Count Alfonso de Bourbon: A True Story by Juliana Beletsis
Editor’s note: This is the story about one La Jollan’s dedicated search to learn the truth about another La Jollan’s claim to be a descendent of Spanish royalty. In her grief following the tragic death in January of her friend “Count” Alfonso de Bourbon, Juliana Beletsis traces his life story — not to Spain, but to Egypt — as readers will see.
Some of you know that Count Alfonso de Bourbon, was my favorite local. And, that I felt sick with grief when he was accidentally crushed to death around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.
Alfonso was dumpster diving behind Jonathon’s, the finest market in town, when the driver of an 18-wheeler backed up too far and hit two dumpsters that pinned Alfonso against the loading dock. It wasn’t until 7 a.m. the next morning that he was found slumped forward facing the other direction.
It was Loren Nancarrow, the anchor on Channel 5 who broke the news. “No! Tell me it isn’t true! Tell me it isn’t true!” I cried out first to Loren, and then to my husband, as I jumped up off the floor. Just that day I had gone in search of Alfonso.
Alfonso and I lived in the same neighborhood for 25 years. I met him on the street where we became fast friends. I felt privileged to be a part of his life. I thought he was a treasure; always available for a chat in the afternoon sun, always friendly and always willing to help me learn.
I may have been the only woman who Alfonso didn’t chase, but that may have been because I chased him. If Alfonso ever complimented me, I didn’t hear it. And, he never offered to carry my bags; it was I who carried his. I felt honored.
When Alfonso spoke to me, he made me feel like I was the only person on the planet. He really connected. When I was with him he gave 100 percent.
He was a pure and simple joy. I’ve never heard Alfonso complain about anything – ever. He felt grateful for every day, he was always happy and in a good mood. When I saw him sitting on the bench on Girard Avenue, I always asked him how he was. Alfonso always said the same thing, and he said it with emphasis, facing up toward the sun with his eyes closed. “Thank God that I can enjoy another day!”
Being kind and giving was central to Alfonso’s life. Whenever I did something nice for him, he always did something nice for me. And, when he gave me gifts, he always gave me a choice.
One day he called me on the telephone and asked me to come over as he had a gift for me. He wanted to repay a favor. I knew the code to enter his building was 008. Alfonso only had to tell me once. In his slow, deliberate professorial manner and looking straight at me he said, “Think James Bond.”
I was glad that Alfonso had invited me over. I was curious to see how he lived — and I was not disappointed. I was desperate to take photos, one can see so much more in a photograph than in real life, but I didn’t. I don’t know why because Alfonso seemed oblivious to the excitement I felt when I saw his piles of stuff stacked up high in his living room.
I sent Alfonso a card and a gift certificate from Girard Gourmet on his birthday, October 22. Two days later, I received a card from him; this is what he wrote,
“Dear Juliana, Thank you so much for your kindness and thoughtfulness on my birthday. There should be more people like you in this topsy-turvy world! Love, Alfonso.” The card he sent was from the Children’s Art Project – Making life better for children with cancer.
I once wrote Alfonso a card I ended with, “You’re my favorite local.” Two days later, I received a letter from him, written with stationery that had a fleur-de-lis stamped in the upper left corner, and a newspaper clipping. The La Jolla Light was having a photo contest. Alfonso thanked me for taking photos of him at the car show and he gave me permission to submit one photo in particular for publication. I laughed out loud when I read the last line. Alfonso wrote, “I hope this brings you some publicity.”
In the envelope, Alfonso included a copy of a letter he received from The Athenaeum. The letter was dated Sept. 1, 2009. Alfonso wanted me to know that someone had made a donation in his honor and that he had a title. The letter, written by Erika Torri, was addressed to Count Alfonso. That is how I came to call my favorite local Count Alfonso.
Alfonso never told me any grandiose stories unless it was about an historical event and he never spoke about his state of health except to mention the difficulty that he was having sleeping through the night due to his prostate problems. And, neither of us said a word that morning when, standing in his kitchen, his left hand trembled uncontrollably.
He told me about his reverse mortgage and the neighbors he had in days of yore, and what he had for breakfast every morning. When Alfonso mentioned the kind of jam he ate, I went out and bought him three jars of the good stuff from Belgium. He, in return, gifted me with a deliciously wrapped box of stale cupcakes.
