This story, as told by Oscar Fuentes, is part of an oral history series.
It was the summer of 2003; I was living in a very old and ugly apartment building between Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 2nd Avenue, off of 33rd Street. I had a bitter, mentally unstable landlord that walked around with a concealed weapon. I had a part-time gig at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, now HistoryMiami. I would give guided tours of the permanent galleries and write historical theater scripts for their summer camp program.
Family photo taken after Olga's brother Henry’s First Holy Communion at Immaculate Conception Church. Pictured from left to right, her father Henry, mom- “Cuqui”, Grand Aunt Estelita, Maternal Grandmother Olga, Paternal Grandmother Abuela Nena (on which story is based), Olga in front of her and her two brothers Henry and Dave.
This story, as told by Olga Perez-Cormier, is part of an oral history series.
It was always exciting when Abuela would tell me that she needed to go downtown for the day. This meant she had business to attend to at “El Refugio,” the Cuban Assistance Center. This also meant that we would do a little shopping. As a reward for helping her translate and get around, she would treat me to lunch at McCrory’s.
This story, as told by Ronni Litz Julien, is part of an oral history series.
Sheila Presser (Bronx-born) and Norman Litz (a Philadelphian) both moved to Florida with their families in 1946.
Sheila graduated from South Broward High School, named “wittiest” in her senior class. Norman graduated from Miami High School, a left-handed star pitcher on the baseball team; he was also known as “Lefty Litz.” Upon graduation, the University of Miami offered Norman a baseball scholarship; he pitched for two years as a Miami Hurricane.
Miami Stories is a project by WLRN, the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and HistoryMiami. To share your story, click here.
In 1925, my parents and I disembarked in Miami after a three-day train trip from Chicago, and went to stay at a cottage surrounded by a grapefruit grove that belonged to my mother’s aunt. I was three years old, and it marked the beginning of my nearly nine-decade-long adventure in South Florida.
This story, as told by Ian Moffett, is part of an oral history series.
I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, which is the only English-speaking country in South America. At the age of 6, my parents migrated to Toronto, Canada.
I remember my love for police work came from that tall police officer who visited my third grade classroom for career day. His uniform and command presence stood out the most and left a visual imprint or what I refer to as a personal vision.
This story, as told by Marcos Oliveira, is part of an oral history series.
My experience here in Miami has shown me that here you have the opportunity to make relationships with many kinds of people. This gives you ample possibility to be flexible with people and at the same time with yourself.
Why? Well at the same time that you’re at a meeting, you can sit in a table with someone that’s from Colombia, another from Venezuela, another from Chile, another from here in Miami, another from Europe. Then you have to maintain a dialogue with those kind of people.
This story, as told by Mark Avila, is part of an oral history series.
I was born in the city of San Pedro, California. Our family is very large and of Mexican descent. I was the youngest of four children. We grew up in a Catholic parochial school. Then I chose to further my education.
I was the only one in my family who went to college. And I was the only one who decided I did not want to follow the routine that everybody did in the city where I came from, which is basically working on the docks and in the shipyard.
T. Willard Fair is preparing to celebrate his 50th year as the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami. Early on, he and the UL desegregated Eastern Airlines and other major South Florida employers of the late 1960s-early 1970s.
This is the story of T. Willard Fair as told by him.
I was born in 1939 in Winston-Salem, N.C. I’m the last of eight children. I was born to John Fair and Mary Lou Fair.
People ask me about the name “Talmadge,” which is an unusual name for me to have. The day I was born, I came home and the insurance broker came by and inquired as to whether or not my mother had named me. She said no. He said, “Why don’t you name him Talmadge?’’
My Miami story began the day my KLM flight touched down from Cuba at Miami International Airport.
I was traveling alone in 1961 at the age of 11. I was going to some unknown destination, which turned out to be an orphanage in Colorado, arranged by Operation Pedro Pan. I was reunited with my mother and two younger sisters almost two years later in Miami (we were some of the lucky ones).
Ligia Houben left Nicaragua for Miami after her father died. She lost her familiar homeland shortly after losing her parent. As part of her grieving process, she wrote extensively. Her efforts became a self-help book that introduced 11 principles for transforming loss. She was astonished by the magic in her numbers.
Listen to her story below.
Houben now teaches classes in Ethics, Religion, and Death and Dying at Florida International University, Kaplan, and Miami Dade College.
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.
When I arrived in Miami in the early 1970s, I never could imagine that I would end up calling this city home.
We came to Miami after a short stay in Spain. I came with my parents, Isabel and Ramon Santos, and my younger sister, Ana. Like many young children, we were excited about moving into a new place, learning a new language and making new friends.