My parents were stationed in Miami Beach before Pop was shipped to India during WW II. He was a lifeguard, PT instructor and made training films on the beach. My parents always had a thing about Miami and wanted to go back. And I went back to Miami with them twice as a kid. We stayed in North Miami Beach where the motels lined both sides of Collins Ave, blocking the road from the sea. It was so mid 50s, kind of like going “down the shore” in Jersey except the palm trees were not plastic.
They took me on a drive through of the big glitzy hotel row, the Eden Roc, the Fontainebleu, and the Kenilworth. We never went to South Beach where the beach is not blocked off from the avenue by hotels and where human scale two to five story Art Deco buildings parade along Ocean Drive facing the water — across the drive. I went there this time, It is delightful. There is a broad grassy area between the drive and beach, then beach games, volleyball and the like on the land side of the dunes, then the beach itself. This is a beach where I can see Pop leading runs and swims, standing on a platform directing exercises (before he made a comment about a colonel in front of a mike he didn’t know was open. After that he ended up in India. I can see mom adoring the human scale deco. It’s nice knowing that these buildings are the same ones my folks saw almost 75 years ago. It is now protected in an historic district.
For the first time I understood that perhaps there is something more to Miami Beach than “Surfside Six”.