Title: A. W. Erkins [POF 9]
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FLA PERS 35AB Since 1905

A. W. ERKINS:

IT
My Early Days in Florida"by A. W. Erkins
It starts with music due to tape failure.
Following music the story will be given.To Avoid music,if desired, please


advance tapo to number 232 two hundred thirty-two for the start


of my Florida story. Thank you.


(music)(Oh, Susanna)


"My Early Days in Florida". My name is Albert William Erkins. E -R -K-I-N-S


I was horn August 2, 1896 at our family hone 3433 Berry Avenue Hyde Park


in eastern suburban Cincinnat i. I am dictating this on a tape recorder from

A/I THEX6 1e1CcW' /OLE-
our summer home, Old Trail Ranch, in the village of Wilson, Jeksonvill COnuntry

WE
of Uyoming. Old Trail has been our summer home since 1945. /ifrst cane to the

J/,/JOn/ HOLE- F93d
iJeenmviit country in the summer of 149Q.. It was still part of the old West.


All the following data is from my personal notes, diaries, and photographic


records. My favorite aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Georg/Gerkii)of Cincinnati


first went to Florida about 1885 at the Tampa Bay Hotel. A year or two later,

SE72L Wt//A/7 -P
they went to St. Augustine where they spent thLe -ume an-b winter at the new

-MS
Ponce de Leon Hotel. Ponce de Leon Hotel is one of the finest and most authentic


Moorish, Spanish buildings in the United States. There in St. Augustine at the


Ponce de LeonheY became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flagler, builder of


1








FLA PERS- 35AB
A.W. ERKINS:

Hotel
the Pons de Leon^and other hotels along the far east coast and of the
many Mr.
Florida East Coast Railway. As j know,,Flagler was a partner of John D.


Rockerfcllow, Sr. January 1894, Mr. Flagler invited my


aunt and uncle to join a party of thirty persons for a train trip on the


Florida East Coast Railway, to Palm Boach./ 1894, the railroad line was only


completed to Jupiter Lighthouse just north of Palm Beach. From Jupiter


Lighthouse, they rode the Celestial Line as it was nicknamed a narrow

u
gLge railway from Mile to Venu s on the North Shore of Lake Worth. They


boarded the Flagler yacht which took them down to the opening of the new


Royal Poincianna Hotel. They were guests of the the Royal Poincianna Hot el


most winters until 1918, the year my aunt died. Mr.Gergie) my uncle

1923.
continued to winter in Palm Beach until he died in Mr. Gergie was


founder and owner of the Union Distilling Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, which

tO 1890o fl
he organized about 1885 Mow part of National Distillers' Corporation. January

1905
my aunt and uncle took my family to Palm Beach, our first trip

1I 1905
to Florida. I recall the morning we left Cincinnati my uncles


coachman arrived at our home at five thirty AM with his carriage for the long


trip to the railway station in the city. We boarded the Southern Railway


train about seven forty-five AM. At eight thirty AM the train crossed


2






FLA PERS 35 AB

A.W. ERKINS:

We had breakfast on the train.
the Ohio River into Kentucky., That afternoon the train treked through the


Kentuckyand Tennessee Mountains, a considerable wilderness and through the


Cumberland Mountains. The train was a great interest t me. There were no


electric lights en--itv. All cars had gas lights and at dusk the Pullman Porter


came to the lighter taper and lit the ornate lights on the ceiling of the car.


Track trains in those days carried an observation club car. I spent much time


sitting on the rear open platform. About six PM, we enterothe ornate dining


car for dinner. On the tables were gleaming white table cloths with flowers

candle lamp4iith pink
and shades and gleaming silver service. Dinner and service was


really something superb Bod skillfully served. Nearly as I can


recall, according to my notes ad ..' diary fruit cup., up or


broth, shallow, hugh, tender steaks charcoaled broiled, baked or french fried


potatoes, choice of beverage, and pie-homebaked or ice cream, custard, fresh


fruit and nuts,all for $1.75. We were due in Jacksonville, Florida the next


morning about eight thirty or nine AM, but for many years the trains were

with
seldom on time so we usually missed connection^the New York to Palm Beach


train. It was necessary to change trains at Jacksonville. There were no through


cars from Cincinnati to Palm Beach or Miami. Many times our train did not


leave Jacksonville until 10:00 AM or noon and arrive at Palm Beach anywhere


3









from 7:30 to 10:00 PM. The ride along the east coast was interesting

small
- few towns and^settlements south of St. Augustine and New S -yrna- many-

of
miles of heavy forest, pine and palmetto.Along the shores of the Indian


River,there are a vast number of birds and occasional deer and other wild


life. When the train arrived at West Palm Beach, it was back over-


the trestle, over Lake Worth to the Ro yal Poincianna station adjoining


the hotel on the north. Then on to the Breakers Hotel on the ocean a


quarter mile east of the Royal Poincianna Hotel. We left the train at the


Royal Poincianna Station and walked the long, long corridor to the south


wing of the hotel office and lounge. Royal Poincianna was really something!


One of world's largest hotels and one of the greatestwood frame buildings


ever built seven stories high. There were over 2,000 rooms, several miles


of corridors, The corridors in the rooms are carpeted in green


imperial carpeting. Furniture in the lounge was of white wicker. The


ornate elevators were water hydraulically operated. The operator, a negro'


or colored man, as they were called in those days, pulled a steel cable


that ran through the top elevator tothe base of the elevator, pulling down


to go up and pulling up to go down. The elevator moved very slowly. When

through an
the operator wished tostop at any floor, he pushed the cable


extended slot









A. ERKINS


when a large, iron ball appeared, Thus, he elevator stopped at a designated


floor. The rooms were beautifully equipped and furnished very few had


private baths. Each room had ornate stands with hand painted wash


basins of floral design, a commode placed in a cabinet under the basin.


A noted feature wqs a fire escape. Attached aside a window inside was a


specially coiled rope with a seat in case of fire. One throwed the

chair
rope out of the window, sat in the^seat, and by some method of friction,


the seat slowly descended to the ground. Many guests in those days called


living at the Royal Poincianna "roughing it." The Royal Poincianna was on


the American plans, excellent food, large variety. Believe me, the rate


onthe average room per single started at six dollars per day. A~J 0 P1


The Royal Poincianna faced west on Lake Worth. The main building about


three hundred fifty feet, I judge, from Lake Sho re, a magnificent :crop


of gardens between the hotel and the lake, a lo g, wide terrace porch,

piazza, extended west for considerable distance towards the lake Lake Worth.


Lake Worth is not a true fresh water lake. It is really a bay of brackish


water. Every afternoon about four PM, a select string orchestra on piazza

coconut,
played for the tea dance just below in a lovely palm grove garden where


drinks acksre served. This was one of many social events of the day
drinks and snacks ere served. This was one of many social events of the day









A.W. ERKINS


for the guests. Life at Palm Beach of 1905 when I first went there as

C ? ) (CHOT7h)
mi n -of four was very much the same. The Beakers on the beach


the same design were all Poincianna and same construction, which was much


smaller. Between the railroad Between the Royal Poincianna, pardon me, and

cement probably, twenty or
the $reakers there were two Palm and Australian pine-linedwalkstwenty-five

-ra20Lut&11
feet wide.Between the walks a narrow gauge railcar, a typical Toonerville/type


with four wheels took those who wished to go between the breakers and the

or so a person.
Royal Poincianna about a quarter of a mile~east that cost ten cents, At- fit+-


The car, I believe, accommodated probably fifteen to twenty people. It was


open in front and rear and pulled by a lone,husky mule. The motormen, of


course, used reins such as a horse carriage and had a hand lever brake. The

probably
car ran along about a rate of speed. one or two m les an hour. To the


north and south of the walk between the breakers and the Royal Poincianna

A0 eAVD1ES
was the Palm Beach Golf Course. Cecarts in those years and negro aeiesr
or
Years later about 1954, '55, one of our many winter trips to Palm Beach from


Ft. Lauderdale, I visited the club house pro when he heard our first visit to


Palm Beach was in 1905, he said, "Wait Mr. Erkins." and brought to me a


charming, old snow white-haired, slightly stooped negro, a caddy for many,many


years. This old caddy said that he was about 86. He was a grand old man

6









A.W.ERKINS


and quite overcomeN/ I was a guest at the Royal Poincianna in 1905. He shook


my hand firmly and so glad to see me. Although e had not remembered me

tees
in years past. Incidentally, in those days there were no wooden used- all


sand tees instead of wooden tees in order to tee up the ball. The 1oyal


Poincianna dining room is best expressed by just one word colossal!

In fact, two dining rooms connected by long room paralleled each other with


.lower ceiling upheld by snowwhite Grecian columns. Both dining room decor

wood columns at large-
was identical. As I recall, snowwhite ,work and^large columns. They


had ornate ceilings and-two stories high. On each side a large entrance to


both dining rooms where large cloak rack against the wall and two negrob in


dinner jackets fine poking men took your wraps and hat and placed it on the


rack. Now you won't believe this but it's true. The oldtimers at the hotel

of the
for many years and knowing many^guests who returned every year, when the guest


left the dining room, he or she added a flourish of hat and coat and wrap

clothes
and no checks were given for these coats or hats. They knew what your


item was and attending to all and they at tips were enormous, particularly


inthose days. One dollar or five dollars or more each time from the millionaires.

four
Theattendants owned a fine restaurant in New York City bought from checking


earnings at the Royal Poincianna for many years. There were very few children










A. W. E1;II;S


so I seldom had a playmate at early years. I understood how many of the


children around my age,say 1905 to 1910, were living. Now, I am recalling

440 rTHE- o0
the old Palm Beach Io4te more Royal Poincianna. After dinner, I would


wander along the long the long corridor from dining room to the lounge.


There were wonderful shop s, especially the Greenleaf and Crosby famous


Jewelry store and its display of fortune in jewels. One night after dinner,


my uncle and I stood looking into a display window at Greenleaf and Crosby


Store. The feature display at the time was a magnificent pin with4diamonds


in the center and one particularly large diamond and a large cluster of jewels


around. Also, a pearl necklace. Mr.(Crocker, a rich and powerful politician


from New York came with his Indian wife and looked in the window and said


something. Quote:"How about that? Would you like it? They entered the store


and the next day a jeweler in the store had told my uncle that Mr. Crcsker


had bought it for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Beyond the exclusive


shops of what was knowfas Peacock Lane or Peacock Alley, adjoining the office


lounge, to the west. Here were chairs and lounges where people gathered to


watch the p-r: de of the rich and powerful socialites The women displaying


their great jewelry and gowns. There were many odd characters. One woman


said* to be of great enormous wealth came each season. Came, believe it


i








A. W. ERKINS

two maids and trucks
or not, with.twenty-seven ,and never wore the same evening dress twice.


She had one made that attended a tea dog Looked to its happiness and care.


The dog's private maid. The dog was carried by a maid on a velvet pillow.


I do not remember what breed the dog was, but I didn't think much of it.


There was a French count it was said, but that was doubted by many, a rather


dashing character of thirty-five or forty for years of age. He was married


two or three times to multi-millionaire widows, very old ones. Most of the


widows said to be eighty-five to ninety. A year or so after they were married,


some say under strange circumstances, the French count so-called inherited


enormous fortune and finally married a rich, Palm Beachoung gir. The


mornings at Palm Beach were for golfing or beaching, and I would many times


go with my uncle and walk or ride the wheel chair or the mule car to the


beach, where I would bathe in the surf or pool. Then about eleven thirty

would
we .~have a snack at the Breakers Hotel porch and return to the Royal


Poincianna for one to one thirty lunch. AWheel chairs were dubbed fr mobiles,


A wicker contraption with two seats in front, and powered by a negro on one


wheel to the rear. Very neat. These afromobiles went everywhere on Palm


Beach walks and on the jungle trail. Bicycles were twenty-five cents an hour.


I rode my bicycle many times along Lake Worth. North or South, bu~+ -e. there








A.W. LiNg


were fine winter homes, mostly dingle and frame nestled in beautiful gardens

and bicycles p4a&PD
The trails were just wide enough for the Afromobilesand made of tee seashells,


O06R~ -large groves of coconuts. Many times on the shell trails, I would stop and


pick up the coconut and after much labor, pounding on thetrail, I would tear


off the tough, outer husk, cut a hole in the inner hard shell and drink the


milk. Great fun and I would eat the delicious white meat of the nut. Top of


the season at the Royal Palm Beach and the Royal Poincianna was a fabulous Washington


ball, always given on the twenty-second of February. The Royal Poincianna ~ALL

only
was open.to Royal Poincianna and Breakers' Hotel guests and cottages. The


ball was held in one on the large dining rooms which was larger than the hotel


ball room. The affair opened about ten PM. Reserved boxes lined be4h sides


of the dining room. Until I was sixteen or eighteen years old, I could not

WA-s
attend the ball. The year I was admitted only until eleven thirty~ PM ir 1912.


The display of gorgeous gowns and especially fabulous jewelry was something

group lavishly
to see. An imported negro cake walk.performedA dressed in brilliant costumes


Colonial clients of the gay nineties. They strutted and danced along the

/WJA/6)-- O"NEbeautiful
center of the dining room between the boxes. The waateae huge^cake


quite a display. At one ball our box was next to a large party. My aunt

me,
whispered to "you see that lady next to us in te white gown, diamond tiara


10








A.W. EPKINS


and beautiful rings, and see the hugh diamondlon her chest. That is
0
tl I/ D nD
the world's famous Hope Diamond. She is Mrs MacClain.) She is the lady


wearing the diamond. I will tell you more about the diamond and its history


tomorrow." At eleven thirty PM sharp, I was sent with my younger sister to

not
retire to our rooms. Colonel Bradley's famous casino Beach Club '.on the


beach, but Lake Worth across from the railroad station just esa9 north of the


Royal Poincianna. This was a famous gambling establishment. The club was a


gleaming white,colonial-stle building with lovely gardens. The interior decor


was as the Royal Poincianna Hotel. State law forbid Florida residents as


members or gamble. I do not know if the law i'as ever enf orced, although I


was told that it was. I believe that one had to be twenty-one years old to


enter the beach club. One day in 1914, when I was just eighteen years old,


my uncle said',Burt, I have special permission from Colonel Bradley to take


you to his beach club tonight at nine PM. We may have a steak dinner and

boT
you can enter the gambling room and watch& ru can not play.or gamble at


any of the tables. /Iy small and rather meager allowance-I did not care.


Here again all were in full dress. A vast fortune in jewels. Some with o-

(rfR IAtcheir maids and attendants. And then, occasionally a gentleman with


S L The next day we were told that Mrs. (cClain I believe it was, had lost

11









A.W. ERKINS

-roulette.
$10,000 on just one game play, As we left the-club, on the way out, of the


gambling room we passed an open doorjinto a luxuriously furnished office.
,, S o FLDP-1O
A Sctthih, J YfX faced man sat behind a large desk facing the open door


He looked up and said, "Good evening, Mr. Gerkie, come on in." We entered.

I paid, I
He said, "Young man, you are Mr. Gerkie's nephew?. Yes, sir, He said," Are


you a contributor." I daid,"I don't know. Understand, sir." He says, "Have


you contributed to my gaining tonight in the gambling rooms? Have you lost?


If so, then you are a contributor. I said,"I am not allowed to gamble." He


said, "Good. Don't ever be a contributor. A contributor to gambling is a

in
sucker. It's a losing game." Many years later 1941, to be exact,

July and Nelho(Navajo) and
after one of our many /f.#g/tours,.pack trips to.Hobi Reservations of Arizona,


we stopped over in Las Vegas on our way to Jacksonville, Wyoming. 'there


was only one hotel on the now famous "Strip". The El Rancho Vegas All


around was desert. Here I tried my hand at a small amount of gambling.


I bet five dollars on roulette and lost. So I said, "Colonel Bradley was


right." Colonel Bradley owned rich and famous farm and horse breeding lands


near Lexington, Kentucky. He was one of the great characters at Palm Beach


for many years. A very charitable and well regarded man, an honest gambler.









A.W.ERKINS


One day while walking on the Palm Walk with my uncle, George, at the


Breakers Hotel and beach, we noticed approaching us three men. As they


hierd us, my uncle said, I want you to note these three men." As they


passed, one man said, "Good morning, Mr. Gerkie." It was Mr. Flagler.


When they had passed, my uncle said,"The tree were Mr. Flagler, Andrew


Carnegie, John D. Rockerfellow, Sr. They are three of the wealthiest men


in the world. Probably, John D. the richest man in the world. It was


reported that Henry Flagler was a finance partner of John D. Rockerfellow.


Mr. Flagler retired in the early 1880's with hirsestimated anywhere from

Company
$~S0 to $150 million dollars made in the Standard Oil^stock. Remember in


those days, there was no income tax and -no capital gains tax. At my age
r father.
that did not make much impression My delight was the beach, Coconut Grove


and the jungles, fishing on the pier, and the bicycle riding and beaching.


Many times, I vuld ride my bicycle along the county rode south to Mrs.


Winters' pantry in the jungle. Mrs. Winters' Pantry in the jungle was


located I judge about where Palm Beach City Hall is now. On the west side

of o0 fruits
the rade a gleaming, white, little store where she sold fresh citrus,


cakes, and home made candies.