Alfonso was an adventure and I took every opportunity I had with him to learn. When I told him that I knew (Hitler’s Field Marshall Erwin) Rommel was called the “Desert Fox” and that he had been forced to commit suicide, Alfonso looked at me with surprise and told me I was the smartest person he knew, beside himself.
John, my father-in-law, was a medic during World War II under the command of General George Patton. He collected war memorabilia that he gave my husband. I knew that Alfonso was interested in everything-WW II, so I invited him over.
I placed the items on the table and we studied the coins, medals, badges, and sword up close. He was able to translate something that was written on one of the coins that I did not understand. Before he left, Alfonso kindly asked us to give him the objects if we should decide that we didn’t want them any longer.
Although, he spoke only English with me, except to make corrections, I practiced my French and German on Alfonso and I asked him questions. He was the one who taught me how to say “not anymore” in French. Non plus. Once, when Alfonso was sitting at my table, I took the opportunity to ask him how to pronounce Französisch. Alfonso replied by telling me not to make it anymore difficult than it already was.
It was only recently that Alfonso found it necessary to correct me when I addressed him in the informal. When he went on to explain the (French language) rules, I laughed and I apologized, in French. I understood the rules and I thanked him. Alfonso was a good teacher.
I never could wrap my arms around Alfonso’s project with our sister city of Alcala de Henares that he started in 1982. It wasn’t until after his death that I learned that Alcala, 35 km northeast of Madrid, was conquered by Alfonso VII. And, that it is was the birthplace of Cervantes, the author of “Don Quixote.”
I also learned that an historic map Alfonso gifted to UCSD in 2010, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, was signed by King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Sometimes when I was with Alfonso I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. One afternoon as we were walking along, he stopped a young man and asked him what size shoes he wore. Alfonso asked him if he had an old pair that he could have. In his hand, Alfonso was clutching a newspaper ad for a big sale on shoes. The store was way out near nowhere, and I don’t have a car, so I told Alfonso that the advertising was false, not to be depended upon. He agreed; it was too good to be true.
Last Christmas, when I invited Alfonso over for dessert, he demanded that I cook him his favorite meal. I laughed at his forthrightness. But, Alfonso was right, I should have offered to cook for him. I thawed the salmon just in case.
Alfonso told me he liked to watch a show on the television in the evenings. Since I don’t watch TV myself, I didn’t ask him what program, but I did make the mistake of calling him once when this program was on. I said to myself, now I know never to do that again. What kind of show would hold such an appeal to Alfonso that he would not want to be disturbed?
I didn’t know that Alfonso was a dumpster diver. Just days before his death, my friend Roger told me that he was walking through the alley, behind Jonathan’s when Alfonso beckoned to him. Roger, being young and able, dove into the dumpster to aid Alfonso who was surrounded by bags.
Father James Rafferty told us the following story at the memorial for Alfonso, which was held at Mary Star of the Sea. Every week the church offers leftover bread and pastries to the poor. When Fr. Rafferty opened the doors, Alfonso was always the first in line. Fr. Rafferty, who is relatively new to La Jolla, told us he grumbled when Alfonso took more than his share, and when he made a comment, Alfonso said, “Oh no, this is not for me, this is for the homeless.”
Despite what I told a reporter for El Mundo, I don’t believe Alfonso interacted with the homeless. I think he hoarded food. As a matter-of-fact, I’m sure he did, as I have a photo of the inside of his fridge. I was so shocked and excited when Alfonso opened the door to offer me cake that I whipped out my little camera before I even asked permission. Alfonso posed proudly. He was pleased that I had arrived just after he trimmed his beard and mustache. I didn’t see it at the time, but he looked dapper.
Massachusett’s Mike is the homeless fellow who is usually camped outside our grocery market. We ended up standing together at the same street corner early one morning. I was stunned when I turned to chat with him, as I have never seen him clean and sober. Massachusett’s Mike told me that he knew someone had been crushed to death behind Jonathon’s. He described the scene in detail, but he thought it was another homeless person. He also told me that Alfonso never gave him food — he had his own — and he pointed to the pile of pastries at the bottom of his freshly cleaned and neatly organized shopping cart.
Exactly three years before his death, Alfonso asked me to take a photo of the church that held his memorial service, Mary, Star of the Sea. We were standing in front of the church when he made the request, and although I had my camera in my pocket, I told him I was going to wait to shoot as the sun was too bright and it was casting shadows. I went back the next day when the light changed and took the photo. I didn’t remember this until I looked into the priest’s face at the reception.
