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Letters December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
December 2019

Used Books, Good Bargains

Pix_LettersJump_12-19I liked Jenni Person’s article about the importance of books in a home (“Home Library Takeaways,” November 2019). And since misery loves company, there are a couple of resources I wanted to share.

The first is local: the Miami-Dade County Store, north of the Gratigny Parkway, off Red Road at 980 W. 84th Street, Hialeah. This store sells remaindered books from libraries or the school system. Officially, I think they charge a dollar for five books, although when I go to pay, it always seems to be a lot less than I’m expecting. Maybe there’s a discount for a board-foot of books, or it’s cheaper by the dozen?

Be warned that the books are not sorted at all, so you will come away with a crick in your neck, as you troll the metal shelving for treasures.

The other is a website, www.abebooks.com, a worldwide network of secondhand and antiquarian booksellers, and if you’re lucky, you can get a book delivered to your mailbox for less than Amazon charges for the shipping. I’ve had books come from the UK for less than $5, including shipping.

I’m really glad to hear that I’m not alone in my addiction!

Mike Taylor
Miami Shores

 

No Complaints from Where I Sit

This is not a rebuttal to John Ise’s column “Time to Reassert Order” (October 2019). Instead, it is an update on the neighborhood east of Biscayne Boulevard from NE 108th Street to NE 110th Terrace, which is a part of unincorporated Miami-Dade County, [known as Biscayne Shores].

I have been a resident here since 1973. Yes, I have seen high, low, and in-between neighborhood activities. Presently, a renaissance is taking place: Remodeling and renovating homes on 108th Street. A new house is being built on 109th Street, where I live. Four two-story homes were recently built on 110th Street.

On NE 110th Terrace, a working-class neighborhood, homes are well maintained. Bike riders, fast walkers, joggers, skateboarders, and adults walking children home from the school bus drop-off on 109th Street -- these are the activities I see from my library window. I smile a smile of comfort, pleasure, and safety. All is good.

New businesses have moved, or are about to, into the neighborhood.

Across from Quayside (107th Street) is Busy Bee Car Wash and Aldi market. Being built: Michael’s, Ross, Burlington, and PetSmart.

Next block north: Dunkin’ Donuts and the Fontana Shops, home to Chez Georges French Kitchen -- superior cuisine. Then there’s Three Palms Cuban Café at 115th Street. Opening soon: a new BBQ restaurant and a condo across from the Jockey Club.

At 108th Street on the east side of Biscayne Boulevard, delicious smoothies and natural juices are served by the Long Tail. Food trucks include the healthful Acai Bowl.

Along N. Bayshore Drive, also east of the Boulevard, is a beautiful and breathtaking view of Biscayne Bay. Across the bay is Miami Beach, where tourists pay big bucks for what I enjoy daily.

Yes indeed, all is good in the ’hood.

Merle D. Ulery
Biscayne Shores

 

Thanks for the Introduction, Fred!

Your “My View” writer Fred Jonas (“Red Square Rising,” August 2019) has succeeded in adding another fan to your Biscayne Times readership. I am enjoying your paper immensely, and I feel I am learning a lot about the life and times of the Miami area.

I feel fortunate to have discovered you via Fred.

Judith Marks-White
Westport, Connecticut

 

Updates, Please, on the Water Bills

I read Erik Bojnansky’s article “A Flood of Woes” (June 2019) with great interest since I am one of those residents affected by water bills from North Miami Beach’s water system.

Are there any updates as to what they will be doing? I have found this billing so abusive to the residents. However, even before this, I thought the penalty unincorporated Miami Dade residents had to pay was very unfair. If Miami-Dade County cannot provide water for our areas and they delegate to another city, then why aren’t they also paying a penalty?

North Miami Beach also has an additional percentage penalty, depending on the level of water restriction at a given time.

I appreciate your article’s information and hope to read the outcome of the city’s reconsideration.

Arabrab Somar
Biscayne Shores

 

The Historian Speaks, and Wants Us to Listen -- Closely

While Margaret Griffis’s October 2019 article on “Biscayne, Bay of Sunken Dreams” might have been interesting, it was, sadly and unhappily, riddled with errors.

The 1925 Shoreland Company map shows the Mid-Bay Causeway as “The Drive of the Campanil I., the separated “I” likely standing for “Islands.” While I have seen other references that do show names for the islands, this map, which is the company-issued map, does not.

At one point in the article, Griffis states that “four more islands would rise out of the bay.” That is completely incorrect, as the plans of the Shoreland Company, as shown on the company map, show six more islands planned, the furthest north island being named Miami Shores Island, noting that it was to be “600 acres after filling.”

That island was to be the terminus of the mid-bay causeway and was to be larger than all of the other manmade islands in Biscayne Bay (the County and Venetian Causeway islands) at the time, and was planned to be the recreation island for Miami Shores, including a golf course.

Because of the “bust” of the great 1920s “boom,” the island, known today as Indian Creek Village, was only half built, hence the somewhat odd shape of the island.