A.W. ERKINS


I weC-stoppgif by her fudge three or four small squares for twenty-five


cents. That shot my daily allowance. And I thought she was a money grabber.

only
The idea of.three or four measley pieces of fudge for twenty-five centb.


I did not like Mrs. Winters, but her fudge was great. Automobiles would


cross the narrow road, train trestle over Lake Worth from West Palm Beach


to Palm Beach, traffic lane next to the railway track. Then along the lake

near 612-
drive to.the Royal Poincianna, a parking area. No automobiles are allowed


on the county road except under certain circumstances. Sometimes we hired


a colored driver to go south to what was later the Florida extension of the


Dizie Highway. We drove to Boynton, a very small winter resort on the beach

were
and on to Delray Beach. From near Boynton to Delray large fields


of pineapples. Florida produced much pineapple in those days. The Cuban

CoAST
pineapple was loaded into East Flheida Railway cars that had been ferryed


from Key West to Cuba. Here, the Cuba cars were filled with produce goods,


such as pineapples, other fruits and vegetables, particularly in the winter


time. This ended the pineapple industry in Florida, although a few pineapples


were grown a-few years after that. Sometimes I would ride my bicycle along


the south lake drive. Bicycles and wheelchairs only allowed. I would stop








A.W.ERKIINS


in front of one of the state houses and steal an orange off the citrus


trees near the drive. Somehow the orange always tasted better by a little


theft and ones I could take from the hugh fruit basket in the dining room


of he Poincianna Hotel. There the guests were to help themselves. Many days


we all walked or rode the narrow gauged mule car or took the Afromobiles to


the beach. Bathing suits those days at Palm Beach were really something to


behold. Men wore mostly black trunks down to just above thelnees. Of course,


a top shirt was required. No upper pair could show. Men's bathing suit


shirts had sleeves to the elbows. The women's bathing suits ? Well! My mother


and aunt like all women, wore more clothing bathing in the surf than


in evening gowns. Mostly black bathing suits with sleeves to the elbows.


ruffled skirt to top of knees, black stockings, and black canvass shoes.


Generally, a white sort of collar adorned the neck. No skin showed except


lower arms,face, and neck. At high tide a hugh post was driven into the


sand. Two or three more posts extended out into the surf, probably one


hundred to two aded feet. Stout rope ran from post to post. Many

let
bathers caught under the ropes of surf, -adthe surf go over them and they


would dunk themselves and thought it was great fun. Grasping the rope was


a must. Who could swim with all those wet clothes clinging to them? Me?








AW. ERKINS


Well, I was just allowed to paddle around in the surf very near shore and


swim a little. I never did have all that clothing on me so I had more fun,

Coconut
I'M sure. On Lake Worth just south of Royal^Poincianna Tea Garden.was


Whitehall, a marble palace of Henry Flagler. This was a fabulous place,


and surrounded by hugh iron and bronze fencing and gates. In later years,


the hoBt LBaE -l.e- residence of Mr. Flagler became a hotel and is now a


museum. Luxuriously private railroad cars were common in Palm Beach. I


heard that one season well over one hundred private cars were in Palm Beach.


Private car parking area was just back east of the Royal Psincianna Hotel.


As a kid,of course, I had to go to try to explore them. Walking around


the many cars and noting their many names and colors. One day I was


bold e:iough to climb up the car steps ,to the entrance and was met by a


fine old gentleman just coming through the door. I stopped cold and wondered


what now? The gentleman said, "Hello,son, I said,"Hello, sir." He said,


"I dare say you want to sne ny car. Yo. like trains, don't you? I said,


"You bet I do'' so he took me out to where is car is. I was so excited that


all I recall was a l~srina.-J, I= house and soon a negro in a white jacket


came and gave me some cookies. The gentleman asked my name, and I told him.


I said that I was staying at the Royal Poincianna and had been staying there








A.W.ERKINS


several winters. I thanked him and left. In late January 1910, when


we arrived at Palm Beach, I was greatly excited to find that Howar(Cofpin)
^ev?' H&C1?) /C-4/L
a noted aeronauticalengineer was assembling a biplane, flying boat on east


shore of Lake Worth near the Royal Poincianna. I lost no time in going there

F-0o -
to xatch the assembly of the plane. /Days I wanted to forget the beach,


.pier, fishing, bicycling, fishing, etc. uo spend as much time as possible


to watch the assembling of the plane. I don't recall how many days the men


worked on the assembly, but eventually she was ready to fly. After placing


her in the water, she floated well on the pontoons. The motors spat and


coughed and,then, roared and away she went, skimming over the water,.^oer

Lake Worth toward the Everglades. Soon the plane returned and made a


graceful landing. I was greatly thrilled. Airplanes in those days were


very scarce. Quite a large crowd had gathered. When Mr. Coffin stepped


ashore, I was near him. How do you like to see the airboat fly? I said,


"Great." He said, "Would you like to go up with me some ime?" I said,"And


how!" had seen around the place so much, I rushed *citedly to tell


my family. They said, "Nmo" That was that! I would fish off the ocean


pier at.the Breakers Hotel with my uncle and mother. We caught mostly

an
sheepshead and some various other fish. One day my mother landed Amberjack


17









A. W. EU I[r. -


about twenty pounds. One day in February 1912, I was batting with my uncle


on the vast column porch of the Royal Poincianna when Mr. Flagler joined us.


His eyesight was very poor then, but he noticed my uncle and said,"Mr. Gerkie,


I want to ell some acreage on Palm Beach to some old timers, such as you.


How about acquiring some land to hold for yourfamily? They may wish to build

do not
a home some ime for the .winter. He offered land. I recall how


many acre. s for one hundred to three hundred dollars an acre. This acreage


was located where the Everades Club and Golf Course is today. Uncle


George had considerable real estate in Cincinnati. He said, "' Thank you,


Mr. Flagler, but at my age' I do not wish to acquire any more land." This


acreage was all thick jungle. I recall Mr. Flagler making the remark "I do


not have much time left." Well, the following year, 1913, he died. We did not


return to Palm Beach in 1911. We made a cruise on a German ship the Carribean.


stopping at about ten islands and at Panama. At this time, the canal was under


construction, so we bordered a train to Col6n and rode across the Isthmus


to Panama City, stopping to watch the construction of the great Caliber Cut.

from
January 1912, we took the train Jacksonville to Palatka, Florida on the


St. John's River. There about three PM we


18









A.W.ERKINS

a
boarded a small stern wheel boat,^toy by comparison to our large steam


packets on the Ohio River at Cincinnati. I judge the boat had 0iYaround


around ten or twelve state rooms, a small lounge and a dining room. About


five to five thirty, we reached the mouth of the Great Akawae River. On the


west shore of the St. John's River. The ahawah is a rather narrow and


winding stream, quite deep. Shores were lined with heavy vegetation and

seri-tropical
tropical.growth, vast forests, great moss draped oaks and hugh pines and cypress

AGES
trues. One had the feeling of being in a primitive jungle of many yea&s ago.


After dinner we gathered on the upper deck and negro employees brought out


their mandolins and sang songs, such as Suwannee River, "Old Black Joe", and


"Old Kentucky Home". They had magnificent voices. Night was quite cool.
IJ7-
ed lked the jungles
and the moon cool as ice float in the sky, and f/ / if with a

L/6HT
rare erie lake. I had the feeling of ancient times. What Florida was before


the white man. In the morning we stood /IX/ at the rail and looked down


into the slightly wine- colored but crystal clear waters, and saw many fish


beautiful fish swim passed our ship, vast numbers of birds on the shore


overhead, and overhead :flew cranes and egrets. There were literally hundreds


of alligators,sunn ing themselves on the river banks. Little alligators l7ing









A. W.ERKINS r


on the banks thick as angle worms Astimated to be ten or twelve feet/ 6A/ '
ind sank to the depths.

As our little boat passed, many rushed into the water /The water was so
bottom.
cleur that we could see them swimming near the Occasionally, there


were little settlements, mostly abandoned. Occasionally, an old abandoned

O2-
saw mill and once I recall a small Indian camp ef early settlers' cabins.
docked
About ten o'clock in t he morning, we rounded a bend,stupped near Silver

the crystal,
Springs. Here we go toexceptionally^clear water. We- dJehe r-We took

There
a short train ride to Ocala.^ We boarded a train for Tampa and St. Petersburg.


We put uFlthe lovely Hotel Belleview at Belleaire. After a weeks stay there,

said, "Let's take
my uncle ,the night boat to Key West." I want to ride on the Mr. Flagler's


P/7/y At^ a43 S new overseas railway, and -e- ebft-6 in Miami and Palm Beach. This

5iij just de
amazing railroad that opened b jiu- shortly before we decided to make this


trip and take us along. We boarded a ship called "The Alln -ti" and left


St. Petersburg and Tampa in the evening. We arrived -r Key West in the

had
morning. Key West hada population of ],000. Key West has been in existence


since 1820 and before that a haven for pirates. In 1880, was the cigar

CAP I-r
ep5ay of the world. In 1890, was the most popular city in Florida.


It was also, a very important Naval Base. Most buildings or houses

were constructed of Dade Count ( oan ine. The wood gradually ages to
20












considerable hardness Wh^ Iat with many years of


salt air became nearly fire proof. They also stood amazingly .well


in the violent hurricanes. We left Key West about eight-thirty : AM


on Flagler's new overseas railway, an engineering marvel called' he

i1 decided to
Railroad that went to fea' A11904, Flaglerbuild the Key West extension

Up to
to the Florida East Coast Railway.Five thousand men worked on the


road at one time. Th~nc,5hips carried crushed rock and coral from the


mainland speeiay cement from Germany. In October, 1906p violent

P p construction HO-6 TL)&OAT
hurricane did much of the derp t i-on-. And one whn- temples wer /7

recorded. aG a -i e' n Ti'-? --
160 men Ohly 72 survived the storm. with

natives of t t tv4
130 men on board died. Finally, -te the Bahama Islands

Minorcan
Hundreds of men from northwest Spain and MfajeGa Islands


were brought over as common laborers. Hard hat divers nY__ y c7 T0'd


helped with the underwater work. Many divers workers were drawn


from skid row and wine districts of New York or Philadelphia.

Iaping them sober was a major task. Mr. Flagler, a teetootler ---h-tA6

Aid but
ordered~A no liquor was a-e.pder in the camps, A few of the key -westerns


and as the natives were called on the islands had a taste for


a good and extra dol r. a dig m k2


21









A.W. L;^Iris

e ctwVSooP they
money peddling rum to isolated railroadV gm. became very wary


of Mr. Flagler's foreman. -___T e L <^ S.


or diving overboard just t- -e stick of dynamite. They rn' -
of brought
proceeded south.Miami towards Key West coal burning locomotives ,froo


Homestead in hugh cypress tanks, thousands of gallons of water. V-P-


month's requirement t of 4 million 500 thousand gallons. Trains rarely

to fi 01 dt
exceeded.thirty-five to -ifive mile per hour4keys themaives never


crossed a bridge faster than fifteen miles per hour. One island,CBayahandaj,)


so different from the rest of the KeyS _ome claim that it ws P -edA he


Appalachan ridge on the mainland, cut off .;er ancient turmoil of ap.


S.S heavily wooded with pine trees,fresh water ceasta l ~ -~vE a rarity

Some
on other Keys. claimed the cost of the Florida East CoastCxtension

as n-'
to Key West was twenty million) Others as much^thirty million. AThe


afternoon of January 21, 1912, the bridge f closed a cross span over


Key west trestle. Made it possible for the last trains to go all the way


to Key West. The pilot train with a small crew left MatchKey to test the

fine
now road and find it in .... condition. Although this train was marked


with little fanfare, it was e~e. cilly the -first one to enter Key West.6^.

Special -t0-.1
January 22, 1912, the train called the extension a-. MNii'mi early that

22


























,At6i 1y


A.W. ERKINS

morning to carryAIorrison/o Key West. The engine and its tender carried

five passenger cars filled with notables. On the rear of the trainjFlagler's

1 // his
own private car called the Rambler, built to.specification in 1886. It was
finish
truly a luxury 1i2 r on rails. Much of the exteriorwas polished brass


Ad lurdUuard rail on platform. The car was wood construction with

ppp qLUPPf WlTq signal
a peer sheen. t 4-h.. -team and lines and air brakes. Citizens

-t4"' tU4L a4uZW
of Key West were extatic with joy on the afternoon ef-thic trail ide. -


Bands played, the mayor spoke, the ships in the harbor blew their whistles.


The whole town en-jeed itselqa three day fiesta. Estimates were that a

crowd of ten thousand appeared that day at the arrival of the train. A great

many onlookers had never before seen a train. Mr. Flagler left thetrain


aCnd he stepped jo the platform, many children threw flowers his path

and sang songs. They said that tears streamed down ite nearly blind old
He said,
H said, the children,
man' sface.."I can hear but I can not see them." Railroad service
.-r~e-0 P. a" TD Al Y-7 .
between'Havanna and New York hbrcam-a regular operation.just after the

celebrated entry into Key West. Ta t92 1912 Ul4 a newspaper bof&re /


ar -) Cl steel fast limited train service between/Aew York by the Florida

East Coast Railway, Atlantic Coast Line and Pennsylvania Railroad in connection


23









A.W. ERKINS lIJ.


with the Prudential A5taiont-t e lpsiry. TFoaiaa daily except Sunday

011 train
and will resumAFriday, August the 2. This^carries the latest design of

and
all steel pullman drawing,^sleeping cars. It's electrically lighted


it's equipped with electric fans throughout. There's no change of cars

/IN 7-/tE V1/-7Y M/4T
between Key West and Pennsylvaia Station. /ddr; i;ip / _____

10
Z-s, t New York City. Schedule- leave Havanna at .30 AM. Arrive


Key West 6:30 PM. Leave Key West at 7:30 PM. Arrive -Jacksonville 1:55 PM


Arrive New York City 7:55 PM Only two nights in route between Havanna


and New York. We arrived in Miami about 5:00 PM. Our first .visit to Miami.


That time in 1910, Miami had a population of about 10,000 estimate. We were


vei-r a two hors victoria,)Flagler's Royal PIlm Hotel, same architectural


design as the Royal Poincianna and Breakers at West Palm Beadh. The Royal


Poincianna faced the Miami River. right next to Bizcayne Bay. Biscayne

F/ucLE
Drive, now Biscayne Blvd, ran close to the Bay. Later this was f4k3.-


Extend the land east of the Biscayne Bay. There were no bridges or causways


to Miami Beach in 1910. We crossed the bay in a little ferry to Miqmi Beach.

tip of C,
c< south Miami Beach where t-U wooden bathhouse stood. C- Ctt ftC^


61, bathing suit and -towel to take a dip in the ocean. There were no pools.

North and south to Atlantic Beach was partly jungle and swamp.
24









A. W. iiI Ii.3

semi-wilderncss
-- quite a --- i oene. From Miami Beach we took the train north to


Palm Beach. The train stopped for some time at the4little town of Ft.


Lauderdale. We strolled around the then business center. Avenue and


Andrews Avenue from New River Bridge north. There were very few buildings

sheet
on Andrews Avenue. Some with.metal fronts and many vacant lots. The roads

in Ft. Lauderdale right
that came down and became AndrewsAvenue.and crossed the river.at the bridge


of New River. This road at that time or street rather was oiled in the


middle and there was no curbing or sidewalks. At least very few sidewalks


as I recall. The deep and seemingly mysteriously blue river _______


intrigued me .-s ma~atr f fo&b, someday I would return

after my
and see it all. This I did in the winter of 1919 discharge from the

In winter of we
army. 1910, spent the balance of the season in Palm Beach. Ohe may

Received t 1
wonder how .any education in schooling at all.An all this travel.

S jtd-,' for some time
in florida and other places. I btec special courses inschool^each year

my -ing
long before we made these trips. Tried to keep up with school. and

on these trips, c
my class. Every day _my mother would teach me and ple me


by books given by our school principal" at our high school in Cincinatti.

but not
I kept up fairly well with the class, \Very easy at times.










AVERKINS


In the winter of 1914 at Palm Beach, I finally decided that I would take

this September
up the course of architecture. I started course in.1914 at the college

at Cincinnati
of applied science, In 1914, until I was graduated in June 1918, I didrnt


visit Florida. The summer of 1918, my dear aunt Mrs. C@Qk4e- died. Of course,


her husband, George Gerkie, my wonderful uncle was greatly bereaved as was


all the family.Right after the funeral Uncle Jw4 said to my mother, "Ida ,


you must come over and look after me and look after the house. Mother


leased our house fromcl__ in Iyde Park and we moved over to Uncle


Georgh's house. My mother, my sister, and myself. My father had passed on

him.
in 1910. Uncle George was happy to have us with yf. ///$F /ff/4{r// /





S/ /I // / / In Degiitr-of 1918, the Army called and I


spent the fall at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, The War ended in November


11, 1918, I was fortunate in being quickly discharged, and returned home to


Cincinnati, fy uncle's home. In late January(1918,I decided that I would


return to Florida and see some of the old haunts of my boyhood. I went direct


to Miami__ Palm Beach. Miami Beach had grown a great deal, but after


looking it over, I decided that I would go up and visit the town I liked so

Ft. Lauderdale.
well, I did sunbathing at Miami Beach.
26









A.'. E2KINS


So while I was recuperating from the severe burns, it was time to return and


see the Ft. Lauderdale area. A hugh, red-cdored bus left Miamipt ten AM for


Ft. Lauderdale,It had a cnhzIp -ea top and no side windows. It was called

// his
1 Swaggetty's Bus.of Ft. Lauderdale. Mr. Swaggerty had thris little bus station

7lw-- just A QCA
garage and service station on Bne River. %Kext to rather near to Andrews Bridge.