Alfonso’s memorial was held on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. I was one of the first to arrive and when the priest was placing flowers on the altar, I stepped forward and asked him if it was OK if I took photos. A law professor from Spain had contacted me that morning and asked for information and photos, as he was about to publish an article on Alfonso. The priest said “sure,” and told me that he was going to allow time so people could talk about their personal experiences with Alfonso. I sat down and thought, yeah right, like I’m going to get up and talk in front of everyone. Well, that was exactly what happened, and when the time came, I didn’t hesitate, I ran up to give my first public speech.
This is what happened. When everyone who had spoken, including the priest, admitted that they only knew Alfonso in passing, I felt compelled to tell everyone that Alfonso had a friend and that I was his friend. Ken, who was sitting next to me, said that I didn’t run up to the microphone. He said that I hesitated and looked to see if anyone else was going, and then I walked. But, in my mind, I ran and I ran fast.
I told everyone that when I went out, I went looking for Alfonso. I told them how grateful Alfonso felt to be alive and I mentioned a thank-you card he sent me. I remember ending with the story that I had given Alfonso half a hug, recently, which made him laugh. The laughter, I said, is how I was going to remember Alfonso.
Erika Torri, director of The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, was right on when she spoke. She said that after interacting with Alfonso, she always left with a smile. Alfonso always made her feel good. She told us a funny story about an interaction she had with him that made everyone laugh out loud. That is how it was with Alfonso, even after he died. Whenever I thought of him, I was either laughing or crying — often at the same time.
Reporter Dave Schwab wrote his account of the memorial service in the La Jolla Light. “Everyone in attendance agreed Bourbon was an unforgettable character, an individual so unique in his presentation that you always remembered him thereafter.”
Amid all the pain and sorrow, Ken Smith wrote me a comforting message. “Christine has it right. No matter the rest; he (Alfonso) will always be a Prince to us. But, you had it most right because you saw the light in Alfonso. Others, too, yes, but you really brought it out in him.”
The news of Alfonso’s death spread across Europe and journalists from El Mundo contacted me. Everyone wanted to know information about Alfonso. And the big question on everyone’s mind was whether Alfonso was indeed from royalty like he claimed.
When I moved to La Jolla 25 years ago and Alfonso mentioned that his grandfather was King Alfonso XIII of Spain, I scoffed at the idea. But, the news sent me running to my elderly French friend’s house on Genter Street, who, in turn, scoffed at ME. She told me that this sort of thing (illegitimacy) happens in Europe all the time. So, I assumed Alfonso was from royalty.
I met Heli Hofmann at Alfonso’s memorial service. She wrote, “Three things convinced me from the very beginning in 1981:
1) His physical resemblance to Alfonso XIII;
2) His enormous language ability;
3) His polite manners.”
Alfonso told me that he was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and that he worked as an interpreter for the United Nations in New York City. It was only in our last conversation that Alfonso revealed more personal information about himself. That is why I was stunned when, out of the blue; he told me that he was once married, but only for a brief period of time.
I’ll never forget the moment. We were sitting on the bench on Girard Avenue facing the sun, when he mentioned this. My head spun around to look at him. Unfortunately, that was all he wanted me to know, but I felt honored, as I’m sure Alfonso never told this to anyone. Now I’m left wondering what else he might have revealed had he kept on living.
I never asked Alfonso about his royal past, even when I imported his personal photos of the Royals into my computer. He asked me to put them on a disk for him. He was working on a project and he needed copies.
But, my curiosity was piqued and the next time Alfonso came over I Googled photos of the Spanish Royal Family and showed them to him. I was surprised at Alfonso’s reaction; he did not seem at all interested. But, I told him, in error, that the photos he had me scan were already on the computer.
In appreciation for my efforts, Alfonso gave me a photocopied image of King Alfonso XIII – Alfonso had signed his name on the back. But, before he gave me the photo, he held it up to his face and asked me if I thought there was a resemblance. Alfonso was pleased when I told him the resemblance was striking.
My husband, among many others, thought Alfonso’s story about his past was convincing. Plus, he did look like King Alfonso XIII, don’t you think?
If only I had known at the time that the couple Alfonso claimed were his parents, were the eldest son of King Alfonso XIII, Alfonso de Borbón, and his wife Edelmira Sampedro.
