Monday, August 24, 2015

Plans before Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse: What were they thinking?


Not theater patrons
By Jane Feehan

Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse lifted the curtain on its first production Feb. 6, 1967*.  The theater is located at the fringe of Holiday Park off Federal Highway near Sunrise Boulevard, but few remember another theater was planned in 1959 for a site off A1A near the Galt Ocean Mile.

The participants in the two projects were different – and so were the plans. George S. Engle, owner and producer of the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, teamed up with famed Florida architect, Alfred Browning Parker (no relation to donor Louis W. Parker of the Parker Playhouse), to draw up elaborate plans for the A1A location.

The $2 million project would include features “never before attempted in the entire country.” For starters, its marquee was to be so large that 30 automobiles could pull up at once to discharge passengers. A drive-in ticket window would be available where patrons could view available seating and purchase tickets before parking their cars. A restaurant and lounge seating 1,000 theatergoers would operate near another lounge with a soda fountain and dining area for teenagers.

There’s more. Much more.

The ambitious plans also included a library for playwrights, producers and directors, a private room for the press, an art gallery and exhibit hall for artists and students, and a theater memorabilia room featuring thespian history since Greek and Roman times.

A penthouse and club would operate late into the night for dining and dancing. Also, a model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre would be constructed featuring manikins draped in clothes of that era. A drama and art school was to operate at this very busy facility. The entire complex and its offerings were to be run by a Society of Theatre Arts that would coordinate activities and performances at the Coconut Grove Playhouse … and a theater in Nassau, Bahamas (a tropical paradise teaming with theatergoers).

Engle proposed a 99-year lease on an 800-ft frontage property along A1A. A condition of the project would be a substantial advance subscription sale. That never happened. What were they thinking? People came to Fort Lauderdale (and still do) for surf, sun and fun, and depending on the age group, the fun might be boats, booze, and babesnot theater.

Theater sanity arrived with electrical engineer and inventor, Louis M. Parker, Ph.D., who tired of driving to Miami and Palm Beach to see plays.  In 1966 it was announced that Dr. Parker would
Parker Playhouse
donate $700,000 for construction of a theater on land near Holiday Park. The City of Fort Lauderdale would pay $300,000 for the property. Some papers reported that Parker donated up to $1.5 million.

The theater, run then by Zev Buffman, opened with about 2,000 seats, 48 shimmering chandeliers and two cocktail lounges, a much more realistic venture than the one proposed earlier.  Its architect, John Volk was the last of the early 1920s Palm Beach architects that included Addison Mizner. Volk  had also designed the Good Samaritan Hospital, parts of the Everglades Club, the Royal Poinciana Theater—all in Palm Beach—and a long list of other landmarks.

The Parker Playhouse is now run by the Performing Arts Center Authority, which includes the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

*The play that night was Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” starring E.G. Marshall and Dennis O’Keefe. It was directed by Danny Simon, the playwright’s brother.

Sources:
New York Times, Nov. 15, 1959
Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 25, 1966
Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 22, 1984

New York Times, Feb. 6, 1967

Tags: Fort Lauderdale theater, Parker Playhouse, Jane Feehan, film researcher, Alfred Browning Parker. Louis M. Parker, Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s, Fort Lauderdale in the 1960s

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A profitable alliance: Boxing and Frankie Carbo

By Jane Feehan

Miami Beach boxing promoter Chris Dundee denied doing business with mobster Frankie Carbo, but admitted he first met the “Czar of Boxing” in 1937 at Stillman’s gym in New York City.  There was probably more to that relationship than he let on.

Carbo, part of the New York-based Lucchese crime family, had ties with boxing managers and fighters as far back as 1936. He was always ready with the “long green,” paying the gym tabs, car notes and other expenses of fighters. He also lined the pockets of managers. They were in too deep by the time they realized favors led to obligations. 

It wasn’t easy doing business without getting involved with the mob. Carbo had the connections to make things happen. Money flowed to those who associated with the unofficial “commissioner” of boxing. Fighters and managers saw money that they may not have seen otherwise. In 1959, a New York Amsterdam News reporter suggested many boxers would have remained in obscurity had it not been for Carbo.

Fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco wrote that Chris Dundee “had to join the boxing union of Frankie Carbo.” The "membership" helped Dundee, brother of manager Angelo Dundee, to develop world champions at his 5th Street Gym. Without happy fighters and worthy matchups there was no business.