A large sign
above the garage and service station said, "Swaggerty's Sudden Service."
N rw^ (eu -t4aK 1!-r
(A-a-na arrival at Ft. Lauderdale, I strolled along Breeker Avenue TheJpe o.r

j t
-r-t fh -in Street -Ft. Lauderdale. I had lunch at the Old Gilbergotel and


checked in. The Gilbert Hotel was THE hotel in Ft. Lauderdale at the time.


The town was very quiet at noon. A few Model T Fords parked on ~rickle Avenue.


I looked into the windows of several real estate offices, and became interested


in buying some land. I spent some time in Ft. Lauderdale and met quite a few


realtors and businessman, among them Mr. Reed+ Mr. Hoyt, and Mr. Die, his

partner in real estate. Mr. Carl, the bank president r. Joiner, and a few

others, I have forgotten. One day in Mr. Hoyt's office, two men from Nebraska

and Iowa came and said, "Can we see the ocean?" They never saw the ocean.

I joined them in Mr. Hoyt's car. We drove to the beach. There were a few

houses along Andrews Avenue, but there were few houses from Andrews Avenue.

to what is now later called Federal Highway. There's no bridge over the/River

at Federal Highway1
/;>7









A. W. ERKINS

site at that timy Kow the site of the Hunter Iur;ay Tunnel. I noted few

houses and finally came to the area of future Venice.s oe mt Heavy

gangroves swamps lined the road on the north and south. A canal ran along

the road > The road was built by dredging the canal. u ch

of the sand and fill were used to build the road bed. We came to the old
--.- {]tA

wooden bridge across 7 sound and crossed over to Fr. Lauderdale Beach.

The men from Nebraska were intranced by the view. One said, "They say it's

all salty. I can't believe it. They walked out to the beach to the water's
in the surf
edge. Got their feet wetand stooped over and cupped their hands and tasted

some of the sea water, and returned to the car saying, "Yep, it's sure salty."

We were at Palm Beach the.winter of 1920. An uncle of mine from New York

joined us and we decided to go to Long Key Fishing Camp to try the deep sea
a cA(rLC-LV /S5L t
fishing. Long Key is one of the beautiful Florida Keys. Wa-e~4n d-the
setting
South Sea^atmosphere. A great spot. This was my first time to return to the
since
Keys, I made thr, trip from Key West to Miami and Palm Beach in 1912.

Long Key fishing camp was built and operated by Mr. Flagler's Florida East
were r /
C oast Hotel Company. Accommodations several long, wooden structures

painted yellow, same as Mr. Flagler's hotels. These buildings were used
I J-ro to0 ;
during the construction of the Key West Railway, and moved alon-Key and
the hiA- T00
rebuilt byFlorida East Coast<^Company. Acal rooms and a large lounge

and dining room, separate from the rooms) &ll set among hundreds of coconut

trees.on gleaming, white coral, sandy beach. Its beautiful sea water

28








A.W. EiIrI;

varied according to depths of the shallows and channels variation from pale

green to mauve and indigo blue. Someone said of Long Key, The Anu-mh-f--the

[T 3 whie ed white all day, -,her.i.tr rnftg burn white all night. There were

fine charter boats for fishing. On the northwest part of the island, and part

of the Bay of the Gulf of Florida. We had great luck out in the Gulf Stream.

SA IL-
Pa1e fish, Gruper, Jew fish, and so on. Somewhere around noon the passenger

train from Key West to Miami stopped at Long Key. As I recall, this is a

local train. Key West to Miami. It did not always carry a diner. The train

stayed in Long Key at the station for about half hour to forty-five minutes.

A few natives there referred to it as the Baracuda Special. People of the

train going into the large dining room for their luncheon. They usually

served fish. Many times they served Baracuda. California Baracuda

in some other areas of the country are fairly good eating. The baracuda

along the Atlantic Coast or the Gulf Stream area can be a little strong and

fishy) and full of bones. -travelers returned to the train) S saw many of

them picking their teeth, and we would laugh to onselves and say '"there are

the baracuda pickers. Picking the bones out of their teeth. This was slightly

exaggerated but made an interesting story. Early morning of early March, we

left Long Key) .e-4ed got off the train at West Palm Beach. My uncle continued

on to New York City on business. That is my uncle from New York. I stayed over

night in West Palm Beach and the next morning early ordered the long, bar ge-

\J\
like boat to cross the Everglades to Lake Ochechobee) y- the West Palm Beach

The craft
Canal. was comparatively new. Long probably seventy-five feet.
29









A.W.ERKINS

length and about twelve or fifteen feet in width. The open sides and roof

over the ,!j on top. The whole trip from West Palm Beach to Lake Ochechobee

was not particularly interesting, rather boring in a way. Miles of high

Everglades grass land. Occasional so-call islands and small -... voting of

trees pines and palmettos. I had never been in the Everglades area. As
^[^~S calsr i OPeC Lr*
people know today, the Everglades t" ..cr x..+ ...4 .. from the east to west

Sou 0 IT r 15
coast and from north to south. Summ vast, sackless land of high grass.

Everglades grass. Other areas contained a great deal of forested area. Old

/ time tropical rest. They are above the media area of the Everglades, and

do not flood as a rule in the summertime. Late in the afternoon we arrived
-ed
at Lake Ochechobee. We crossed the shallow lake. And dock at Moorehaven.

We spent the night in a small, old fashioned gray hotel.with several others

of our party.on our way to Ft. Meyers. About eight AM ,W6 boarded the old

cabin cruiser for Ft. Meyers. Quite a sizeable craft which probably carried

about fifteen or eighteen people3 M'ostly on the upper deck forward. It was

(cf-%(& Ci 0'. o-a- VC.< e k
a beautiful day and the scenery lovely and alluring. The L.uRkahattchee iver

started outa comparatively narrow stream. As we left the lake going west
pine
the scenery changed from grassland to and Palmetto and some oak forest.

In the jungles of that area, -".c aw them-pu" thousands of birds)

r1 n many alligators. At La Belle, just east of Ft. Myers for some reason

UW)et; Tpl""e-I
I do not recall we left the cruiser and we in a black, rickety old

bus mctineAinto Ft. Myers. I spent a few days there, checking into the fishing

and hunting possibilities y uncle from New York wanted to return there in the

3o A











fall of 19209 for the winter to spend hunting and fishing days.

I then took the train to Jacksonville and to Cincinnati. Late in November

of 1920, I returned to Ft. Lauderdale and purchased 300 acres of Everglades

land/ Just west of the dXyj,- little farm town o4- Davy. About nine or

ten miles west of Fr. Lauderdale. Paid twenty dollars an acre and incidentally

sold this same land in 1925 for',500 an acre/ at the top of the boom.

Some luck! By 1931, after the great boom collapsed and the great damage

done by the hurricane of the September 8, 1926, prices dropped drastically.

And believe it or not, got the top price for similar land in 1931 was $25

an acre. About December the first 1920 after I purchased this Fverglade

land, I boarded the Florida East Coast train at Ft Lauderdale about eight

thirty AM, and arrived in New Smyrna about three PM. There I had to wait

a half hour or more/for the orange junction train att-le train, west to

Orange 6ity junction inland. On the main line Atlantic Coast Line.




Arriving at Orange City junction about four thirty or five o'clock. Then

out
a long wait at a very small little station^at the Pine plants. Fortunately

here, there was a small little shed stand next to the station that served

soft drinks and sandwiches. After some snacks, we sat around and waited

until 9 PM when the train from Jacksonville and-Tampa and St. Petersburg
land
arrived. We arrived at Lake) about eleven PM. I left the train and

stayed over night at a hotel. The next morning I boarded a train

to Ft. Myers about eight-thirty AM 4-iVt --d uov (i

31








AU. Lr:iII;. SIDE TWO
Sf, drn( VWLk U6
W3) modernn travel what-i-t-e conaideroa- today but-4t meant to cross Florida

in those days. There was no Tamiami Trail. No direct line across South

Florida coast to coast. This I found as far as I know 4ad the best way to

crosver ta Ft. Lauderdale -Palm Beach to St. Pe tersburgk Tampa area

the west coast / n 1920 at Ft. Myers, my uncle from New York met me

and joined him for quail and turkey hunting and fishing/in the Taloosahattee

River and at the mouth of the Hoosahatchee River in the Gulf of Mexico.

My uncle had arrived shortly before that from New York City. And we spent

the winter of 1921 in the Ft. Myers area hunting and fishing in a model

T Ford, especially equipped for travel in the Everglades, in the vast

pine and palmetto patch east of Ft. Myers and southeastI And into the great

cypress swamps. A few days after my arrival occurred probably the most

important part of my young life. I met my dear wife-to-be5 Miss Charlotte
C4a tt~
Halter. Her mother and brother Julian had arrived that fall from their

home in Ft. Wayne, Indiara I purchased a winter home on .the Kaloosahattchee

River west of Ft. Myers. They invested in citrus and farm lands. My uncle

had rented a fishing boat for the winter. The owner was to conduct the
for him. from
trips fishing, My uncle and I had great times fishing that boat in the
C C
Kaloosahattchee River. We go on down to the mouth of the Kaloosahatchee

at the iulf of ME shooting ducks and catching fish We would take

along Charlotte ft-her and her friend from Ft. Wayne, Indian~a, Gertrude
r duck
Dandron, and also Charlotte's mother and brother/on river trips huntingg

and fishing, rnd up the cool lovely orange river,
32








A.W. ERKINS

east of Ft. Myers, a branch of the river which flowed into the Kaloosahattee.

This was still quite a wild, eefi-tropical river, but excellent fishing and

quite a bit of game along the shore,and here and there citrus groves. In

roba -
1920, the Kaloosahatchee River quite a wide river, as you know, was literally

alive with ducks, seemingly millions of them. Hunting was a cinch. We-were

not considered legal .so we understood later to shoot ducks from a power boat.
I o &t kh o dl^o c- --A
but we noticed hart many boats did and nobody ever enforced the law. We'd

shoot a few ducks, catch some fish, go down the Kaloosahatchee River to

b
the south tip of beautiful Sanibel Island, and there go ashore and

cook our lunch. Sanibel a! you know, is one of the finest shelling areas

in the world and certainly in the United States. I left Ft. Myers about

December the twelfth or fifteenth to return to my home in Cincinnati -for
High
Christmas. Charlotte, Gertrude, and my uncle ^ rode me to the stations

for the train. As the train pulled out of the station, I looked back,

and saw them waving to me. And I saw lovely Charlotte. I said to myself,

"you're coming back this winter of 1921 to see Charlotte." In early January,
t 'ant
my mother said to me one day, I to go to FT. Myers ene-day and meet that

charming, lovely girl hat you talk about so much. We arrived in Ft.Myers
very lovely
in early February. We put up at the^old Royal Palm Hotel on the Kaloosahatchee

River right near the center of Ft. Myers. Gertrude, Charlotte, and I were

together a great deal. My uncle had to go to Europe on a business trip,

so he left the boat and car with us the model T Ford. We would take the

boat and Marcus, the oatman, go out on our fishing and hunting trips.

33









A.W.ERKINS

on the river. Charlotte did not care about firearmaand she wan a good

sport -We-tpied to shoot ducks and did fairly well. The ducks were so
at times
thick when they took off from the water that one had to

&Vt- ( 4 couple
just fairly jt t point the shot gun in that direction and plow away a

times and usually +hey hit a duck and brought it down. One day out on the
C-
aloosahatchee River I shot at a duck and broke its wing and it fell into

the water Marcus, the boatman, pulled the boat up alongside -- the

flopping duck in the water. I called to Charlotte, "pull it out Cha chi

and twist its neck. Poor Charlotte looked at me rather disconcerted.
the duck around
Good sport, she reached into the water grabbed the neck aoi 04U, k-p

twisted it around, and broke its neck. Sheet looked the other way. I

don't think that she ever forgave me for that act. There was a pier

from the near the center of Ft. Myers extended out into the river. Well,

certain nights they had a little orchestra out there that played music for

dancing. Charlotte being a superb dancer,,studied bea t-and-ballroom o '

dancing we had a great time with some of the other young people Ob

on this pier. We would take Uncle High's Model T Ford and drive down

to the beach at Ft. Lauderdale I believe it was abEt- twelve miles.

Before reaching the beach, off to the right where the ferry crossed over

to Sanibel Island, there was a charming little shack operated by a coal-

black negro woman. She called herself Swine-and Swine prepared the most

delicious seafood that you can imagine. Her clams were outof this world.


34











ai4-we were down there quite often enjoying them. We had heard about

Naples, south of Ft. Myers- /hat charming wilderness island of Marco/

nearby. So a group of us decided to go down t4 explore that area.

The road to Naples was not oiled. It was very narrow. The white patch

shell. It was semi-wilderness area of pine and palmetto. The distance

from Ft. Myers to Naples was around thirty miles. Part way down from

Ft. Myers on the west side of te road I saw settlement called Estero.

It was a i'ada- community ofreligious order. A communal life area.

A very large,rame general store and trading post. Barrack-like

buildings forest land of fine citrus groves/ and farming land. These
A V3 e
people believed we lived inside the earth. gat m were inhabitants

in the earth) like living in an egg.a4 when the day of judgment came,

the earth, our egg, would open up to the heavens. The sun was in the

center of the earth. It had a dark sice and a light side. Warm and cold

side. The moon I do not recall their explanation.on that. The leader or

one of the leaders of the R~ unk Community was sort of a minister, quite

an interesting man. Seemed quite intelligent. They had a booths at the

Ft. Myers Fair. It was very interesting. The center of the roof from

the ceiling hung a large globe, cut in half, and opened up showing the

world inside/where they said we lived. It showed the earth as a map~, elly.

a relidf map. This was the first time that I had met Mr. Silverfriend.

We had quite a friendly discussion/about their belief. I did not want to

be critical








A.W.ERKINS

but I said to him you say the sun is in the cdnter of the earth, the egg.

He said, "yes". I asked too many questions about his Karussian community.

What the people did there and aout how many they had. We returned to the

subject as the distance to the sun. I said," since light travels at the

rate of 186,000 miles per second, mathematical figures show- 4Ma-the sun

-"lrd be 90 million miles from the earth. He gave me some explanations of

scientific that I never did understand. I know something about it

though. And he had my name and address For several years after that

I would receive a Christmas card or a note from him. I don't know what

ever happened to the cKarussion Colonry. We had several

days stay Naples/ at the old hotel the big/frame yellow-painted

building said to have been built in 1890. Naples was a^charming, little

old place. Very lovely beach. An old pier that reached out into the

gulf of Mexico7l Wome still fishing. B t-w-f years later the west

end of the Tamiami Trail ran east into the wild pine flats about

four miles, read 4to the great cypress swmps. There at the edge of

the swamps a hl~eoew road branched off to the rightI southeast -nt-e qo

the vast mangrove swamps to Marco Bay. Seve-al wood bridges spanned

a few small channels on the way to the ferry to Marco Island. Marco was

a short distance across the bay. We put our Model T Ford on the ferry.

The only way to reach Marco 4aa-4 y.car. Marco Island was probably the most

unusual island in Florida. Part of the vast wilderness of the ten thousand

islands of the southwest coast of the Everglades. Many Botanists and Zoologists

36








A. W. EiKINS

came from all parts of the world to study the unusual plant and wild life.
said bW I\D
Some to be found there and nowhere else. We were told by some of these

scientists One of the rareities of Marco Island was an area of small

mounds f low hills all made of clam shells ages old. Archaeologists claim

that they found one or two fairly well-preserved skeletons among many other

artifacts. They claim that one of the skeletons was over seven feet FOa~-

seven and half feet tall estimated to be 12,000 -c. 15,000 years old.

These were found buried in these large shell mounds. The archaeologists
minimum 0h ~ mounds
said these ancient ones gathered ormol4R clams wkth the shells, were

formed there by many centuries of clam digging and eating of the old Indian

tribes and prehistoric people. The hotel was two- Story. With porches

around the first and second floor. Old fashioned but comfortable and clean.

men
Excellent sea food. It was always fairly filled with fisher and a few

hunters. Very few other tourists came in, such as we did. One never knew during

the day or night 4ven at two or four o'clock in the morningwe'd be
boat
disturbed in your sleep by a shrill whistle. It was a tug Bm
9 that had been
towing a hugW barge or twoloaded with tons of fresh clams dredged from the

wild gulf waters along the 10,000 islands. This was a signal

announcing to the few nativesr- idEn-t and year round residents to gather up

clam-packing lan-to start work. Packing the clams to be canned and shipped

to Ft. Myers and there by train to the eastern cities. I remember well the

name of the company was Doxy and thtrey e-astill fin F plans on the market.