Later, when I read the interview José María Zavala had with Alfonso in November 2009, I was convinced that Alfonso knew only what the nuns told him and that the information was incorrect. I thought King Alfonso XIII might have been Alfonso’s real father since he was born in the same year as Leandro, 1929. Leandro was one of the many illegitimate children fathered by the “Bastard King.” Plus, I decided that Alfonso didn’t lose his fingers to frostbite like he told me, but he was born with a deformity, which led to his being put up for adoption. Alfonso did make the perfect orphan.
Alfonso de Bourbon Case No. 12-104
Trying to get Alfonso’s story has not been easy. After interviewing two medical examiners, the public administrator, San Diego Crematorium, a lawyer, and The Salvation Army, the investigation is still not fully complete.
The medical examiner told me the case was still open. She explained that there were three parts to a report: the investigation, the toxicology report, and the autopsy. She was not able to tell me which one was not yet completed. But, she said these cases take about 90 days and they would notify me via e-mail when all is said and done. I was in their system.
When the medical examiner told me that Alfonso was not from royalty, the shock temporarily shook the grief I was feeling, and I smiled. It didn’t matter, prince or pauper, I loved Alfonso and there was nothing anybody could do about that now.
Suddenly, I became the town crier and I ran to tell everyone the news. My second stop after Girard Gourmet was The Athenaeum. I arrived at the same time as a deliveryman. We stood together and waited for Erika Torri. When I told her that Alfonso was not from royalty, we were speechless. We just stood there – in shock – staring at each other. Finally, the deliveryman, who overheard our conversation, asked us if we were talking about Alfonso de Bourbon. We both stared at him in disbelief.
This is what he told us: “There was a man who lived in La Jolla, I can’t remember his name, but he died 10 years ago. This man investigated Alfonso when he first came to town to see if he was indeed the real deal.” Then, the deliveryman waved his hand in the air and in a nonchalant manner said, “I’ve known all along that Alfonso was NOT the real deal.” Erika and I were stunned. We couldn’t move.
“Don’t feel sorry about breaking the news,” Erika wrote. “For me, Alfonso was always Alfonso, the one who made La Jolla’s atmosphere and aura richer and more exciting. I was never sure if he was related to Royalty or not, and actually, it did not matter. He made more than one day brighter for me and others with his demeanor and flattering compliments.”
A reporter from El Mundo called and asked me if I felt conned that Alfonso had misrepresented himself. “No,” I said. “Alfonso had every right to change his name and pretend to be from Spanish royalty. He never meant any harm to anyone, and he added color and mystery to our lives.” But, like Ken Smith wrote, I’m not buying it. It’s Count Alfonso!
There were many people who refuse to believe the medical examiner’s story. They simply do not want to believe that Alfonso was not who he claimed to be and that his resemblance to King Alfonso XIII was more than a coincidence.
The medical examiner told me that they found a first-cousin in Miami who will work with the public administrator’s office to handle all of Alfonso’s affairs. According to the cousin, they let Alfonso go 50 years ago because of his eccentricity.
Leon Shafferman changed his name to Alfonso de Bourbon in 1968. Morris Shafferman, Alfonso’s father, was also an eccentric who changed his name to Patrick Stewart. Alfonso’s kinfolk came from Egypt and he was born in the south of Switzerland.
Missy, at San Diego Crematorium, told me that on Feb. 21, 2009 Alfonso prepaid to have himself cremated and his ashes sent adrift at sea. I felt tormented when Missy explained that everything was taking so long because, although Alfonso’s family was notified, they never responded. So, in order for them to move forward, they needed an abandonment release from the medical examiner’s office – signed papers that claimed our Alfonso was abandoned. Alfonso’s body was released on Feb. 17.
Alfonso was cremated. Missy was looking at his ashes in a jar on the counter as we spoke. She said that at some point, her boss, the owner, will gather everyone’s ashes and he alone will go out to sea. He’s not licensed to bring along family or friends.
I’ve been lamenting the fact that there wasn’t a place I could go and mourn Alfonso’s death, but Missy told me that San Diego Crematorium will provide me with a certificate that will include the date, and coordinates, after her boss sets sail with Alfonso’s ashes.
It was during this time that I started reading — not only the recent and numerous letters Alfonso wrote to the editor in topics as wide-ranging as expressing his concern for the victims of war, “advice to would-be condo owners” and a letter in loving memory, but I read about our Alfonso in days of yore.
