My father George Alberts was a reserve officer in the United States Air Force. When he was called to active duty during World War II in 1943, some of his basic training took place on Miami Beach. This was to have a huge influence on the Alberts family 10 years later.
I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1946, and my family lived there during the first 5 years of my life. In 1951, my father, who was an Air Force navigator, got called up again because his services were required to navigate military aircraft between Tokyo and Seoul. When it became apparent that the fighting would be prolonged, he was allowed to send for his family, and we lived in Tokyo for a year and a half.
He was discharged from active duty in 1953 and we then moved to Wisconsin. My mother did not like the cold Wisconsin winters, so my father, recalling the beauty of Miami Beach, decided to take the family to live in Miami. He rented a two-bedroom apartment near the University of Miami where he finally managed to complete his college education that had been interrupted twice by war. He graduated with a degree in business administration in 1955.
Miami was a much different place in the mid-1950s. I can recall going to a food market in South Miami in 1954 with my mother and sister Maureen, and hearing my sister complain to my mother that the drinking fountain in the back of the store labeled “colored” was out of colored water! Fortunately, that sort of overt racial discrimination stopped by the end of the decade.
In 1955, my father started his business known as Alberts Advertising. Dad also purchased a new home on Southwest 18th Terrace and 82nd Avenue. Back then, the area that is now known as Westchester was so rural that I can recall seeing hunters with shotguns bird hunting across the street from our house.
Many of my fond memories from the early 1960s are of things that happened at the former Westbrook Country Club, which was located on the southeast corner of Southwest 87th Avenue and Eight Street. This club was very popular during the summer because it had an Olympic-sized swimming pool which, viewed from above, looked like a giant W. All of my friends and practically every lovely young lady I knew swam in and sunbathed around that pool. Unfortunately, the club closed in the mid 1960s. The beautiful pool, cabanas and two-story clubhouse with its formal ballroom are gone.
My mother was pretty much a stay-at-home mom. She did like to dine out frequently and in the mid 1960s she had dinner at a small restaurant on Southwest 32nd Avenue called The Studio Restaurant. She became fast friends with the owner and was hired as a hostess. She loved to tell us about people standing in line for up to two hours, sometimes literally fainting from heat and hunger.
Later on, Mom also worked as a hostess in another small restaurant that was located on Bay Harbor Islands called the Inside Restaurant. This establishment was owned by Dick Schwartz who was Meyer Lansky’s stepson. Lansky, the mob’s financier liked to dine at the Inside. He was frequently seen huddled with his associates having a quiet conversation at his favorite table in the back of the restaurant.
A few years after my mother left this job, Dick Schwartz was having drinks at the bar of the Forge Restaurant with a “made man” from the mob and they got into an argument about something. Dick drew a handgun from beneath his jacket and shot the man dead. A few weeks later, as Dick was getting out of his car parked in the lot adjacent to his restaurant, retribution came in the form of a shotgun blast that ended his life.