Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dear Santa... Please Send Books!

Just in case you're still searching for that perfect Christmas present for your favorite book addict, here's a few suggestions:

For children:

The Story of Daphne the Duck by Maxine E. Schreiber
     A beautifully illustrated and written tale about a Muscovy duck named Daphne who manages to lay her eggs in a flower pot on a fifth floor balcony in Florida. Children everywhere will enjoy reading Daphne's triumphant story. Click HERE.

Betty Tales: The True Story of a Brave Bobblehead Cat by Ruth Hartman Berge
     This children's story about a disabled cat will help children learn about diversity and disability as well as encourage them to use determination and persistence to reach their goals--just like Betty! Click HERE.

For mystery lovers:

Murder A La Carte by Prudy Taylor Board
   "...a fitting title for a book that from the first pages of the prologue pulls mystery fan readers deeper and deeper into the action, leaves romance readers aching and yearning, and avid readers of any genre—even foodaholics, drooling and hungry. The final moments of Prudy Taylor Board’s fast moving mystery novel left me gasping, and mortally afraid for our world as we now know it.” Click HERE.
Virginia B. Elliott
Author of How to Board up Your Kitchen and Cook from a Hammock and The Romantic Tomato. Former South Florida Television talk show host and frequent cooking show guest.

OR how about...

A Grave Injustice by Prudy Taylor Board says, "A Grave Injustice Corey Harris is haunted. Haunted by new relationships, haunted by old relationships, but mostly haunted by dead relationships. A GRAVE INJUSTICE is one scary read! Prudy Taylor Board turns the heat up page after page, and you won't be able to rest until you read the last word. Click HERE.

And then there's romance:

 When I Dream of You by Rosa Sophia
     This novella is set in Juno Beach (Florida) and beautifully tells the story of young Nina Archer who finally meets the man she met in a dream a year before she met him in person. Sparks fly as Nina tries to overcome past trauma and a less than perfect home life. Will she choose to leave Florida or will she stay? Click HERE.

Or history?

Pioneering Palm Beach: The Deweys and the South Florida Frontier by Ginger L. Pedersen and Janet M. DeVries says, " Palm Beach's sunny and idyllic shores had humble beginnings as a wilderness of sawgrass and swamps only braved by the hardiest of souls. Two such adventurers were Fred and Byrd "Birdie" Spilman Dewey, who pioneered in central Florida before discovering the tropical beauty of Palm Beach in 1887. Though their story was all but lost, this dynamic couple was vital in transforming the region from a rough backcountry into a paradise poised for progress." Click HERE.  
Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County: Boomer Memories from Dairy Belle to Double Roads by Ruth Hartman Berge
     A childhood in Florida's charming Northern Palm Beach County creates genuine nostalgia for sun, sand and running barefoot under palm trees. Author Ruth Hartman Berge weaves memories of a boomer childhood in Northern Palm Beach County with the history of the people and the places so many loved in this glimpse into a Florida that no longer exists."

Humor with good advice?

Elderly Parents With All Their Marbles: A Survival Guide for the Kids by Pamela Carey
     Through personal memories and humorous anecdotes, author Pamela Carey shares the lessons she learned as her elderly parents grew increasingly more dependent on assistance while they remained in control of all their marbles. Funny, informative and beautifully written, this is a loving daughter's story of end of life issues everyone will eventually face. Click HERE.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Life as a Fish

My parents dropped me off on the Florida State University campus for the first time in the Fall of 1977. It was the following year I tried out for and joined, The Tarpon Club--a group of young women who donned swim suits and nose clips and dove into the water in the fabulous indoor pool at Montgomery Gym. Performances of The Tarpon Club involved music--both above and beneath the water--stage lighting and costumes. Audiences sat on bleachers above the pool for the best view. I had a blast and enjoyed pushing myself to hold my breath underwater while swimming the full distance of a large pool underwater. Most of the other moves weren't for the faint of heart, either. Try lying on your back and holding BOTH legs perpendicular to your body. Yeah. Not easy. 

The heaters mounted on the walls around the pool would blast on cold days in an attempt to heat the frigid air in the mid-1920s building. We'd change from our warm clothing to swimsuits and walk as fast as we could across the tile to get into the heated pool. The smell of old building and chlorine clung to all of us by the end of practice when we hauled ourselves out of the pool, eyes red from opening them underwater as we practiced our routines.

I had no idea how long the group had been in existence, I just liked the idea of jumping in the water and performing. Now, I hadn't been a couch potato as a kid, but the amount of athleticism required for this sport was way above anything I had attempted to that point. (Except, of course, the swim out into the ocean off of Juno Beach to earn my senior lifesaving certificate. In the years after Jaws, the movie, it was awfully scary.)

