Miami Beach Memory

shelborneNew York Times. December 27, 2009.  Book Review Section.  Top of page 15, with the review of Miami Babylon by Gerald Posner.

When I saw this photo in today’s paper, a different title leaps to mind:  This is Your Life.

This is MY life.

Miami Beach.  The Shelborne Hotel.  Collins Avenue and 18th Street.

img047Another view….   Same hotel, same era….


And inside the hotel— where my brother took off the cowboy hat.

The Shelborne was one of several hotels my dad owned and/or operated on Miami Beach.   From the time he arrived in the late 40’s, he saw Miami’s potential as a major tourist mecca.  So he built his business, and his life there.

img050I was born on Miami Beach, and the town grew along with us—-with hotels from one end to the other.


In the early years, we lived in some of those hotels—the same ones that are now South Beach status symbols.  For me, they’ve never been resorts;  they’re roots.


Like any kid, I had no perspective on where I lived—its history, glamour, or status.

Though I don’t get back often,  I”ll always have the Beach in my blood—and sand in my shoes.

There’s another reason that picture of the Shelborne struck me today.  It was in the New York Times—–and there was nothing my father admired more. So Dad– this was for you.


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  1. says

    Thank you for posting this. I moved to MB when I was 8 years old from Forrest Hills NY. My Dad also knew the warm weather and quality of community were a great place to raise a family. We lived in MB when it was truly a “family town”. It is also my roots, in my blood and those of us that grew wp there feel like i;s still our town! Great pics and memories. We had so much fun enjoying the beach, our parks and the glorious weather!

  2. Cynthia S says

    I really enjoyed your photos, but for more than just the memories of Miami Beach… for the memories of you Pollacks who I used to see each summer at camp. I even remember your Mom being at camp to visit you. I didn’t remember that your Dad was in the hotel business, and my memory is fuzzy on your Dad’s picture. I’m guessing he must have been back in Florida running those hotels while we were up in NY.

  3. Rick in Miami says

    I moved to the Beach in ’65 and thought I had died and gone to heaven. I would pass those beautiful hotels south of 41st street, and the condos and apartments that later consumed Collins Avenue north of 41st street didn’t exist yet. I could see the ocean from the “K” bus as it carried me home, and someone always shouted “Surfs Up”, which has to be the longest standing joke of all time.

    Thanks for the flashback, Darryle. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll drive over there on Wednesday just to see how much things have changed. Would you like me to check on anything for you?

  4. Lois Geisler says

    Ah, yes the memories of those times. We didn’t even appreciate what we had back then. The Algiers isn’t even there anymore but so so many memories. some not so good but life was much easier then and so much safer. I remember you and your family and of course that house. Thanks.

  5. says

    Thank YOU! I’m glad to see this NY Times piece ended up bringing back so many memories, and not just mine.
    People assume if you come from Miami Beach, you led a glamorous life. As your comments show, it was a wonderful—and normal–place to live–even after all the buildings blocked the views of the ocean. I feel really, really lucky to have my roots in such a solid community of people—that still flourishes for me via cyberspace.

    Cynthia—Reading your comment I suddenly realize I’ve never written a single word about my summers in camp, such a HUGE part of my life. Thanks so much for reminding me—and for reading.

    Rick–didn’t know you were from the Beach! Every now and then someone sends me a picture of recent developments–PLease don’t go out of your way but if you happen to be in the neighborhood, I’d LOVE to see how the Shelborne looks today.

    I love California but this is making me a little homesick….

  6. Denise Danches Fisher says

    Thank you for those memories. My Dad owned “Ciros” on Alton, and we had distinguished houseguests from that era including Dorothy Dandridge (Dad was depicted as the Jewish nightclub owner in the movie), Nat King Cole and Martha Raye.

    I also remember taking the taxi to the Fountainbleau and Eden Rock to go to our Cabanas after school. What a life. What a time.

    Thanks again.

  7. says

    My parents met at my Great Uncle Joe Rose’s Royal Palm Hotel on South Beach. My Father looked across the room and saw this gorgeous woman dancing with an older man (who turned out to be her Dad). My Father went up to her and asked her to dance. The he asked her out for a Saturday night date and told her that he would like to take her out every Saturday night for the rest of her life. The rest is history.

    No matter where I have lived or will live in my lifetime… Miami Beach will always be my “home”.

    p.s Miami Beach was home to the Nevel family,Unger family and Harris family…all related to Joe Rose.

