I grew up in Miami Shores beginning in the mid-1940s, a beautiful place to live where you can still view Biscayne Bay today, as you could then. I went to Miami Shores Elementary School and have fond memories of the teachers and my friends, some lifelong friends. I remember our teachers who were special, such as my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Gonzales, and the Easter Parade for our class. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Dees, played classical music for us during rest time after lunch. We sometimes drew pictures to interpret the music.
I took ballet, tap, and toe dance lessons in a home studio where many young people took lessons. We had our dance recitals on the stage of the Shores Theater. We went to the movies there every Saturday morning.
I learned to swim at the Miami Shores Country Club. There was an Olympic-size pool with a high-dive and low-dive boards. It took great courage just to jump off the high dive! Miami Shores did have one real Olympic swimmer, Shirley Stobs. Her swimming specialty was the butterfly stroke. The pool has since been removed to expand parking and a water park has been built on the north side of the main clubhouse.
It wasn’t necessary to swim when I had a water adventure around the third or fourth grade. My friend had a grandmother who lived in a house on Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami Shores. They had a small boat dock. Toni and I tried a little fishing off the dock. After a while, I got a nibble on my line that kept getting stronger and stronger. I pulled and wound and finally landed the fish on the dock. It was a baby sand shark! It was thrown back into the water.
Brockway Memorial Library opened in Miami Shores in 1949, made possible through funds donated by industrialist George A. Brockway. I often felt like I had read my way through all the books in the children’s section and can remember checking out stacks of books during the summer months. A couple of years ago the library requested donations of Miami Shores historical items so I donated my Miami Shores Troop 39 Girl Scout badge sash with earned badges. Troop 39 members started with the Brownies in the first grade, continuing with the Girl Scouts into junior high school. In scouting our troop visited places in Miami such as Greynolds Park, Camp Mahachee, Parrot Jungle and Matheson Hammock. Our last farewell to Troop 39 was a weekend hotel stay on Miami Beach.
We had our meetings after school at the Miami Shores Community Church, the longest established church in the community and near the school. Many of us rode our bicycles to and from school. I rode my bicycle to school starting in the first grade. Miami Shores Elementary was a little over a mile from my house. I continued to ride my bicycle to Horace Mann Junior High School in the first year or two.
In 1948 I participated in a pet and doll show at the Miami Shores Community House. I didn’t win any prizes but someone took a photo that was published in a newspaper. It was spotted by Mrs. Carnegie Cline who later taught me modeling and drama. She was also involved with the Miami Daily News Youth Roundup of Dade County. I got to know the youth editor of the paper and was involved with many of the Roundup activities. I had the opportunity to model in fashion shows at the Burdine’s Tea Room and The Surf Club, ride floats in the Orange Bowl parades and meet famous people like Olympic champion Pete Desjardins at the Deauville, movie star Preston Foster and some of “the little people” who starred in The Wizard of Oz.
The Cuban revolution was taking place while I was at Miami Edison Senior High School. I remember hearing the news announcement on the radio that “Batista has left the island of Cuba.”
After graduating, I went off to college, and then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, but made visits home for brief periods. In recent years I’ve been to Miami for extended periods. When I referred to the Miami News building in downtown Miami, no one knew what I was talking about. It wasn’t until I went to an Art Basel 2012 exhibit in the Freedom Tower that I learned the Miami News building had become the Freedom Tower. Miami-Dade College unveiled the adjacent Pedro Pan sculpture to mark the 50th anniversary of Operation Peter Pan, which resulted in over 14,000 unaccompanied children sent from Cuba to the United States.
I’ve enjoyed subsequent visits to the tower for special exhibits. I learned that a year after this Spanish renaissance revival tower was built it was damaged during Miami’s1926 killer hurricane and was rebuilt twice. It was donated to Miami Dade College in 2005 by a local developer. It’s a tribute that Miami has saved this U.S. National Historic Landmark that stands tall as a reflection of the city’s history while new development grows around it by leaps and bounds.