Some in the fight world would  turn over as much as 50 percent of the take to Carbo. Boxing champ Sugar Ray Robinson resisted. Though he was considered to be in Carbo’s circle of influence, he didn’t like taking orders. Famed fighter Jake La Motta admitted Carbo ordered him in 1947 to take a dive in a bout with Billy Fox. To his many boxing credits, Muhammad Ali was the first heavyweight champion to be totally free of mob ties.

Carbo, who used the alias “Mr. Gray” in arranging fights, chose the contenders; he was probably behind what was then thought to be a mismatched bout between Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Sonny Liston in February 1964 at the Miami Beach Auditorium. Throughout the years, however, Dundee maintained he hadn’t done business with Carbo. In 1960 he was quoted as saying boxing wasn’t “big enough any more to attract a real racketeer.” There was more money, he said, in horse racing, football and baseball.

Before that historic, if not pretty, 1964 fight, rumors flew about Chris Dundee using Carbo’s influence to obtain certain closed circuit television rights for another championship fight. But Dundee steadfastly denied connections ... and then there was the time Frankie Carbo, in the company of Chris Dundee, picked up the check of Miami News editor Howard Kleinberg and his wife at the Saxony Hotel restaurant. He asked Dundee who the friend was who waved when he attempted to pay the check. Dundee told a startled (and not entirely happy) Kleinberg it was Carbo. Wink wink.

Carbo illegally arranged a long roster of fights at Madison Square Garden and other venues, including Miami Beach, for more than two decades. In the 1940s he kept an apartment in New York City to conduct business with boxing managers. A few years later, the FBI knew he had a place at the 2000 block of Taft Street in Hollywood, FL. Carbo was seldom there, it was reported, but it was also used for business.

More on Carbo’s pedigree: He was born in New York’s Lower East Side in 1904 as Paolo Giovanni Carbo. By age 11, he was declared a juvenile delinquent. He went on to run a Bronx taxicab protection racket in the 1920s and was arrested and convicted in 1928 for murdering a driver who would not pay up. Carbo served 20 months in prison for a reduced charge of manslaughter. The conviction precluded his obtaining a license for boxing operations. An associate of mobsters Owney Madden and the “Lord High Executioner” Albert Anastasia, Carbo was suspected of being a trigger man for Murder, Inc., with possible involvement in several mob hits including that of Bugsy Siegel (yet unsolved) in 1947 . He was also thought active in bootlegging and bookmaking during his career.

In 1958, Carbo was indicted along with Frank “Blinky” Palermo with seven counts of undercover management and two counts of unlicensed matchmaking in fights. Charges included conspiring with Herman (Hymie the Mink) Waller, New York furrier and fight manager, to commit a crime of undercover management of boxer Don Jordan. While awaiting trial on Rikers Island in New York, he was brought before the Kefauver Committee in Washington, D.C. investigating organized crime. Carbo responded to each of the 25 questions he was asked by invoking the Fifth Amendment giving up no information.

The Czar of Boxing was convicted in July of 1961 with Attorney General Robert Kennedy as U.S. prosecutor and was sentenced to 25 years at McNeil Island Penitentiary in the state of Washington. Like many mobsters during jail time, he remained a powerful influence in his criminal domain. Kennedy long suspected him of continued involvement in the fight world and particularly with Sonny Liston. Carbo was released for health reasons 12 years into his sentence. He died in 1976, aged 72 at a Miami Beach hospital.

Dundee probably didn’t need Carbo’s help during the ensuing Muhammad Ali years, but he maintained  that the czar was a gentleman, if not a friend. The Dundees are gone now and so too the electrifying days of heavyweight stars, matchups at the Miami Beach Auditorium and the roof raisers at the Garden. And mob influence?

For more on the 5th Street Gym, see the labels for boxing or my post: http://janeshistorynook.blogspot.com/2015/08/brothers-dundee-5th-street-gym-and.html



Sources:
Pacheco, Ferdie. Tales from the 5th Street Gym. University Press (2010).
Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires. Thomas Dunne Books (2006).
Chicago Daily Defender, Jul. 24, 1958
New York Amsterdam News, Jul. 25, 1958
Chicago Daily Defender, Nov. 2, 1959
New York Amsterdam News, Nov. 7, 1959
Chicago Daily Defender Mar. 21, 1962
Miami News, Nov. 29, 1954

New York Times, Nov. 11, 1976






Tags: Boxing history, Chris Dundee, Mob history, 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Brothers Dundee, the 5th Street Gym, and boxing's best days in Miami Beach

New York Times, Nov. 19, 1998







By Jane Feehan

I was hooked on boxing as a kid after seeing World Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson running along River Road in Chatham, N.J., training for his matchup with Ingemar Johansson. In his early 20s then, Patterson exuded intensity and purpose, endurance and physical magnificence. I was awe struck when I learned it was all for professional fighting.

A few years later we moved to Fort Lauderdale, about 25 miles from the epicenter of boxing, the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach. Looking back it may have been the one time I wished I were a man … to climb those creaky wood stairs to the dilapidated, termite-invested gym sitting above a drugstore and news stand. How else to authentically experience this fraternity of the "sweet science" whose members were punching, jabbing, left hooking and pivoting hours each day in hopes of reaching pugilistic fame and fortune? I could only read about it … and that was OK.

Born in Philadelphia, Chris Dundee (1907-1998) had managed the boxing career of brother and club fighter, Joe Dundee. The family name was Mirena but “Dundee” sounded Irish, loaning (they thought) street cred to their boxing finesse and promoting abilities. It stuck.

Chris first came to Miami Beach in 1938 to promote the Ken Overlin-Ben Brown fight at the jai alai fronton. The area was ripe for boxing events; Miami was the new land of opportunity. He returned to stay in 1950 and opened a gym at 5th Street and Washington Avenue. Younger brother Angelo Dundee (1921-2012), who gave the gym its name, came aboard as trainer and manager. The Miami Beach Auditorium often served as stage for official boxing events. Chris remained the consummate promoter, keeping seats filled. With complementing skills, they yin-yanged their way to success. .

New York Times, Jul. 25, 1971
Brothers Dundee kept the gym humming with hopefuls and Chris scored a few notable promotions, the first big one in 1956 with the lightweight World’s Championship fight between Wallace “Bud” Smith and Joe Brown. The most famous, of course, was the Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston matchup for the World Heavyweight title in 1964. It catapulted Clay, who had just taken the name Muhammad Ali, the 5th Street Gym, and the Dundees—especially Angelo—into world fame.

There was another among the gym’s notables who rode this rising tide.

Dr. Ferdie Pacheco (b. 1927) operated a free clinic in Miami’s poor Overtown neighborhood when he joined the cast of characters at the 5th Street Gym in 1962. He became known as the fight doctor, corner man and personal physician to Ali and other boxers. Pacheco left Ali’s camp after a controversial bout with Ernie Shavers in 1977. He went on to become a media personality as boxing analyst for NBC and Univision. Pacheco and Ali remain friends.

Pacheco’s book, Tales from the 5th Street Gym (University of Florida Press, 2010) captures both the history of the gym and essence of what it meant to fighters, including a troupe of talented Cuban pugs and their fellow exile fans, and other managers and trainers during the decades before its demolition in 1993. Several practitioners of the sweet science contributed to Pacheco’s compilation but he set the background and tone, providing context. His wife, Luisita Sevilla Pacheco, provided many of the photos.

To know the gym’s history is to understand why Ferdie Pacheco was “steamed” in 2006 when Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer ceremoniously installed a plaque at the site of the demolished gym dedicated to Angelo Dundee who was on hand for the occasion. Chris was gone by then but Angie remained in the collective conscience (he still does). Now 87, Pacheco is a treasure trove of good, bad and hilarious memories from this Golden Era of boxing. He’s a prolific writer, with 14 books to his credit, and painter of works that fetch thousands; his book features a few of them.

No, I never made it to that boxing mecca in South Beach, but reading the doctor’s tales was almost as good as climbing those stairs to boxing heaven. Sweet.

Tags: Ferdie Pacheco, Angelo Dundee, Chris Dundee, Muhammad Ali, Miami Beach, 5th Street Gym, film researcher



Monday, July 20, 2015

The Candy Store, sleazy ghost of Fort Lauderdale's Spring Break past

The Candy Store was adjacent to the Tradewinds Hotel

By Jane Feehan

A few years ago, someone suggested I write histories of restaurants and clubs in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I pointed out that unless establishments made the news, there wouldn’t be much to write about; owners are/were too busy trying to keep the doors open to think about legacy. Most go out of business.

