It was 1944 when my parents, Harold and Ruth Ingoe, moved our family – my brother Fred and me – to Coral Gables from Oklahoma City to a 1930 Spanish-style house on Pizarro Street.
The house was quite inviting with front and rear courtyards. The screened-in back porch gave a perfect view of our garden, complete with a small pond surrounded by coconut palms and orchids. I kept large goldfish and a few sea horses that delighted everyone. The 1947 hurricane destroyed the aquatic life in the pond.
I remember feeding hibiscus flowers to a beautiful tame deer that was our neighbor’s pet. Being close to Southwest Eighth Street, I frequently saw Seminole women dressed in their native, colorful blouses and skirts shopping at nearby stores.
Our house was on the Coral Gables bus route, where I caught a ride to Coral Gables Elementary, Ponce de Leon High and later to Coral Gables High. At Gables Elementary, our principal was Abigail Gilday, who led with an air of authority that was easy to do since she was a six-feet tall, wore long black skirts and ugly black shoes. By contrast, Harry Rath, principal of Coral Gables Senior High, was a milder more approachable leader. My favorite teachers at CGSHS were Miss Ions, English/grammar, Miss Patterson, Spanish I, II and III, and Miss Prettyman, biology.
With my friends Sue Lockett, Judy Guadagno and Judy Parham, we would go to the Coral Gables Theater on Ponce de Leon where we saw movies and ate copious bags of buttered popcorn and drank Coke floats! Later, the Miracle Theater opened, which provided a little competition between the two cinemas. We would travel to the Venetian Pool and Matheson Hammock for swimming and practice for life guard certification.
One year, I was in a water ballet. We trained at the Venetian Pool to perform with Esther Williams in Miami Beach. Some who were brave – my brother Fred was one – would dive from the cliffs while others explored the cave. At Matheson Hammock we biked through the mangrove paths and had many picnics by the water.
I don’t want to skip over the Girl Scout Little House on Granada Boulevard; it was there that we were assigned Girl Scout cookies to sell. One year I sold the most cookies, thanks to my father who took them to work and coerced many to buy a box.
The War Memorial offered modeling lessons and the Coral Gables Country Club was the site for cotillion lessons. I don’t know how the others felt, but I was scared to death at dancing with a boy and forgetting the right steps. The Gables was a small family-oriented community where my friends enjoyed their youth.