The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snippet of Life - Greynolds Park

Life in North Miami Beach for a child of 10 was wonderful. It was warm and sunny most of the time. And, even when it rained, it was warm rain and you didn't mind getting caught in it. I had plenty of free time and a huge park to explore near my house. There were lots of kids my age, or close to it, in the neighborhood and we found lots to do.

Greynolds Park was just at the east end of my block. The fence was no barrier for any of us, not that the park charged to get in at that time (it does now). If we had wanted to, we could have walked the two or three blocks to the official West entrance. It just wasn't necessary. Once over the fence, we usually headed due east through an open field and then through the wooded area to the road which snaked through the park from the northwest to southeast. The park itself was a wonderland of lakes, gullies, small hills, trails, and wooded areas. On the eastern side of the park, not too far from the East entrance and where we would emerge onto the road, was the Boathouse (as we called it) and what would be the Welcome Center. It was on the lake which is fed by the Oleta River on the east side of the park. The Boathouse was where you could rent pedal boats, canoes, and kayaks. The kayaks were more canoe-ish than kayak. They seated two adults easily and were easier to use than the canoes. We rarely rented any of these because we rarely had much money in our pockets. There were also snacks and soda available at the Boathouse, more suitable targets for what money we had.

Just across the road from the Boathouse was The Castle or, sometimes, The Fort. We thought it was the highest point in Dade County. It probably wasn't but we believed it. You did have to climb up to it and you could see far and wide from the top. It was definitely the highest point in North Miami Beach. East of there, the road turned more toward the east, toward West Dixie highway and between the Boathouse's lake and a set of smaller lakes on the south. We fished in those lakes from time to time. Catch and release, of course, because we didn't have a clue what to do with the fish (which were too small to eat anyway).

The park was a great place to imagine being Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Or Frontiersmen fighting off Indians from the Fort. Or pirates. Or be the pirates trying to take the fort. It was magical.

There were trails all over the park (still are, I would imagine) and, once you were familiar with them, you could go anywhere in the without being seen by anyone. Very few people used those trails, it seemed. When I played there, the park was only moderately used and that mostly just on weekends and holidays. Most of the people who visited the park would be at the picnic areas on the northwest side, right around Boathouse and lakes, or waxing cars (mostly teenagers) under the big oaks and banyon trees just south of the Boathouse. Or (again mostly teenagers) necking under the trees in more secluded areas.

There used to be swimming allowed in the Boathouse lake but that was stopped because of alligators. The story that was passed around among us kids was that a kid road his bike into the park one evening and went swimming. An alligator attacked him and nearly took his arm off. He got away but only barely survived by riding his bike down to a tavern south of the park. It was probably not true but it was one of the park legends. It seemed true enough to us because there were alligators in the lakes. We saw them often enough.

We also would follow trails that led along the Oleta River. There was lots of wildlife to see; land crabs, fiddler crabs , exotic birds (mostly people's parrots and parakeets that escaped), raccoons, opossum, and gators.

The park was a whole world where we were free from most adult supervision. We would wander about and have long conversions about all the mysteries of life. We talked about sports, about school, about our families, about our problems, and always about girls and sex. We knew very little about the last two but we were just starting to want to. All the myths and misunderstandings were taken as fact. We swapped tales and told dirty jokes we had heard, all of which were really stupid in retrospect, and began to grow up.

It wouldn't be too long before we'd abandon the park until we were old enough to drive cars and the park became a daytime place to take our girlfriends or hang out while we polished our cars and told lies about how cool we were.

Go to Google Maps and put in this address:

"Greynolds Park, North Miami Beach, Miami-Dade, Florida 33160"

Then click on the blue dot in the center. Then click on Street View in the dialogue balloon. You can then travel around the park. You are at the center of the park, between the boathouse and the castle.


IB said...

A great post. We did many of the same things as kids only we were running around in the woods behind our houses. Good times. Thanks for sparking the memories for me.


Douglas said...

Well, the park was my "woods behind [my] house] in North Miami Beach. It replaced the woods up the street near my house in Farmingdale, NY.

My son never had that. Well, he did at one place we lived but he was too young to play like that on his own and those woods often had the homeless camping out in them.

Anonymous said...

