HIS BROTHERS

 

Dad was the youngest son. His father and mother made him feel very special - the letters written in the late thirties are the best evidence of that. Presumably they made their other sons feel the same way.

Certainly they all came through the same depression era experience - Elliott and Robert perhaps more than Dad. And they shared the same "rags to riches" career together. 

His brother Elliott - the oldest - was seven when Dad was born.

Robert was four - the middle brother.

There are natural - but different - reactions to a newborn from siblings of different ages. One can only speculate.

Dad was the only one of the three to graduate from college. I am aware that Robert attended college but did not graduate. I do not know if Elliott ever went to college or not. 

Elliott was a local track star in high school.

Elliott and Dad - as young men - went in to the family business with their father.

Robert made an attempt at selling insurance but by the time Frank senior sent his sons to Delray in 1938, Robert was also with the family business.

After Frank Senior's death in 1941 the three Mackle brothers were a team. Later it became a company legend but from the earliest days in Miami until the early 1970s they literally shared one - small at first but later very large - office with three desks. 

All decisions were made together. All property was purchased together. All deals were made together. All accomplishments were achieved together.

However, Dad - in spite of his youth - was always the leader. 

He was always moving forward. He was always doing. He was always talking a new deal - whether it was in the office, on the golf course at the race track or over a Gin game. Key Biscayne thru his golfing connections at LaGorce, General Development through his Key Biscayne Hotel connections, Deltona, Tierra Verde and everything else that happened in business was a result of his initiative and "can do" nature.

Elliott was active - in the early days - in the construction end of the business. Later he was actively involved in the quest for new lands. Elliott was also a member of the States first Land Sales Board.

Elliott was also the brother that Dad was closest to. 

When the brothers moved to Miami around 1940 they each settled in the Coral Gables area. The war, of course sent the Mackles to Key West and Washington D.C. but there homes until the late 40s were still in Coral Gables or West Miami. 

Around 1950 however both Dad and Elliott moved their families to the other side of the city on Sunset Island #2 on Miami Beach.

For the next twenty years Dad and Elliott would ride to work together virtually every day of the week. Elliott's younger son, Doug and I grew up together. Bobby and Barbara were always the cousins that we saw at Christmas.

Robert and his family remained in Coral Gables for the rest of Roberts life living for the last fifteen to twenty years in a large house on Riviera Golf Course.

In decision making Elliott was a strong supporter of Dad and his plans. Robert was typically the "devils advocate" who would express the opposing position. In the end he would always go along with his brothers but maintained his "I told you so" position. It was "kidded" about frequently but was not resented by his brothers Frank and Elliott. 

I always though the combination of personalities - and the respect of his older brothers - gave dad a certain kind of feedback that he needed to be the leader. 

Certainly he always took great pride in the image of the "Three Mackle Brothers"

And visibly - at the office - the three were always a team. 

It was a routine - as long as they were together - to come in for a half day on Saturday morning. Key executives were in the same habit. Everyone came in casually dressed - the weekdays required a long sleeve shirt and tie - and sometime during the morning we would wander into the big Mackle brothers office for a cup of coffee and conversation about the weeks events - and a lot of other stuff. 

Dad, Elliott and Robert were always there along with Bill, Neil and Jimmy. 

As a family member, I felt comfortable joining in those "round tables" from the beginning (although no one told me not to wear a tie that first Saturday morning!).

It was  great tradition and - I always thought - it was were things really were accomplished.

At General Development the company had their own employee cafeteria. Nearby there was and executive dining room where the Mackles and key executives joined each day for lunch. For years Dad was kidded about his daily "peanut butter and jelly sandwich" that the executive chef - skilled at better things - was asked to prepare.

Also a Mackle Brothers tradition was their annual visit - together - to every Miami department on the morning before the Christmas holiday wishing every employee and their families a "Merry Christmas".

On a social level they and their wives pretty much had their own friends although the families were friendly and the brothers occasionally played golf together or took their boys fishing together.

The three Mackle Brothers doted on their mother, Theresa, who was widowed for 30 years or more. Dad visited her frequently on the weekends. She was a weekly visitor to the office for many years through the 50s and 60s. A picture of her along with a separate picture of their father was prominent on the wall of their office.

From 1941 until the late 1960s that pretty well describes the Brother's relationship. It was unique. It was a source of pride and awe for everyone involved with them. It was promoted to the public. Everyone took great strength from the "wholesomeness" the "family", and the "team" the that were The Mackle Brothers.

In the late 60's the relationships began to change.

The kidnapping in late 1968 had a profound affect on the relationship.

In 1970 with the completion of a new six story office at Five Points the Mackles decided it was time to have separate offices. Dad would continue to operate out of the big office on the ground floor. Elliott and Robert would each have offices on the sixth floor of the new building. A room on the sixth floor was used for the Saturday morning get-togethers although it seemed we more often gravitated to Dad's office as before.

Elliott, due to some personal problems, retired in early 1970. He passed away eight years later in 1978. With his retirement, Dad and Robert negotiated the purchase of his interest in the Mackle Company. 

The sons of the Mackle Brothers were taking different courses relative to the business.

Elliott's oldest son, Elliott Jr., had never been interested in the business raising horses with his father for a while and later becoming a food critic in Atlanta. Doug, Elliott's younger son, had worked for the company briefly but was also more interested in culinary pursuits taking courses in food preparation and eventually owning and operating restaurants in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Robert's son Bob Jr. after graduating from Wharton school of business joined the company. His career seemed to be in areas other than Deltona's real estate business. His major accomplishment was overseeing the purchase and operation of a small radio station that we owned in Panama City. He left with his father in 1976 and went on to develop two projects on the east coast of Florida and then turned to managing the family's assets.

Neither of the Mackle daughters, Barbara nor my sister Nancy, were ever involved with the business.

In 1976, when the Corps of Engineers denied the Marco Permits Robert and Dad  went their separate ways.

Robert passed away in 1983.