Jose Arango Buzainz

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Jose's Story

It was an unusually cold late October evening 1961, at Miami airport when I arrived here alone on a KLM flight at the age of 8 from Havana. I was really 10 but my parents were told that I may be too old and elligble for government indoctrination and possibly unable to leave the country. That was not good. Upon my arrival I was taken to a large barracks style building.The sobbing of young boys trying to fall asllep in a cold lonely place far from home was something I will never forget. Im sure I was one of them. There were rumors about some of us will be transferred to another place called Pueblo,Colorado. Now,that sounded really far away. An early snow was falling at The Sacred Heart Home in Pueblo upon my arrival at the orphanage home. Some of the boys from Kendall were also there, that was comforting. One of the main things I remember in Pueblo, besides the cold and snow was being taken out with a bunch of other children going from home to home around the neighborhood dressed in funny looking outfits and people giving us all kinds of candy and treats. I said to myself 'what a great country every week people are going to give us candy?' Little did I know how disappointed I was going to be when I discoverd Halloween only happened once a year! I was fortunate that my father arrived a year later and sent for me to live with him in Coconut Grove, Florida. Other kids were not so fortunate some, their parents were unable to leave Cuba and stayed at the orphanage until they were no longer minors.I can't imagine that.I'm one of the lucky ones.Those times. I would just as soon forget. By the time those nuns got through with you, you can recite all the states capitals in your sleep. I see very little has been written about the post Pedro Pan years we all went through. Going to the Refugio and getting cans of Spam, big chunks of cheese,peanut butter, powder milk, powder eggs it tasted terrible but, we were never hungry. Does anybody remember that? Thank you Uncle Sam! I attended Edison Jr, Sr High and Beach High. We hung out at Shell's City, Fun Fair. We grooved at the Grove's love-in's and Greynolds Park, lets not forget "Fall Over Beach", Thee Image and The World. I was drafted went in the Army then "discoed" at Honey For The Bears, Regines, The Cricket Club and Turnberry.I met my wife, been married 32 years and have a 30 year old daughter. Now, those times I DO NOT want to forget!.Ocasionally I wonder how my life would have been had I stayed behind, hmmm? Oh well, I really wish everyone what I wish for myself. The best of health and a little luck doesn't hurt.

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Jose has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Sep 17th 2010

Jose, my dream for Cuba is that it becomes a free and prosperous country one day. I wish for my people to live in freedom more than anything else and I know that my dream will become true one day. As we say in Spanish: No hay mal que dure 100 anos..... Come to one of our activities, I am sure you will feel at home with us. Love

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 4th 2010

Hi Jose, I am not an expert, just a regular pedropan that is passionate about our story.....and no, I don't think we need to be aggressive in pursuing our fellow pedropans brothers/sisters.....but I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. First, it is a miracle that we have over 1400 pedropans registered in this has been a pleasant surprise for everybody involved in this project. Second, there is a great amount of pedropans that are not aware they were part of this Operation Pedro Pan ( I myself found this out by coincidence in 2005). Third, remember we are mostly in our 60s and not everybody that age knows how to use a computer or has one. Fourth, there is an indefinite number of pedropans that are deceased already ( yes, we are in that age when we have to start thinking about our own mortality). Fifth, we pedropans were sent to 35 different states, and later on got on with our lives in different countries (not everybody has found out about the website). And last, but not least, this was a very traumatic experience for all, and even though most of us, have been able to come to terms with it, there are some that might not have been able to process their feelings associated with our exodus. We need to be aware and respectful of them, and only open our arms to receive them as brothers and sisters that we are. My experience has been that when we start interacting with other pedropans we feel an instant bond with each other, but then again, every person is unique and needs their space. However, if you want to participate and help in our activities, you are more than welcome.....Love,

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 3rd 2010

Jose, that is a cute picture you posted! Thank you for sharing. I loved your story about Halloween, that was so different for all of us....Also about the children crying, we all remember that. I was 15 years old but I remember the younger girls crying and me holding back the tears because I was older and needed to be strong. Those nuns were fantastic conforting us, I interviewed madre Paulina and she said that was very difficult for them too and that is something they will never forget. Love

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 2nd 2010

Jose has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Sep 2nd 2010

I enjoyed reading your story. I am glad you enjoyed mine. In response to your questions: I lived in Miami until 1965 when we moved to Hialeah. I went on to study at Miami-Dade College, Florida International University and Barry University. I spent most of my career in the accounting and computer field. And yes, it is hard to believe that I am the age that I am. LOL

Message by Carlos A Cruz Martinez | Aug 18th 2010

Jose has updated their profile.

Status update | Jun 20th 2010

Jose, you arrived just 11 days after me and you flew KLM, and I Pan Am. Those were the two airlines that were doing those flights at the time. I also remember my first Halloween, just 22 days after my arrival. An older 2nd cousin took my brother and I trick-or-treating around her neighborhood and that of her friends. Thinking back on that day, I should consider myself very lucky that while I was doing this in reasonable weather with a cousin, there were other kids like yourself doing it in a cold place without relatives. I am sorry about this, but perhaps such an experience has made you a stronger person. If things went reasonable well in later years, one should not look back as to what might have been, as it could have been worse instead of better. I too remember the "carne del refugio" which was basically U.S. Government issued generic SPAM. The cheese was pretty good as well as the navy beans. It was not close at all to gourmet, but we ate and thus I am very grateful. Good luck to you. Carlos

Message by Carlos A Cruz Martinez | Jun 17th 2010

Jose says: If there are supposed to be 14,00 Pedero Pans. where in the world are the other 12,000?

Status update | Apr 7th 2010

Hey big brother ! Just read your story for the first time and i can not imageine what you went through nor do i wish to live it but you have grown up to become a good and loving person.Your loving little brother WILLIAM ARANGO!

Message by William Arango | Mar 30th 2010

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