The pioneer life of the Merrick Family in what is now Coral Gables was especially difficult for George. Despite his great intellect, he was not allowed to have any formal schooling from age thirteen until age twenty because he had to work to help support his family.
He worked side by side during this time with men from the Bahamas who were hired to help as laborers on the Merrick plantation. These men became his friends, and for the rest of his life, George became an advocate for the disadvantaged.
The harshness of his adolescence did not prevent him from furthering his education by reading everything he could get his hands on. These enormous challenges did not dampen his spirit. He continued to dream. George had to sell the produce of the plantation in Coconut Grove and Miami. He said once in an interview that it was during this time that he imagined that his cart, filled with produce, was moving in the mist of Beautiful homes. The seed of the City of Coral Gables had been planted in the heart and mind of a young poet.