Where they come from now, I don't know,, I rather doubt from the 10,000 islands.

37









A. W. ERKINS

These natives or local residents were called Holy Rollers) /,any of them.

They had a simple white frame churchand we went one evening to their services.
we thought)
We stood^inconspicously in the rear, but the minister spotted us. jhat

hell spouting off. He shouted to the girls in our party) "All your paint

on your faces and you r fancy cloves ain't gEboF get you to heaven. You'll

go to hell fire." Then the people started to sing and spoke in the many
-A- 'A ca. C.
unknown tongues, and they rolled on the floor. Some sat in a trent"

About that time we left. narrow sha llw road ran from the old weathered
Kactsampus
trading post and grocery and store south inland to Camp Ampus, an old

fishing village. I should mention the hotel. It was a frame building

two stories high, painted yellow with porches around all four sides

first and second floor. Very nice,attractive little dining room. The

rooms were comfortably clean and the food was excellent. Delicious sea

food. We were told that the hotel was built in the 1889~s. Truly a

charming old place. It faced on Marco Bay and had a little docking place

for boats. -eti-t-a few boats could be chartered for fishing. Some of the

finest tpfpi4ca fishing to be found anywhere. Years later, we would go

over from Ft. Lauderdale almost every April for the wonderful larpon

fishing in the channels of the Gulf of Mexico and in Marco Bay. Marco had

beautiful white sand-packed beaches where at low tide one could drive your

car on the hard-packed sand and shell. Truly a remarkable island and a

beautiful place! Thriving for years while the rest of Florida was out

putting up buildings and developing the land. The main reason for the

38









A. W.ERKINS

lack of development of Marco Island no fresh water. Wels driven were
orA iron tinted.
salty and brackish The natives had tanks and cisterns to store rain water

from the house roofs. Eventually a water pipe line was brought in

from near Ft. Myers area. The lovely island of Marco was finished. A very

wealthy developer who developed lands in other parts of Florida moved in.

Cut up much of it into building lots and now its old charm is gone.

Wildlife was nearly finished The wild pelicans and other bird life were

greatly diminished. High-rise apartments and condominiums take their place.

Sad indeed that this island was not preserved by the state or government.

as a national monument or national park. It was so unusual and beautiful.

It was part of old Florida, cient Florida. On the island were manyrazor-

back hogs. Some say from the Spanish ships that docked at this island

and left these hogs there. Also, a lot of tame little deet. With regret

we left the beautiful island of Marco and went back through Naples to Ft.

Myers. About the middle-of March, Mother and I returned to Cincinnati.

My uncle was setting me up in the manufacturing business. He thought that

there was more future in that than in architecture, which proved to be true

as the years went on. Architecture of Cincinnati was dominated by a few

large firms. I considered starting out as a draftsman in architectural

design in two or three of these firms, but when I found out the salary

they paid and opportunities were rather nil due to senior members, I

thought my uncle was right. I enjoyed muchimy architectural training.









A.W. Erkins

I received a degree in architecture from IOhio College of Applied Science

in Cincinnati in June of 1918 before I went into the army. The company

tfat we called Midwest Glass and Manufacturing Company. We fabricated

mirrors mirror plate, engraved mirrors, furniture mirrors, bathroom

mirrors, and so on. And eventually automobile glass. We manufactured

most 6f the automobile rearvision mirrors in that day,1921. The so-called

cozy wing, the wind deflector for open cars attached to the wind sheild.

I did some special body designing parts for General Motors which

turned out to be a very nice business. In May, Charlotte and

her family, on their way to Ft. Wayne stopped for a visit in Cincinnati.

Charlotte stayed on to meet my Cincinnati friends. We became engaged

and we were married 4i November 9, 1921. My uncle was a keen businesswc.AA.

man ,Believed in severe training, so purposely he left in the business

a debt of $23,000 to one of the banks. This to me was a whale of a lot

of money. And he said now it's good training for you to work enough

to pay this off. Well, it was a struggle, but many ways I enjoyed the

business and the challenge. The worries #-we4k and responsibility/-

o- hard work upset my-ho4x so in late July they packed me off to

northern Ontario, Canada5 to a wild lake region called Tamaugamee Lak9

V- t t , -1. Lo a C"a,
feCe-to spend six weeks canoing and fishing te regain my health.

One the way to northern Ontario, I stopped off to see Charlotte.

And we made plans for our wedding in the fall. We were married at an

40









A. W. Erk ns
in Hyde Park)
old family church^ St. Mary's Catholic Church. Uncle George could no

longer travel well and was getting older and doesn't feel too well at times,


~e wanted us to be nearer in Cincinnati~ a hold a wedding breakfast

ehere at his own home. He was very fond of Char lotte and was very happy

when we decided to take up his offer. After our honey moon, two weeks

at the Grand Canyon and two or three weeks in Southern Californa and southern

Texas, we returned to Cincinnati just before Christma s. Sometime after the

middle of January 1922 we returned th1erou Ft Myersr.-Ft+r-w an and Ft. Myers
-^-
area. Model T Ford ready for hunting trips into the Everglades and around

the big cypress swamp country. In winter much of the Everglades on the west

coast is comparably dry. The sand and soil packed tight from the

summer rains. Model T was ideal for such travel. We were seldom stuck in

the sandarl or marshy soil. If so,the most ~i-a the car and with

quick pedal change from reverse to lowmnd the help of a little pushing and

pulling, we were able to extract the car from the sand or marl very readily.

We put up at kquirrel-pen paster- ranch deep in the Everglades/ and nestled

oaks and
in a heavy graoth of Palmetto, cabbage palms and a few ci, i;*)f1a pines.

No other ranch or habitation for miles around. This was great game country.

Wild turkey, quail in abundance, bobcat and deer country. Quite a few

cattle wandering around. The old Florida cattle. The cattle would distress

a western rancher. Their ribs showed prominently and one could practically

hang a hat on their rear hip bone. About five o'clock in the morning, we

would start out of the grasslands near by and at dawn we were

41








A.W.ERKINS

placed on a rising of-heavy tropical growth. We were told to sit very

e y and to listen for the gobblers that would rest in the tree

where the birds nested in the night. When the turkeys flew out of the
trees,
we could shoot them. Well, we waited and waited. The sun came up a4

ab e nine 40 no turkeys. They were all over on another island near by.

The turkeys were very fast runners and flew occasionally. We just
no
had luck with turkeys and I never shot one. Of course, I never cared

much for hunting so I didn't really a whether I got a turkey or not.

Quail were different. They were so abundant. They were everywhere.

LL t
You could practically kick them off the ground. Squirrel-pen past'--or

ranch house was a rough-' frame building built up four or more feet above

the ground to protect against the high water in the summer ad for air

circulation. The ranch had three or four bedrooms,T Some packing crates

weP, -dou;e and two iron cots less than six foot long, ,o mattresses, /ust


Blankets on the springs and blankets for cover. My six-foot-one frame
(9-
didn't rest well on the five-six foot cots. Everglades nights in the

wintertime can be quite chilly. By two AM with no mattress under you
were
you^really chilled. Breakfast was the usual;: bacon, eggs,

and potatoes. Our lunch we packed and carried with us/on our hunting

trips. For supper \:cB- \c ai Uc



grew there in that country by the thousands. One day, late in the afternoon,

several of us drove in a Model T Ford to one of the islands. We spread out. IA









A.W. LnEI.;,

Charlotte and I went over to a nearby island where we were told to sit

until dusk. yhen the turkeys would come in and roost in the trees and

spend the night. Well, we waited and waited and no turkeys. We had seen

many of them that day in the distance but they are very, very hard to approach.

tAnd not within rifle or shot gun distance. By now it was very dark and

no moon. We decided that we had better return to the island where some

of our party were where the model T Ford was located. We walked down the
js
slight slope of the island to the grassland? Here the grass wae two to

four feet high, but we knew our way along a game trail/to the Model T

Ford about a half mile away. Suddenly, Charlotte stopped cold in the path/

and froze dead still. She said, "I can't walk this trail any farther.

'I
I'm deadly afraid of snakes and these big rattlers. Well, she was nearly

in panic. So I said, "Here, carry my shot gun and yours and get on my back.-

So we arrived at the Model T Ford with me carrying her piggy-back

much tolaughter t "a -iii Charlotte is a very calm and

composed person and never panics. ~.- tin- One day we decided to drive

the Model T Ford to a large island area near the ranch house. This island

was probably about five acres. Several feet above the grassland, a ist

jungle, hugh cabbage palms, palmetto, enormous oaks, draped with Spanish

moss. Large pines and many sub-tropical trees, including the tall, stringy,

wiLd orange trees/ with their rough knotty thick skinsY/and very bitter

to taste. This island had swamp








A.W. ^aIIs

in the centertwith large, moss-draped cypress trees. Still brackish,

black water. Large, logs-at desolate in the shallow bottom and on the~ogs

several large alligators sunning themselves. On the banks of the marsh/

or swamp are hundreds of alligators of all sizes. Large ones and little

fellows. All was still and quiet as we approached. Then, he ordered to
from a
stir them up. One of our party opened up with a blast shot gun,

and all bedlam broke loose. /ugh alligators on the logs dove into the
little baby
swamp and caused ^waves that caused the alligators to msh

into the water. Not all the little fellows got away. we grabbed some of

them with their snapping jaws. Then, threw them back into the swamp

and left this ~a-rj scene. About mid-March we decided to go to
A--
Palm Beach at Ft. Lauderdale, driving over in the Model T Ford. Swo days
X e.'t;
before we left, a-~Isky man I knew sometime in Ft. Myers. His name was
in
Jimmy Valentime. He had a bakery at Ft. Myers, one Ft. Pierce and one

in West Palm Beach. When I told him about our driving to Ft. Lauderdale,

he said, "not at all necessary to drive all the way up Seabring area and

east to the Dixie Highway and down the east coast to Palm Beach Lauderdale,
O
you go east to LaBelle thirty miles you have been there straight through
c ,^e,L Drops down&^(_
LaBelLthe road that is paved ends suddenly. becomes a meager

so-called road.It's an Indian wagon road. A forest service ranger road o

trucks. This road runs for many miles across the Everglades to the

Kissimmee River and then to Ochechobee Cit on to Ft. Pierce. Very few


know about this road so-called or use it. I do,at least, twice a month.

44









A.W. ERKINS

I have for a long time. It's dry and OK and passable in the winter, the
in "'o
dry season, butsummer it's mostly warm. I never go over that way by

summertime or during the heavy rain. By all means go this way. It's

a vast tropical wilderness. You will see much game. -At some Seminole

Indian camps. We left Ft. Myers about 7 or 7:30 AM. We were rather

thoughtless and somewhat stupid. Carried no water or food. We had
in the Model T Ford
some snacks, little snacks,^a few crackers and cookies and a little

candy and some pocacola. The road so-called was something. Just passable,

I would say. Mostly two ruts in the grass. The ruts were hard-packed.

Hard packed marl. We were only stuck in the sand two or three times. A a-c

Xo trouble. In some areas, It "l resemble, somewhat of a road.

Had no little grass growing over it. And the whether i--good and dry.

We were in a wild, beautiful area. 8rtege of a half mile or so of

five-foot-high grass. In the little squalls, and then to higher ground.

Large tracts of heavy growth. The tall cabbage palmsand ages-old moss-
huge
draped oaks andpines. About noon we saw a Seminole Indian walking in

the road ahead of hs. As we pulled up near him, he turned to us with

a pleasant smile and said "hib.' We stopped to talk to him and he spoke
0o
fairly well. He told us that his camp was a short distance off an island.

As I mentioned before the islands are high ground covered with h eavy

vegetation. We invited him to get into the car. Instead, he stood on

the running board and we drove to his camp. This Seminole Indian wore

the customary Seminole clothes of the time.
45









A.W.ERKINS
S had
He had a small alligatorT hespeared. He carried a long spear tipped

with some kind of metal with a red ribbon wrapped around it. He alsoZ

carried some bows and some arrows. He said that he and most of his family

and others there in the camp could not afford firearms/ or to even buy

the ammunition. He wanted us to meet his family/ and see the camp a
lived there,%t-
permanent one. quite a large one we thought. How many Iyf/ / I had no'

idea. So many were away fishing and hunting. A number of children

and women were around the area. He took us to his house so-called. Six

stoutYcabbage palm posts in the ground) probably ten, twelve feet high.
four
which supported a floor about feet above the ground. About every

four or five feet above-another floor Then a thatched palm roof.

The first floor had all the valuable~personal belongings in store and

also, foodstuffs. Number two floor, the sleeping quarters under the roof

was probably the family living quarters. I judge the structure to be about

twelve to eighteen feet maybe -a a little larger. I recall seeing several

lengths of old canvas and so forth that would roll down from the roof. Tkv-~r C

Ue'rfTarge cast iron Rettles hung on wood tripods above the cooking fires.

He said they were cooking squirrels, deer meat, and sometimes fish. He

offered us some dressed alligator tail skinned, of course, and smoked.

._e said, "no thanks." Later, I was told by Everglades alligator hunters `t-

Alligator tail is really quite good and very much like lobster. We never

tried any. We had a very interesting visit with these friendly Seminoles a

atv gave them most of our pococola, candy,and cookies to the children.

46








A.W. ERKIN8
At times,
The*, we continued on our drive east. I{$ t'f/3t the road branched off

one left, one rights for a distance and then joined again. Eventually

$$came to a north-south road. We crossed this road to a large, old,

weather-beaten building a trading post and grocery. They told us they

served a few district ranchers3 whrt alligator hides and so forth from

the Seminoles. They said the road started north/ somewhere/probably, -

around Sebring and went south to Moorehaven en Lake Ochechobee. We

inquired about the road going east. They said about the same/ as you

have been over from LaBellre We purchased a little foodstuffs, soft

drinks and drove on Our friend in Ft. Myers Jimmy Valentine,

had told us thcir a a man at the trading post We would in a few miles

reach the Kissimmee River. Here, we would se, a small, strange stragg3y

pine trimmed its branches like a flag pole which it was. A faded ,

ragged cloth about three foot square was attached to a rope at the base

of the pole. The rope ran up to the top of the polelthrough a pulley.
Make
An old faded, rustic sign said," Pull up .flag, Xe Horn, Makes Ford

sound for ferry." We did. After twenty or twenty-five minutes, noth ing

happened9 although we sounded the horn many times. The Kississmee River

(DO
here is a very quiet, narrow stream. Probably, 4ee to 125 feet wide.

Across the river from the flag pole, and nestled in a grove of mango

and citrus trees nd a few pines W saw the weathered roof of a cabin.

No sign of a ferryman. We had visions of sleeping in the Model T


or maybe having to return to the trading post. Finally, a man appeared

47









A.W.ERKINS

on the bank and hollered, "hellot0 A porry-looking, rickety scow -ar

sray it was called, sat on the water's edge near shore. The old man
barge
got on the ferry. With a long pole, pushed the.ferry to our side.
man eaLd 4-
The ferry, then, was really something to behold. Ragged clothes, x long

black beard, gray matted hair, under a hat that had seen better days.

No shoes. His bare feet were matted with muck and dirt. I looked at

the ferry with a fishy eye and said to Charlotte, get out and walk

aboard." I'll drive the car uner the ferryA There are no guard rails.
seems to rock a lot.
That scow ~// /p/ /$/X / So in case it rocks and the car ts

over, I can jump out and you are safer on the barge and you can swim

if necessary. I gingerly drove the Model T/ on the rickety tub and she

swayed a little, but the Model T held firm. The old ferryman pulled us
we
across the river. On reaching the other side, f drove off the barge.

I said to the ferrykan, "how much?" The old cracker said, "five dollars

We gladly paid and drove on and finally reached Ochechobee City/on

Lake Ochechobee. Here we had our fist good road, narrow paved Ft.

Pierce, arriving there at seven PM. Twelve hours from the time tha- we

had left Ft. Myers. Aext day, we drove down to Ft. Lauderdale/ and
A

registered at the Broward Hotel. MWe -1 we had many good times aiT. Myers.

Happy memories. We decided that probably Ft. Lauderdale would be

the place for us to locate in the wintertime. A few days after our arrival
Ho,t-
one day Mr. Hoyt said to me, "you remember the Browning Grove as it was

48









A.W. ERKINS

called on the west bank of the new river above town here a ways? Twelve

acres, a great deal of it of grange and grapefruit grove? Yes, I re all

that well. Well, he .said,"it's too bad you didn't buy it. as you

know, it belonged to the family of the Browning Machine gun inventor."

He told me that the grove had been sold some time before. I forgot what

the price was. Facing the river was a very interesting, nice, rather new

frame cottage. Very close to this cottage on a little dredged inlet

into the land near the orange grove was a hugh craft which was very old

and weather-beaten, with two decks. We went aboard and looked around
T\\L \^;ou) -\&a{rO '
this old craft. '2rrture was very interesting and -r 'vell preserved.

