Miami Stories

Miami’s magic led her here from England


Tell us your story

HistoryMiami invites you to share your story about how your family found its way to South Florida.

To submit: Email your stories and photos to Please include caption information with your photos.

In print and online: Look for your story at and in Sunday’s Neighbors.

About this project: Miami Stories is a collaboration by HistoryMiami, The Miami Herald, Arva Moore Parks, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and National Conference on Citizenship Chairman Michael Weiser.

Special To The Miami Herald

My great Uncle Matthew Freeman, of London, England, was a passenger on the Lusitania, a ship that was torpedoed by the Germans in 1915 and sank in 18 minutes. He was quite the hero, saving several lives. He survived the attack and in the early 1950s he came to live in Miami Beach.

My mother and I arrived in Miami Beach from London on Oct. 15, 1964. We checked into the Saxony Hotel, which was owned by George Sax, a friend of my great Uncle Lou, Matt’s brother. There was a nightclub at the top of it called The Ivory Tower and we had plans to go there that very night. We needed to get our hair done or combed out, as they said in those days. It was quite late in the afternoon and Mother was convinced that all the beauty salons would be closed. However, after trudging down Washington Avenue, we found Mr. Carmen. He teased our hair to a suitable height and off we went for our night in the Ivory Tower.

I thought Miami was the most exciting place I had ever been. We stayed at the Saxony for three weeks before renting a little efficiency apartment at 235 30th St. just off Collins Avenue. Lincoln Road was nearby and little trolleys would take you up and down the street. You could ask the driver to stop whenever you saw something in a store window that took your fancy; there was no other traffic on Lincoln Road. Jackie Gleason did his weekly television show from Miami Beach.

There were huge yachts lined up all along Collins Avenue opposite luxury hotels – The Fontainebleau, the Eden Roc and the Doral.On top of the Doral was the Starlight Roof, so named for a thousand twinkling lights on the ceiling. It was one of the few places that gentlemen were required to wear a jacket and tie.

In those days there was very little crime, and on balmy winter’s night, women could be seen strolling along Collins Avenue wearing minks and diamonds. I would go farther north to the Castaways and Thunderbird, where all kinds of entertainment would go on until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes I would dance the night away at Funky Broadway in Sunny Isles. I would go to the 79th Street Causeway, where there was a hub of nightlife: The Place For Steak, The Penthouse Club on Harbor Island and Jillys, to name a few. Also to Fun Fair, to eat the best hot dogs in the world and play the nickel ski ball. For a café con leche and arroz blanco con frijoles negros we would take a Sunday trip to Southwest Eighth Street. There were hippie “love-ins” in Greynolds Park in North Miami.

Reluctantly, I returned to England after six months, but Miami remained in my heart and I knew it was my destiny. I was 21 when I returned to live here permanently. I met my beloved late husband Guy Aylward, who was a newscaster for WCIX Channel 6 TV, which was housed in a round building at 1111 Brickell Ave. I had met him when we were both cast in a play at the Ruth Foreman playhouse in North Miami.

Our son was born in 1978 at Mercy Hospital. We were living in Pinecrest at the time and had mango trees, grapefruit trees and star fruit on our property. It was an idyllic existence, and seemed as if we were living in the heart of the country when, in fact, bustling South Dixie highway was only a short walk away.

Having a child opened up a whole new Miami world – the quaint Crandon Park Zoo on Key Biscayne, the Seaquarium, and the original Parrot Jungle. There was the unique Serpentarium and the mysterious Coral Castle. All of these were a veritable wonderland for a child.

Eventually we opened foreign and independent movie theaters in Coral Gables. Among them were Cinematheque, which had airplane seats obtained from Eastern Airlines when we first opened, and also the Arcadia and the Grove Harbour in Coconut Grove. Nat Chediak, who had met my husband at Channel 6, was my husband’s partner.

Guy filmed the first commercials for Carnival when the company only had two ships, the Mardis Gras and the Carnivale. My husband was a man of many talents both in front and behind the camera. A new television series called The Magic City has just been filmed here, created by Miami son, Mitch Glazer. It recaptures the era of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. I look forward to seeing it. I’m sure I’ll recognize some of the characters whose names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Miami has gone through so many changes. Life is ever changing, but in Miami the magic always prevails. My roots are here, planted firmly in the ground, just as strong as the roots of the old majestic Banyan trees.

Read more Miami Stories stories from the Miami Herald

Old photo of family-owned jewelry store.

    Miami Stories

    Beloved jeweler Balogh set deep roots in Miami Beach

    My father, David R. Balogh, is a Miami Beach legend. Most Beach people knew him and many, many shopped at his Balogh jewelry store.

Elayne Weisburd and her husband Sidney

    Miami Stories

    She was the ‘best man for the job’

    Some might say that I was made to serve in public office. I don’t know, but I have lived an interesting and good life.

Old family photo of author’s grandparents, Enrique and Caridad Moya, with Adrian Moya and his baby sister.

    Miami Stories

    Desperate journey to a brighter future

    This Miami Story was based on family recollections shared by relatives of the author. It was written as a Miami Dade College class assignment associated with The Big Read, presented by The Center for Literature and Theatre.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category