Further on in her story, Griffis states that “the Venetian Causeway is the oldest causeway in the county,” and that is incorrect. Since the free-to-automobiles County Causeway (now the MacArthur) opened in 1920 and the toll causeway named the Venetian opened in 1925, I am wondering how a causeway five years younger than the actual oldest causeway can suddenly become “the oldest causeway in the county.”

Griffis also relates that Locke T. Highleyman “loaned money to John S. Collins,” and then goes on to make it appear as if Highleyman was the main lending force behind the initial construction of what would become known as the Collins Bridge. That statement is highly doubtful.

Highleyman is not mentioned in any context in Jane Fisher’s biography of her husband, Carl, Fabulous Hoosier; in Jerry Fisher’s biography of his distant cousin, Carl, The Pacesetter; or in J.N. Lummus’s The Miracle of Miami Beach. (Lummus was one of the triumvirate of the first four major developers of what would, in 1915, become the Town of Miami Beach, the other three being Fisher, John S. Collins, and his son-in-law, Thomas J. Pancoast.)

Having written six and a half histories of Miami Beach and its northern suburbs, and being America’s senior collector of Miami memorabilia and Floridiana (61 years this past May), I must state that I have never seen Highleyman’s name related to Miami Beach.

The very next statement on that page is also incorrect. Highleyman did not introduce Collins and Pancoast to Fisher. The introduction was through John H. Levi, a principal at Standard Ship Building in New York. It would be Levi who oversaw the building of Carl’s yacht after he and Jim Allison sold their Prest-o-Lite Corporation to Union Carbide for $5,633,000 each, and he who would eventually go on to work for Fisher as his right-hand man (Pete Chase -- Chase Avenue on Miami Beach -- was his sales director) and become the only mayor of Miami Beach ever to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine.

There is also a serious omission on that page: the primary principals of the Shoreland Company (the company that built Miami Shores following the building of the Venetian Causeway by the Bay Biscayne Improvement Company) were Ellen Spears Harris and her cousin Hugh Anderson. In the Ethan Blackman book, Miami and Dade County, Florida, Joseph F. Chaille is named, but there is nothing mentioned about any relationship with the Shoreland Company.

Also on that page, Griffis notes “residential islands 8 and 9,” yet earlier she referred to “four islands rising out of the bay.” The fact is that six islands were planned along the Mid-Bay Causeway, five to be residential, and the sixth, as stated above, to be the Miami Shores Island to be used strictly for recreation.

Griffis also refers to “four wing islands,” and that is correct, but she only mentioned one of the hoped-for causeways; and indeed, the 79th Street Causeway, propounded by the great Henri (Henry) Levy, was built. However, the other one, according to the map, would have left the mainland at Northeast 54th Street and entered Miami Beach at approximately 51st Street on the Beach side.

Finally, a note regarding the above-mentioned Henry Levy. While very important to the development of primarily North Beach, Levy was not one of the “founding fathers” any more than Rose Weiss was “the mother of Miami Beach.”

Levy was a great man, but he came to Miami Beach in 1922 or 1923, as noted in both Sunshine, Stone Crabs and Cheesecake: The Story of Miami Beach and 33154: The Story of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Indian Creek Village and Surfside.

Not only did Mr. Levy propound the 79th Street Causeway and build Normandy Isle, but he also built the lower third of what today is the Town of Surfside, with the original name having been Normandy Beach, as well as Normandy Beach South, the strip of oceanfront on Miami Beach from approximately 67th to approximately 77th Streets. He is further memorialized by the fact that 71st Street on Miami Beach has been renamed Henry Levy Boulevard.

Lest the readers of Biscayne Times think that I am being picky, I assure them that they are correct, and, yes, I am, because when it comes to history, which I teach at both Barry University and Nova Southeastern University’s Lifelong Learning Institute, nothing is more important than facts and truth, and too much of Greater Miami’s history has been subverted by and with misinformation, hooey, fairy tales, fol-de-rol, and, as we would say in French, “bubbemissehs.”

That is neither right nor the way it should be, and as Miami’s senior historian, now having collected FEC Railway, Florida transportation memorabilia, Miami memorabilia, and Floridiana for 61-plus years, nothing is more important, when it comes to history (and as stated above) than truth and facts. And that is, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”

Seth H. Bramson
Miami Shores

 

Margaret Griffis replies: Dear Mr. Bramson, thank you for your ever-present interest in keeping the story of Miami faithful. As you well know, a 1500-word “Community News” story can easily spin itself into 15,000 words and more, when not constrained by space and time requirements. Many details and personages you would have liked included had to be set aside for other stories, at other times. And you’ve already written those delightful books.

As for your valid concerns about inconsistencies, I think Drive of the Campanili makes more sense than Campanil, because “campanili” is the plural in Italian of “campanile” or bell tower, which were to be features on the islands.

I too questioned why the National Register of Historic Places decided to consider Venetian Causeway as the oldest causeway in the county. I believe they included the original Collins Bridge in their thinking, which was the access bridge to the Venetian Islands before the new bridges were built. Or perhaps extensive rebuilds of the MacArthur bridges in the 1950s and 1990s disqualified that causeway as being the oldest. Whatever the reasoning, the National Register of Historic Places supported inclusion of the Venetian Causeway in the register, which I think was a good thing.

 

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