Although I was born in Miami, I left when I was a couple months old and did not return until I was almost seven.
My father got hired as a pilot for Pan American Airlines, but when they cancelled his training class, he took a job for Dominicana Airlines, based in Santa Domingo. When the political climate in the Dominican Republic became too dangerous, my family moved – first to Warner Robbins, Georgia, then to Wayne, Michigan, where my Dad flew cargo for Zantop Airlines.
My sister Kelley was born there, but his plan had always been to move back to Miami, where his parents lived. When he got hired with National Airlines (“Fly Me”), we moved back to Miami and my parents built a house in Gables-By-The-Sea. My sister Elise was a baby and my Mom was pregnant with my brother John, when we moved into our new house in 1967.
I celebrated my seventh birthday with my new classmates, at Parrot Jungle. I attended Silver Bluff, Sylvania Heights, and Pinecrest elementaries before landing at Epiphany School in the third grade.
Living in Gables-By-The-Sea, I grew up fishing and swimming in the canal behind my house, exploring the swamp across the street and going on outings on our family’s boat. I also organized musical extravaganzas for my father’s annual 4th of July birthday parties. I once water skied from Matheson Hammock all the way to Elliot Key. My father was so proud of this accomplishment, he bragged about it to my ballet teacher, Mr. Millenoff. My strict Russian instructor was none too thrilled, claiming it would ruin my legs for ballet.
After Epiphany, I attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy and was a cheerleader for Christopher Columbus High School. Friday nights, after football games, we would hang out at Lums in Westchester, or Little Caesars in the Gables. During this time, my parents and sisters were very active in the Miami Ski Club, competing in water-ski competitions and even going to Nationals.
After graduating from Lourdes in 1977, I went to Florida State University in Tallahassee. After two years, undecided on a major, I came back home and got a job as a flight attendant with Air Florida. In 1980, National Airlines was purchased by Pan American Airlines, so my Dad ended up flying for Pan Am after all.
My first route when I got hired (since I was French-qualified) was Port-Au-Prince/Santo Domingo, so I ended up returning to the city where I had lived as a baby. I flew that line for almost a year. I was flying into Washington, D.C. on January 13, 1982, just as another Air Florida plane crashed into the Potomac. We aborted our landing and landed in Boston, but had to return to Washington the next morning to pick up our passengers.
I later flew with one of the flight attendants (and one of the few survivors) of that flight. It turned out her stepmother had hired me for Air Florida.
Miami in the “Miami Vice” eighties was glamorous, fast-paced, and a little scary. Still, I enjoyed going to clubs such as: Cats, Suzanne’s, The Mutiny, and Faces in the Grove. One night, while at Biscayne Babies, my sisters and I even met Senator Ted Kennedy. With Air Florida, I traveled to London, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt, Brussels, Stockholm, and even Havana.
Air Florida went bankrupt in 1984, the same year I got married. I then worked at my family’s nursing home, The Floridean, as a secretary. I worked in the office with my grandmother Julia Rice, who was the Administrator and my sister Kelley, who was the activities director.
My family was featured in a MacArthur Milk commercial, since we had four generations (from my grandmother to her great-grandchildren) who had “grown up on MacArthur” in Miami.
I also did some extra work (“Miami Vice,” movies and commercials) to make some extra money. I finished my A.A. at Miami Dade when my daughter A.J. was a baby and got my B.A. at F.I.U. in 1994. Getting a degree with three young children (Brad, A.J. and Christopher), a husband, and a house to maintain was a considerable challenge but I made the Dean’s List and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Liberal Arts.
Like many other Miamians, we survived Hurricane Andrew. At the time it hit, we lived in Mangowood, very close to the strongest winds recorded. Our neighborhood was practically unrecognizable, without a leaf left on the trees. In the days and weeks following the hurricane, we got to know our neighbors very well, taking turns grilling food from our freezers for dinner, and helping each other out.
Our children, who attended Coral Reef Elementary, started about a month late with the National Guard escorting them to their first day of school. Although it took more than a year, we re-built our house and it was better than ever.
My husband and I moved to Tallahassee in 1996, in search of a slower pace of life. I decided to return to Miami four years later, in order to spend time with my dad – Butch Rice – who had been diagnosed with lung cancer. I moved back on July 3, 2001, just in time for his annual 4th of July Birthday Bash.
I got divorced in January of the next year, and my father passed away in October. I was very glad I had that year and a half to spend with my dad.
I continued my education and got my Master’s in screenwriting at University of Miami in 2003, so I now consider myself a “Cane.” I love attending UM football games with my husband Zeke (also a UM graduate), just as my father did (although no longer at the Orange Bowl).
I also enjoy entertaining, traveling, photography and all kinds of writing – from blogging to screenwriting. I edit and write articles for The Pulse, the Floridean newsletter, where my sister Kelley is now the executive director.
I play tennis on several teams and enjoy going for runs around my neighborhood, which is right down the street from Epiphany and Lourdes. All three of my grown children live in Miami and I am now stepmother to three daughters – Lauren, Rachel and Emma.
I love the energy of Miami – the diversity of its residents and the variety of activities it offers. Miami is always changing and offering new opportunities and I hope to embrace them all.