Recalling Casa de Sales

Plucked out of post-revolution Cuba, a group of young immigrants learned to succeed—and lead—in Delaware. Would they ever go home?



(page 1 of 3)

Joe Miro, Pedro Ferreira and Yrene Waldron (from left) in front of the former orphanage at 13th and Broom streets in Wilmington. (Photograph by Christian Kaye)Joe Miro was only 15 and leaving Cuba, the country of his birth, for the first time in his life—and probably for good.

He wasn’t worried or afraid. Young Miro was comforted by the fact that his mother would soon join him in the United States. She was scheduled to leave on October 23, 1962, to be reunited with him in Wilmington.

On October 22, 1962, however, President John F. Kennedy announced a quarantine on all shipping into Cuba in response to the discovery of Soviet offensive missiles on the island. The Cuban Missile Crisis had begun, and Miro’s adolescence had been irreversibly altered.

Miro was not the only one. Through Operation Pedro Pan, an effort of the Catholic Welfare Bureau in the United States and the U.S. State Department, thousands of Cuban boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 were being moved to the United States to prevent Fidel Castro from sending them to Communist indoctrination camps in Eastern Europe.

In all, some 14,000 Cuban youths were moved to the United States, either to be reunited with family or to become wards of Catholic-sponsored foster homes, group care homes or temporary orphanages established for the specific purpose.

One such orphanage was Casa de Sales at 13th and Broom streets in Wilmington, which was operated by Salesianum School. According to Miro, 21 young Cuban boys eventually went to live there.

One of those youngsters was Pedro Ferreira, then 15, whose parents feared he and his brother, then 13, could be sent to Eastern Europe.

“I came under the Pedro Pan program, but I didn’t know it was even called that until I was in my 40s,” says Ferreira, a psychologist in Wilmington. “I only found out the name when I attended a psychology seminar and the subject had come up.”

Ferreira was not alone in his ignorance. According to www.pedropan.org, Operation Pedro Pan intentionally avoided publicity, fearing it could be used for propaganda purposes.

The first published reference to Pedro Pan occurred in a 1962 issue of Reader’s Digest. The next occurred in 1988. So many of the 14,000 who came here under the program merely thought they were arriving under the same student exchange programs that had operated between Cuban Catholic schools and the United States in pre-Castro times. (Castro closed all parochial schools, such as Ferreira’s Collegio St. Augustine, following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961.)

“I thought I was coming here to attend school for maybe six months or so,” recalls Armando Hidalgo, another Casa de Sales alum who, at 64, still operates a successful refrigeration and air conditioning business in Miami. “But my father knew exactly what Castro was all about, and one year following the Bay of Pigs, he said, ‘Cuba is lost forever. I’m sending you to the United States.’”

Pedro Pan also transported young girls to the United States. One presides today as a Delaware Family Court judge. Another, Yrene Waldron, only 10 in 1962, was supposed to leave Cuba with her parents and younger brother. But when Waldron’s father was discovered to be engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, his visa was revoked. His family’s was frozen. Fearing his children might be relocated to the USSR, he pleaded to Pedro Pan.

“He bravely gave us up so that we could live in a democracy,” says Waldron, a licensed nursing home administrator from Wilmington and executive director of the Delaware Healthcare Facilities Association.

Waldron grew up fast. After arriving in Florida City, she learned that she and her brother were to be placed in separate foster homes.
 

Page 2: Recalling Casa de Sales, continues

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February 2016

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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First State Heritage Park
121 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd N
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1200 N DuPont Highway
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1200 N DuPont Highway
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30336 Cordrey Rd
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Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church
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Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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More information

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View map »


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, DE


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Cost: Free

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300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA  19102
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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

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, DE

More information

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Show Less...

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

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201 Hagley Creek Rd
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Cost: Free

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51 W Main St.
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
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, DE


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Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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801 Middleford Rd.
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
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View map »


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Cost: $13

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1101 Arch St.
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More information

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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

Where:
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201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
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Website »

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Where:
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
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Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51W Main St.
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View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
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View map »


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Cost: $40

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Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »

More information

The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

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Cost: $8

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19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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