We had been going to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Coral Gables but there was a disagreement over the building of a new sanctuary and many of the members left, including my parents. We now attend Christ the King Lutheran Church across the street from the old Parrot Jungle. The founding pastor was the dynamic Carsten Ludder. George Williamson, owner of Williamson Cadillac, also a member, made sure that Pastor Ludder always had a bright red convertible Cadillac to drive.
We used to cook breakfast at Matheson Hammock Park or go swimming at the protected pool. My favorite beach was Tahiti Beach, with its floating raft that had a great diving board.
In the early 1960s my father was promoted to regional sales manager and we were transferred to Atlanta. The Northan Warren Company had been sold to the Chesebrough Ponds Co. I attended Margaret Mitchell Elementary School. I will never forget that school because I was sitting in class taking a Weekly Reader test when another teacher walked into our classroom and whispered something to our teacher. The date was Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
I eventually graduated from Stetson University in 1975. I shared the bathroom and the telephone with William Bryan Brock III and Louis Wolfson III, who both still live in Miami.
After graduation I found a job as a “fuel allocation engineer” at the Shell gas station on Le Jeune Road across the street from the National Airlines hanger. I returned to Christ the King Lutheran Church and was a member for almost 25 years. My grandmother and I could usually be seen in the same pew every Sunday. One day, Jim Harris, the personnel director of the Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, called and asked me if I was still interested in a job. On April 13, 1976, I was hired as a correctional officer to work in the county jail system. I had many interesting assignments: housekeeper, booking desk, courts, transportation, training bureau supervisor, firearms instructor, operations, supervisor of Ward-D at Jackson Memorial Hospital and shift commander at the Women’s Detention Center. I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. Sometime later, Nelson Perry, then president of the PBA, asked me if I would be willing serve as the chaplain. I did not feel that I was qualified but he assured me that all I would have to do is open the meeting with a short prayer. This began the happiest 18 years of my life!
No sooner had I been sworn in than two Dade County police officers were killed. Fortunately for me, Father Paul Edwards, the Dade County Police Department chaplain, handled the details, letting me assist him.
I retired in 2006, after 30 years of service to the citizens of Miami-Dade County.
I love Miami and never plan to move away. No matter where I go – whether to Versailles, Vizcaya, St. Patrick’s Church, the Biltmore Hotel, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden or Lincoln Road, I have wonderful memories of living in Miami. I love Miami and all the people who live here.