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Archive for the ‘Florida History’ Category

Everglades Patrol by Tom Shirley

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Everglades Patrol
By Tom Shirley
[Hardcover] 288 pages
ISBN 978-0-8130-4191-9

Lantana Call No: Fla 363.68 Shi

South Floridians…who remembers when water stretched everywhere we looked or stepped, in the savannahs of sawgrass, as well as hammock islands of pine, palm, mahogany, and cypress, brimming with life?

Or remembers beautiful intra-coastal lagoons of lush mangrove and the fresh or sweet waters Miami, Loxahatchee, and St. Lucie rivers?

Or remembers the rollicking life of Hialeah, the poachers of Homestead, and the famous Opa-Locka airport?

Tom Shirley remembers, of course. He recalls much of it for us with gusto in his memoir of his service in the Florida Game and Fresh Water Commission, from the 1950’s into the 1980’s.

With South Florida’s urban sprawl and the Everglades in retreat, it is impossible to know of the drained wetland and coastal shelf we actually live on, its shifting boundaries with the  natural world, as well as the dangers and challenges it once posed, as the Seminoles and glades people once did or perhaps still do.

While working his own businesses and while in service with the Commission, Shirley was one of several pioneering men to re-design and improve on Glenn Curtiss’s famous Scooter airboat and recreational vehicles, first introduced to Florida in the 1920’s.  These airboats and RV’s enabled modern travel into one of the last unknown areas of the United States.

Shirley and fellow patrol officers spent thousands of hours tracking, chasing down, and arresting armed and dangerous poachers and monkey fisherman, rescuing wildlife including distressed and stranded deer and ornery alligators. When not out in the glades, he also traveled widely — including trips with his family to the Amazon.

Readers also learn of Shirley’s efforts for the restoration of the Everglades. (See his website,

See also the Sept. 6, 2012, article in the Tampa Bay Times article by Terry Tomalins, “A man for wilder times.”

Written by lantanalister1

September 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Friends of the Lantana Public Library 2012-2013 Book Discussion Group

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Hi everyone.

Here is the schedule for the Friends Book Discussion Group.  This year again we will feature Florida writers.  Thanks to Teresa Wilhelm for organizing this series.

Written by lantanalister1

November 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Hurricane info and reads to weather the season in South Florida

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Hello everyone.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene’s intrusions and recent landfalls here along the Atlantic coast, I’ve been reading more on Florida hurricane history, as well as using some of the local resources to help my family and I remain prepared in storm season. I thought I’d share them with you.

*Florida State University’s Information Institute Hurricane Preparedness and Response Portal
Did you know that Florida public libraries have served as important centers for emergency information and assistance after hurricanes? This portal has planning guides, evacuee assistance information, a searchable database with many resources, and updates:

*Fox 29 (WFLX)’s Hurricane Center
An excellent resource with local tracking maps and plots (continously updated with feeds from the NOAA) was recommended to me by a colleague at work recently. (Users can also find it on-line via any search engine by typing in “WFLX hurricane center,” or by clicking on the link below):

*National Hurricane Center
The NOAA/National Weather Service’s website — including forecasts and advisories.  Also has maps of wind speed probability an also mariner advisories.

*211 for Palm Beach/Treasure Coast

Phone Numbers: 2-1-1 (from service area) (Dial 2-1-1 for TTY/TDD Access)
(866) 882-2991 (Alternative Number)
(561) 383-1111 (Alternative Number)


Lantana Public Library also has a large collection of books on hurricane history, and hurricanes in general, including materials for children.  Here’s a sampling of them.

General history, science, and forecasting

Divine wind : the history and science of hurricanes
By Kerry Emmanuel
Call No.: 551.552 Ema

Hurricane watch : forecasting the deadliest storms on earth
By Dr. Bob Sheets and Jack Williams
Call No.: 551.552 She

Hurricane force : in the path of America’s deadlist storms
By Joseph B. Treaster
Call No.: 551.552 Tre

Florida Hurricanes

Florida hurricanes and tropical storms

By John M. Williams and Iver W. Duedall
Call No.: Fla 551.552 Wil

Killer ‘cane : the deadly hurricane of 1928
By Robert Mykle
Fla 975.939 Myk

Okeechobee hurricane and the Hoover Dike
By Lawrence E. Will
Call No.: Fla/Ref 975.939 Wil

