MIAMI — If you want to correspond with the Jesse Wilcox family, don't write to their street address: on 36th St. in Miami--they will never get it.
That is because no one wants to believe the Wilcoxes live at Miami International Airport.
"You're kidding," said an employee at the airport administration offices when told that a family lives off one of the main runways.
"They're going to call you a liar when you tell people we live here," advised Wilcox, who has resided in the only house on the airport for four years. "People who live only three blocks from here say they've never seen the house."
However, the one-story, two-bedroom, cement-block house with a children's swing set out front is clearly visible from the perimeter road on the north edge of the airfield.
Built on airport property, it is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Wilcox is an animal caretaker for the USDA, responsible for animals in quarantine before they are shipped by plane to domestic and foreign ports.
When Wilcox is asked where he lives, he says, "Wilcox Field," the seldom-used dual name of Miami International Airport.
Sought Air Force
The man whose name this huge airfield honors was J. Mark Wilcox, a Florida congressman who, in the early 1930s, campaigned for the United States to build an air force.
For 11 years, J. Mark Wilcox served as an attorney for the port authority here and several months after he died on Feb. 4, 1956, the Dade County Commission decided to name the airport after him.
Coincidentally, both Wilcoxes were born in Georgia. J. Mark Wilcox, a white man, was from Willacoochee, while Jesse Wilcox, a black man, was born in Jacksonville, Ga.
"We're not related," Jesse Wilcox said with a smile.
For Mrs. Wilcox, life beside the airport runways is not much different from living elsewhere. She works as a school crossing guard and cafeteria monitor for the Miami Springs school system.
Daughters Lavonne, 15, and Chandra, 10, ride a school bus during the week but, each new term, that creates a problem.
"Every year I go through the same thing. The bus drivers say they can't find the house or say it isn't here," Mrs. Wilcox added.
The continuous noise of departing and arriving aircraft goes unnoticed by the family--except the Concorde, a needle-nosed supersonic jet operated by British Airways.
"You can set your watch by it--Wednesday, Friday and Sunday it takes off at 10:45 a.m.," Mrs. Wilcox said.
"I hear the planes, but it doesn't bother me," added Wilcox, 46. "Even the kids sleep with the windows up."
Enclosed by chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, the Wilcox home is not bothered by salesmen or peddlers.
"I enjoy the privacy," Wilcox said. "Nobody knocks at my door, but I can't get a newspaper delivered here."