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The History of Discrimination in South Florida: Part I


By Seth H. Bramson

For those not aware, this writer is the only person in the state of Florida who presents a or the talk with the above title. The talk is approximately half Jim Crow and segregation and half restricted clientele, a term that many people, both gentile and Jewish are (though it may be hard to believe in terms of the latter, especially hereabouts, but even in such as Old Chicawgo, Neuva Jork or certainly L A or SFO) entirely unfamiliar with.

That term, “restricted clientele,” for those of you who may not be familiar with it, refers to the time(s) when Jewish people (members of the Hebrew race as the term was often improperly used, completely disregarding the fact that Judaism is a religion and the word “race” is, in that context, completely without validity, if not ludicrously used) were no permitted to belong to stay at certain hotels or belong to certain private clubs.

Once the present horror has passed, I would be honored to have those of you who are interested and who might be available to do so, attend one of those talks, which begin with the terrible years of, as noted above, Jim Crow and segregation and then segues into the topic of restricted clientele.

While we will discuss the talk in this and the possibly the next several “issues,” one of the reasons that you might want to try to join us in person—when it is safe to do so, of course—at one of the talks on this topic is because that particular talk is one of two of my “adult show and tell talks,” during which our guests actually get to see the memorabilia related to that particular presentation. (The other talk which falls into that category is our “On the Care and Feeding of a Miami Memorabilia and Floridiana Collection” during which I show examples of historic items and material related to that topic, and, like the history of discrimination talks, surprises and fascinates the audiences)

While during the History of Discrimination talk, attendees get to view the actual pieces relating to said presentation—including photographs, postcards, booklets, brochures, matchbooks, signs and other such relevant items—one of the most important elements of the talk is the debunking of the myths related to each facet of said discussion.

Those myths are just that, fables, fairy tales, fol de-rol, horse feathers and, as we would say in French, bubbemissehs, and as with the orange blossom fable, of which I have been, for many years, the principal debunker (it angered, upset, distressed and caused the primary purveyor of that nonsense, the late queen bee (no names, please—we’re British!) to go into paroxysms of near-hysteria bordering on rage when I presented the proof and facts that Julia Tuttle never sent anything to Mr. Flagler except a telegram and one, possibly two letters [we have, here in The Bramson Archive, the only two Julia Tuttle signed letters known to exist—now note the disclaimer words—in Miami-Dade County, that verified by both HistoryMiami and the Miami-Dade Public Library Florida Collection]). “And how could that be?” you ask. The answer is simple: First, in those pre 1900-days (Julia died of the influenza in 1898) when Myamuh was barely a frontier town, very few people did very much writing, and when they did write, the letters were sent—guess where?—out of town.

“So, Seth, tell us, how did you get them?” I will, and, yes, I’m glad you asked!

Several years ago I made the largest purchase ever made by a private individual of historic Floridiana when I purchased the collection of the late, great Florida scalawag, carpet bagger, lieutenant governor and massive land owner, William Gleason (no relation to Jackie). That collection, ladies and gentlemen, numbers not thousands of documents, but, seriously and literally, tens of thousands of pieces, including the two items from Mrs. Tuttle to Mr. Gleason, he in Eau Gallie, in Brevard County, that once independent town which is now part of Melbourne. (At a later date I will discuss some of the other treasures in that magnificent trove)

Yes, I know this is a substantial digression, but, and seriously, I feel and believe it is necessary to set the stage for what is to follow, that being the debunking of “the myths,” beginning, “next time around,” with those related to restricted clientele, and just to “tickle your fancy,” get you interested, have you breathing heavily and shouting for more, I will give you just one little “factoid,” which is that there were NO signs on Miami Beach or anywhere else that read “No Jews/No Dogs.”

Now don’t get hysterical, don’t get you panties in an uproar and don’t jump to conclusions. Remember, I am the senior collector of restricted clientele memorabilia in America and we maintain the largest collection of such material in public or private hands in the country (“Yes,” as the great line went from “Blazing Saddles” –Lilly von Shtupp to Shewiff Bart—“it’s twue, it’s twue!”)

While there were no more than six properties which did have signs reading “No Jews,” the words “No Dogs” were never on the same sign and if there was such a sign—there wasn’t but if there was—why is there no documentation that same existed. Capice? No documentation, no truth or factuality to that part of the story.

Okay, you in a frenzy and your tongue is hanging out waiting for more?!! We will, as the next great line, this from Captain Picard on “Star Trek: Next Generation” goes, “make it so!”

Until then, y’all, be—and stay—well, and, above all, please stay safe.

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