Stormscaping : landscaping to minimize wind damage in Florida
By Pamela Crawford
Call No.: 635.952 Cra

Tropical surge : a history of ambition and disaster on the Florida shore
By Benjamin Reilly
Call No.: Fla 975.9381 Rei


Breach of faith : Hurricane Katrina and the near death of a great American city By Jed Horne
Call No.: 976.335 Hor

By Dave Eggers
Call No.: 976.335 Egg

For Children


By Jonathan London and Henri Sorenson
Call No.: C E Lon (Children’s section Fiction)

Anatomy of a hurricane
By Terri Dougherty
Call No: C 551.552 Dou (Children’s section/Non-fiction)

Written by lantanalister1

August 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Celebrating the Town of Lantana’s 90th Birthday!

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Hi again everyone.

I hope many of you were able to stop by for the 90th Birthday celebrations that were held down at town hall at Greynolds Circle yesterday.

There was live music, including Monique McCall and The Salty Pirates, as well as the Old School New School Band, as well as vendors, some really cool classic cars, play fun, exhibits, demos, and displays by the U.S. Coast Guard and PBC Fire-Rescue.  And, there was the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the New Police Annex Building (formerly the Lion’s Club lodge) by our town mayor, Dave Stewart, accompanied by various official visitors.

The Police Annex, which will house administrative offices for the town police, is the first of its kind for the town, for it is built to meet new energy efficiency standards with a grant of $217,681 from the Dept. of Energy/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (that is, Stimulus funds).  It has solar paneling, as well as high efficiency air-conditioning, increased insulation and other conservation features.

Let’s hope that our own town library building is slated next to receive some upgrading, as I was told by Town Manager Mike Bornstein that additional funds were on their way for the town and several other partner towns.

Here’s a quick list of histories of Lantana:
Pioneer days on the shores of Lake Worth 1873-1893 by Mary Collar Linehan and Marjorie Watts Nelson (Call No.: Fla 975.932 Lin).

Early Lantana, her neighbors- and more by Mary Collar Linehan   (Call No.: Fla/Ref 975.932 Lin).

Lake Osborne History by Bill Arnold (Call No.: Fla/Ref 975.932 Arn)

Written by lantanalister1

July 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Book Corner, Florida History

Tagged with

Founder’s Day at the Flagler Museum…

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When I saw the Palm Beach Post ad about free admission on Sunday, June 6, 2011, to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, I couldn’t resist and drove on up there.  It turned out to be Founder’s Day, in honor of the museum’s founder Jean Flagler Matthews. 

I hadn’t been to the Museum in years, and it was well worth the visit.  I lingered around the entrance of the original Whitehall building, designed by John Carrère and Thomas Hastings, with its neo-classical columns, urns, and bronze doors, and then also inside its front hall, with its Apollo fresco.  Not only did I get to see artwork and furnishings of the Gilded Age: This time I was also able to enjoy a new pavillion built in 2002 behind the main museum to house Flagler’s famous private rail car.  As you can see above, this new pavillion is reminiscent of an early 20th century train station. I especially loved its Tiffany clock at the entrance and the map of Flagler’s rail and ferry empire, which extended from Florida to Cuba.

 Just as an FYI —  Lantana Public Library has two excellent works on Henry Flagler:
Henry Flagler : visionary of the Gilded Age, by Sidney Walter Martin
(Library Call No. Fla B Fla), and
Last train to paradise: Henry Flagler and the spectacular rise and fall of the railroad that crossed an ocean, by Les Standiford (Call No. Fla 385 Sta).

Written by lantanalister1

June 26, 2011 at 7:19 am

New: William Bartram and the Ghost Plantations of British East Florida

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William Bartram and the Ghost Plantations of British East Florida by Daniel L. Schafer[Hardcover], 153 pages.
Publisher: Univ. Press of Florida (2010)
ISBN: 978-0-8130-3527-7
Lantana Pubic Library Call No.: Fla 975.9 Sch

Florida history lovers and gardeners will be pleased to hear of this new read at Lantana Public Library.
I just picked it up out of curiosity, after enjoying a long weekend driving trip north up Florida’s east coast to Flagler County and the coastal area immediately south St. Augustine.  While there, I stopped to visit one of my favorite state parks – Washington Oaks —  a beautiful, rustic, forgotten corner of old plantation Florida, bounded by the Atlantic and orange cochina sandy outcrops and ledges on one side, and the Matanzas River on the other.