  8. says

    Darryl: I never knew your father owned the Shelbourne. I remember your family from the Newport Hotel. I used to go to the nightclub there while I was in college. My mother gave me a steel soup pot from Jenny Grossinger’s Pancoast Hotel. That hotel was knocked down to build the Seville which my family built and operated for many years. I love pictures of Miami Beach in the “old days”. We have videos of the sand dunes on Collins Avenue before the high rises were built.

  9. Rick Chereton says

    Hi Darryle…
    Howdy neighbor… I lived in Pacific Grove for 11 years and moved north to Scotts Valley about 9 years ago. Love California…even with earthquakes, fires and everything else.

    Check out my facebook photos for really old but great postcards from M.Beach.

    Hope you have a great 2010.

  10. Charlotte Koppe says

    Darryle – thanks for the post! My memories from 4th grade on are so vivid. The hotel on Collins were my youth, too! From roller skating down the Amricana paring lot ramp in elementary school, to going to Bar/Bat Mitvah’s and fancy parties at hotels like the Fountainleau to drving up and down Collins in high school looking at the cute guys in other cars! This was no tourist town…this was my hometown!

    P.S. Also have some great camp stories!

  11. says

    OMG this is such fun, Thank you to everyone for the comments and memories—–Rick, you live SO close to me, can’t wait to check you out!

    Maybe this is just another sign of age—but I LOVE hearing everyone’s stories about the Beach. Do we have a Facebook page or a blog or somewhere to collect these stories and pictures? I know Seth Bramson is the official historian of Miami Beach, I will ask him. If nothing exists yet, I would love it if someone starts a site —these memories are precious and priceless!

    We are all SO lucky to have our roots in the sand!

  12. Ron Ruth says

    I moved to south beach in 1956 before it was hip or cool and went to Beach High.In the summer of ’59 before leaving for college I worked at the Shelbourne as a cabana boy.It was so much fun I didn’t want to leave for school in September.The ass’t cabana mgr named Rocky told me if I didn’t go I’d wind up like him.This made me want to stay even more.He was probably the funniest guy I’ve ever met, and I’ve met some funny guys.After my Freshman year at UF I came back for one more summer that was better than the first.I’ve got at least a thousand stories but I can’t write them down because even after 50 years who knows whose reading this.I hope you had as much fun there as I did.

  13. says

    Sorry Ron I saw this a year after you wrote it! I bet I knew you when you worked at the Shelbourne—those cabana “boys” were really characters, as you say—some were like my surrogate dads–and I adored them. I spent my whole life at the pool and the beach there, what an idyllic childhood. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  14. Mercy Cortes says

    Thank you very much Daryl for postings these lovely picture. I was with my parents at Shelborne in 1963, when I was 13. This is a great gift to start the week. May God Bles you and all the people you love

  15. says

    thanks for these pictures. I worked at the Shelborne pool from 1974-79. randy owens was the pool mgr, Luke Salem the entertainment director, we had weiner roasts every monday night for the guests, vaudeville type shows several nights a week. Worked my way thru college there. Great memories.

  16. Steve Brownstein says

    Hi Darryle. Some of my best childhood memories are from vacationing with my family at the Shelborne in the very early 1970’s. One thing I distinctly remember is a beachcomber type of guy who lived in a hut that he built of packed sand, driftwood, and thatched palm leaves, located on the beach right behind the hotel. I remember him cracking open coconuts for people as a way to make a living. As a kid, I was fascinated by this guy ! (You know – kids are always fascinated by the out of ordinary.) However, none of my family remembers him, and they say I am imagining it all. Perhaps you remember this colorful character ?? Also, thanks for the amazing memories i have of that hotel !

  17. says

    Hi Steve, I’m here to tell you that you are NOT imagining it. You described it totally right, his name was Stretch and I had forgotten all about him myself. So in exchange for writing about your memories, thanks to you for reminding me of MY memories! What a character he was.

  18. e.pkermitt2 says

    I am not sure how I happened upon this but glad I did.This was very informative and intestine piece of Oral History. The Shelbourne took a weird turn from what was once your dad’s vision.
    but it recently made a comeback!

  19. e.pkermitt2 says

    I can’t believe my Androids interpretation on the word “interesting.”
    so sorry for quick sloppy typing. I didn’t check it.
    u r a fabulous writer and storyteller and it makes one want to be part of the thread.

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