In the forward part of the boat was what you would call the grand staircase

up to the second floor. Here in the forward part of the boat was

a lounge and dining room combination, quite sizable., ,Yery ornate old

carved wood. Very much weathered. There wqs a sizable kitchen, whereas

on a boat it is called / galley) adjoined the dining area. On the lower

deck were several rooms for the help cook and his helper, and .any

members of the crew. .Also, storage space. This odd, barge-like craft

had no power of its own. It was towed they said by probably a steam tug)

along the inland waterways of the east coast of Florida> andit is

believed out on the Florida Keys. It was owned many years ago probably 1\.

the eighties and ninties by the famous Affor Joseph Jefferson. I

thought it rather distressing .that.he this wonderful old historic craft

rotting away. I had a vision of doing something with this. So we had

49









A. W. ERKIHIS

a boatman look at the craft. He said that the hull was in pretty poor

shape Probably could be prepared. The upper structure was in very good
lWvt he
condition. I asked Mr. Hoyt if they thought fthat they would sell the craft.

He said," I don't know. I rather doubt itT the new owners. He made a-

but they said no ot interested." I had visions of doing some
rehabilitation
on this craft,towing her down and placing her along

the north bank of the new river, right near the center of Ft. Lauderdale.

I thought that it would make a nice museum piece and a business opportunity,

too. It was large enough for a small restaurant. It would draw a lot of
Since
tourist attention, but fate did not have it that way. they would not sell

and the craft sat there and great hurricane of September 18, 1926, she
) p 18,926
was badly wrecked. We looiced around at F. Lauderdale 5ut--th~ e buying

some property and finally decided we would not do so at this time. I had

to return to the factory at Cincinnati, '" left Lauderdale sometime in

late March. We remained at Cincinnati until early August. Business was
so
good. everythingg looked well, ,I took Charlotte and we went up into

northern Ontario Lake Taumaugamee where I had spent the summer before.

We had a grand time canoing and camping and bass fishing in the lakeP.

We returned to Cincinnati about the first part of September. My mother and

sister had gone to the beautiful Homestead hotel at Hot Springs, Virginia:

and they telephoned u s to please come down. Uncle George could not

well travel anymore and did not care about it) so he says, go-head We

50









A.l1'. e-,' 1 j7

--HAl A------Qt4 Bulldog at that time quite an automobile e*d we drove

to the homestead.and spent about a week there. With the many hotels that

we have been throughout the world the Homestead is one of the most choice.-i,(-

Georgian Colonial structure with the atmosphere of the old South, superb

food, golf, tennis, horseback riding and noted 1ot prings hot pools.

We drove to Washington and spent a week or so and then on to New York for

about a week. We then returned to Cincinnati. I was very busy that fall

and early winter. By late January, Charlotte and I decided we'd go back

to Ft. Myers for a brief stay. It turned out to be more than a brief

stay. We went to Naples and Marco fishing, some time at the beach, and

played a little golf. In mid or late March, we decided to go to Ft.

Lauderdale so we took the bus up to the Se'bring area down the east

coast to Ft. Lauderdale. where regist.- c~a at the Broward Hotel.

One night we went to the &Rh only movie in town -the Queen Theater,
-half Aw
on a narrow, one^block long walle-street, which connected Andrews

Avenue with Brickle. Brickle was still the main street of Ft. Lauderdale.

She Queen was a dirty, dingy, faded old gal and smelled musty. Probably:

seated about two hundred. There was quite a crowd in the theater and

we had to sit in the front rowt to strain our necks looking up to thnovie.
A

Suddenly, Charlotte said, "a cat or cats or something are running over

my feet. Well, they were not cats; they were rats rnd big ones. We

immediately left the theater and walking out we saw Mr. Hort the realtor.

51









A.W. ERKINS

in front of the theater. I said, "Ye, gods, what a theater' Why don't

you build one?" lie said, "Why don't you?" I said, "You know, that is

an idea." I sort of forgot I said, but the very next day he took up to

see some vacant lots along Andrews Avenue and east on Las sllas
ose bj'C 6 probably,#----
from Andrews Avenue There a sizable vacant lot, 100 by 150 or

200 feet deep. Acrods the vacant lot on the west on Andrews Avenue was the

new Broward Hotel. He said it was for sale and belonged to Mr. Tom Bryant.

I asked the price. And he said the latest he heard was around

$12,000 cash. I said, "Get in touch with Mr. Brynnt. Next day, Hort

said the price was $15,000. I said," It seems like the boom must be on -

quite a jump!" After a couple of days,we decided that we wanted the lot

and we would pay $15,000. Hort went to see Mr. Bryan and he said, "The

price is $l8,000." "ye,gods," I said. $18,000 for a vacant lotC?" Lots

of vacant lots all around. I smid the heck with it. A week later Mr. Hort

told me that Mr. Bryant's price had now gone to :20,000. One day, Mr.

Hort said, "Would you be interested in building a theater with me?"

I said, "Well, I will consider that." Mr. Hort owned a lot running

directly on the Andrews Avenue across from the Broward Hotel. This hotel

was built in 19Y) or 1920. The lot had : sizable cottage on it, which was
office.
the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.- We finally agreed as to thAvalue

of the lat. nired to put up in cash, in escrow at the bank)one half the

value of the lot as agreed, although I h d graduated in architecture

I had no license to practice in Florida.

52











We engaged a very nice architecture in Miami to work with meoi /rom the

start of the plans. The building to be three stories as office space

above, and on the front, ground floor, two stores. The taeter to seat

801 persons with a large stage to care for road shows and so forth lOK'-

an orchestra and balcony, to be called the sunset theater building.

We immediately organized the Sunset Investment Company Corporation.

Each to put up cash in the company account to pay for the construction

as estimatedoas building progressed e more cash was needed, we would

add to the account individually. We hired George Young, the best of a

few building contractors'here in Ft. Lauderdale. He agreed to supervise
6 V v.' 0, U) p?^ ^t-^'c-'- ^w,
the construction of the building o-Mtrhe 'iogft. tn. We would pay

him an engineering fee of $3.50 an hour in addition. In late April,

we returned to Cincinnati. Sunset Theater plans were completed by the

last of May. In early June I returned to Ft. Lauderdale, and construction

was started. After about a week there, I decided that since land values

were starting to boom in Ft. Lauderdale th4a- I had to be down there

sometimes like in the Fall and Winter, it would be well for us to buy

a small houce. Rents were going up. Hort had one house under construction 'V'
6d-

Beverly Heights Subdivision. Beverly Heights? Oh, above ten feet above

the surrounding area. High for Florida. The house was a nice little

concrete block structure. About a block and a half from th' new Edwards

Max5 Hospital. As construction, the theater was going well. I returned


to Cincinnati about June 15. On C-h~ way north the thought came to me
53


A.W. L}~r.









A.W. LE.-IJ

"Am I right in building an 800 seat theater in a little town like

Ft. Lauderdale? The town was growing and from its opening did very

well. During the boom years, business was really big, but I arrived at

Cincinnati~Charlotte said, "Well, Purty, Dear, I am pregnant. I thought

I was before you left. The baby should arrive sometime after the middle

of January~ 1924. I was elated. And she was hoping the first would be
LE_ .sd "'If it's a boy,
a little boy, but any child would be welcome, Boy or girl. Shc said, PI

want to call him Robert\ Uncle George's health had been very poor for some

weeks and the kind and generous, dear, old gentleman died/ on July 22

in his seventy-first year. October the first we leased our house to a

friend for the winter of 2 and 24. We decided that Charlotit should not
to Ft. Lauderdale A, Cincinnati with me.
drive '/W /U/W/ U / It would be better fr her to

take the train later on. The roads were only fair to poor. 'iheir were

no motels, occasionally a small cabin court, ,fabin courts were rather

sterotype, boxlike affairs with one very small room. Baths n.d

-lts were unknownlin most of these cabin courts. Mast had outside

toilets known as chick sales. I did not wish to drive alone, 0o Mothers

Chaueffer joined me for the trip. The Dixie Highway was far from a

highway at that time. paved to Williamsburg, Kentucky, through the famous

Bluegrass Country. o Falla, Tennesseeall gravel road. We stopped at

two large interesting hotels in small towns of Georgia. Spacious rooms,

a hugh lobby in one of them. I do not recall or have notes on this hotel

o-f-rhe town. Large dining room and gracious service by the negro waiters.

54







FLA PERS
A.W. ELkins

abundance.
Food in A room in this hotel was $4.50 for the r Complete

dinner cost about $2.00. Just south of Jacksonville, the road was all brick

and very narrow. Many of the brick had broken loose, and it was pretty

bumpy. Judt north of New Symrna/we left the brick road. 4a4 for quite a

few miles the road was very low and shell road. The heavy rains had caused

the roads to become a virtual canal.' some places nearly a foot deep. South

of New 'Smyrna, the road was partly paved but very narrow. There were

stretches where the road was all white shell. On Thursday, October See

fifth, we arrived at Fort Lauderdale aftcr five days of traveling the

ei-dometer on the car showed just over 1200 miles. Construction of the

Sunset Building was going very well. We had the formal opening on
A-
Christmas night, 1923, with a capacity crown Many standing on the

sidewalk and in the foyer waiting for the second show. The mayor gave

tbhe opening speech about the beautiful new theater and very modern one.

He said taLe-Ft. Lauderdale can be proud and thanks to us for such a fine

building and a big asset to Ft. Lauderdale. We hired a professional

musician from New York CityYto play Et- orchestral I f this was the

silent movie times, he would dub in the action on the screen, such as

ring a bell for telephone scene, clap on coconut shells for the sound

effect of horses on the gallop6 He played music according to the screen

action. The Sunset had a standard stage Lnd a beautiful, fireproof curtain/

p -0 painting of Ponce de Leon in full Spanish armor, a1Jp' on the


ground under palm trees with flowers in abundance. Near him was a spring

55









FLA PERS A. U, ERKINS

of pouring water \ fountain of youth and few lovely gins dancing around. \

Sunset had dressing rooms for the actors and an orchestra pit. Under the
,nc proof,
stage was a large concrete waterstorage area. On the night of January 19,

the noted Colburn Hinistrels put on their show. It was a big hit. ie

returned to our house about 11:00 PM. And at 5:00 AM Charlotte called to

me /I better go to the Edwardn Maxwell Hospital. I think Bobby is ready to

arrive.' I rushed her to the hospital one block away. The baby was delivered

about six P Dr. Edwards came to me and said, "Charlotte has had a

wonderful baby. He told me that she had come through fine. Then| I said,

"What was it' boy or girl? He said,"Oh, it's a boy. Bobby." In

March 1924, I returned to our house and my factory in Cincinnati. Charlotte

and Bobby arrived in Cincinnati in May. We spent the summer and fall in

Cincinnati. In the summer of 1924, I bought acreage by telephone just

north of the edge of Ft. Lauderdale, adjacent to an old road, zater to be

the Federal Highway. This acreage was close to the present Sears Robuck

Store. I paid $1,000 an acre. Shortly after, I wondered why. $1,000

an acre! A lot of raw/pine and palmetto land/ and nothing on it.

However, land was booming and booming in Florida. hey held on until

August of 1926. I then, sold the land for $49,000 cash to commadore

d.E. Packer. He was commadore of the ryckerBocker Yacht Club and the

New York City Yacht Club. I did not bem4-te Commadore Packer until

the winter of 1927. We became friends for many years. Commadore Packer

eventually left New York City. He settled at Et. Lauderdale, Florida.

56









FLA Pers.
A.W. ERKINS


Later) when we discussed Palm Beach, I told him I had been in 4eet Palm

Beach starting in 1905 for a number of years. He said, "tell, I was there

at that time. Of course, I am old enough to be your father and I don't

recall you. so we had many times talking over the good old days at Palm

Beach. He was an attorney for the early railroad. They would send him

to Palm Beach in one of their private cars. ha? he had a very nice

yacht. Right after he settled in Ft. Lauderdale, he and his wife were

separated/ and he lived in a very lovely home in the Idlewild section/
near
the/ ay. He had a fine fishing boat. He spent many hours out in the

Gulf Stream. Comma dore Packer was eytr- ore of the truly great characters

of Ft. Lauderdale. After the great devastation of the hurricane of Setember

1926, the ensuing collapse of the great boom and the very bad, baddy days

that followed economically in Ft. Lauderdale and all of Florida Commodore

Backer, a kind man and a generous host)found his home found his home truly

a host for a lot of his friends, and some not particularly friends, just

plain morchers. Also,, in the summer of 1924, I thought by telephone

several residential lots in a new subdivision going up called Victoria Park

next to Beverly Heights where we had had nur small house. I paid from $350
cash
S's500 per lot according co the location, in the summer of 1926.

I sold all but two lots around $4,000 to $5,000 a lot. Another break

of luck. Y4t ahead of my story. One of the lots had been purchased by a

57









FLA PERS A.W.ERKINS


man in Cincinnati whon knew very slightly. He unfortunately, like so

many) bought lots at the highest prices. He bought them on terms Most

of eaJ sales were cash. In 1930 ad 1931, some time after the great

market crash of 1929 he owed me a few hundred dollars, balance of payment.

I went to call on him in Cincinnati. U had a nicd friendly discussion.

I said, 4, you were unfortunate. I am sorry for you but there's

nothing I can do about what happened in Florida. He agreed. He said>-r
vi CA 0 O ,
something like will you settle for a couple hundred dollars? a;ve made

a lot of profit and I would. He gave me I think two hundred dollars.

I had one residential lot left in Victoria Park. 7axes per year were
6< by
somewhere ~4P 4 $4200. Lots were selling from :200 to "350.theng>bit after

Couple of years of paying taxes, I got rather disgusted, brt-I sold the

lbt for $3000but I had been very fortunate coming out way ahead on FrlhfT
I Florida
profits aqd^dealings. I do not claim to have been so smart or had the

foresight. If I had, I could have made a vast fortune)buying up land in

the early yearstand selling it during the peak of the boom. -Al4he.gh I

was lucky in this respect >I was busy at the factory during all of 1924;

that summer and fall. During the summer of 1925, some friends of Ft.

Laudeedale rup-up to Cincinnati were telling be stories of the fabulous

prices of land in Florida what was going on. Of course, I had heard

a lot of this. Friends had written to me about all the building and land

sales. I was so busy at the factory. Business was doing well. I was

58







FLA PERSS- A.W.ERKINS


drawing a good salary. le-thtght occurred to me that this didn't

look very sound what was loing; on in Florida, bu4t zfte al11prices were

skyrocketing9 from day to day. The finer boys were reaping up. Too many
certain amount
people were in debt. Most property was sold on ,down and the balance

over a period of years. What profit they could take out of their nales

was put right back into high price property. And, the boom collapsed

and eventually they were broke. Only a few fortunately came through the Y) 8

land boom free of debt and with profits. In middle of January about that

time, we sent Charlotte and Bobby to Ft. Lauderdale to our little house

their. I could leave the factory for while so I went down

/7arly February. 4Lother was iniS. Lauderdale when I arrived. She

had bought a lovely lot over an acre at the end of T n Terrace on the

New River about two blocks south from Las Ollas Blvd. This lot had
e Hammershe
six-hundred foot of river frontage! 3m New River and Hemachee Canal.

and a private yacht hbsin on the northeast part. The lot was surrounded
-Thu old oaks,
by about two-thirds water. i y hd hug old r.:- .adroed oaks

and native cabbage palms. Tru ly, a delightful spot. She built a lovely

Italian Spanish Villa and called it Casa Sonriendo, smiling or happy house.

She gave me an idea of what she wanted house to be lght so I drew her

brief sketches eevation)and house plan. We hired a local young architect

and he and I worked out the details. He'd draw up the plans according to

our ideas. e built the drive that circled in rom Tarpon Terrace to the

main entrance2 and a few tile steps up to the main door? Aitryway into

59









FLA PER-S A. 1. L .KIS

a large, two-story ceiling hall of Ge~eli- type. The hall looked up

o southwest part of New River. --waB-.the left of the hall a stairway

to the second floor with hanging balcony leading to north and south bedrooms.

On the balcony to the right were two bedrooms and two baths. one bedroom

northwest had an open porch,a zodiac with awning roof. At top of stairway

on the balcony to the left, a large master bedroom and bath with a zodia

facing the river. northwest of the master bedroom a bedroom and bath.

I should mention that the house was rather U shape/ with one wing extending

to the northwest and one wing to the southwest. Mother had the grounds
patio tropical
eventually beautifully landscaped, with a placid ,type c setting with

a fountain. To the southwest a beautiful large royal palm. There were

FALt coconpt trees of various sizes numerous native cabbage palms'

orange, grapefruit and fig trees a superb travelers palm' and a hugf

clinging vine/called monstera deliciosa. It had huge elephant ear type

of leaves, serrated here and there. Once every eighteen months or so

it bore fruit. Long banana-like tubes about an inch and a half thick/
covered
and about a foot long. On the surface was a thin green skin which

corn-like ernels underneath. It resembled an ear of corn. It took months

for the monctero deliciosa fruit to ripen. We had ba1 very few, but

they were most unusually delicious. Everyone thought a colonistion between

a peach, a pineapple1\and a banana. I should mention from the entrance hall

to the right north was a large dining room was-an enclosed porch off the

60







FLA PERS A.W. ERKINS

OD>V- facing the Hemmershe Canal. Next to the dining room, a breakfast room.

