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The Bramson Archive: A Look at Some of the Gems – Part III


By Seth H. Bramson

In the last two columns we noted several items which are the oldest in existence in terms of both Miami/Dade County memorabilia and railroadiana and I imagine that, when you, our dear readers, become aware that this writer is America’s senior collector (this past May began our 61st year of collecting all this junque!) of Florida East Coast Railway, Florida transportation memorabilia, Miami memorabilia and Floridiana it becomes easier to understand the factual validity of such legitimate claims.

However, as the great expression (originally used in the Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman ads) goes, “But wait! There’s more!” and, indeed, there is “more” for the FEC Railway and Florida transportation memorabilia collections are the largest in the world: they are larger than the state museum’s collection (of like items, of course, not the museum’s entire collection) and larger than the Flagler Museum’s collection, again, of like items, of course.

But in addition to those two superlatives we maintain, here in The Bramson Archive, the largest private collection (private as opposed to the museums) of Miami memorabilia and Floridiana in the country, a collection which, in no few areas can rightfully lay claim to being the largest such that exists in either public or private hands.

Areas in which that superlative applies include Greater Miami hotel, motel, tourist court, cabins and roadside inns booklets, advertising flyers and brochures as well as Greater Miami (Dade County) postcards: six boxes of Miami Beach including two boxes of hotels, A—L and M—Z, seven boxes of Miami postcards and that is nothing but Miami, within the City of Miami only, one box each of Coral Gables—South Miami, 33154 (Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Indian Creek Village and Surfside including Haulover and Sunny Isles Beach), the Curtis—Bright Cities (Hialeah, Miami Springs and Opa Locka), Northeast Miami Dade including El Portal, Biscayne Park, Miami Shores, North Miami, NMB, Ojus, Aventura and the unincorporated areas in-between, one box of “the rest of the county plus one smaller box of Coconut Grove. All of that, however, does not included the Greater Miami area airline, railroad, bus, boat and trolley postcards, those in their specialized category areas.

There are several other superlatives, also, and particularly (and this segment of the collection acknowledged as the largest in public or private hands in America by the new American Museum of Jewish History in Philadelphia) the “restricted clientele” collection. One of my thirteen talks is “The History of Discrimination in South Florida” and that is one of my two “adult show and tell talks” to which I bring the booklets, brochures, photographs, postcards, documents and signs as well as other items which provide examples and documentation relating to the subject, a talk which is approximately half Jim Crow and segregation and half restricted clientele. It is in both that talk and the “Debunking the Greater Miami Myths” talk that I factually and with documentation debunk a number of the totally without basis in truth or fact nonsensical fables, fairy tales, fol-de-rol and utterly nonsensical myths (or as we would say in French, bubbemissehs) dealing with that topic, including such totally false old wive’s tales suc as “Oh, Jews were not allowed to buy property north of Fifth Street on Miami Beach until after 1920” which is total fabrication and “I remember the signs that said ‘No Jews/No Dogs’” which, simply put, never existed. (Now don’t get hysterical! I will explain further in the next paragraph)

There were, on Miami Beach, no more than five hotels that did have signs that read “No Jews.” IF they did have a sign that read “No Dogs” it was at least twenty feet away. And, just to make it very, very clear, the words “No Jews” never, ever appeared on any Miami Beach or South Florida hotels advertising pieces. They used a wide variety of couched terminology, but never, “No Jews.”

Next issue, then, we will tell you about some of the unique phraseology that let those of “the Hebrew race” know they weren’t welcome, so stay tuned, dear readers and we will enlighten you further on the topic.

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