Douglas, an amazing piece of nostalgia, reminded me of the urban area where I spent my life aged 6 - 10. Foothills, council yard, forts, haunted houses (2), swamp, the inside of a steel (rusting) water tank. The playground of boys, so many things to fuel vivid imaginations.

I can smell the adventure still, and also the fear if our parents (collective) found out we had disobeyed them and gone to all these places.

Thanks for the eurian memory.


King of New York Hacks said...

great story, great photo, and great reflection on the past. I lived in Miami Beach for a couple of years and would have loved to see those sights, just never left the beach. My bad.

Douglas said...

AV - There were other places we explored where we were not supposed to be. Those places, and events, will come in time.

King - I roamed around Miami Beach; Surfside, Lincoln Rd (before it turned into a mall), the Eden Roc and Fountainbleu and other hotels. That was later, in my teens. I had a lot of time to explore all of the area.

Douglas said...

King - Oh, the pictures are from ones I found on the internet. I have no pictures of the park, just vivid memories.

Robot Nine said...

WHat an exellent geography to grow and play in. We had a small creek, woods, and a huge pavillion in a local park, but your area surely had such cool stuff as to fire a kid's imagination. As a child-geek-science nut I always regretted growing up in south Louisiana where there were no dinosaur bones, gold, rocks, or at least even the chance to find them. Oil maybe... Alan

Janetwinikoff said...

I grew up right by Greynolds Park, too, so I really enjoyed reading your post. The most important thing about The Fort was that you climbed up the hill and then you could roll down. On the weekends it was commonplace to see loads of little kids rolling down the hill! :)

Douglas4517 said...

Thank you, Janet. We all miss our childhoods, don't we? Just having a hill was a remarkable thing in that area. Our other choice for such things was at the Maule Industries gravel pits where huge piles of sand and gravel were the hills we played on.

JoAnn said...

Thanks so much for the post and the pictures.  I, too, grew in the North Miami area and spent many a Saturday or Sunday at the Park with family.  My Uncle Sam work at the Park so I always felt some amount of "ownership.  The Castle is so much a part of my memory as well as the boat house.  Both seemed much, much larger in my memory.  Later, at about 11 or 12, I took riding lessons at the Greynolds Park stable.  Thanks again for the photos and memory jog!

Vgiritlian said...

Who remembers riding at Greynolds Park Stable? It was managed by the Frohocks (I'm sure I am spelling their name wrong) but it was an amazing place. They promoted the American Saddlebred. It has long since closed - there was a teacher/trainer there named "Jimmy" if I remember correctly. And a horse named "Danny Boy." Mrs. Snyder had a couple horses, and another lady had a horse named "Trinidad."

Anonymous said...

I remember the stable. I went to St Lawrence Elementary School in the 60s, which was right next to the now-defunct stables. I used to head over to the place at recess and after school. The stable-owned horses (I really loved a paint named "Comby" … short for "Combination") that were rented would be turned out in the pasture that was the west bank of the Uleta River and I'd hang with them until it was time to go home. Sometimes, groups of riders would bypass the bridle path on the west side of Greynolds Park and come down 21st Avenue.

Douglas said...

Not far from me, that school. I lived on 182nd St and 21st Ave.

Anonymous said...

We lived about 4 houses south of Miami Gardens Drive on 21st Ave. It was a Sun Ray East house. We moved in @ 1958. I moved out in '73. My father sold it in the mid 80s. I think the houses south of 183rd Street were on larger lots. We had 10' +/- on either side of the house before hitting the property line.

Douglas said...

We were there around the same time. We moved in in 1956 and left in 1963 for Orlando. I went to Greynolds Park Elementary (which was nowhere near the park) then North Miami Beach Junior High and then Miami Norland Senior. The lots weren't much bigger in my Sun Ray area, there was maybe 20 feet between our house and the neighbor's. We had a corner lot, though, so it was bigger than others.

Anonymous said...

The Greynolds Park Stables were owned by may Grandparents, Albert and Clydie Frohock. Both Mr. and Mrs. Frohock are now deceased. Both daughter are still living and their oldest daughter, my mother, is living with us now in Gainesville, GA. (not Gainesville, Fl.). My brothers and I spent many, many hours/days at the stables and the park. Good times.

Anonymous said...

I remember the stables and my riding lessons when I was a kid. The stables land is still there with a coral structure still on it. Not sure if it is the barn or not. Someone mentioned the horse named Danny Boy and that really hit home for me as did the Instructors name Jimmy which I believe was Jimmy Glidewell. There was another Jimmy that also gave lessons and his last name also began with a G. Not sure which one was where. I also remember Mary Huey giving lessons too

My grandfather took me for my lessons and to this day, I still ride and show American Saddlebreds. We followed Greynolds Park Stables to a location in Davie off Griffin Road that had a race track around it. I continued my lessons there and I remember riding a beautiful Palomino named Goldie. It was a beautiful facility. Then either it was sold to Huck Liles who had walking horses or it became Camelot Farms...don't remember...Now it's Bergeron Rodeo Grounds...but then the stable either moved again but somehow became Camelot Farms and Dick Gray was the instructor at it was further West on Griffin and to get into the farm you would travel down a beautiful tree lined drive.

Back in the day, South Florida was very popular for the Saddlebred industry not so much now.

Than you Albert and Clydie Frohock for my entry into the Saddlebred world because at that time, a horse was a horse...breed didn't matter just as long as it was the real thing and not a Breyer or a spring loaded Wonder Horse that was my sisters toy.

Oh..any Greynolds Park was fun too. I remember being a teenager and hanging out at the Fort...growing up maybe too fast!! Great memories.

For those interested, there's a group on FB that is all about NMB back in the day. You just might reconnect!!!/groups/46380987521/

Douglas said...

Anonymous, have you "walked" (using Google's "street level view") your old neighborhood yet? I find it interesting... I have used Google Maps to wander around my old stomping grounds a number of times, it's a lot of fun to see the changes in the last 50 years or so.

Gregg L. Friedman MD said...

I grew up on NE 187th Street and NE 21 Ave, one block west of Greynold's Park Stables. I believe the stables were located just south of St. Lawrence Church and just north of Camp Greynold's. The area is now the location of Temple Sinai which was built in 1969. There was also an estate adjacent to Camp Greynold's Stables owned by the Higgenbottoms. They raised peacocks. The Higgenbotton estate was purchased by Temple Sinai for the pre-school but there are still descendants of the peacocks living in Camp Greynold's. Thanks for your excellent post. I brought back many great memories. By Gregg L. Friedman MD, North Miami Beach, FL

Douglas said...

Doc, I still don't remember the stables. I remember (vaguely) the Girl Scout facility on the north side of Miami Gardens Drive (I think that was the street... the one that takes you over to Ojus) but the stables? Just doesn't ring a bell.

Denise Danches Fisher said...

I, too, have had a childhood memory of Greynolds Park Stables. I started riding in Davie when I was around 8. My biggest joy was getting the housekeeper's husband to drive me out to Elliot's stables on Sunday. Once I got the bug, I graduated on to Greynold's Park, where I remember all the old guard riders, including Bud Gray, Ada Synder and , of course Mr. and Mrs. Forhock. I remember paying my $10.00 and Mrs. Frohock giving me the pink slip to mount my horse.

I started with "Tom" and elder English trainer, who worked hard keeping "Mousey," "Giddy" and a few of the other training horses in line for a group of 12 or more preteens.
Tom "cracked the whip" with such resolve!

Following working with Tom, I graduated to the late and great Jimmy Glidewell. I rode and won my first blue on "Holly Beaver Kettle." How I loved my Holly. I also rode (without much success) "Change of Policy" Polly, and "Spring Destiny, "Spring." I rode the whole Florida Show circuit and had a ball.

I remember Tom,the groom, who let me sit on "Maplecrest Genius" in his stall just because I loved horses!

I miss those days so, so much. I now reside in Colorado and you would think I'd be riding, but life got in the way and I keep saying tomorrow. Thanks for letting me share.

Anonymous said...

I spent many hours in maplecrest genious stall as a young girl because i loved horses my riding instructor was lester stagg he had a son named danny do you remember them

Virginia Giritlian said...

Giritlian says yes - definitely remember Lester Stagg - I did learn he moved to another stables further north. That barn did get us all started on a lifetime of equestrian studies and passions and I am forever grateful. I had driven by the location on subsequent travels to Miami but of course, it is gone and the area is built up and quite busy. It was lazy and slow in those days. Would not trade those memories for anything!