Next to the breakfast room, a butler's pantrynd then/ the kitchen. To

the left of the hall to the south a spacious living room/which overlooked

,new river/ south and southwest. Connecting the living room on the northeast
had
a sunroom den. From Mother's house in Cincinnati, she sent down many art

objects and paintings and rugs. Paintings that Uncle George had collected

from travels in Europe. Mostly in Florence,and ome, Italy. Later on a trip

to New York City, t purchaseA sent down beautiful oriental rugs,akn in New

York City she bought a scarlet, gold trimmed Bishop's coat, which hung on

the balcony railing/ and two tapestries for the hall walls. On the north

hall wall hung a hugh red velvet hannging with old family crest embroidered

on it. The bishop coat and the wall h:Lngin from the sixteenth century

James the second Palace at Lake Como, Italy. Construction of the house,

Casa Sonriendo, was started in early March. In 1924, thousands of speculators

and land buyers were flocking into Florida. By January 1925, the town was

filled to the brim. Rental space was at a premium. A tremendous demand
and houses.
for hotel rooms and apartments We decided to build an apartment building. ~w

February 1925, Mother had purchased four lots on southeast Second Avenue

and ninth street, one block north of Las Ollas Blvd. There we built the
ZA-
Towers Apartments. Tho U shaped building facing north on the Hemmershe Canal.
/Twelve c4 2A
three stories ^large apartments accomodatiag four, fourteen efficiency -
ce, r-cA aAIt D-C- f Tce
accommodating two. A -etthtrn lobby 4bhat- e-f"e- to the rear. Also, an

annex building, two stories to the southwest. Manager and housekeeper's

61







FLA PERS A.W.ERKINS- 35AB


late
apartment7 tore room and two apartments to rent. Sometime in^March

I returned to Cincinnati and to my factory. Charlotte and Bob came un

I think sometime in early or middle May. We spent the summer and fall

in Cincinnati in 1925. ~.l, the boom was roaring along in Florida)

I was very busy in Cincinnati. We had a fabulous offer/ on our little

house in Beverly Hills in Ft. Lauderdale)so we sold. Sometime after

a
Christmas of 19R5 I sent Charlotte and Bobby to Ft. Lauderdale. Early

in February, a neighbor friend drove down with me to Ft. Lauderdale.

The Dixie Highway that time improved greatly. Not the rough old road
it.
it was in 1923 as I recall. Starting in the Spring of 1925, Ft.

Lauderdale was jammed to the guards. Space was at a premium. This lasted

all through a good part of 1926 B -efe the summer and before the hurricane)

4br- I returned to Ft. Lauderdale in February) I had a conference with

our manager. He was quite a character, a Welshman. Het and his wife1 a

housekeeper were a very fine couple. She was a perfect housekeeper
He was an excellent manager. Personal pride in everything there. fiaf tk-lA
and
he told me he had people coming.begging him to allow them to put cots in

the halb so they could sleep. This was done in some places in Lauderdale, aQ/4

Rod Hotel had ag in the lobby and hallways. /hey charged a fabulous

price per night per cot. My manager said to the patronage, "I'm sorry,no."

Our manager's name was Fred Eiar-wh He came to Canada originally from

Enrlind. In 1924, t beard about the Florida boom. He made the great


mistake like so many did af buying some land by mail. Just back of Ft.

62








FLA PERS A.W.EMKINS- 35AB
there Lo -
Lauderdalewas an area near eapat -t-her is called Port Gresso. He and his

wife and small son came to Ft. Lauderdale. They were not pleased with the

lots they bought, but they decided to hold on. THIS IS THE END OF P- L TWO.

PLEASE WAIT TO HEAR THE 7U R'TEi : TALK ON MR. FRED KERSHAWS, THE TOWERS, AND

So ON.TIIROUGH MY STORY


"My Early Years in Florida Since 1905" by A.W. Erkins, Old Trail Ranch,

Jackson Hole, Wyoming September, October, 1973:

Sin
Fred Kershaw, having been on the stage in En7 .l n1 and.circus, knew many

quite noted, famous, old characters~ Anong them was R~eDino 4 ~- 4he

was once on the stage for a short period of time with the famous Charlie

Chaplin. Fred was a great favorite of our guests of the '' Towers
at
and he was a very goodslight-of-haldd, doing cards tricks at times, entertaining.

He and Mrs. Kershaw were with us all the years thft we owned the T'nierr s,

which from the time that it was constructed in 1925,immediately after the

war/ was probably the largest and finest apartment building of all of

Broward County. 70 to 75% of o-ur guests returned every year for many

years. Due to the boom and the shortage of living space)apartment rentals


in Ft. Lauderdale were terrific. Starting in October 1925 until the spring

of 1926, probably about the first of April, the large apartments brought

o 0-
about S700 fpr the season. The small apartments Xbout 15800. I do not

recall what we received for the hotel rooms. Considering the high purchasing

power of the dollar in those daysthat was a lot of money for rent even in

63








FLA PE1S 35AB

Florida. We were n- our home in Cincinnati in the summer of 192 _the

morning of September 19 a friend phoned and said, "Have you seen the Sunday

morning paper?" A great hurricane yesterday hit Ft. Lauderdalc. .nd. mi .

All telephone and telegraph wires down. Very little information coming

through Some lives lost, untold millions of dollars in damage The

hurricane estimated to be one of the worst ever hit the crea coast

of Florida. We had no word from Ft. Lauderdale. However, Monday afternoon

a friend got through by wire from Palm Beach. Quote: Towers Apartments

most roof off. Heavy damage by -h4 wind and water and flood. The

same at Sunset Theater Building. Casa Sonriendo, your mother's home, stood
Some
up well. roof tile off and a few windows broken, but severe
flooding.
damage to the first floor by waterk No injuries at the Sunset Building,

the Towers, or your. mother's home." The next day, I took the train to

Ft. Lauderdale arrived there on September 21. The train approached

Palm Beach. The evidence of the storm began to show. ,here -t Ft.

Lauderdale the damage became increasingly more evident. It was so

devastating th--- I couldfft believe what I saw. Many houses had their
Some J blown w
roofs blown off. Their foundations. Many trees down. Those that stood,

such as the rui. .ed Carribean pines, had lost most their needles uhy.
However,
were damaged by the salt water, most of these in time began

to sprout out again. The sturdy/ Florida cabbage palms stood like Xentinels.

just their trunkswere blown out. Many of them returned to their foliage.

A friend of mine from Cincinnati who had been living in Ft. Lauderdale

64









FLA PE2S 35AB

for over a year, met me at the railroad station. He was a purple-heart
at
veteran of World War I, a lieutenant in the Marines. Had been the

big-battles in France ttic Chateaux Series and Verdun. He said, "

Bert, it looks like Chateaux Serie and Verdun, A/devil's mess." We

walked two blocks to see the Sunset Building. The Sunset was a mess.

All windows) ad front office, were blown out. The/larquee was badly

damaged and still hanging. The roof had gone out. Host of it. Trs
through
water had soaked through ^the hours of rain. The first floor of the

orchestra was a swimming pool. All eight hundred seats were ~ek and

ruined. The Ponce De Leon/specialists curtain9 had been rolled upj -A
fortunately.
had escaped most damage although a little water damage f4G/,('// Very

little at Ft. Lauderdale ;c.~irerl the flood. Areas were exceptionally
The V a\, f
high. estimated two *F three feet nf- t4-e on Andrews Avenue, two fishing

boats had been docked in the river/ were washed up on Andrews Avenue

and one lay in the street in front of the Sunset. The Towers had water

one foot deep in the lobby,,roof off the east winglnd the rain soaked all

fTr floors, particularly on the east winlfrom the third floor to the first.

All furniture in that wing was soaked with water/and the rugs ruined.

On the east wing, all plaster fell from firpt floor down to the first floor

falling on the furniture and rugs. Damage $20,000. Several large coconuts

ofSoutheast Iinth Avenue had torn loose and battered the building, like

hugh sledge hammers. Some power light had been restoredin some areas.

Fortunately, at Casa Sonriendo, 6as able to stay there. Most ph-ncn were out.

65









FLA Pi;.:3 35AB

Large crews were at work, cleaning up the streets. Tu.' days before the

storm the weather bureau reported a severe tropical disturbanceTaround

the Bahamas/ and headed seemingly for Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. The Oldtimers

in Ft. Lauderdale knew what these hurricanes could do4 but the newcomers

there took no heed or very little heed. They did not board up their windows

for protection and other ways, such as they were advised. So the damage was

far greater than it would have been. However, it still was very bad.

Even if the storm had not hit there severely. The trees and shrubs were

a shambles. Many cowZeet were blown down. caretaker my mother had in the

apartment over the garage had been able to secure quite a few negros to help

clean up. They were busy in the yardI hauling away the trash. Two windows

in the living room were blown out and one window in Mother's bedroom.

large patch of tile at the entrance was blown off. The wind damage was not

too severe. It was the water. At the height of the storm, ;4 the caretaker
on
said that there was more than three feet of water the yard aid one foot

in the house the whole first floor. He said that he had seen two sharks

swimming through the water at the height of the storm. The weather was warm

and sunny fortunately, and the caretaker had opened all the een sand

OL-oor5 V._A
owesin the house, was drying out very nice. However, all of Mother's
with
oriental rugs were so matted sand and muck that one could not tell

one from another. lie put steel cables up between the sturdy cabbage palm,/

and hung the rugs over there. And for hours I stood Ca--f g them off with

a hose. After I cleaned off the muck as much as possible, we had to let them








FLA PE2.S 35AB

dry in the sun for three or four days. Ofr rug specialist came and took

them for a thorough cleaning. Fortunately, they turned out beautifully.

Oriental rugs are 4tew~ to sand a lot of use and a lot of wear. Fortunately,

the hardwood floors were not damaged. They wa slight warping but "- time

that settle down and everything was OK. We had to have the floors refinished.

Particularly in the living room, the furniture had been somewhat -lrnm--ed

bhr~auh-i nby the high water, but we were able to clean this up eventually.

Mother had a beautiful jr nd piano sitting in the living room towards the

southeast. under the zodia above off her bedroom. Truh the force of the

wind, the zodia where it feZedj the house, $j-a-re a small crack; and for
uaul on
hours the water, poured through down the piano. This was a mess. The

keys were warping and the strings in the piano were rusting. Fortunately,

everything was fully insured. Our caretaker and others told me that during

the height of the storm, they saw many coconuts flying through there like

cannon balls striking the buildings and windows. Beautiful Las Ollas Beach

was a wreck. The water had washed ouu Q- the high tide during the top of the
great
storm /uch of the roadway lroaing along there leaving gaps. Cars that

were parked there were washed on down -and -te Las Ollas Sound. Some of them

never recovered. The fall of 1925, Charlotte and I went to New York City.

I had some business there for the factory. We went to the ElkR Boat Works
1cAyAA 4) It4
at B~a, New Jersey and bought a fifty-foot cruiser. We christened Queen

3Er. This craft was in wet storage at a yacht basin/ just above Lauderdale/

on New River. The storage w~z. = t-o4 b4- badly damaged. Many boat sunk OA

67









FLA I'E 35AB

Fortunately, our craft had very little damage, ) nly a matter of a few hundred

dollars. How it came through I'll never know. During the height of the boom,

most bp'!le viere living high off the h1g. They spent money like drunken

sailors. Very few of them saved anything. Profits they would take

out of one sale went into other property on margin or so much down. Hence,

when the boom collapsed, they were out of luck. I could tell several stories

quite similar to this. One family during the height of the boom, bought a i

beautiful, black Lincoln Limosine. It hired two brothers, Philipinys.

One was their cook and butler and the other the chauffeur. These two were

dolled out in black uniforms with black hats and white c ffs on their sleeves.

Very dressy. A little after the storm and hurricane, they were back lc where

they started. The car was still round, but ws- damaged somewhat by the storm

and the Philipinos had left. She was a very charming young couple. He was

in the realestate business. He had come down fr-m the north a few

years before and was really booming. His name was FredIricson, I think.

He had white lettering on the side of the csr. It was a big sign saying

Fredrickson knows where money grows. Sometime after the great boom collapsed,

conditions became horrible economically. Many who had considerable money

before they came to Florida had lost it all during the big boom. Some of

them were nearly destitute. Gasoline attendants told me that at times

people would drive up and buy three, four, or five gallons of gas. They

could afford no more. Those who settled in Ft. Lauderdale in the ensuing y ,rs

68









FLA FIL :; 35AB

had no conception of the horrors of those days after the hew,

The bady, bady says. when people economically ate craw. The newcomers

and new settlers in Ft. Lauderdale are now living on ice cream and cake

and cream puffs not crow. I do not recally--th~ but sometime after the

boom collapsed, there arrived in Ft. Lauderdale a very fine man from B3ngir

Maine. His name was Merle Fog. He was rated as onf thtop civilian

flyers in the United States. He had a very fine plane. He had a temporary

landing strip/ /ay cut on East Las Ollas Blvd between the b3Ad, and the
Ane- L in just
canal mas the bay. It was tricky 1 n-ing: and taking off one
)0>i- a6
direction drther east or west) vhe he was crack flyer. Merle was

beloved by all people in Ft. Lauderdale. One day inthe winter of 1928,

It 40
he said Burt, Shrine Parade is taking place this afternoon in Miami.

H boub-mL flyinjg- iwa= iefm4aa How about flying with me to Miami 0-,1

circling over the city and watching the festivities from the air. I said,

"Great." We left early afternoon. We flew down along the ocean and, just

before we reached the Hollywood Beach Hotel, the plane started to sputter.

And he called b;;ck to me, I may have to land. I was not worried. Ljh. VtoDbo

took hee-again and we flew safely to Miami andka fine flight over the

city. When 4f!f -t4,ts air strip, he had two student flyers, phe came

to hin nd said, "Merle, I would like to fly the plane to West Palm Beach."\

This man happened to be a guest of ours at the Towers Apartments. He asked

me to go along. I had a strange feeling Bhat I shouldn't go. Why, I

69










FLA PERS 35AB

don't know. Merle said that he had quite a few hours in the air and was a

good flyer. I tried to e cause myself, but this party insisted on my going

to West Palm Beach with him. Fortunately, about that time Mothe r's chauffeur

arrived to pick me up because I had no car at the airport. That was an excuse

so I said "I'm sorry, but evidently Mother needs me for something or the

theater or someplace. I'll have to turn. I took some pictures of Merle Fog.

and his little hu:n.! .r>bat that time another student came along. They

asked Merle to fly up with him. At that time I had one of the stranest

intuitions of my life. I said to myself, "Tell Merle to please net go this

time. rA wish e to take some pictures of him 4 Xe wanted to send to his

family in Maine. I did not. I figut',- it was none of my business and 4-

4tenmei-c flyers in his plane) so I -eft. That evening we decided
Sogo
to YT the sho- att Sunset. After the show, as we were walking out, I met

a friend. He said to me "Have you heard about the accident?" I said,

"What accident?" lerle's plane was badly damaged at West Palm Beach.

We knfw nothing else, but same of them were injured. We waited a little

while and went over to the Broward Ilotland telephoned West Palm Beach/

Airpat. Then, we had the tragic news. The young student flyer was killed

in the crash. The pilot of the plane was badly broken up. Merle Fog was

in the hospital and died a few hours later. Naturally, Merle Fog's funeral

-at Ft. Lauderdale was a very sad affair, but many tdiended the services. Ie~u
accompanied \So6r
August Burkhart his body back to zaagfs Maine. We returned to

70









FLA PES5 35AB

Cincinnati s-me time in May. In early June, a neighbor friend came

to me and he said, "How w-.uld you like to join a party of four of us going

out to Glacier National Park, and a hundred-mile pack trip down along the

-Coakey Divide for the main range of the Rockies? I said, "Great! I'd

like to join you. In early August we arrived at Dalton,thewestern t_ veL_-

I-V V
c- Glacier National Park. Here Charlie HII a,, an of the great trar" fisherman

guides of the west, met us. Thi trip had been planned some months before
tf-liA^nl~'-' f^cl olJ-VH'V
and everything was settle-d After a day of getting our camping b~p together,

we were taken in a couple of c.rs by Charlie Howes fishing guide assistant.

His name was Frank Frank was kind of a character at that time3 aft he

was ;bout eighty years old 'good oldtimer e looked just exactly
,L / roodl r
like Buffalo Bill Cody. Long blond hair and blond moustache. 4~esiyw-y

His trousers and jacket he had made himselfefs deer hide. also, deer hide

mecasins. He drove ab-ut forty miles south, past one small ranch,

f- all tin~. It was a ruggCe road. We arrived about four or five in

the afternoon at a ranger cabin. There the ranger met us. And he said,

"I think I have sad nevs for you. He said the ranc1] north of here that you

*^?) VOLf, YLUC O 1 01A-
passed several miles was Lu!pp.::e to have horses here t yb i d8o?,' contract

made here some months agog but he said there is only four pack horses

and one saddle horse. He said some men from California had come in and

bribed the rancher to get our horses to him at a substantial fee.

