Southwest 132nd Avenue was on the edge of Miami in 1972, when Marily Reyes and her husband Frank moved into their new home just south of Bird Road. Their view across the narrow avenue was elephant grass for six long years.
“One day … it was a panther leaning against my door and I couldn’t go out,” Reyes said. “I called the police. They told me to call Game and Water and they said, ‘Aw, they don’t — unless they feel cornered — they’re not going to attack you.’ … ‘Yeah, I’m trying to open my door. I’m going to have to push them and they’re going to feel cornered.’ … So I sat there. It was the most-majestic thing to watch that panther.”
Today the Reyes home is surrounded by miles of suburban developments pockmarked by a Super Target and a Walmart. Yet wild birds still come to visit, and manatees swim in the drainage canal behind the Reyes’ fruit-filled backyard.
Miami Stories is a project by WLRN, the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and HistoryMiami. For more of Marily’s experiences growing up in Miami, click here.
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