My story begins in the fall of 1925 when both of my grandparents and their families came to Miami. My mother’s parents, Frank and Laura Wingert, came from Springfield, Ohio, and my father’s parents Ellsworth (Buddy) and Emma Worthington, from Villa Park, Ill.
Both families came because of the weather and hoped they could find steady work.
My paternal grandfather was a painter/wallpaper hanger who worked most of his years in the Coral Gables and Coconut Grove area. My maternal grandfather sold cars on Northwest Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street.
When my mother’s parents and family arrived, they temporarily lived in what was known as “Tent City,” due to the housing shortage. My grandmother opened a small bakery in the neighborhood known as “Lemon City,” which is now known as the Edison area.
My maternal grandparents were able to rent a house. When my mom’s family moved from Tent City six months later they settled in Allapattah. Allapattah Baptist Church was the hubbub of youth activity, as there weren’t many venues for young people. The Sunday evening youth program was where my parents met.
My mother graduated from Edison Senior High, and my father from Miami Jackson. I attended Jackson 28 years later and we had the same math teacher, Mr. Worley. My father was a student in Mr. Worley’s early days; I, in the last year before he retired.
My parents began a courtship, Miami was booming and work was plentiful. My maternal grandmother, however, was terrified when the 1926 hurricane devastated the city.
The family was frightened, as they did not know what a hurricane could really do. They did not board up their house and when a window blew in, my grandfather nailed the ironing board over it. My grandmother and the children would not come out from their hiding place for some time.
They never found their chickens or their pet rabbit. From then on, my grandmother was extremely nervous when any storm approached up until her death in 1962.
My parents tell of going to the beach every weekend and there was nothing there. They have fond memories of the Venetian Pool, church-sponsored events and the wonderful Olympia Theater with live stage shows and the latest movies. There were parties at the homes of friends and their first cars – all of this on very little money.
Eventually my parents drove up to Fort Lauderdale and were married at the courthouse with a few friends and family members present. My father and his two brothers worked at The Miami Herald, my father stayed in the newspaper business until he retired from the Sun Sentinel.
World War II changed everyone’s lives. My father began to build patrol torpedo boats at Paul Prigg Boat Works on the Miami River.
My father went back to The Miami Herald after the war and built three small frame homes for his sister and her family, his sister-in-law with her four small children and himself.
That is where my memories begin – the house on Northwest Seventh Street and 44th Avenue, and my cousins just a block or two west on 46th Avenue and Seventh Street. The pavement ended at about 42nd Avenue (LeJeune Road) and Seventh Street. The city bus ended the route at LeJeune and Seventh.
It was a long hot walk home, but what a treat it was to go downtown. If we were lucky, we would have lunch upstairs at Kress’s Cafeteria. Like most families we were a one-car family. Living out in the country we had chickens, turkeys, a pony and our pet cat and dog.
I began school at Kinloch Park Elementary. We were, and are, very family-oriented and have wonderful memories of the holidays, especially of Matheson Hammock on the Fourth of July. We were the family who always had one of the two pavilions because someone went there at 6 a.m. to secure them!
My grandfather, father and now my boys were, and are, all fishermen. We spent hours in the Keys, bass fishing at Fish Eating Creek and Lake Okeechobee, picnicking at Haulover, Matheson and most every park. We have made an effort to visit almost every state park in Florida, either camping or renting cabins.
I married my high school sweetheart, Morgan Pearcy in 1958; he graduated from Lindsey Hopkins Technical High School, where he excelled in the electrical program. He completed his dream to start his own business, which we owned for over 20 years. Morgan is still working full time in the electrical field at Fisk Electric.
We began a family of four boys: Mark, Phillip, Danny and Paul. They all graduated from South Miami Senior High, and played Pop Warner football, little league baseball.
As a family we were active in the First United Methodist Church of South Miami.
They all graduated from college and still reside in the South Miami area. We have been, and continue to be, active in the community. We very much enjoy South Florida and all it has to offer.