In Miami we lived just one block away from Tropical Park. This made up for the fact that the interstate went right behind our house. Going from a quiet Salt Lake neighborhood to the constant noise of cars speeding by took some getting used to. Even though there was a high chain-link fence separating our backyard from the freeway we still had the occasional stranded stranger climb the fence and come knocking on the door asking to use the phone since these were the days before cell phones. If it was a woman, my mom would invite them in. If it was a man, my mother would hand them the phone through the screen door stretching out the long telephone cord as far as it would go.
Our family loved to go for walks and ride our bikes through Tropical Park. It wasn’t a very particularly pretty park, especially compared to Liberty Park in Salt Lake, but there were many paths to try, a little lake where we fed the ducks, fields to play soccer, and pavilions for eating.
As a child I loved trying to go as fast as I could down the paths where the tree roots had grown up into the paving. I loved all the bumps and winding turns.
There was also a hill where we’d walk our bikes to the top and ride them down. I never tired of the thrill of going so fast! My sister did learn the lesson to keep her feet on the pedals. She didn’t and had the most spectacular crash at the bottom. That image of seeing her flip over and skid along the grass will forever be etched in my mind. ☺
My dad did his medical residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Every year they would have a party in the summer – a get together for families. I remember having a few at Tropical Park. We were definitely the largest family there. Most of the residents either weren’t married at all or if they were, were holding off having children until they were settled in a practice and making money. I’ll be forever grateful to my parents who took that leap of faith and started their family right away. At one get-together I remember several of the residents smoking. My sister or brother (I can’t quite remember which exactly) asked them why they smoked especially when they were doctors and knew smoking was bad. It was pretty funny really to hear them hem and haw trying to find a good answer.
Miami was HOT. Because we lacked in financial means, going to the park was a way to get out of the heat. There was a lot of shade and, of course, the water. My parents usually didn’t run the air conditioner as a way to save money. The doors were left open in hopes that the breeze would blow through the screens. Sundays were a treat because we were able to have the air conditioning on that day. Before heading out to church Sunday mornings we would close all the curtains and blinds and turn on the air conditioner. When we got home the whole house would be cold. It felt wonderful!
We had a little wading pool behind our house where we liked to splash and play. It never failed that on Sunday mornings when we were running late my mom would find the baby, Rebecca, sitting in the middle of the pool with her dress sopping wet. I was probably in charge of keeping track of her. ☺
We liked going to the beach but that was for when company came. When I was about 9 (or 10?) we took a special trip to the beach as a family. There weren’t too many people there which was rare. There were big bubbles on the beach and floating in the water. It looked like someone had blown huge bubbles with their gum and without popping the bubble placed them on the water to float. Vanessa, my younger sister, and I started wading into the ocean, jumping the waves as they came to shore. We soon found that the harmless bubbles were, in fact, jellyfish! Man do those stings HURT! Vanessa, the poor girl, got the worst of it. We cried and cried while the lifeguards treated the stings. The beach didn’t hold as much charm after that experience.