The Way We Were: Three Generations in San Marco

The Way We Were: Three Generations in San Marco
Mapleton Terrace, 1952: Steve, Jim, Julie and Martha Carlyon

“Love Where You Live” is Juliette C. D. Vaughn’s mantra, both for business as a realtor and for life. Her grandparents, George and Martha Carlyon, moved to San Marco from Springfield in 1939. Three generations of Juliette’s family have attended Hendricks Avenue Elementary School. Both Juliette and her mother, Julianne “Julie” Carlyon DeJong, were born at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and each of them were married at Southside Methodist Church (Julie on April 16, 1966 to Norman DeJong, and Juliette on March 20, 1993, to Edward Vaughn).   Juliette’s sister, Jennifer, was also born at St. Vincent’s and was married at Southside United Methodist Church in 1999 to Michael Smith.  

Julie Carlyon, 1945
Julie Carlyon, 1945

Growing up in San Marco, Julie and her brothers, Jim and Steve Carlyon, lived a carefree life with few restrictions. “We stayed out and played all day,” remembered Julie, who was known as a “tomboy,” but posed in a pretty, checked dress for her first day of school at Hendricks Avenue Elementary in 1945. During her girlhood, she sprained her ankle jumping off the balcony of their home at Pineridge Road in San Marco on a “Dare for a Dime,” and broke her arm twice, once in fourth grade and again in ninth grade when she tripped over a root playing “Duck & Cover.” Sadly, she was stricken with nephritis (a kidney disease) while in seventh grade and spent her eighth-grade year out of school and being treated by Dr. Thomas Palmer, a pediatrician at 5 Points.  

Julie’s cousin and best friend, Eleanor Burns, lived nearby on Lorimer Road in San Marco. “Eleanor and I played together all the time,” Julie recalled, remembering how the girls used to walk down to the Gulf Gas Station or the Dime Store to get a Coke, and play for hours in the big field behind the Carlyons’ home on Pineridge. Later, when the Carlyon family built a home on Mapleton Terrace, they had a brown and black dog named Prince, who slept on the back porch. 

Eleanor was the daughter of Julie’s Aunt Mildred Carlyon (George’s sister) and William Haydon Burns (mayor of Jacksonville from 1949 to 1965, and Florida’s governor from 1965 to 1967). Having a mayor for a father came with some special perks for the Burns kids and their cousins. A photo of movie star Fess Parker (Davy Crockett) with Bill and Eleanor Burns and their cousins, Julie and Nancy Carlyon, brings back memories of getting to ride in the limousine with Parker to a special event in downtown Jacksonville. Today, Eleanor Burns Watkins and Julie Carlyon DeJong remain best friends. “Eleanor and I talk on the phone every day and see one another as often as possible,” said Julie recently, as she and her daughter, Juliette, enjoyed an afternoon at the family’s beach house in South Ponte Vedra.  

Beautifully decorated with maritime symbols that portray a love of ocean-going vessels and travel to faraway places, Julie Carlyon DeJong’s beach house is a poignant reminder of her late husband, Naval Architect Norman DeJong. After graduating from Landon High School in 1957, attending Florida State University for a year and then the University of Florida for a semester, Julie met Norman DeJong, the love of her life.  

Norman, originally from the Netherlands, worked as a Naval Architect in Seattle and San Diego before coming to Jacksonville to work at the Gibbs/Jacksonville Shipyards. In 1968, two years after Norman married Julie, they started DeJong and Associates, Inc., specializing in design and conversion of all types of marine vessels. “Norman designed ships and tugboats and yachts all over the world,” said Julie, “and I traveled with him to places like Egypt, Germany, Holland and the Panama Canal. Wherever people wanted ships built, we traveled. Norman, having been born in the Netherlands and traveled so many places even before I knew him, always joked that I had lived in an 11-block radius all my life until we met!”  

Later, when Norman partnered with Naval Architect and Marine Engineer Andrew D. Lebet, the company became DeJong & Lebet, Inc. Today, more than half a century later, DeJong & Lebet, Inc., still located on Emerson Street near San Marco, continues to design and convert innovative and distinctive sea-going vessels for customers around the globe.   

