When I hear people talk about going back to the “good ol’ days,” I often say to myself, “The good ol’ days weren’t all that good to me.”
But then I remember that although I grew up in the Jim Crow era when America was divided by race, and segregation was a way of life for blacks, I can look back and see that the “good ol’ days” held a lot of fond memories for blacks of my generation.
I was reminded of that when I got an email from my friend Maud Newbold, reminding the community about the 70th anniversary on Aug. 1 of Virginia Key Beach, or as we called it back in the day, the “Colored Beach.”
My mind was flooded with memories when I read her email. I was about 7, and my brother was 4, when we took our first trip to the beach via a “ferry” — a motor boat that cost 50 cents a head for adults and 25 cents for children. If my memory serves me correctly, the boat was docked at the mouth of the Miami River. My mother packed our lunches and we bundled up our towels and dry clothes for the ride home and were off to a day of fun at the beach.
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Years later. the Rickenbacker Causeway was built and by the time I was 11, we had easier access to the beach.
During my teenage years, the summers meant spending lazy days at the beach, playing softball, volleyball and for curious people like me, taking a stroll along the beach’s edge looking at God’s marvelous creations.
We pooled our money for gas (about 19 cents a gallon back then) and had beach parties, cooking our food — fried chicken and pots of pigeon peas and rice — at home and bringing it to the beach in pots and bowls. When we got tired of frolicking in the surf, there was a circle of cement, surrounded by coconut trees with jukeboxes attached. There we’d dance until our bathing suits dried to the big band sounds of Duke Ellington and The Count.
On the way home to our neighborhoods in Coconut Grove, Overtown, Liberty City, Bunche Park and Richmond Heights, we passed the glamorous mansions that, at that time, lined the scenic route along Brickell Avenue. We dreamed of one day being able to live in such style.
Time passed. Somebody said Jim Crow was dead and blacks could now go to Crandon Park Beach and any other formerly all-white beach in the county. We all went a-running, leaving our “Colored” beach to suffer from a lack of care.
More years passed and someone thought we should remember the “good ol’ days” when Virginia Beach was all we had, and how it offered us many pleasures and great memories.
We’ve come full circle now.
My grandchildren find it hard to believe when I tell them I used to go to the beach before there was a Rickenbacker Causeway. They find it kind of hard to believe the things I tell them about the “good ol’ days.”
I understand how they feel. Seems like a dream to me, too.
Miami City Ballet meet and greet
The Miami City Ballet School will have its third annual open house, and its first ever “Strictly Ballet” meet and greet from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the studios at 2200 Liberty Ave. in Miami Beach.
The event is to give families the opportunity to get acquainted with the school and its programs, and students ages 8 to 18 will be able to audition for the 2015-16 school year program.
Children ages 3 to 6 will be able to participate in free sample classes, and building tours will be given throughout the day.
The school is housed in a state-of-the-art facility in Miami Beach’s Collins Park area. During the open house, visitors will be able to meet and greet the “Strictly Ballet” dancers from 1 to 3 p.m.
Also, school registration will take place during the open house and school uniforms and other dance supplies will be available for purchase.
The sample class schedule is as follows:
▪ Creative Movement for ages 3 and 4, will be from 10:45 to 11:05 a.m., and from 11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p,m.; Ballet Preparatory I for age 5: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. and 12:15 to 12:45 p.m; