Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
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.