Miami Stories

Woman recalls coming of age in 1950s Coral Gables

Clockwise from top left, Andy Elwell, Susan Elwell, Katherine Elwell 9, Grandma Louan Zagarino and Alex Elwell 11 at the Coral Gables home where four generations of their family have lived.
Clockwise from top left, Andy Elwell, Susan Elwell, Katherine Elwell 9, Grandma Louan Zagarino and Alex Elwell 11 at the Coral Gables home where four generations of their family have lived. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

My father, Ernest Peyton Jones, worked for President Franklin D. Roosevelt as his campaign manager for the southeastern United States and later the associate commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. My mother, Betty Schwab Jones, was the secretary for Sen. George Norris of Nebraska.

They married in 1936 and lived in Washington.

When Roosevelt died in 1945, they packed up my brother Eric and me and moved to Coral Gables. My father said Miami was the land of opportunity. He opened a loan company. In 1949 our parents built a home.

My brother and I attended Coral Gables Elementary, Ponce Junior High and Gables High. In 1953, I was student council president at Ponce. We had a girl vice president as well, and I was the only girl at the state convention.

My parents were active in the Garden Club, Rose Society, and the first Sister-to-Sister Group from Coral Gables to Cartagena, Colombia.

Our home still stands, near the Coral Gables Youth Center. My son, Andy Elwell, lives there with his wife, Susan, and their two children, Alex, 11, and Katherine, 9. Four generations of my family have lived in the same house.

I met my first husband, Walter Elwell, at Shenandoah Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Miami High; Sen. Bob Graham was in his homeroom. We had two sons, Andy and Timothy, who lives in California with his wife, Carol Ann Kelley, and their 3-year-old daughter, Audrey.

I eventually divorced Walter, and in 1989 I married Frank Zagarino, who graduated from the University of Miami. He was a photographer for Life, Time and Sports Illustrated. He was a member of the Coral Reef Yacht Club.

After Frank died, I was lucky enough to buy a house directly behind Andy's. I continue to keep my Gables High Class of '57 together.

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