My great-grandfather Andrew Christian Frost was born in Denmark and migrated to the United States in 1873, settling in Wisconsin by 1876. He was approached by James Ingraham, who worked for Henry Flagler in promoting the East Coast Railway, to come to Florida and become a land developer. He had a reputation as a colonizer, having started up the towns of Frostville, Mountain and Armstrong in Wisconsin.
My great-grandfather first refused, but in the 1900s he relented and moved nine of his 10 children, his wife and himself to Modello in South Florida to develop land for the Model Land Company. He eventually talked many of his fellow Danes into coming to South Florida, land of promise and sunshine. (He didn’t tell them about the swampland, mosquitoes, alligators or snakes.)
He was instrumental in changing the name of Modello to Dania because of the number of Danes he brought down here to live. Dania was incorporated in November 1904 and is the oldest city in Broward County. My great-grandfather is considered the founder of the city.
My grandfather, Sheridan Christian Frost, was his seventh child. My mom, Clara Broward Frost, bears the middle name Broward because she has birth certificate No. 3 born in Broward County. Broward County was separated from the middle of Palm Beach County and Dade County at the urging of Andrew Christian Frost and others. Broward County came into existence on Oct. 1, 1915, her actual birthday.
My mother’s mother died just two days after the 1926 hurricane swept through South Florida as a result of running from house to house during the storm trying to reach safety. My grandmother and great-grandfather are buried next to each other at the City of Dania Cemetery, which he plotted out for the city.
My mom and dad, George Morris, married and lived around Northwest Seventh Street near the Orange Bowl. I was born in 1936 in what we called “Miamah” at Victoria Hospital. My brother, Jimmy, was born three years later in 1939. We spent the first five years of my life there.
My dad wanted to join the service when World War II broke out but couldn’t because of having two children. He was working for Florida Power & Light at the power plant in downtown Miami. To join the war effort, he became employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority at the Watts Bar Dam power plant.
I can remember my mom gathering enough gas and tire-ration stamps to pull a trailer up to Tennessee to join my father. I remember the lights out, the covered windows, the test air-raid sirens, and that we kids couldn’t buy bubble gum. When I could get it, I always saved mine on the bedstead.
When the war ended, we all came back to South Florida. We landed in West Palm Beach. There was a housing shortage due to all of the service men who had trained in South Florida and moved here after the war. By this time, I had a sister, Calista. My dad bought a piece of property in Lake Park that had no power lines, no road into the property and no buildings. We lived in an army surplus tent for about four months until he could build a frame house.
We still had no electricity, I did homework by kerosene lamp or gas lantern, mom cooked on a kerosene stove, and we had an icebox that held a block of ice. It was my job to empty the pan of water after it had melted.
In 1952, my dad transferred back to the Miami Power Plant on the MacArthur Causeway. I attended Miami Jackson High. I was at the Thanksgiving Day football game where Edison beat Miami High for the first time. (Miami Jackson had beat Miami High the year before.) The goal posts were displayed at the entrance of the school.
I got my first job working at a card and candy shop, The Treasure Chest, around the corner from the Olympia Theater. I was paid 50 cents an hour, but I got to eat a lot of candy.
I remember when Elvis Presley was appearing at the Olympia. There was a long line in front of our store of girls and women waiting to get backstage to meet Elvis. My boss asked if I wanted to get in line. I said, “No,” as I didn’t know who he was or what he did.
Guess who I got in line for? Julius La Rosa. Anybody remember him?
We went swimming at Crandon Park or Haulover Park. I remember the zoo and the train ride at Crandon Park. The 25-cent Saturday movies. Schools without air-conditioning.
I became engaged in my senior year to Charles Rory Eggleston at the Ross’ Frosty Freeze across from Miami Jackson. He worked for Pan American, and we planned to get married in the summer. He bought a home for us in Hialeah, then the bedroom community for the airlines. In order for him to get the loan for the mortgage of $10,500, I had to sign an affidavit that I was truly going to marry him. Apparently, banks didn’t trust single men.
While we were dating, my husband and I spent every Tuesday and Saturday night at the stock-car races at the Hialeah Speedway and sometimes took in a drive-in. We liked to go to the amusement park at 27th Avenue and 79th Street. Hialeah had two bowling lanes and were busy all the time. These were really some good old days.
Well, our family now has four daughters, four grandchildren and two great-granddaughters – all of whom were born here and live in South Florida, most of them in Hialeah. I’ve seen a lot of changes, some good, some bad. I used to pick strawberries where I currently live in Hialeah. There were also unpaved roads and horse ranches.
But I have traveled to all 50 states, and I would not want to live anywhere else but South Florida. We are now up to the fifth generation who are native South Floridians.