RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

There is No End to the Nonsense and Slop Put Forth Regarding Florida History

By Seth H. Bramson

As America’s single most-published Florida history book author (now working on numbers 34—38, none self-published) and having become further noted for being “the great debunker” as the only person in the state who gives the talk titled “Debunking the South Florida Myths,” I expose and take apart the nonsense written by those who should know better but who apparently are a good bit less interested in facts and truth than they are in getting published, and the two latest examples are nothing other than shameful.

The first:

The woman who was the former director of the Jewish Museum of Florida had an article published in April of this year in “The Jewish Journal,” Broward edition, in which she decried the rise of anti-semitism, both in America and throughout the world and that, indeed, was good. The problem, however, arose when she put forth several comments with “facts” which were either questionable or totally false, and that is the perfect example of a horrible example of doing the wrong thing in writing unless one is writing fiction and in this case, the writing was anything but fiction and the “facts” were anything but; indeed, one of the several was questionable while the others were absolutely fictitious.

The article included a statement that “In 1955 a survey done by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith of more than 500 hotels in Florida more than fifty percent of them did not accept Jewish people as guests,” but the problems with what she wrote and how she phrased it were several.

This writer called the office of the Anti-Defamation League, which moved from Miami to Palm Beach County several years ago and the young man with whom I spoke stated their records only went back to 1960, and he referred me to the ADL’s New York office, which did not return my phone calls. But the problem is with the factuality of said survey being reported in the manner in which it was, and as the historian which I am, I felt it was and is my duty to ask the necessary questions regarding said survey.

First, where do I locate the record of that survey, especially since the Southeast Florida office of the ADL (I do not know if there is another ADL office in Florida) had no record of said survey. Second, it is highly unlikely that of “more then 500 hotels surveyed,” more than fifty percent answered in a negative manner regarding accepting Jewish guests, hence the next valid question becomes and is: fifty percent of what number; how many hotels actually responded to that survey? Fifty? Eighty-five? 115? Simply put, without knowing how many hotels did respond and did answer the questions, the survey results as stated by the former director are simply invalid. Finally, what were the actual questions involved? In order to make the claim that the survey was, indeed, valid, all three of those questions needed to be answered and without answers to them, the “results” are invalid.

Next, in said article there is a picture of a sign which reads “Always a View—Never a Jew” with the caption that said sign was “in front of the Gulf Hotel on Miami Beach.” The problem(s) with both the photo and the caption are several.

First, yes, there was a sign, but according to Ira Newman, who for some years was the archivist at the Jewish Museum (Ira showed me the sign, which was upstairs in a file or storage room of the Museum) the sign was made for them—the museum–as “an example” but was never put in place in front of a hotel or apartment building in Miami Beach or any place else in Dade County. (Your author is the holder of the largest collection of “restricted clientele” memorabilia—the booklets, brochures, photographs and postcards related to the topic—in public or private hands in America and is the only person in the state of Florida who gives the talk titled “The History of Discrimination in South Florida” which is one of seven of my 15 different talks on South Florida local and Florida transportation history which is an “adult show and tell” talk to which I bring the memorabilia related to said talk)

“But wait, there’s more!”

Claiming the sign was in front of “The Gulf Hotel on Miami Beach” was bad enough, but, as the holder of the largest collection of both Florida postcards and Greater Miami (and Florida) hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants and clubs) memorabilia in public or private hands in the country a thorough search and examination of the several thousand Miami Beach hotel postcards and Miami Beach hotel booklets and brochures did not bring forth anything showing a property with that name. There might have been one of the Florida west coast but, apparently, there was not a “Gulf Hotel” on Miami Beach, and, if there was (which I do doubt) why is there not a printed or photographic record of said property, at least here in Miami Beach?

The second:

A faculty member at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida, has just had a book published by the University Press of Florida titled Tracing Florida Journeys, in which professor of environmental studies Leslie Poole shamefully perpetuates the orange blossom fable/fairy tale/bubbemisseh, writing about Julia Tuttle on p. 149, wherein she stated “she sent [Flagler] orange blossoms by mail after the devastating freeze of February 1895 ….that were proof that Miami was a subtropical wonder free of cold temperatures.”

Not only is the fact that Dr. Poole wrote such nonsensical tripe without checking out the facts and the truth of what actually did occur following the great and terrible freezes of December of 1894 and January and February of 1895 utterly shameful, but to claim that “she sent them by mail….” Oh, lordy, there apparently will never be an end to that silliness and fol-de-rol in regard to an “event” which never occurred. Without going any further, I, not only as Company Historian of the Florida East Coast Railway but as the author of five histories of that great railroad, have explained in detail what actually did happen regarding Mary and William Brickell, Mrs. Tuttle and Mr. Flagler both before and after the freezes. Simply put, Mr. Flagler extended the railroad to the shores of Biscayne Bay not because some woman sent him “orange blossoms” (which she never did) but because she, the Brickells, the State and several private land owners gave him the land which he needed in order to extend the railroad to the shores of Biscayne Bay.

That is it for now, so wishing you all well until next time. Please take care and stay safe.

Click Here to Order Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime By “Bad” Brad Berkwitt