Miami Stories

Woman's love for Magic City runs deep

My maternal grandfather, Henry E.S. Reeves, arrived in Miami in the spring of 1919 on his way to New York to purchase printing presses for a newspaper he intended to establish in the Bahamas. While here, friends asked him to consider Miami as the site for his newspaper.

He agreed and immediately summoned his family -- wife Rachel Jane, and children Cleo, Hazel, Clarice, Doreen and infant Garth. They packed up and moved from the Bahamas to Miami.

What had been intended as a brief layover by my grandfather became a turning point in our family's history. It was here in the Magic City that my mother, Frances, was born.

After graduation from Booker T. Washington High School, she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.

Upon returning to Miami, she was introduced to Cyrus Martin Jollivette, a pharmacist who had recently relocated from Texas following graduation from Xavier University in New Orleans. He had been recruited to Miami by Elmer Ward, proprietor of Economy Drugs.

They met and married on Dec. 2, 1942. Their wedding took place in the family home at 1949 NW Fifth Pl.

Cyrus would go on to open Community Drug Store, 1500 NW 68th St., in Liberty City. It is not a coincidence that The Miami Times, the newspaper my grandfather founded, relocated next door from Overtown. My parents had three children. I am the eldest, followed by Cyrus Martin and Cleo Leontyne. I am blessed to be a member of a strong family unit. Frequent multigenerational, extended family gatherings are a part of my heritage. They remain a tradition I sponsor and promote.

My earliest memories of life in Miami involve family gatherings at the family home. All of the children of Henry and Rachel, the children's spouses and progeny lived in the home at some point in their lives.

And so my life in Miami began at Christian Hospital on September 30, 1943. I lived in Overtown and attended Booker T. Washington Nursery School and then Dunbar Elementary School, where my mother taught first grade.

Following a move to Liberty City in 1949, we lived on the second floor of the drug store. On a daily basis, my mother would ask me to run downstairs and tell daddy that dinner was ready. Those were wonderful days.

My father was instrumental in the development of Holy Redeemer Catholic School. Initially, the plan was to start the institution with grades one through three in the fall of 1952. Because I would be entering fourth grade that year, he was able to have that grade included. I attended school there until completing ninth grade. I then attended Northwestern High and graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1961.

There are so many wonderful things that I remember about growing up in Miami: the Orange Blossom Classic, a parade and football game every year in December featuring the Florida A&M Rattlers; the Orange Bowl parade with its beautiful floats amid a rainstorm in the late 1940s; trips to Virginia Key Beach where we rented a cabana and spent the day on a regular basis; the circus; baseball games and shopping trips downtown. We weren't allowed to try on clothing because of our skin color.

When I graduated from Howard University with a bachelor's degree in pharmacy, I married my college sweetheart, Ronald Eugene Frazier.

I tried to convince him to live in Miami, but he did not find the opportunities he was seeking as an architect. We moved to Washington, D.C.

However, I didn't miss opportunities to discuss relocating to Miami with him. My opportunity came with my first pregnancy. Of course, I had to come home to have my baby; Ronald Eugene II was born in 1969.

Fortunately, my husband's architectural firm transferred him to Miami for the summer.

He decided there were opportunities here and it was time to relocate.

I was ecstatic.

My children were born here, Ron II, Robert Christophe and Rozalynn Suzanne.

I'm delighted that Ron and Chris have made Miami their home. Rozalynn, my youngest, relocated to New York but comes home frequently.

We opened a new chapter in this city with the birth of my grandson, Ronald Eugene Frazier III, on Dec. 31, 2006.

Regina Frazier, 63, worked for 37 years with the University of Miami hospital and clinics, now known as UM Sylvester. She was the director of the pharmacy from 1973 until she retired in 2007.