I only performed with the Tarpon Club one year, long enough to graduate from "Minnow," the term used for first year swimmers, to a full-fledged Tarpon with a silver pin to prove it. The show I swam in was "Say It In a Word." They re-used that title a decade or so later, although, I'm not sure if it had the same routines. One year really wasn't enough, but there were too many choices of things to do in college and I ended up heading in a different direction and with a finite amount of time for extracurricular activities and sigh, studying, I left the group. 

The Tarpon Club started when Florida State was still Florida State College for Women in the 1920s. Originally, the Life Saving Corp, the group evolved into The Tarpon Club in 1937 as the swimming demonstrations grew into performances. Tarpons performed in movies that were nationally aired. Members went on to swim with Esther Williams, famous for her swimming movies. And members became Weekee Wachee Mermaids, the dream career for thousands of little girls in Florida. The Tarpons won national awards and continued shows and competition until the group disbanded in 1994. 

Alums met in 2002 to celebrate the decades of swimming in Montgomery Gym pool. It was the last time, the pool would be open for a performance of any kind. In 2004, the old swimming pool was converted into a theater for the dance department.

I may have been an active member of The Tarpon Club for one year, but I can tell you it was an honor to swim in the Montgomery Gym pool and an honor to be included as part of an organization that existed on the FSU campus decades before synchronized swimming became an Olympic sport. 

I found this documentary on The Florida State University Web site. If you've got the time, watch it all the way through to see exactly what this group was about. And yeah, there are a couple glimpses of me in the pool, but I bet you can't spot me!

The Tarpon Club Traditions from FSCW to FSU (April, 2002)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Florida Needs More People Like Leah Schad

Leah Schad, 2002
A few days ago, Linda Schad, a friend of mine from high school days who knows my absolute favorite thing to write about is Florida and Florida history, messaged me with a link about her mother, Leah Schad. The comment that accompanied the message was “Your family built historic places in the county and my Mom worked at saving it.” Well, my family only built one house in Delray Beach (the Historic Hartman House), but the legacy of Leah Schad is one that will, hopefully, impact the entire South Florida area.

Ms. Schad worked on the Board of Directors of the South Florida Water Management District; was Chairman of the Florida Audubon Society and on the National Board for the Audubon Society. Known locally as the “grande dame of environmentalism,” she devoted her life to the preservation and conservation of our unique and fragile South Florida ecosystem.

The link Linda sent me led to a article about an event held on November 22, 2014 in which a plaque in the memory of Ms. Schad was unveiled at the Nature Center at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. Why a plaque? Well, because in addition to being involved in the previously mentioned organizations, Ms. Schad was also an original member of the Okeeheelee Park Citizens Advisory Committee, and was a huge part of the development and design of the Nature Center that now sits snuggled near the northern boundary of Okeeheelee Park on Forest Hill Boulevard. It was her hands and heart that helped develop a wonderful Nature Center to truly highlight the beauty of our South Florida environment and to educate future generations about why its all so important.

The loss of Leah Schad in February of 2008 was heart wrenching for her family, but it was also a loss for Palm Beach County and South Florida. As someone who writes about little things in the history of Palm Beach County to try to bring a Florida that no longer exists alive to my readers, I hope you have the opportunity to tour the Nature Center and see what Leah Schad worked so hard to do—keep a part of our “old” Florida alive and educate future generations to respect our fragile environment before it, too, becomes something wistfully written about by people like me.

Okeeheelee Park is located at 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33413 (one mile west of Jog Road).  The Nature Center can be reached at (561) 233-1400. Hours change seasonally, so check their website through Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation (CLICK HERE).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Black Friday or, um, Thursday?

1960s in Delray Beach, Florida
When my children were small, the hottest gift for Christmas was the Razor scooter. Remember those? Shiny chrome, four wheels and a handle bar? At four a.m. on a Black Friday in 1997 or so, my best friend and I were in the crowd at Walmart waiting for the plastic to be pulled off the crate of Razors. Walmart was offering them dirt cheap and only one per customer. Both of us got one and I paid her for hers so that both of my kids could have one under the tree Christmas morning.

There’s been a lot of yelling about Black Friday this year… and it’s not because everyone’s comparing the sales. This year, like last, Christmas displays in several stores went up before one piece of Halloween candy had been devoured. People complained. Most stores didn’t listen.

This year, like last, a lot of stores are proudly advertising that they won’t be closed for Thanksgiving. As far as I can see, that’s not sitting well with the public. A few paid attention to the public outcry last year and have proudly announced that their employees will be spending the day with their families and not stocking shelves.

When I was a child, everything was closed every Sunday except the occasional gas station and we survived. I remember flying back into the United States from Europe after our honeymoon and eating Thanksgiving at the hotel restaurant. I felt bad that the waitress was there and my new husband left a huge tip—to thank her for spending part of her holiday serving us.

Since this is the United States, everyone is free to shop or not. But for me? Won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving, regardless of the lengths retailers go to entice me. Some things are just more important than shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and thank you for being a part of my blog.