Well, he zeuld do nothing ab.ut it. So we camped that night and the

next morning 71








FLA PERS 35AB

we started out. Frank Sheik is our guide with the pack horses and

some of us taking riding the saddle horse. I was a good hiker and

quite young at that time id been in the mountains a let so I did meut

of the walking with some of the other boys. One of our party, an older man

was not too strong and we insisted upnn his riding most of the time. It

was a rugged hike, but it was excellent exercise. It was rough/going at

times over this rough rail. We hiked about twelve or fourteen miles that

day. We came to a beautify ullwild meadow, with a lovely little stream

1pig through. Here we pitched tents for the night. We were pretty

sweaty. And I looked at that little stream and I said, "I don't like

-the cold water, but I think we'll need a bath. We went down to

the stream. We stood there looking at it. I put my toes in the water.

It was ice cold from the glacia snow above. I said, "Well, boys, there's

only one thing to do. Throw a little water on us and get seapy and then
boy
we have to get in and wash it off. Well, we did andwhat a shock in
E-,^, S ki ek K &A S &L-,
that cold water. It was very invigorating. In fact, oI -e -e?- o down

to the Flat Head River just below our camp caught a mess of trout and

brought them up. We had trout for upper/ that night. The next day

we took off early and after about five or six hours arrived at the camp

site that he had designated. We passed no habitation or human being.

Game in the mountains/ e saw- a--cXe we made camp at the Gaoar oc

of the south fork of the Flat Head .River -ae- Big Salmon River. Big Salmon


River was really a small creek/ and it tumbled down through cascadess

72









FLA PERS 35AB

down from Big Salmon Lake. It was alive with trout. Our camp was on good

sandy ground that drained well) about fifty feet from the edge of the river.

There were a few scattered pines. It was a very nice place. Here we camped

around ten days. -Made hikes up to big salmon Lake about a mile away, a

wilderness lake full of trout. The south fork of the Flat Head t -b had

so much trout in it they were ick- sardines swimming around. We never

caught more than legal limit, but what we had (?-caught thet~Pho-f us

was plenty to eat/ three meals a day if we wanted thec. One lute afternoon

the sun darkened somewhat and heavy clouds a-e. It started to

rain a little bitt and then a ztri-.ng rain blew. 4 We g there l

around the campfire and wondered what that roaring noise was -fta4-so

the southwest. Well, it was hail. Hail came down in terrific We

rushed into the tent to get out of the hail7 7t hailed for abo-ut fifteen

or twenty minutes. The ground was covered several inches tck all over.

Well, we had a grand trip. I returned with be other boys to Dalton and I

took the train back fer Cincinnati. Late Fall 1928, we returned

to Ft. Lauderdale. Shortly after arrival, Augsburg Carlton and I were

discussing one day the tragedy of Merle Fog. We agreed that some monument

should be erected to him. At first, we th ught a nice bronze tablet down

on Las Ollas Blv. near the Bay. After some discussion on the matter,

we said "Well, why not an airport in memory of Merle." We knew that

the old, little nine-hole golf course south of Ft. Lauderdale just north

of Davy, was sitting in weeds. We made some notes and took them to the city

73









FLA PERS 35 AB

commission meeting. Bill Reed was the mayor at that time and he seemed

quite enthusiastic. After some discussion, a meeting or two later, the

city commission voted to turn the golf course into the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

u ual We organized a
Well, it's a long story as about these things. fine

committee and they elected me chairman. Then, there was the matter

of raising the money. That was a problem We tried to analyze the cost,

but it was hard to do, so we started out on a c. np.-in. Our committee al-

^ would tag pera on the strats and call at their homes to go
and to
to the city commission meeting .see what we ceuld do ^ impress people
the importance of
with an airport at Ft. Lauderdale. Finally, after

two or three weeks hard campaign, we raised what we thought was

sufficient funds. In the meantime, we were deciding what kind of monument

we shoulV erect. The committee decided a stone monument made of natural
7 ,f
Florida(or just)rock in its pyramid shape with a block ame i k

granite in the center. And mounted on it a bronze tablet. The American

Legion of Bangorr, Maine offered to .send us down a nice block

of granite. There was t Ft. Lauderdale a very nice young man who was

a crack sculpture He was an amateur who did beautiful work. He came to

a meeting aid we showed him same photographs of Mer2lFog, particularly the

profiles. He said, "Well, I can try to model it in clay."

We said, "Great! XV A L ov-









FLA PERs 35AB


/et to work now." He said, "Sure." In a comparatively short time he had

a wonderful likeness of Merle Fog in the clay. A bae relief. he T-ers

at the time w;s a friend of mine from Cincinnati who had a large foundry

and pottery works. Glass casters. He had done considerable work for me

for my factory in Cincinnati. Automobile parts. I showed him the clay

model and he said, "I think that we can do a good jqb on that. You pack
(ife me how.)
it securelyand we'll send it on up to the factory and I'll tell tem

to get busy." Well, the bronze tablet came back in perfect shape. A

wonderful likeness of Merle! The te ty also put on the bottom in letters

a very nice inscription to Merle in dedication. We decided on having

at the formal opening of the air;: rt dedication to the monument sometime

about the first of May or a little after. A hug crowd had gathered on the

afternoon of the medication. It was a perfectly beautiful &y! The

monument was covered with a beautiful cloth and an American flag. At the

approximate appointed time, several planes circled the airfield and

the monument. I was told later that one plane came from as far away as

Tampa. They were all old friends flyersqf Merle Fog's. Thpn,

the American Legion at Ft. Lauderdale played tapB and two very attractive

girls pulled the ropes that unveiled the monument. Of course, it was only

a little airport, but it :was something thMt we hadn't had before. rad it

was used for many years by small planes only. And as years went on,

we thou ht that it was gradually developing into a major airport.









FUA P, 35AB

Now, the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. When the building of the

hugh Ft. Lauderdale International Airport was started, there was Merle Fog's

Mrnunent in the wrong place. It wuuld hinder with their flights so

we decided to remove it. August Burkhardt arrange ? to have it moved

down to the edge of the bay right next to the Las Ollas B 4-. Fn the

southeast corner. There in the winter of 1962, we held another dedication

and memorial service to Merle Fog.










FLA PERS 35AB

On May 27, Charlotte gave birth to a darling little baby girl. The

entrance to Maxwell Hospital had been closed for some time. The temporary

hospital was set up in the old Mozell Hotel, a little two story narrow-like

building and it converted into a hospital. It wasn't much, but it was

adequate. pEarly fall of 1928, UJile I was in Cincinnati, Charlotte and I

discussed the selling of our old family home. We put the house up for sile.
new
And I rmde plans for our^home out on Victoria Blvd. in Hyde Park about a

mile and a half out east of our house. The hcuse was under construction

in the winter and spring of 1929. After the christening

of our little baby girl, Mary Charlene, I left the family at Casa Sen.ende

Bobby, Charlotte, and Charlene and my mother und I returned to Cincinnati.

Our house was not completed so I moved into Mother's old home up on

Walnut Hills. I supervised the finishing of the house. Sometime after

the middle of July, Charlotte came up with the children. I had spent a

couple of weeks moving4the furniture and getting things ready for them.

The house was delightful and we liked it very much, how it worked out.

We returned to Ft. Lauderdale sometime in January 3 Several years

after the great hurricane, there were many, many residential lots which

trash had piled up. People hauled their debris there and had just

left it. The trees that had been on the lot were down. Of course, most

people who had cleaned up their property or vacant lets, but many did not.

Las Ollas Blvd. from the Venice site right on out to the Bay was pretty


77









FLA PERS 35AB

much of a mess Up the road up the center median. So several of us ene

day decided that something must be done to clean up Ft. Lauderdale and

make these people clean up their lots and relandscape Las Ollas Blvd.

out to the east. Well, we organized a committee. Once again, I stuck out

my neck and was elected chairman. We opp-inted a finance committee

and campaign workers to raise the money. Still a tough job. The Women's
very well
61ub and the Garden Club workedwith us, and gave us a let of assistance.
Ur/TjH TIE FUNP5 W'uJE wLECLE 6e-TT/l&
We saw that it would be impossible fair.th- 7J-bagining to clean up all

these lots. The best we could do was to assist a little bit dCo
East
the landscaping onLas Ollas and a few things like that. We went to the

City Commission and ; said this, "New, these lots have been dirty

and messy for years. Some with rats or snakes or beth. It's also a

health hazard. Why can't you pass an win ordinance

requiring by registered letter each :pr-perty owner whose let is npt cleaned

up by a certain date the city will clean it up and assess it against the

property. After some time, this was done. After traveling the streets

and calling on people for some time, the fund drive was going vrywell.

We were greatly pleased to find how much people thought of their town

and to clean up and to contribute something. And for those of you who

have never conducted a campaign for money, it's a rough deal. As you know,
always
scme people are.generous and many are not. Towards the end of the campaign

it was quite a struggle to get any funds. One day I was sitting in the

78








FLA PL 35AB

Sunset Theater Building4 on the ground floor ii HIrt place, a hugh,

coal black Negro woman appeared at the dnerl She was dressed in gingham

and had a bandana kerchief iro:und her head. She was sweating profusely.

It was a very hot day. She walked in gingerly and said, "Is you the man

who in the is working on beautifyin our town?" I said, "Yes, we are."

She said, "I'd like to hdo." I said, "Well, mammy, sit down here in this

chair next to me and tell me what's it's all about." She had a little

market basket. She reached in and pulled out a bandana handkerdhief
with something in it.
She carefully opened the bandana handker chief and took out

a fifty cent piece. She said something like "Well, it taint much, but it's

all I got right now. All I can afford with my children but I da want to

help you beautify our town." She said, I cleaned up my place and planted

some nice flowers." I gave her a r-3eipt for the little fifty cent piece.

I told her I know 'our committee would be very happy when I told them

at our meeting tonight. Thanked her and she left. I lost no time in

telling this to August Burkhardt, one of our faithful city workers. I'm

not sure, but I think that August was then the editor of the local paper.

At least, he was instrumental in getting a fine article on the front page

a delightful sort of an editorial, telling about this poor, old ieGrr
and her public
woman .~little donation of fifty cents. Really the publishing was rather

n
astouding. A few were very ashamed that they gave very little or nothing.

Then, came forward. several instances of those who :id not give.LU"t

There was 'one affluent couple living in the IMlrouild area.









FA PERS 35AB

I had never been able to get much money from them for a worthy cause. In
before
a few daysthe Negro woman 'ppe::ired in our office, I happened te see

them both on the street, and I said, "When are you gning to contribute to

our clean-up campaign?" ane said, "Well, I cleanup my property and that

is enough. I said with a cold eye, "You think it is? A citizen here for
burned
a number nf years?" I was really up. I knew that they spent a great
parties
deal of money an their and entertaining and one of the few families

of Ft. Lauderdale that still had some money. Other than their home in

Idlewild, they owned no other property at all. Well, after the incident

of the fine,old colored lady and she truly was an old lady, a delightful

old lady. This man came into me one day and handed me five dollars. When

our campaign had ended, I forgetAhow much we raised, but it wasn't a lot

in dollars actually, but for Ft. Lauderdale in those days it was something.

After our fund campaign was ever, there was one area that was pretty much

of a mess. This was the area around the Florida East Coast Railway

Station. We had used up all our funds and no money left so we said, "\lhat

do we do now." So we got in touch with an official at the East Coast

Railw:iy. He happ-ne" to be coming into Ft. Lauderdale. Had a little

conference with him. The gentleman The Florida East Coast Railroad is

practically bankrupt. You knew that. He said, "We just don't have the

money." If you want to clean it up youelf, go ahead. That's fine, but

you must follow our certain regulations for safety. We agreed we would


if we could raise the funds, so the campaign was over and very

80









FLA PERS 35AB

few people interested in giving anymore money, so one day my good mother

said, "I will pay for cleaning up around the Florida East Coast Railway

Station." I said, "No, you've done so much." Mother insisted se we g1t

crews busy and get it in nice hop- and planted same nice hibiscus shrubs,

some other plants, and a few palms, Pnd it was rather nice. Oneof the

great characters of Ft. Lauderdale was Commodore A.H. Brooke. He was an

Englishman. He and his sister Lad(FriasBeen) had settled in New York.

and after some years, he visited Ft. Lauderdale and fell in love with it.

I believe that he camelto Ft. Lauderdale the summer just before I arrived

in 1919. He was a terrific booster for Ft. Lauderdale. The Commodore's

story wa-t very interesting. These many e::plrits in Ft. Lauderdale. I

won't go into his history because books have been written about him and

many articles. I will say, though, that he was a trencndous help

on our clean-up, beautification campaign. Some years 'before, my
-in-law
mother had sold to the Commodore a place called Wildwood. It was a jungle

area south of Ft. Lauderdale jast on the north edge of Dania. There +wee

t almS and the key point was a hugh banyan tree or rubber tree.

It was called the million dollar tree. It seems that a multi-millionaire
to
in Palm Beach said that if he c-uld move that tree his estate, he

would give a million .. dollars. Well, it made a good story.

The Commodore gave many fine palms and plants to bbutification of Las Ollas

Blvd. and to the railroad station 'We returned to Cincinrx ati in late May

or early June.

81









FLA PERS 35AB

or early June. A few days later, Mother came up to Cincinnati. Over at

our house one day, she saie, Burx I think that I would like to go out West

somewhere on one of these Dude Ranches and go horseback riding. I haven't

been riding a horse for years. As a little girl, her father provided her

with a horse on a country place in the western hills of Cincinnati in the

area called Price Hill. Well, I checked T .-- tour bureau

and found a place out in Jackson Hole. In fact, several places. We wrote

to them anna recommendation of a party we met in Cincinnati, we came out

here to Jackson Hole in early July 1930. We went nut in a sotre route.

From Chicago, we took the train up to the Canadian Rockies. Then, down to

Seattle, Portland, and the train here to Jackson Hole. Charlene was only

twa so we left h-ea in Cincinnati with my mother-in-law. That was our first

visit to the Jackson Hole country. It was then really the Old West. We

returned to Ft. Lauderdale sometime in January 1931. Sometime before that,

some years before that I had sold my interests in the Midwest Glass and

Manufacturing Company in Cincinnati. One day, I believe it was in late

February, or maybe the first part of March, several of us were having a

gab fest in front of the Sunset Theater Building. Dr. Hendricks passed

by and said, "I thought you boys would be down to see about the sale of

the Part Everglades. One of us said, "'?Int gE7.:." Well, he rsys,"It looks

a little fishy to me. He said, "There's some group that wants to come in

and take over Port Everglades on some sort of a contract and give them

82









FLA PERS 35AB

some money for the rights to oil and gas and whatever it is. clearing

the ports something like thirr years. Well, there were five or six of

us around so we hopped in our cars and drove down to Port Everglades. The

Port commissioners were in a meeting. It was open to the po_ s we took
and listen
chairs on the side of the wall b see what was going on.

S.the.discussion. Two men from Miami were f onnr is me sort of


a plan. I well remember one gentleman, rather a nice elderly TperL-n

with good manners, very conservatively dressed. The younger fellow was rather
lo^.L o ittej 4v1 -
loudmouth callSAhat a whippersnapper. He had on very Cg-i11y clothes and he

was vdry loud and n-isy. After awhile we found out that the idea was

this. This oil company a fair sized organization, with some national.

import was interested in acquiring the oil ol-Rig rights in Port Everglades

for thirty years, exclusive rights. The other gentleman presented m very

nic but the whippersnapper, he got rather cocky. One of our group asked

for the floor and questioned the young fellow. He was really rather

obnoxious, btit after oneof our party spoke up and said that they didn't

like the idea, the young whippersnapper turned to fte r-prr"entative of the

newspaper ad said, Whoa are these fellows?" The newspaper man said, "Well,

they are all reputable citizens. Most of them are large property owners

and big tax payers and the;' have a stock of interest in this harbor. He

didn't like that kind of glared at us. I got up and made a scanty speech

against such a procedure. He get a little nasty. I mid, "YOung fellow,








FLA PERS 35AB

this group here with me are all reputable people. They hr-lp" build the

town of Ft. Lauderdale. Port Everglades is a burden on them on taxes.

in many respects. Now, we have heard a lot in the hour that we have

been here. If you make much more nine about this, we'llthke this whole

matter to court and .believe me we will'.' The commissioners went into

an adjoining room in conference. They were gone about half hour. When

they came back, they said to the oil representative, "We are not interested."

So that was that. Our group which ;iad attended Port Everglades Commission

Meeting decided that we should form a property owner's and tax association.

I accepted the chairmanship against my wishes. We publicly announced our

new association andasked taxpayers and those interested in the future

and betterment of Ft. Lauderdale for their support. Our first open meeting

was held at the Broward County Court House. T'he Court House was packed to

the door with many standing. We had great support. Ft. Lauderdale and

Port Everglades bends ere total default, principal and interest. The market


value of the bonds, if any, was down to ten fifteen cents on the dollar.

