My story begins when my father decided to move with his six children to Miami from Key West in 1948. His father told him that his four boys and two girls would have more opportunities in the “big city” of Miami so my mother packed us up and we all moved from our birthplace to Miami. Our house was built in Allapattah from beautiful Dade County pine wood. Even after my mother passed away, my father continued to live in that same house until he retired from the Florida Department of Agriculture.
I have many wonderful memories of growing up in Miami. One of my early memories was meeting the Florida Native American Seminoles like Buffalo Tiger, whose son Lee served with me on the board of Friends of the Florida State Parks Association. The Seminoles would come to shop at the market where my father worked wearing their colorful clothing. On occasions our family would visit their Tropical Indian Village on Northwest 15th Street and 27th Avenue and see alligator wrestling.
On the weekends, our family would go to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne for picnics, swimming and to visit the Crandon Park Zoo. Curtis Park was around the corner from our house; my brothers and I were there almost every day after school. During the summer we would swim in the public pool. Some days we would also swim in the Miami River. We could go to the movies on Saturday to see cartoons and movies for 10 cents.
It was a treat to go to downtown Miami on the bus shopping. Shopping had to be done on Saturday because stores were closed on Sundays. On Sundays after church, my dad would take us for a drive around Miami before expressways were built and sometimes stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream or Royal Castle for a hamburger and birch beer. Some Sundays evenings we would go the drive-in movie theater.
I also remember the wonderful smell of fresh baked Holsum bread as we would drive by the bakery on U.S. 1, especially if we were on the long drive to Key West to visit family. On some Fridays my father was given tickets for a fish fry dinner, which also included a tour of Holsum Bakery.
The six of us attended Miami High and received excellent public school educations. I had a wonderful time at Miami High, attending football games at the Orange Bowl. We won national championships and we had the “Million Dollar Band.”
I am a member of the Miami High School Alumni Association and am very happy to see that the beautiful and historic building is being renovated. Like they say, there are those who attended Miami High and those who wish they had. After school I worked for Kwik-Chek (Winn Dixie) so I could buy my first car and was I proud to drive around Miami in my new 1956 Ford. I am also an alumnus of Miami Dade College.
I have served as an assistant to a state representative, a state senator, two Miami mayors, and a Miami Dade County Commissioner. I have had the opportunity to give back to Miami Dade by joining and serving on numerous civic and community organizations. I had the great privilege to be elected to the School Board of Miami Dade County. I have owned a real-estate company for over 30 years and have seen Miami grow from a small village to a multicultural cosmopolitan community.
My grandfather’s advice was right because I have had wonderful opportunities and great memories in this community. Miami was and still is a great city!