Miami Stories

Miami native has roots in education

June Rawls stands by her father Don Terry in 1948.
June Rawls stands by her father Don Terry in 1948. HO

The year was 1942. My father, Don Terry, was in the Navy stationed at the Everglades Hotel in downtown Miami. During World War II, the hotel was used as a Navy barracks. He swept every floor of that building.

One Sunday evening, he went to Central Baptist Church where he met my mother, Margaret. Instead of marrying right away, he left and served in the South Pacific theater for the remainder of the war.

My parents wrote letters back and forth and each letter was numbered. Not ONE letter was lost over a period of three years. Today I enjoy reading parts of those letters. One day, I hope to write a book about their experience.

In March 1945, they were married and they honeymooned at the Leslie Hotel on South Beach. I was born a year later.

After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Dad returned to Miami and worked awhile at Eastcoast Fisheries along the Miami River. Having taught school in Texas, he applied to teach here in Miami. He taught speech, drama and band at Hialeah Jr. High., Robert E. Lee Junior and West Miami Junior until his retirement in 1975. Sen. Bob Graham is one of his former students. He passed away right after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Mother, a native Miamian, was a graduate of Miami Senior High, class of 1935. She worked at the downtown Burdines store and then at Florida Glass & Mirror. She also worked several years as registrar at Kinloch Park Junior High and retired from the payroll department of transportation to enjoy watching her only grandchild.

Also a native Miamian, I attended Miami Senior High, (class of 1964), then went on to Miami-Dade Junior College, Barry College and University of Miami. I taught in Dade County Public Schools for 32 years -- at Kinloch Park Elementary, Gloria Floyd and South Miami Heights Elementary, from which I retired from in 2001.

I now co-own and manage Bijoux Dance Center, 4150 SW 70th Ct., where I teach ballroom dancing. I have so many memories of Miami over the past 60-plus years and how it has changed. The skyline, demographics and spoken languages now reflect the cosmopolitan nature of my hometown.

The Orange Bowl is gone, the parade, the old zoo on Key Biscayne, the amusement rides on the roof of Burdines at Christmas, pony rides on Northwest 36th Street, the Coliseum in Coral Gables, drive-in movies, IHOP on U.S. 1, the amusement rides on Northwest 79th Street and 27th Avenue.

But the Venetian Pool and Biltmore Hotel are still are part of the scenery.

``My kind of town, Miami is.''

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