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Revisiting A Very Different Vero Beach

In a free-ranging session, four women recall their lives when they, and the city they love, were growing up together.

The girls, clockwise from top left, share a laugh: Mary Jane Mitchell Stewart, Celeta Haffield Arden, Cornelia Perez and Isabelle Beuttell Dayton.

The girls, clockwise from top left, share a laugh: Mary Jane Mitchell Stewart, Celeta Haffield Arden, Cornelia Perez and Isabelle Beuttell Dayton.

“We have to be careful how we tell the prom story.” Knowing giggles ensue. The humorist is Cornelia Perez, but the friends having a laugh first knew her as Cornelia Auxier, daughter of Herschel and Lucy Auxier, one of the early Vero Beach families.

It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday in the middle of the June heat in Vero Beach. Cornelia, Isabelle Beuttell Dayton and Mary Jane Mitchell Stewart have gathered around Celeta Haffield Arden’s kitchen table, recalling experiences as Celeta serves up iced tea and homemade ginger cookies.

Vero Beach Babies

“Well, Mary Jane and Celeta were born here at the old hospital on Old Dixie,” says Cornelia, more seriously now, nodding at Mary Jane, seated to her right.

“Garnet Radin started the hospital as a young nurse,” Mary Jane adds. “There was no hospital at all, and she got a group together to help. They bought this old boom-time hotel on Old Dixie and created the first hospital.” The ladies discuss the live wire that was Garnet Radin. As they describe her spirit, images come to mind of Alma Lee Loy.

“Oh she did everything! She did it all,” exclaims Mary Jane. “She was an amazing woman. A little tiny lady.”

Cornelia interjects, emphasizing, “Itty-bitty-teeny-weeny! An Energizer bunny kind of person.”

Read the entire article in the November 2011 issue