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"Back in the Days": Pedro Pan & San Pedro

German Alvarez was the first boy to step off the bus that had brought a group of 10 young teenagers to the “camp”—the future site of San Pedro Center. On the dark night of April 1961 German was two months shy of his 14th birthday. His parents had managed to get him on a Pedro Pan flight out of Cuba and he and the other Cuban boys would call San Pedro “home” for a few months. Pedro Pan was an extraordinary effort spearheaded by Fr. Brian Walsh and Catholic Charities to fly Cuban children to the safety of Florida during the Castro Revolution. Here they would wait for their parents to join them. By November, 1961, German moved on to Jacksonville where his mother was able to join him in December.

German Alvarez had not been back to San Pedro since those days. Now a 63 year old grandfather, German was visiting in the Orlando area and decided to make the pilgrimage to the place which, for him, was full of good memories in a hard time.

That is how German came to walk through our office door to ask if he could walk around the campside. His memories were of a Spartan camp area and he was amazed to see the new buildings. Still, he could make out the locations where he and the other young exiles formed lasting friendships.

At 14, he told us, he doesn’t remember tears of homesickness though he was quite aware of what was happening in his homeland because his father had worked for the government. But, at 63, he found himself teary-eyed remembering the friends of those times.

View our full interview with German below!



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san pedro spiritual development center | 2400 dike road | winter park, florida 32792-8104 | 407-671-6322


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