Mr. Sweet, owner cf the Sweet Building, gave us an office in his building

as our headquarters. Iany candidates for public office came to our special

committee meeting to express their views and plans if elected. The

success of our association proved to the public thatwhen the taxpayers

banstogether, he can really accomplish thinCg. This has been true through

history. Truly in union there is strength. The special committee always

attended the meetings of the City Commission. Prthe Port District and se on.

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FLA PERS 35AB

At a City Commission meeting, one member of the City Commission had what

one might say "a chip on his shoulder." He was a little critical of our

organization. Our committee did not quite appreciate this as we were all

giving considerable time and labor for our organization to procece.

This City Commission member had been recently elected. If I recall, there

was a city ordinance that required anybody to servo on the City Commission

must be a property owner. 'r investigation of ." report, we found this

member of the City Commission had some time before the election had bought

a small lot in Progrer.- ofor just a few hundred dollars. The City Commissioners

asked our opinion on certain matters. I p ]:ike about tax matters such as

our Towers Apartments. This did not set well with the City Commissioner

who had bought the lot in Progresso. He started needling me about our

profitable operation of the Towers. Something to the extent of why we should

worry about taxes. Naturally this burned me down. I said, "Mr. Commissioner,

after the hurricane of September 1926, we have steadily let money at the

Towers. It's no one's business, but I will state here. We have no mortgage

on any of our properties, and our credit is triple A rating. We pay our

bills promptly. In November of each year, when taxes are due, we pay all of

them down and in advance. You well know that so much property in Broward

County is in default on tax payments. At the end of our fiscal year at the

T-.'rsc and after studying our financial picture, we estimated how much money


we require for operation the next six months sr year. There has always

been a deficiency. Taxes, insurance, operating overhead, and se forth.

85










FLA PES 35 AB

always shows a substantial loss so we must take money out of our bank

account and put in the Trouers bank account to carry on. Still he did not

seem to be satisfied. so I said, "All right." I asked t4* City Commission

to appoint a committee of three. IAopene4 the Towers Account Books for

their inspection. Confidential, of course. Then, the -e-y could report

to the City Commission whether or not I would was tellin g the truth about

a profit or loss. The Mayor thanked me for my - cto open the books.

to the special committee. He said," I do not approve ef that Mr. Erkinn.

The operation of the T-w ers if your private affair. We have no business
/.',, operations
to know/ -.h't your /yf// fg/are running profit or less." The rest of the

commission agreed. So the matter ended. Our property owners association

continued active for some time and as usual with these sort->f organizations,

people started to lose interest because conditions seemed to improve,

which they did. I was somewhat fed up with being chairman oil several

committees. My mother and my wife thought it was great, but they .rt

that I had done quite a bit and that I should reign from a lot of this

activity. I was giving up a lot of time somewhat neglecting some of our

family affairs. I wgroel so I said that I would not be a chairman of any

more committees. They were very happy. However, in ensuing years I did

serve on committees, suchas the las Ollas Beach Committee. and the

apartment house Association which I helped orgnnize. Incidentally, the

Apartment House Associati&n was vitally needed. There were not m:ny apartments 3

86 LOVoI --r







FLA PERS 35AB

and apartment rentals a-e amazingly low. We discussed the matter

of trying to hold our rates in line. I said, "We can not fix rates

exactly. We've got to be careful or we get in trouble with the authorities,

especially the United States Government. So we all made a verbal agreement

that we would not cut rates any lower. Well, this just did not work.

Some kept their word and some did not. Some unfortunates were so hard

pressed for income in their apartments that they rented them at most any

price. So we found that conditions were so bad that there was nothing that

we could do about it. Eventually, I sold my business in Cincinnati and spent

more time in Ft. Lauderdale. By 1934, economic conditions in Ft. Lauderdale

were slowly improving. So much property there, at what they call Queer

Deeds. The titles were a mess. It took time to straighten this up. I was

not involved or interested in what was going on. I do not know the figures,

but it was astounding. The vast percentage of property was tax delinquent.

Many did not pay their taxes for long periods of time. We had paid taxes

on cur property promptly avery fall. Finally, it was agreed

that those who had paid their taxes in advance and paid them promptly should

be given some consideration. I well recall one spring two members of the

School Board came to see me. They said, "Mr. Erkins, we are in

desperate need of cash. We do not know if the schools will open satisfactory

next fall. Will you kindly consider to pay all or part of your

taxes in advance. Well, I guess that I was a sucker so I said "Yes."


87










FLA PERS 35AB

so we paid our taxes in the Spring which was not due until the Fall. A few

others did the same. Eventually, the prompt tax payer were given some

consideration and relief. Not much, but it was something. We agreed

to discount our tax bills each year around 10% for something like ten years.

We felt it was something and we had to accept it. I know of several large

property owners one in particular, as I recall. He had not paid his

taxes on hiskproperty for quite a long time) for several years. And finally,

settled on a small percentage of all the taxes that had accumulated

on his property. Well, the years rolled on. In the summer, we returned /l

to our Wildwood Home in Cincinnati and take the family WestI to National Parks.

In 1930, weAm1ade our first trip to the Jackson Country of Wyoming.

We spent most summers in Jacksonville, Wyoming area as guests at a

Dude Ranch. If February 1938, the Salvation Army approached me and asked me

if I would take the chairmanship to the Salvation Army Drive for Ft.

Lauderdale. I always admired the Salvation Army and A I/#OY$ the work

they were doing and had done. So Mother and Charotte agreed that it would

be a good thing so I accepted the chairmanship.4 Salvation Army has always

been well organized. for fund drives so I did not have too much to do

with the start, but I said look, "I will give a host luncheon for say fifty

of the leading professional and business men of Ft. Lauderdale. I will send
to
out special letters individually signed^each one of those invited, and ask

club
them to come to the governor hotel, a private dining room for us about noon.









FLA PERS 35AB

Well, they thought that this was fine. They said, "No, we want to pay fr it.

I said, "No, I will pay for it." So after some discussion, I think that

we decided to split up the bill. The governor's club hotel put on a

very nice luncheon for us at a special rate. Well, as usual in these sort

of things. Out of fifty invited, twenty-five or twenty-six of them sho wed

up. Few responded by telephone or letter, they are sorry that they could not

attend aid the others ignored it. That's par for the course. At the conclusion

of the luncheon, I got up and spoke. I know you understand why you are here

probably. Well, it's to raise money for the Salvation Army. I know this is

a busy season and all of you have a lot to do, but I have, too. Those who

so far volunteered are going to give up their time for a good cause. I'm not

going to plead with you. I'm just asking you to help. Give what you can)

but do some work. We discussed plans and I asked their opinion about it)

various matters on raising funds. The vast majority agreed and said they would
were
work. And they did. As usual there always exceptions. Few left who

did not volunteer to work. Well, again, this is par for the course. Then,

I brought out my bomb buster. Before the meeting, I had discussed with

several who had always been faithful workers and I suggested to them and they

all agreed what Lauderdale needs is a Community Chest. AS these organizations
those
were called in bhUd days so much of the country After the luncheon meeting

we continued to meet in the dining room. The majority agreed with me
ed
To make a long story short, a group of us approach.the Chamber of Commerce.


89








FLA PERS 35 AB

asked their support. During the exa61 summer and early fall, it would

start organization of the Community Chest Committee. The fine group of

solicitors and helpers we reached our goal for the Salvation Army. I returned

to Ft. Lauderdale in the fall. The Community Chest Committee had done a good

job in starting the Community Chest Drive, which was not to take place

until sometime in early February of 1939. We had a largely attended

luncheon at the Lauderdale Beach Hotel. There further plans were laid

for the campaign in February. Some of us realized that this was a terrific
sort
job. We required special experience in this of work. So after

some little time, we decided that we would do just this, and bring in a

specialist. Then it was sent to the American City's bureau, which was a
of very ~i itid
fund raising company good standing,. January they sent down a

very fine gentleman, very capable and a lot of experience and he took over

the drive with our help. I recall correctly between thirty and


forty men and women were elected to the Board. As usual, at these meetings.

that were very important at times with our campaign, some members of the

Board rarely appeared. Well, again, this par for the course. I was asked

to be president of the Community Chest Drive. I said, "Thank you, gentlemen,

I appreciate the confidence. No, I will not do it. I've had enough

thank you." They agreed so it was all right and we went ahead

with our campaign and some time in early February. The American City's
person
Bureau 's gentleman was a very fine and capable He set up









FIA PERS 35AB

the city and districts and elected lieutenants and captains for the drive.

If he had not been there to guide us, it would probably have been an awful

mess. Our goal was $27,000. One local prominent businessman said. You'll

never make it. He said, "welad difficulty and could hardly raise 325,000

for the hospital last summer and fall. Well, several of us said, "Well,

we were never even approached for a donation. It was a matter of lack of

organization for the hospital drive. We met our goal and went a little over

$27,000. Before the start of the campaign, we had nice publicity ^the

newspapers, based on Community Chest. Many people at Ft. Lauderdale

couldn't quite understand what the Community Chest was having not many

experiences or living in communities where it was done. They thought it

was organization where they could go and borrow money or ask for some

financial relieve. It was hard to explain to some of them that this was

not the case. The money was to be raised for charitable institutions,

ae had solicit ion cards. On the back of these cards we would mark down

in pencil the amount of money we would ask the individual. On one of these

cards, pencil Lmark on the rear showed $100. We know this individual
wealthy
to be very fine and generous.man who was a winter resident of Ft. Lauderdale

for a few years. He rubbed out the $100 mark and put down $500. On calling

on him, he said it was a wonderful organization and a great idea.









FLA PERS -35 AB

He worked on a similar thing in a northern city home so we got $600. We

had several fortunate incidents like this, and it made us very glad and

happy that everything was going so well. After serving on

the Community Chest Board and soliciting funds for six years, I resigned.

I was weary of asking people money even though they were d good causeS

A few times people would kid me and say what are you doing now. How much

money do you want? They meant well, but I said to myself, "I've had it."

?,\Mother held"open house." at Casa So riendo for many church and charity

affairs. At one church benefit, we had 300 to 6 people. Admission charge

was $2.00. Some local people ande many tourists. The admission sts

charge entitled you to lots of food including fruit punch and snacks.

All you wanted. Some chances were sold on something,-hct I don't recall

just what it was. Really, it was a beautiful day and every body seemed

to be having a good time in the house. And/a five cent slot machine

that we secured somewhere. The bar in the pantry was quite crowded most

of the time. One tourist friend ___ hou~ for two drinks, and

naturally expected change. One of our friends offered to be the bartender,---

not a professional. BartenderVs up to ten dollars and said, "thank you-"

It's a good cause. Everybody laughed. Tourists did not complain. This

happened several times. We really raised money. How much, I do not know.

I know it was substantial, especially in those bady, bady days.










FLA PERS 35AB

I failed to mention this. In 1931, I failed to mention this. In 1931,

Commodore G. E. Packard owned the small Boone Hotel at the Garden Court

on East Las Ollas Blvd, a few blocks east of Andrews Avenue, Sweet Building,

Sunset Theater, and the Broward Hotel. A simple, two story structure

of probably twenty-five or thirty rooms, a lounge, a dining room. Commodore

acquired this on mortgage, he held on a hotel since 1925. Business was so

bad one might say that there just wasn't any hotel business te at that

time. One afternoon in early February, we were sitting in the little hotel

lounge. No guests around. In fact, no guests in the hotel. Two couples

came in from New York City and asked the Commodore's manager if he

had two double rooms. The manager said''yes, I think, we can accommodate you."
h The man,,ager.said, t 0
Asked about the rates., $3.00 a room. The manager escorted to therooms

with their luggage. Tb bellboys at the hotel. ould\starve to death.

S Ead-e-tp- hem.l When they came down from their room, going out for a drive,


4t asked about dinner. "When will the dining room be open? The manager excused

himself and talked to the Commodore. The Commodore said, "Tell them that the

S,30
dining room opens at Sfs( PM. The manager said, "But Commodore, you know that

you have no chef or waittress and very little food. Commodore said, "Oh, we

will take care of that all right. Now don't you worry. Commodore said to

Charlotte, my wife, ad her mother. How about we all preparing dinner? Just

the four of us. le said OK. That will be fun. said, "Burt, and I will

go to Bartlett's Market and buy the food, and Charlotte, you and Alice, Charlotte's

mother










FLA PERs 35AB

check over the kitchen and dining room. before we come back. They said,

"Fine." When we returned with the foodstuffs, Charlotte and her mother

had the kitchen ready. We gathered some flowers for the hotel dining room

tables. Charlotte and her mother put on waitress aprons and we were all set.

In the kitchen, Commodore brought out a bottle of very fine bourbon and

we all had a drink P~iclde because we didn't know what would follow.

Hoping for the best. Commodore always said, "Well, hoping for the bestand

if not best, Lecond best, at least. At six thirty sharp, the manager opened

the dining room door and announced, guests in the lobby, the four of them

"Dining room open." Of course, there was no printed menu, but our charming

efficient waitresses announced what the menu was to the four hotel guests.

Shrimp cocktail. Lettuce and tomato salad. Large New York Cut Prime

Sirlinn steaks. Vegetables. Ice cream and pie. Coffee. The Commodore

wore a chef's outfit with the big white hat, while he broiled the steaks.
sincere
After dinner, the four guests said, "Our^compliments toihe chef He's great!"

Had an abundance of excellent food. We will remember this place and

I1
recommend it. Let us have the dinner bill, please. Charlotte and her

mother returned to hekitchen. and asked the commodore, "How much are you.

going to charge them?" Commodore said, "Oh, I don't know

but two dollars each. The bill was presented to them and they said,"What

a meal and at such low prices. He said, "We are very sorry. We must


meet friends in Miami tomorrow. Wish we could stay here for awhile.









FLA PERS 35AB
II
But our schedule will not allow us to return to Ft. Lauderdale. They

never knew the chef was a former Commodore at NickerBocker Yacht Club.

and a member old-time member of the famously rich New York Yacht Club.

Lad been an attorney for the Erie railroad and some of J.P. Morgan's interests.

The Commodore gradually slowed down on being a good Joe. Entertaining many

friends at his Idlewild home. He had probably the largest and finest liquor

and wine stock in Lauderdale,and that was a big attraction. He was a very

liberal host. In later years, few of any of those who accepted his fine

hospitality ever repaid him any knd. They finally practically ignored him.

Well, sich is human nature, but he laughed it off. He said, "We all had a

good time." For many years after the war we would take the Commodore with

us to Naples and Marco Island. Tarpon fishing. One April, in the early

1950'S after a luncheon at the Old Naples Beach Hotel we sat in the coconut

grove of the hotel. We reminiscenced of the many happy and interesting

early years, past years at Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. The Commodore

said, "You know, Flo rida has changed so much. To me it does not even

smell the same." Commodore Packer was only one of many interesting

characters and fine citizens of Ft. Lauderdale who help ed build the city.

and laid the foundation for future development and growth.

In my experience, I could mention many

more. Without doubt the greatest of all was Commod ore A.H. Brook.








FLA PERS 35AB

unselfish, civic worker, a legend in himself, and a legend during his

time. There are too many interesting true stories cf Commodore Brook.

Far too many for me to mention here. I will tell just one. Rather sad

story, which the commodore accepted with much fortitude. In later years,

I would have laughed it off as part of life. One afternoon, in late winter

of 1927, Commodore Brook rushed into the bank to make a deposit. His

friend from the north had arrived at Lauderdale that morning. He went

to see the Commodore and handed him quite a few thousand dollars in cash.

money he owed the Commodore for several years. Late that afternoon, the

Commodore rushed tothe bank and reached the teller window just as he was

ready to close. He hastily made a deposit of the money,saying I do not

want to keep this cash in the house overnight. The next morning about

ten o'clock he noticed a crowd in front of the bank. asked, "What's

up?" One of the group said, "Bank's closed." Won't open and I don't

know when." The report is in the hands of the State and Federal authorities.

Well, the Commodore lost most of it. The bank was bankrupt. Only pays "rl'

back small amounts to depositors. Records showed that the Commodore's

deposit was last made in the bank before it closed.










FLA PERS 35AB

I looked-back nm my early days in Florida since 1905. Of course,

I call them the good old days. Many may find fault with this old time

remark used so much, but although some of those times were not quite

perfect, well, then, what is perfect' in life? As an old friend said

\\
to me many years ago, "here isn't anything in life perfect. I doubt that

God wished to make a perfect world. Why there was even a snake in paradise.

As I complete this simple story of only some of my interesting times in

Florida, I am grateful to God for allowing me, particularly my dear family

these treasured days past, aid are making so many true and cherished friends

in Florida. I trust that I have not gone into so much detail as to lead

to boredom. So I complete this the last of my story on Florida, on his

the fourth day of October 1973. I looked out of a large picture window

of Old Trail Ranch down into the Valley of Jackson Hole. Piercing the

sky, the great, granite studded peaks of the gi gantic Geei"o Mountain

The mountain tops covered with a fresh fallen snow. The mountain slopes

array of brilliant colors,w- yellow, gold, and red. An aspen,
p &4Bronze -f
mountain maple.A $/l/lof cottonwood trees along the historic Snake River.

All framed above with the intense blue, blue sky, and so I say, "hoping for

the best, and God Bless.










97




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