In an article that was written in the New York Times on Jan. 24, 1969, Alfonso bid on the world’s most famous and ancient pearl, La Peregrina. The bidding on the pearl, nicknamed, The Wanderer because it had gotten around so much, started at $10,000. Richard Burton outbid Afonso and bought the pearl for $37,000. It was his birthday present to Elizabeth Taylor who had just turned 37 years old.
“An unsuccessful bidder was Prince Alfonso de Bourbon Asturias. In an interview later, he said: ‘I had telephoned-in a bid to $20,000. I didn’t think it was going to reach $37,000. I wanted to make a gift of it to Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, in homage to her.’ ”
Never mind that all the while Queen Victoria Eugenia claimed to have the “real” pearl tucked away in her possession.
I read about our swinging Alfonso and the Gabor Sisters. I know someone who met Alfonso at one of their parties years ago. When she moved to La Jolla she looked up Alfonso, and the two became friends.
“Magda (Gabor) dated around for awhile, specializing in princely titles. Among her squires were Prince Alfonso de Bourbon and Prince Umberto de Poliolo, both with residual Royal heritage from Spain. The former lived in La Jolla and the latter operated his art emporium, Gallery de Poliolo, in Palm Springs.” — From “Palm Springs Life” by Allene Arthur.
And I read about King Alfonso XIII and his eldest son, Alfonso de Borbón and his Cuban wife of four years, Edelmira Sampedro. One article in particular, written by Miami historian Antolín García Carbonell in February 2009, would make a dramatic impact, “Tragic Drama Under the Miami Moon.”
My husband and I planned a trip to Florida long before Alfonso died. We were set to leave at the end of January, but due to circumstances we didn’t leave until the end of February. This turned out to be a good thing as Alfonso was in legal limbo and I wanted to know what was going to happen to him.
On Feb. 28 we took the red-eye to Miami and landed at sunrise (3:29 a.m. our time). We headed south on the Dixie Highway 953 in our rented Nissan. I suggested we stop for breakfast in Coral Gables, I was curious to see this suburb of Miami.
My husband said he was surprised at my behavior when we arrived. He said I became focused and driven. He said it threw him off, as he had no idea that I wanted to go to the cemetery mausoleum and look for Alfonso de Borbón’s crypt. He said that I took us right to the unmarked crypt, straight away, without hesitation.
I was just as surprised as my husband. Who knew I had this information and my desire was so strong? I thought we were going to drive straight down to The Keys and enjoy a tropical vacation. We did that, but we also went to three libraries and two cemeteries to research Alfonso’s story.
Unlike Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, there were no maps available at Graceland Memorial Park in Coral Gables, so I approached two workers. ”Spanish royalty?” I asked. Shoulders shrugged, so I started to walk away when one of the workers, Guillot, stepped forward. He said he remembered something and took us into the mausoleum.
There are two crypts on the left as you enter the mausoleum that don’t bear an inscription, one lies on top of the other.
“This is what you’re looking for,” Guilott said, pointing to the bottom crypt. We all stood and stared at the blank cover while he changed his mind.
“No,” he said. “It is the one on top of that, I can tell by the color of the marble.” So, we all stared at the one on top. As I stepped forward to take a closer look, I noticed that one of thingamajigs that held the crypt closed was loose. I asked if the crypt could be opened. Guilott flipped out a tool, and much to our surprise, he opened the crypt! Imagine our shock and excitement when we read what was written on the inside of the marble cover:
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ALFONSO DE BORBON Y BATTENBERG MAY 10 SEPT 6, 1907 R.I.P 1938
Guiilott was just as excited as we were. He told us that he had worked at this cemetery for the last six years and had heard rumors, but he had never opened the crypt. And, he explained that the bottom crypt bore no inscription because it was used for the cremated remains of those who were abandoned.
I’ll let Miami’s historian Antolín García Carbonell tell the story of why the crypt that belongs to the man Alfonso claimed to be his father, Alfonso de Borbón, was empty, since it was his riveting article that brought us there:
“During the 1950s, three of Don Alfonso’s siblings visited his grave during Miami stops while visiting the U.S. and Cuba. Following the 1975 restoration of the Borbón Dynasty in Spain after Francisco Franco’s death, King Juan Carlos, Don Alfonso’s nephew, began making plans to bring back to Spain the bodies of all the Spanish Royals who had died in exile. But before that could happen, the Royal Pantheon at El Escorial, outside Madrid, had to be expanded.
