My father, Dr. William T. Lanier, graduated from Georgia Medical School in 1912, when he was 22, and headed for South Florida to set up his practice.
That same year, my mother, Montine Horne, graduated from Americus High School in Georgia and, along with her mother and three sisters, also came to Miami.
My dad actually started out in Homestead and was one of the first doctors there. He and my mother somehow met as he commuted between the two towns, and he courted her on his motorcycle.
They married in 1915 and lived in Homestead until World War I.
When he went off to France as a young Army medical officer, mother moved up to Miami to be near her mother and sisters.
When he returned after the war they stayed in Miami and lived at 19 SW Seventh Ave., just off Flagler. He organized the Miami City Clinic and served for many years as the U.S. Public Health Officer.
I remember him telling my sister, Alice Gene, and me stories about having to go out and meet incoming foreign ships to check for contagious diseases and decide whether or not to quarantine them.
After the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Keys killed so many civilians and World War I veterans who were living in the Civilian Conservation Corps camps while working on the Overseas Highway, my dad went down to treat the injured, and assist in the disposal of bodies.
More than 400 were killed and about 300 of them had to be cremated. Gruesome!
Another one of his duties was to check on the physical condition of the prisoners being held at the jail on the top floors of the downtown courthouse. Many times, he would take my sister and me with him and leave us in Judge Blanton’s office while he attended to the prisoners. From the judge’s office we could see forever, the courthouse at the time being the tallest building in Miami.
My dad practiced medicine here for almost 60 years, still making house calls at the age of 75. He and my mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins are all buried in the old Miami City Cemetery.
When I was a year old, in 1931, we moved from Seventh Avenue to Southwest 10th Street and 18th Avenue.
Alice Gene and I both lived at that address until we were married, and thought it was probably the best neighborhood in the whole world.
We both attended Shenandoah Presbyterian Church (Rev. Dan Iverson, pastor), Shenandoah Elementary, when it was nothing but portables (Eloise Hatfield, principal), Shenandoah Jr. High School when it was brand new (Alice McVicar, principal), and then Miami High (W.R. Thomas, principal).
My sister graduated in 1946 (voted Sweetheart of Miami High), and I in 1948. I went off to the University of Georgia and she to University of Miami. At that time the U of M was better known as “Cardboard College” or “Suntan U.”
I remember going to the Tower Theater on Saturdays for a dime (and a jaw breaker for a penny), the open-air bowling alley on the Trail at about l8th Avenue, miniature golf on Biscayne Boulevard and First Street, riding our bikes to the Venetian Pool and Matheson Hammock. We went swimming at the Roney Plaza and the Deauville Hotel, and had beach parties at the Firestone Estate where the Fontainebleau Hotel now stands (the security guards finally gave up and just let us enjoy the beach).
My best friend in high school was Pat Moore whose little sister grew up to be Miami historian, Arva Moore Parks.
My sister, Alice Gene, married her high school sweetheart, Dale Anderson, and they had three great kids, Chris, Amy (Williams) and Dale Jr. (now deceased), a fine son-in law, Todd, and two darling grandchildren, George and Lanier. Dale was a very successful builder, having constructed four 12-story dorms at the University of Miami, Aventura Mall and the Turnberry Isle development.
I also married my high school sweetheart, Robert L. Parker. We were both born in Miami on the same day 80 years ago.
He was brought up in Miami Shores and went to Edison (Boooo!), so we had a small logistics problem when it came to dating, since we lived at opposite ends of town (however, gasoline was only 18 cents a gallon then, and a heck of a lot less traffic). But, our big romance survived and we married in 1952.
After graduating from Miami, Bob served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for 3½ years of active duty during the Korean War.
We also have three wonderful children; Bruce, Scott and Laura (Moylan), an outstanding son-in-law, Clint and a fabulous grandson, Carter.
My husband’s businesses have all been in the Bahamas: farming, construction and development, a lovely small beachfront hotel, petroleum distribution. Although we spend a great deal of time in the Bahamas, Miami will always be home.
Bob’s parents, William F. and Regina Parker, came to Miami in the early 1920s from South Carolina and Alabama.
His father was a prominent attorney representing some interesting clients, such as the actress Tallulah Bankhead, Sir Roland Symonette (Prime Minister of the Bahamas), Betty Carstairs (Standard Oil heiress), Neville MacArthur (MacArthur Dairies), John Jacob Astor, and, much to my embarrassment, Al Capone (in a civil matter).
He practiced law in Miami for more than 50 years.
Bob’s memories of growing up in Miami are much like mine, only he went to the Rosetta Theater and spent most of his days at the Miami Shores Community House playing basketball or baseball, or exploring Biscayne Bay in his small boat.
Those halcyon days hold such wonderful memories of much simpler times when Miami was considerably smaller, yet so much greater.
It truly was “The Magic City.”