My father, Louis Pallot, arrived in Miami from Massachusetts in 1924. He was not prepared for the big 1926 hurricane that was to come. During the storm, he went to check on his little tire shop on Flagler Street and got caught in the lull, thinking the hurricane had ended. It came back with a fury.

When life in Miami settled down, he sent for my mother, Gertrude, and my toddler brother, Norton. They arrived when people thought the streets of Miami were paved in gold, but it was not long before the stock market crashed and those streets became tarnished.

The Norton Tire Store, named after my oldest brother, did well with all the new highways going south and people following the sun. Plain old hard work was also an ingredient. My family established themselves in the shadow of the Orange Bowl.

I was born six years later in October 1934 at Victoria Hospital. These were simple times, until the Sunday of Dec. 7, 1941, when my family moved across the causeway to Miami Beach and my brother Norton went off to war. Soldiers were in training on Miami Beach and marched in front of our house on 50th and Alton Road to Polo Park.

The late 1940s and 1950s, after the war, were the best of times. Miami and the beaches were thriving. My life at Miami Beach High School was special. Students bonded, there was lots of school spirit, and we danced the “lindy” in the school patio. I met my future husband, Howard Katzen, at age 16 at my best friend’s sweet 16 party. Having lived in Miami all my life, I am able to keep many of my same friends since childhood.

Howard and I both graduated from the University of Miami, as did my two brothers. Brothers Ronald and Norton each married two Glorias, and they graduated from the U. of M. In 1956, with a new baby, Lynn, in tow we moved to newly developing South Miami before there was Dadeland or the Palmetto Expressway. Howard and I went on to have two more children, Bruce and David.

Norton Tire Company thrived after the war. Norton arrived home from military service and assisted my father in developing our family business. We were one of the first businesses to rent cars to tourists out of our second outpost on 15th{+S}t{+r}{+e}{+e}t and Alton Road on Miami Beach. Business boomed as tires became available.

Ronald joined the business and then my husband Howard to round out the management group. Louis Pallot began to take life easier. Norton Tire grew, selling, servicing, and wholesaling tires. We became the largest independent tire dealer in the United States, with 16 stores in the state.

We also were involved in many civic, business, and fraternal organizations. Norton Tire Co. thrived, but there were difficulties as well. In May 1980, the McDuffie riots erupted in the neighborhood. My mother, Howard and I went to Boston for son Bruce’s college graduation that weekend. Flying home on Sunday and landing at Miami International Airport, we saw our main headquarters, warehouse, and business center burning to the ground. The smoke reached up to the sky. Norton Tire Co. recouped, not a day of operation and full customer service was lost, despite the fact that our 80,000 square foot facility – including executive offices, warehouse, accounting department, retread facilities, and retail store – were lost.

Temporary headquarters were established until a new building could be built west of the airport. This trio of my two brothers and husband showed as much capacity for hard work as Louis Pallot did in the early days. With the help of third -generation family members joining the business, trustworthy employees and loyal customers, Norton Tire Co. prospered. We opened a new facility in 1983.

After 70 years in business, we sold our company in 1986 to Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. We had 40 stores in the state.

Retired life has been good. For over 50 years Howard and I have been a part of the boating community and enjoyed the coasts of Florida and the Keys and the Bahamas. When I see the skyline of Miami from the vantage point of Biscayne Bay, I am reminded of how this city has grown and changed over the years. For 35 years Howard and I have played tennis at Royal Palm Tennis Club, not too far from our home in Coral Gables.

In appreciation for all this community has given to my family, I wanted to give back. I have been a devoted volunteer at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for over 30 years. Our three children, daughter-in- law, and four grandchildren thrive here and our future is here.