King Alfonso XIII’s body was repatriated from Italy in 1980. In 1985, the other tombs were ready, and in a carefully timed ceremony, the royal remains were flown in over two days: Queen Victoria Eugenia from England, the Infante Gonzalo from Austria, the Infante Jaime from Switzerland, and Don Alfonso from Miami.
Col. Luis Fernandez de Mesa y de Hoas, special envoy from Don Juan de Borbón, Don Alfonso’s brother, arranged for Rivero Funeral Home to exhume and ship Don Alfonso’s body to El Escorial.
According to the funeral home’s Enrique Rivero, when the crypt was opened on the morning of April 23, 1985, Don Alfonso’s remains were revealed to have not completely decomposed, and fragments of the white sharkskin suit remained. The body was transferred to a coffin and a wake was held that evening at Rivero Funeral Home on SW 8th St., where the rosary was recited before many local dignitaries, as well as Doña Edelmira, who had moved to Miami after the Cuban revolution.
The following day, Don Alfonso was escorted to Miami International Airport by a motorcycle honor guard of officers representing every police department in Miami-Dade County. While the Spanish Consul, Emilio Marti Martiny, and Colonel Fernandez watched, the coffin was loaded into the cargo hold of an Iberia 747 and flown overnight to Madrid. On April 25, 1985, Don Alfonso was finally laid to rest with all the honors due a Crown Prince of Spain.
Doña Edelmira remained in touch with the royal family, and despite her divorce, retained the title Countess Covadonga. She died in Miami in 1994, as had Marta Rocafort a year earlier. Neither was buried in Don Alfonso’s crypt, which, according to José Vera of Graceland Memorial Park, remains empty and the property of Don Alfonso’s estate.”
— Antolín García Carbonell
Edelmira Sampedro is buried down the street at Woodlawn Park Cemetery. We got caught in a downpour while searching for her tombstone. And searched we did. I knew she was right in front of us, but for some reason, we just couldn’t see her. I was looking for Edelmira written large and I wasn’t expecting her to be buried with her older sister. Edelmira and Elizarda Sampedro can be found in Section 17, 38.
Our next stop was the Miami-Dade Cultural Center that holds Miami’s Main Library. We went in search of microfiche. The headlines that ran in the Miami Daily News on Tuesday Sept. 6, 1938 read;
COVADONGA DIES FROM ACCIDENT INJURIES: Spanish Nobleman Is Fatally Injured As Car Hits Pole. A photo taken two hours before his death shows the Count laying in bed with his secretary, Jack Fleming, standing alongside.
I left Miami burning with curiosity. I read that the woman our Alfonso claimed was his mother, Edelmira Sampedro, never once gave an interview in more than 60 years, she never remarried, and she wrote a memoir that was never published.
Back at home, I went to pay my respects to my friend Elizabeth. I knew her esteemed father, Johnny Thiele, who passed away recently at the grand old age of 91 years. Johnny’s atelier is next door to D.G. Wills bookstore on Girard Avenue, so I stopped in.
“Spanish royals?” I asked Mr. Wills as I stepped into the store. When he suggested I search on the computer, I would have nothing of it. I wanted to see and hold a BOOK in my hands.
“This is all we have,” Wills said, leading me to the center and middle aisle. He held up his hands to indicate that there were only so many books. I now stood at eye-level with a winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature: “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus From Old To The New World,” by Lucette Lagnado.
An Egyptian by birth, Lucette’s father, “Leon loses everything and his family is forced to flee, abandoning a life once marked by beauty and luxury to plunge into hardship and poverty, as they take flight for any country that would have them.”
An author who is writing a book about Edelmira Sampedro contacted me. She grew up with Edelmira’s niece, she has access to Edelmira’s unpublished memoir, and she knows García Carbonell who wrote, “Tragic Drama Under the Miami Moon.”
The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me that when she stumbled upon the story of Alfonso she was intrigued. She wants to weave our Alfonso into her story.
Upon hearing the latest news, Erika Torri wrote, “I think the most fabulous thing about this is that whatever (the author) will do a book, short story, screenplay … if she includes Alfonso, he will live on for a long time, maybe forever, isn’t that what we would all want?”
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