The DeJong family moved into a home at 1604 Kingswood Road, across from Southside United Methodist, and eventually bought their San Marco home on Alhambra Drive North, where they raised their daughters, Juliette and Jennifer. The girls were doubly blessed by having their grandmother, Mamma (Martha Carlyon) and great-grandmother, Nanny (Bess Morris) within walking distance. One Easter, they had a four-generation photo taken – a photo that remains a treasure to this day, reminding them of special weekends with Nanny and being served “grownup coffee” in tiny demitasse cups. Juliette also remembers walking with Nanny to buy a Coca-Cola in a bottle at the place that is now “Beer 30” in San Marco.  

The girls were also privileged to travel a great deal with their parents during summer breaks, and, when not traveling to faraway places with her husband, Julie DeJong was active in the San Marco community. She was a member of the Women’s Guild, the Children’s Museum (which became MOSH), president of the PTA at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School, and a volunteer with the annual Nutcracker, Haunted House and Fall Carnival. She was also office manager for Mah/Jong’s Discount Marine Supply.  

Juliette and Jennifer DeJong enjoy snow at the Duck Pond, December 1989
Juliette and Jennifer DeJong enjoy snow at the Duck Pond, December 1989

Often, the girls and their cousins would walk to the Pic ‘N Save and the dollar movies at San Marco Theatre as well as playing by the Duck Pond in San Marco. During the “blizzard” of 1989, Juliette and Jennifer posed by the Duck Pond – memorializing that unique day in December when snow fell in Jacksonville. Juliette, who graduated from Wolfson High School in 1985, also remembers the popular “make-out” spots – “San Marco Beach” (the bulkhead of the Duck Pond), and the drive-ins that were still around on Beach and Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway. 

After high school, Juliette graduated from Florida State University, where she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega. She joined the Junior League of Jacksonville and became employed by the City of Jacksonville’s Special Events Department. She recalled one particular World of Nations festival where she “stopped a border dispute” between the South American and Polish American Pavilions. “The South Americans were playing loud Latin Music and disrupting the Polish Chicken Dance music,” she said, noting that, by necessity, she quickly learned the art of diplomacy. 

Juliette was still working with the City of Jacksonville when she married Edward Vaughn, a marine designer with DeJong & Lebet, Inc. Edward is now vice president with the company, following in his father-in-law’s tradition of designing the finest of marine vessels. Edward and Juliette have two sons, Coulson and Cornelis, both of whom attended Hendricks Avenue Elementary School. They also attended Landon Middle School. Coulson, who graduated from Darnell-Cookman and the University of North Florida, is a contracts specialist at Crowley Maritime. Cornelis graduated from Paxson School for Advanced Studies and attends Florida State College Jacksonville while working as a draftsman at DeJong & Lebet.   

Juliette Vaughn and Julie DeJong
Juliette Vaughn and Julie DeJong

Juliette’s sister, Jennifer Smith, became a special education teacher and was chosen Teacher of the Year in Seminole County several years ago. She has also taught at Raines High School and is currently teaching at Ocean Palms Elementary School in Ponte Vedra. Juliette is proud of her sister’s educational choice and notes that when she was with the City of Jacksonville, they sponsored the Special Olympics and the two sisters attended. “Jennifer has always said that was when she decided to go into Special Ed.” Jennifer and her husband, Mike, have two daughters, Sonja and Juliana Nel.  

During the past couple of decades, Norman and Julie DeJong and their family (Juliette and Ed Vaughn and sons, and Jennifer and Mike Smith and daughters), have taken several Disney Cruises together. Although the Disney ships are larger and more commercially common than the unique yachts and special sea-going vessels designed by DeJong & Lebet, Inc., the family thoroughly enjoyed their carefree cruises. Each cruise photo holds special memories for the family now that Norman DeJong has passed away.  

And, while their parents instilled a love of travel in Juliette’s heart, there is no doubt about her favorite place in all the world. San Marco is home. It has always been home – to her mother, to her and to her sons. The close-knit family is forever memorialized on a brick in San Marco Square that reads: “Carlyon-DeJong-Vaughn Families – Est. 1939.”  

Juliette’s eyes light up when she describes Granada Fest, Holiday Magic, the San Marco Art Festival, the former Grotto wine bar, The Loop, the Town Pump in the San Marco Building, and weekly trivia at European Street Café. The real estate slogan that is part of her professional signature is more than a slogan – Juliette Vaughn literally loves where she lives. 

Vaughn Family from December 2018 - Coulson, Ed, Juliette and Cory Vaughn
Vaughn Family from December 2018 – Coulson, Ed, Juliette and Cory Vaughn

Susan D. Brandenburg
Resident Community News

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