But a few spots did make the news. One of them was the infamous Candy Store at 1 North Atlantic Boulevard on Fort Lauderdale beach, adjacent to then-named Caribbean West Trade Winds Hotel.* Popular for its wet T-shirt, Teenie Weenie Bikini, belly flop, beer guzzling contests and a lineup of other slothful student activities of the Spring Break years, the Candy Store packed in 2,000 during the day and 3,000 patrons at night during the height of its popularity, which one manager deemed was 1986. That year, more than 325,000 young people swarmed the beach for the six-week bacchanal. (Some news stories indicate 380,000 Spring Breakers visited the city in 1985.)

Owner Bobby “Van” Vannuchi, opened the Candy Store in 1977 (its beloved beach predecessor, The Button Lounge opened in 1970). A friend of football great and party hearty guy Joe Namath, Van also had an interest in Namath’s Bachelor’s III, and owned Mr. Laffs and Mr. Pips, all in Fort Lauderdale.

According to Van, he employed as many as 350 at the Candy Store during Spring Break. That’s what he told Daytona Beach officials in 1989 where he was opening another Candy Store on Grandview Avenue (he also owned one in New York City.) He was getting nervous about things in Fort Lauderdale; the welcome mat for students coming to that city was about to be pulled.

The Spring Break business climate was changing in Fort Lauderdale. Commissioners had had enough of the city’s demeaning party image. It wasn’t attracting the development needed to expand its tax base. And, in 1987 as many as 12 students were killed in Florida during Spring Break in alcohol and drug-related incidents. The Candy Store was emblematic of all the city was trying to get rid of so it became a major target—and tactic—of dismantling the festivities that began in 1935 and increased in popularity with the 1960 release of the film Where the Boys Are.

The City of Fort Lauderdale cited the Candy Store for 52 code violations in April, 1989 that included plumbing, electrical and fire and safety infractions. Additionally, it was to lose its liquor license, which was predicated upon the club operating adjacent to a hotel with at least 50 rooms. That hotel, the Caribbean Tradewinds, entered bankruptcy in 1988 or 1989 and was to close.

Van also had problems in Daytona. He paid $375,000 for his new 15,000 square foot club and about $500,000 for renovations. City officials raised zoning concerns and tried to block the opening for six months; its pending moratorium on issuing building permits was overturned by the 5th Court of Appeals in March 1989. Van planned to go ahead and open before the end of that year’s Spring Break. The Candy Store in Daytona remained open until March, 1991. He retained part ownership rights on the building and leased it to another nightclub impresario. (The fate of the NYC club is unknown to this writer.)

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale could claim success in its re-imaging efforts: only 20,000 students flocked to its beaches in 1989. By 1990, business at the Candy Store was reportedly off 50 percent (at least). The club limped along until 1993 when it shut its doors. Bobby Van remained in the restaurant biz as late as 2005 when he owned Jilly’s CafĂ© at 2761 E. Oakland Park Boulevard; it has since closed.

The Candy Store still evokes fond memories. On one message board, a man asked recently if anyone knew the tall blonde bartender he went out with in 1986. He wanted to reconnect but lost her name and phone number (hilarious - she could be a grandmother now). Others remember Paul W. Lorenzo, managing partner in 1983 who dressed in shorts, tuxedo jacket and tie and one of his 700 zany hats. Anyone who gave him a hat earned a free lifetime membership to the Candy Store. Today, that membership is to a hall of memories of Spring Break madness. The only place still operating along the strip is the Elbo Room first opened in 1936 or 1938. No doubt people gather there on occasion to share stories about Bobby Van's place.

----------
Note: The Ritz Carlton Hotel currently sits at the old site of the Candy Store.

*The original Trade Winds Oceanfront Hotel was built in 1940, one of the city's largest at the time.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale clubs, Fort Lauderdale in the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale Spring Break

Sources:
Lakeland Star Ledger, April 3, 1983
Star News, Feb. 19, 1987
News-Journal, Feb. 4, 1989
News-Journal, Feb. 17, 1989
Ocala Star Banner, Nov. 25, 1990
News-Journal, Feb. 19, 1992
Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 15, 1996
NBC News, March 17, 2008

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Yankees film in Fort Lauderdale - Safe at Home!

