By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
By Frank Owen
By Allie Conti
"Then in 1945, when peace was declared, the government withdrew financial assistance. So we, the mothers, the people in the community, walked the streets asking people to give us so much a year or a month to keep that school open. My husband was a bartender at Club 77. I would go up there and he would give us a fifth of whiskey, and when we sold that out, I walked back from wherever the party was and got another fifth of whiskey, and we sold that at 50 cents a drink. We served chitlins and fish and chicken sandwiches, and on Saturday afternoon this woman on Grand Avenue would let us use her yard to sell them. And then we would have teas, affairs where you get to show your clothes as well as be picky-picky-picky and have little delicate sandwiches to eat, and a program. That's what we used to do.
"We didn't charge people but a dollar and a quarter a week. Can you imagine? A dollar and quarter a week to take care of a child a whole week. When we went up to three dollars, many people decided to take their children out because they couldn't afford it. So to keep the nursery open, we just went begging for money, and United Way would help from time to time. We also got the help of some of the Miss Anns.
"All the white women we always referred to as Miss Ann, I don't know why. We would tell Miss Ann what we were trying to do and were doing, and she in turn would tell other Miss Anns. The white women got involved by us telling them what we were trying to do, and they helped keep the nursery open. That was the start of what it is now. You all run it now. It's all just about white run. It's what you might call a white charity case. And it tees me off. They have the nursery down there, they got another nursery, and they don't even have a picture of Father Pollard or Etta Clark in the building.
"Part of the problem is that instead of giving us what we need, they're always trying to give us things they want. Like when we were trying to put Charles Avenue in a historic district. Once there was a plan and they wanted to develop the first six houses on both sides of the street. When I saw the plan, I couldn't believe it. They had Stirrup Walk, and Stirrup Plaza, and antique shops -- all this in the first six houses. I said, `Over my dead body and I'm not going to die to convenience you.'
"And that McDonald Street extension thing. They wanted to extend that street through one of the oldest parts of the community to connect Grand Avenue and Main Highway. They wanted to come on through and dump their garbage -- their traffic and all this sort of stuff -- on William and Charles avenues. I said, `Like hell they're going to do it. Uh-uh. No way.' I told them to carry it on down Grand Avenue and dump it onto Main Highway and go on down to Cutler Ridge where all the exclusive white people's houses are. Just knock the trees down and make the road wider and put some sidewalks in. Let the white folk deal with it and see what they think. But you think they're going to do that? Hah!
"Then we were promised an overpass from the Metrorail station, which is where Henry Flagler's old railroad station was, to get past U.S. 1. The traffic is too heavy and they drive so fast -- by the time you get a little ways, the light has changed. I got caught out there one day and the only thing I could do was wave my walking cane and holler. Further down there are great big apartments where we have between 350 and 400 people living, and they have children who have to fight that traffic to get over to this side of the road for school. It seems like they're saying, `You accept what we give you or you don't accept anything at all.'
"I have tried to get them to put a four-way light down here on Charles and Hibiscus, so they finally came up with four-way stop signs. When I asked them for a light, I was told that you have to see how many people are killed at a spot before they give you the light. Instead of these things, we get 24-hour grocery stores from the LDC. Who is going to be up 24 hours? Coconut Grove is just not that large. Part of the problem is that some people are not as active as they should be, and there's a lot of people who are just waiting for money in their hands. That's more important than anything else to them. The Stirrups are not doing anything. They're just sitting. They aren't doing what you would expect somebody of their stature to be doing. They should be more active. The one sister that was active -- Lillian Mazon -- died about nine years ago, and after she died, that just killed the Stirrups off.