What I didn’t know while on my trip, though, is that not long after the Spanish colonized this corner of  north-east area Florida, the British came in turn for a time and founded a short-lived colony there – as early as 1763.  The Brits settled a roughly 40 mile area along the St. John’s River with dozens of small farms and plantations.  It is found today along the Bartram Scenic Highway, on Florida SR 13, running south from Julington Creek to Spuds, intersecting with SR 207.

Schafer’s book uncovers an area of Florida that famed naturalist William Bartram in his Travels chose to ignore, favoring instead an idealized, pristine wild Florida untamed by people.  It is also less-known history that will enrich my next driving trip to the area, and maybe yours too!

Written by lantanalister1

June 26, 2011 at 5:32 am

Posted in Book Corner, Florida History

Tagged with ,

On the Godfather of Tabloid…

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The Godfather of Tabloid:  Generoso Pope Jr. and the National Enquirer [Hardcover] by Jack Vitek
290 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8131-2503-9
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky
Lantana Library Call No: Fla 071 Vit

The Deeds of My Fathers [Hardcover] by Paul David Pope
396 pages, 2011
ISBN: 1442204869
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Lantana Library Call No: Fla 071 Pope

Read all about it, Lantana residents, news media history buffs, tabloid fans, and enquiring minds!

The Library has two new books about Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., the famous self-made billionaire, long-time area resident and recluse, and media tycoon of America’s best-known tabloid, the National Enquirer.  Remember when it was headquartered in our little town, just off Dixie Highway/East Coast Avenue, for nearly three decades?  As a young girl, I vaguely remember the high, beautifully-lit Christmas fir trees, as well as the enormous Enquirer sign along the road.

Vitek, an associate professor at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, extensively researched and interviewed numerous associates, detractors, and associates of Pope, Jr’s, as well as the rise of tabloid journalism in the U.S.  He claims, “Pope was not a visionary who theorized the National Enquirer into existence, but a central catalyst in the long and varied cultural dialogue that produced it.”

Readers may already know the Enquirer’s beginnings – that Pope, Jr. bought and sustained the paper with a $25,000 loan and subsequent infusions of cash from Mafia underworld boss Frank Costello.

What they may not know is that Pope, Jr. earned an MIT engineering degree and served briefly as a CIA officer in the early 1950’s.  Even so, he set his sights on publishing at a remarkably young age, which had also been the source of his wealthy, influential Italian-American family’s power and influence in New York.  Pope’s family, however, disinherited him. (Generoso Pope Sr. had made his millions in construction and gained power through ownership of Il Progresso, an Italian-American newspaper, and a New York radio station.)

After Pope, Jr. moved to Florida and relocated his newspaper in the early 1970s, he apparently distanced himself from the Mafia.

And the rest is history that Vitek vividly traces for us.  The Enquirer eventually became the most widely circulated paper in U.S. history (its issue of Elvis’s death in 1977 sold around seven million copies within hours), built with a seasoned corps of Fleet Street British and Australian tabloid reporters, a large supermarket readership, and stories based on a constantly tuned formula or mix of stories of Pope’s own making, ranging from 100% true to the fabulously unreal.    Moreover, Vitek sheds even more light on Pope’s cut-throat managerial style, possible sources for Pope’s legendary obsessiveness and social ineptness, and behind-the-scene accounts of some of the newspaper’s most famous breaking stories.

Paul David Pope’s well-researched inter-generational biography and  frank, personal memoir of his father, Gene Pope, Jr., and his grandfather, Generoso Pope, Snr., is poignantly and vividly written. Readers will learn some of the sadder, darker events surrounding Gene Pope’s earlier marriages and two wives, as well as with his son.  Readers will also gain a more complex perspective of the Italian immigrant experience in America, as well as learn more of American tabloid news industry and the stories that didn’t make it into the Enquirer.  David Pope, who unsuccessfully sought to buy the Enquirer and its sister paper, the Weekly World News (known for its famous columnist, Ed Anger), on his father’s death, eventually went on to found his own media/entertainment business and philanthropic organization.

Written by lantanalister1

June 26, 2011 at 4:22 am