In 1955, a 21-year-old Swiss woman, Margrith Lübke, traveled to North America to satisfy a childhood fantasy of living and working in New York City.
She loved the glamour and enjoyed every moment.
After a few months in the Big Apple, however, a fateful turn of events led her to Nassau. Fantasy became a new life in the tropics.
In 1956, a 23-year-old Australian man, Russell, traveled to North America to satisfy his wanderlust. His journey began on the west coast of Canada, north of Vancouver. From there, he traveled to Southern California, through New Orleans, to Miami and across the Gulf Stream to Nassau, where he and a fellow Australian sailing buddy rendezvoused with members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team.
Margrith and Russell met one afternoon at the Nassau Yacht Club over drinks. Romance blossomed, and their desire for adventure fueled their flame. They married in November 1957 and set up house in Nassau, where Russell became involved with land development in Lyford Cay, which would become a luxury community on the western tip of New Providence.
In February 1959, their first child, Cynthia, my mom, was born in Miami, automatically acquiring American citizenship. Because Nassau in the 1950s was a tight-knit town that offered few career positions, my grandparents decided to move to the United States.
They entered the country in August 1960 through Miami, and chance and adventure led them to Ocala in north central Florida. They welcomed two new children, my uncle Steve in April 1961, and my aunt Jennifer in December 1963.
But career opportunities in Ocala were lacking and another move was in the offing.
They headed to California, the promised land. They packed up like pioneers — three kids, two cars and a U-Haul truck with all their possessions. They settled in Santa Barbara, but after six months an opportunity in Miami beckoned and they moved to South Florida in April 1965.
In September, my aunt Vivien was born, completing the first generation of American McNamaras.
Miami proved to be “the place,” where business opportunities and family and friends prospered.
In 1971, my grandfather started his company, Anzac Contractors. Anzac, by the way, stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.
The company has prospered. My uncle Steve is president and my aunt Vivien is the comptroller.
Because of my grandparents’ history, it is not surprising that their overriding philosophy is to be self-sufficient. But, they explain, that can only be achieved by incorporating the elements of family love and care, optimism, responsibility, honesty, happiness, hard work, and, above all, education.
The first American generation has now matured and produced five members of the second generation. I am one of those five grandchildren, and I’m pleased to report that all 14 family members live in South Florida, from Coconut Grove to The Falls. And two of the grandchildren, myself and my cousin, Daniele, are now studying at UM.
My grandfather and grandmother are 76 and have lived in the same house for 43 years.
Moving back to Miami was the best decision they ever made.