The year was 1944. My stepdad, Charles Beatty, and my mom, Margaret, and sister Blanche and I lived in an upstairs duplex on 11th Street and Jefferson Avenue in Miami Beach across from Flamingo Park, where the U.S. Army Air Forces trained our boys to serve. My name was Jeanette Seligman at that time.
I used to go to Joe’s Broadway Delicatessen at Washington Avenue near Española Way with my friends to eat quite often. While we were in a line on the sidewalk waiting for a table, we met two young men in uniform. They started a conversation, and we were called in. My girlfriend and I ate a lovely meal.
We went to see a movie on Lincoln Road, and when we left the movie theater, we saw the two nice soldiers we had encountered earlier. This good-looking soldier approached me and asked if he could walk me home. He was so handsome in his immaculately starched uniform that I could not refuse his offer.
His name was Nathan Siegel from Boston, Mass. He told me he was a staff sergeant working in the Army Records Office at the Versailles Hotel.
From then on, we went to dances at the Versailles on Saturday nights to dance under the stars. Tony Martin was in Nathan’s barracks, so I fixed Tony up with one of my friends and we all went together to Saturday night dances.
Then Nathan was shipped to Madison, Wisc. We really missed each other, and after a while, Nate asked me to marry him and go to Madison to do so. He spoke to my mother and asked for my hand, and told her he would take care of me and she would never have to worry! He was such a gentleman.
I did go to Madison, and we were married by a rabbi. Two of his army buddies were our witnesses. Not long after, Nate was shipped overseas to Germany. I flew home to Miami Beach and lived on Michigan Avenue with my mom and stepdad, who owned the Clay Hotel on Washington Avenue and Española Way.
The Clay was a hotel, but there were apartments on Española connected to the hotel, so we moved there. Our first child, Alan, was born in Miami Beach after Nathan was discharged from the Air Force.
Nathan went into the building business and became very successful. We moved to Coral Gables, and then we built a beautiful home on Meridian Avenue and 43rd Street in the Nautilus section of Miami Beach. We lived there with our two sons.
When the boys were older, we moved to Bay Harbor Islands, where Nate had built many apartment buildings.
Eventually, he and I moved to a condo “on the ocean” in Bal Harbour. Our boys were out on their own at this point, and settled in Beverly Hills and Aspen.
We had a wonderful, full life. Nathan passed away at 75, so nothing is the same anymore. He was the problem-solver. I thank God I met such a wonderful soldier.
As for my roots in Florida, my mom, sister and I moved here from New York after my mom became a young widow at age 29. Her parents were living here, and her mother helped her take care of me and my sister. I was 8 and have lived here now all these years.
I’m practically a native, as I’m 95, and have been living here for 87 years, and still love it.