The Yankee baseball team held Spring training in Fort Lauderdale during the 1960s after local hotelier Bob Gill encouraged the club’s owner, Dan Topping Sr., to come to the growing city. Stories about team legends Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford abound and firmly claim a place in this city’s celebrity history.

Part of Yankee history includes filming of the kid’s movie Safe at Home! in 1961 in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano. Hollywood, as captivated as the nation was with Roger Maris’s successful bid to break Babe Ruth’s homerun record during the 1961 season, thought a movie with Mantle and Maris would be a hit. (Where the Boys Are also filmed in Fort Lauderdale, was released in 1960).

Local public relations guru, Jack Drury, who played a small part as a police officer, arranged for the film crew to stay at the beach side Trade Winds Hotel (later associated with the wild Candy Store and its wet T-shirt contests).  
Trade Winds Hotel (built 1940)
The movie starred Mantle, Maris, Don Collier, Patricia Barry, William Frawley (of I Love Lucy fame) and Bryan Russell as the kid who told friends he knew the players, but did not. Team Manager Ralph Hauk also appeared. According to Drury who has written about Fort Lauderdale’s celebrity past, it was Frawley’s last feature film.

From Herald Journal Apr. 21,1962
By all accounts, working on the film provided Spring training diversion for players. Mickey Mantle claimed he forgot a few of his lines but wasn’t concerned because “they didn’t want me for my acting ability.”

Safe at Home!, while not a box office hit, was continuation of a Hollywood tradition featuring sports stars in their productions; Babe Ruth appeared in 10 films, Olympian swimmer Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan in a number of films and the tradition continues …

Safe at Home! Is available to rent or purchase from Amazon. See below.

Sources:
Drury, Jack. Fort Lauderdale, Playground of the Stars (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2008).
IMDB.org
Sun-Sentinel, Apr. 21, 1989



Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Filmed in Fort Lauderdale, Yankees in Fort Lauderdale, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford William Frawley, film researcher Jane Feehan

Friday, June 19, 2015

Flash and grab at the Yellow Rolls Royce - A 1970s Fort Lauderdale story

By Jane Feehan

Long-time Fort Lauderdale residents may remember the robbery at the Yellow Rolls Royce Restaurant in 1976. It was bold, but not quite as big as it could have been. High-profile Miami News reporter Milt Sosin briefly covered the story as did The Associated Press, which sent it across the country. There was something about the place, its flashy patrons—and stylish thieves—that captured headlines. It was the stuff of TV and silver screen scripts.

Long gone, the upscale eatery was located on Northeast 20 Avenue, close to Sunrise Boulevard and the Middle River fork of New River. Between 30 and 40 patrons were enjoying a night out in late March, high season in South Florida, when  a man with a handgun came through the rear entrance to hold staff at bay. A few moments later, a well-dressed couple entered the front door, with the male partner brandishing a gun. After commanding attention and calm, he instructed his young female accomplice to begin passing a bag around. In went wallets and jewelry but not before many took off rings and other glitter to drop into coffee, food and mouths. Personal searches were not conducted, diminishing the thieves’ take.

The dynamic duo warned diners not to follow them; they took off with about $15,000 in cash and jewels, a substantial haul from such a small gathering. As soon as they left, rings and other baubles were spat out or removed from food.  (One may speculate about how much cash the robbers would have gotten away with six or seven years later, when cocaine cowboys were walking around with paper bags of the green stuff before laundering it at jewelry stores and through real estate transactions.)

According to owner Terrence Scott Moser, robbers missed more than they took. He described his customers as the “quiet elite of Fort Lauderdale,” among them women wearing “diamonds by the yard.” Many of them managed to hide the glitter simply by buttoning up their blouses.

Days after the heist, police were still seeking clues to the bold robbery…and the nation was reading about it. The story soon dropped off the radar, as did the Yellow Rolls Royce and Terrence Scott Moser. Any of you remember additional stories about it?

Sources:
Miami News, March 29, 1976
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 31, 1976


 Tags: Film researcher, Fort Lauderdale in the 1970s, Fort Lauderdale history

Monday, May 18, 2015

SOFLA Travelogue 1880s: Of fishing, sailing, an earthquake and more …

Wonderland, by
George Potter of Lake Worth

 By Jane Feehan

In the late 1870s, Ohio physician James A. Henshall (1836-1925) urged a few “chronic” patients from Kentucky who lived on fried food to improve their health by joining him on a trip to South Florida. A “plain diet, pure air and bright sunshine” would go far in curing their ills.

