Walsh, every time a "BECA" came, I would find a relative of someone going, to take my place, so I got out of Nebraska, Montana, Delaware and other places. Thank you Joaquin Maribona, Oscar Torres y otros que no me acuerdo.
Washington's "BECA" was at St Joseph Home for Boys (Orphanage), we where 10, from ages 15 thru 5. Samuel Nodarse, Jose Rodriguez, Miguel Jaureguizar y su hermano menor, Jose Luis Maneiro y su dos hermanos menores, Angel Borges, Jose Fiallo y yo. Las muchachas vivian en St Vincent Home for Girls --Olga Nodarse, Esther Rodriguez, Lucy Vazquez, Hortensia Jones, Lourdes Valdes Esquerre; Mariaca, Ileana y Dania Valdes Cartaya; Susana Inclan; Celita Suarez; Vivian Garcia Robieux;
I attended St Anthony's Catholic School graduating 1962 at age 15, then in 1963 went to live off Wisconsin Ave by the Bethesda line, with a great family "The Meads", who had 4 Kids. Since I could not get into college, I was sent back to school, Woodrow Wilson High School, the public school of the N.W. well to do, diplomats, and of course few cuban refugee kids that made them want to party every weekend. I graduated again, class of 1963. How many people you know that have two HS degrees. Then went on to George Washington University School of Engineers. When the time came, I begged to get my PP brother out of St Joseph, Jose Rodriguez, which they agreed. I also tried to get my PP childhood friend, Leo Munoz, from Peoria, but that never materialized. Since all my friends were still at WW HS, I would visit and what can I say, I fell in Love, and still are, with the most beautiful Colombian girl attending Woodrow Wilson HS from the class of 65. Probably my PP brothers Luis & Johnny Pascual, from class of 64, whose family gave me cuban food and a place to feel at home, can tell a better story of our 47 years relationship.
-----JULY 9,1964 THRU AUGUST 20,1966------ "CUBAN REFUGEE SURVIVAL"
I was on my own. Working, going to school, and in Love. I remember Christmas 1965 getting engaged and planning a wedding for August 20 1966, then my parents came out (January 1966) and arrived in D.C, under the worst snow storm in years, what can I say "Never a problem, always a challenge". Later that year they separated, my father moved to Tampa and later died in Miami 1999, my mother stayed with us thru her death in 1984.
Madre Teresa was correct. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is a sorrow, overcome it.
---AUGUST 20,1966 THRU DECEMBER 31,2003--- "CUBAN-AMERICAN STORY"
I was working for Honeywell. Our first daughter Elizabeth was born (7-1-67) in Washington D.C., and in November they moved the office from the Chevy Chase line to Mclaen, Virginia, then I remember driving under snow conditions in my old VW, and saying, I have to get out of here, calling a friend in Orlando, Tony Moreno (QEPD), telling him I am coming for Thanksgiving, and to look for a job with Honeywell. I interviewed, and was told, we can use you, we have a project coming up, so go back and work it out. Do you know how lucky the first guy I interviewed for my place got? You guessed it, so Jan 68 we moved to Orlando, and has been home since then. By the way the project was Disney. We bought our first house, for the same price that a down-payment was going to be in D.C.
and in July 23, 1970, our second daughter Michele was born in Orlando. I remained with Honeywell until 1973, when I got a BSBA, and someone I knew asked me, would you like to join Wall Street. It had not crossed my mind. But it just happened, I was getting tired of Engineering, and needed a change either Europe with another firm, or this challenged in front of me. Besides, my life and the Market have one thing in common, if is not going up is coming down.
The Dow was at 500, and I loved what I was to do, help people with their finances. The next 34 years (1973-2007) was 12 hours of work, and 12 hours of family time. We got lucky, both girls went to college, then got married, it sound better when I tell you one in 93 and one 94, instead of 6 month apart, because I did not know if I was paying off someone or making a deposit. Now each one have three kids, and every day, I thank God for everything he has given me, and also thank Him for what he has not given me, because only He knows what is best for me.
My time on Wall Street, with hard work and luck, brought me success at both E.F. Hutton and Morgan Stanley, permitting me to enjoyed being in the top 100 Financial Advisors producers of the nation for years.
One of the greatest moment of my career was May 25, 2003, my friend of 30 yrs, the Honorable Senator from Florida, and our fellow Pedro Pan brother, Mel Martinez, invited me to be with him at the New York Stock Exchange opening bell. Can you believe it, two PP at the "House" that makes the world go around..
-DECEMBER 31, 2003 THRU TODAY JULY 9, 2011 -- "RETIRED CUBAN-AMERICAN BABY BOOMER"
12/2003--I started having trouble with my voice, to the point that I could not talk, I visited numerous Doctors
including my Matacumbe friend, Jose Luis Prendes, a great Neurologist. Finally at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville a team of Doctors agreed I had,
"ATYPICAL ABDUCT SPASMODIC DYSPHONIA" and gave me a great explanation in simple terms
there is a short circuit between the brain and the vocal cords, the problem is we do not know the cause, so we do not know how to treat it. We are trying different procedures, I elected Botax injection on the cords. So the good news is I am not going to die from it, bad news is I have to learned to live with it, something that as a PP I learned do, i.e. deal with the cards given.
Since nothing (good or bad) last forever, I decided to officially become a "Retired Wealth Advisor" April 07. At first it was tough, but believe me, you can get use to doing what most people want to do "NOTHING"
Now my life consist of Six (6) Saturdays and One (1) Sunday, and I do not have time to do everything I want to do.
We try to travel every month somewhere, and if we are home, we head to our get away place since 1980 (Cocoa Beach) for the week-end. To show you there are PP everywhere, five years ago we met another PP Eduardo Rabel, whose life sounds like mine, so the week-ends are getting better.
From my daily reading of this great project, one thing stands out, and that is, that only PP can understand each other stories. Our tears, laughs and scars, are only understood by those that walked the path, and let us not forget that the "Footprints" on the sand are not ours, but the Lord who is carrying us.
I urge every PP that has not written their story to do it, share the moment, I did, and I hope my two kids, six grand kids (13 thru 5), and kids yet to come, have at least an idea what Operation Pedro Pan, and my life was all about, so do it for them. I hope that every PP close to Orlando or Cocoa Beach, writes or call so we can get together, and for those from other places, please write or call so we can come together.
Let us not forget all the people we know, and those we never knew, that helped us become "Unaccompanied" to this great country, over 50 years ago. All the people that one way or another extended their friendship. To Msgr. Walsh for bringing us back together, and to Elly Chovel for trying to keep us together. To all the people that keep "Our Mission" alive, and those that work every day dedicated one way or another, to keep reaching for each other.
In closing, please think and remember, what Madre Teresa de Calcuta said, If you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and "GOD". It was never between you, and them anyway.
JULY 9, 2011