Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate Julia Adán Pelegrín, 71, opened a black suitcase full of faded elegant shirts. Those shirts, she explained, belonged to her father, Emilio Adán Silva, when he was a Supreme Court justice in Cuba, and they represented his life before he and 12 other justices signed a letter denouncing Fidel Castro’s government. Eight years later, his family moved to Miami. Those shirts, Pelegrín says, represent the sacrifice her father made for his family and express the pride she feels. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation,” Adán said. “[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.” Such feelings of pride and nostalgia prevailed Saturday in the lobby of the Freedom Tower, when dozens of Cubans gathered to donate or lend objects of historic interest that document their exile experience. More than 300 items — passports, documents, photos, clothes — will be part of an exhibit that will open at the tower in September. The inauguration of the exhibit is a key step in the preservation of Cuban history, said Alina Interián, host of the event and executive director of Miami Dade College cultural affairs. “We want to pay tribute to the people to whom this tower means so much,” said Interián, who also was processed at the Freedom Tower when she arrived from Cuba. Between 1962 and 1974, Cuban refugees were processed at the tower, known as “The Refuge.” It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The exhibit, titled “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom,” is a collaboration between Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company. Its objective is to document, preserve and share the history of the difficulties the exiled Cuban community went through since Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The facility has deserved a project like this for some time, said Luisa Meruelo, 93, who worked for the tower’s immigration service for nine years. “I was always wondering why no one had done something about the refugees here,” Meruelo said. “This is a long story, a beautiful story.” The exhibit is a way to thank the nation that gave them refuge during that turbulent time, she said. “We have to thank the people of the United States for being so generous to us at a very difficult time,” she said. Now, the museum can show items like the first coins earned in this country, the tie that an immigrant was wearing when he arrived, a wedding gown and the tiny dress of a 3-year-old. To the people who wore them, these items are intimately associated with the difficult experience of having to abandon their native country. One of those people was Mercy Advocat, who arrived in 1962 with her brother in the Pedro Pan Operation. That exodus took place between 1960 and 1962 and brought more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States. “The last thing our parents told us before leaving was that my brother and I should never be separated,” Advocat said. “We then boarded the plane and, when we landed, the first thing they did was separate us — the girls from the boys.” Advocat and her brother eventually were sent to the same foster home in Albuquerque, N.M., and they ended doing what their parents had told them. After two years, they were reunited with their mother in New York. The black-and-white photos Advocat brought to the tower show her mother’s tears when she reunited with her children. She is lending those photos and a doll brought from Cuba — some of her most precious keepsakes — to the museum. She is not ready to part with them yet. “I’m not so old to have to donate them,” she said. © 2014 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Read more here:

Miriam Tamargo Biosca

General Information
Current Name
Miriam Schaeffer Tamargo
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Miriam Tamargo Biosca
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, August 19, 1961
Relocated To
Stayed With
St. Aloysius Orphanage & The Goodman family in Cincinnati

Miriam's Story

The one thing that has stayed with me all my life was the fact that my luggage was "lost" and all those precious new new undies, socks, shorts, shoes, and dresses my mom had painstakingly purchased ...

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Miriam's News Feed

Leave a public message for Miriam.

Miriam, my condolences to you and Carmen. Abrazos para ambas. Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Apr 16th 2013

Miriam: I'm very sorry to hear about your mother. My deepest condolences. To answer your question, I am trying to document many of the orphanages that sheltered Pedro Pan children during the early 1960s, as part of a much larger project. I am forwarding to your email address a couple of photographs of St. Aloysius. I look forward to hearing from you at your leisure. I know how difficult it must be for you at this time. I lost my mother nearly a year ago. Thanks. José Antonio Amaro Reyes

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Apr 15th 2013

Dear Miriam and Carmen: Recently I have been in touch with Sister Niklas, Archivist for the Sisters of Notre Dame of Covington, Province of Kentucky. As you might remember, they were the sisters who ran St. Aloysius Orphanage in Cincinnati at the time you and your siblings stayed there. I am trying to learn about the presence of Pedro Pans at the orphanage, which I am told added up to 9 children. Sister Niklas informs me that a Cuban couple with children (Mr. and Mrs. Roberto Fernandez), who was employed by the orphanage during 1962 through 1967, lived on the grounds in an apartment located in the laundry building adjacent to the orphanage. At the time they were hired in 1962 Sister Josilda was the administrator. From 1963 until 1967, the year they departed, Sister Rheta was the administrator. While I realize that you and your siblings were very young then and that these events took place some 50 years ago, I wonder if any of you have any recollections of the Fernandez and the sisters? Please, let me know by contacting me at I would appreciate it very much. I am a member of the Operation Pedro Pan Group History Committee. I look forward to hearing from you at your leisure. In the meantime, best wishes to all, José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Apr 14th 2013

Loved your story, Miriam. I understand your sentiments about the name Adelaida. That was my middle name too (only I always knew it was while I actively disliked it). I was thrilled to hear I could change my name upon becoming a US citizen, because dropping Adelaida was a big relief. Now I'll wait to hear the part of the story with jubilance and cucarachas.

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Jan 31st 2013

What a great story!! You are so much fun,dear cousin!!

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Dec 17th 2012

Miriam: ¡Bienvenida! I enjoyed reading your story so much, I'm afraid I'm going to have to hold you to your word that you will continue it at some future date. So, please, don't leave us hanging! (Incidentally, if you visit you will find a picture or two of St. Aloysius). José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Dec 15th 2012

Miriam has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Dec 15th 2012

Miriam has updated their profile.

Status update | Dec 15th 2012

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