Henshall had been to Palatka and St. Augustine but never south of those towns. He could not find anything to read about South Florida so decided to write of his travels during the winters of 1879-1880 and 1880-1881. What resulted was probably the first travelogue for the area, Camping and Cruising in Florida.  The book provides a vivid snapshot of wild and settler life in the early days of Florida development.

This post will focus on his first Southeast Florida journey.

Henshall and his party traveled aboard his boat, Blue Wing, from Titusville, at the head of the Indian River, to Biscayne Bay on that first expedition. They camped, hunted, fished and visited a few Houses of Refuge along the coast where they made friends and picked up a few travel tips.
Blue Wing, by George Potter

Some of Henshall’s highlights include remarks about:
  • The two best harbors - the Hillsboro Inlet and New River (today Port Everglades), reached from the “outside” or ocean instead of the conventional interior route;
  • Hunting and dining on deer, possum, ducks, squirrels and fish;
  • Bass fish aplenty (“too good of a good thing”) at the south branch of St. Lucie River; bits of white cloth used successfully as bait;
  • Sea cows (manatees) spotted in St. Lucie River and shares a story about Captain Estes who shipped two sea cows to Philadelphia for the Centennial Expo where they died in a fire opening day;
  • Redfish near Merritt Island 20 pounds and more;
  • Sharks, pompano, drum fish, green turtles, oysters, bluefish, kingfish and crabs in or just "outside" Lake Worth in the ocean;
  • Lake Worth residents (25 families on east side of the lake) who say the climate there is better than that of Southern Italy. They grow pineapples, coconuts, sugarcane;
  • Thousands of green turtles (20-200 pounds) caught, held in pens and shipped north each year;
  • New River (winding through downtown Fort Lauderdale today) … “the straightest, deepest and finest river I have ever seen in Florida.” Thousands of fish visible in its clear, amber-colored waters, include an abundance of Crevalles (jacks) 10-30 pounds. Also largest alligator (12 feet) of the trip spotted in New River;
  • The beauty and silence of the Everglades and its friendly Seminoles;
  • Their experience of an earthquake Jan. 12, 1879 at 11:30 p.m., which threw oil out of the lamp of the Jupiter Lighthouse and shook its brick foundation (one of several recorded in Florida and was felt for 25,000 square miles);
  • Jupiter Lighthouse, which provides “one of the grandest and wildest views of land and water in Florida.” (It still does);
  • The Biscayne Bay area, with fewer than 30 residents, is cooler in summer than any other portion of Florida because of the trade winds. It does  not get as hot as New York City. One day it will be a “popular health resort or sanitarium.” (Today the Magic City and Miami Beach lie at the bay's edgesanitariums indeed.)
An avid angler, Henshall is chock full of fish tales—the kind that would have today’s anglers pining for time travel.

Current Fort Lauderdale resident, famed fisherman and author Steve Kantner says fishing is not the sport it used to be because of one thing: habitat destruction. Pollution from development and  over-population has affected natural environments.

It’s interesting to note that Henshall did not mention tarpon in New River. Kantner, also known as the Landcaptain, caught one weighing 135 pounds; others have landed giants of 200 pounds.  (See link below to view his book.)

"Fishing in Lake Worth or in the ocean “outside”remains remarkable," said Kantner. "That’s because only one canal, the C-16, pours into it and the Gulfstream flows closest to that area." The Landcaptain knows of one fisherman who snagged a tuna in the Lake Worth lagoon.

Fishing there may one day be closer to what it was in Henshall's time. Plans are underway to restore the salinity and original habitat of Lake Worth.  

Dr. Henshall, who has since been referred to as the “apostle of the black bass,” left medicine to write several other books on fishing, some included in the American Sportsman’s Library. His Camping and Cruising in Florida (see link below to view book) remains the centerpiece of his legacy.

Sources:
James Alexander Henshall, M.D., Cruising and Camping in Florida. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1884
Kantner, Steve. Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida on Foot. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2014.







Tags: Florida travel, Florida fishing, Steve Kantner, Florida history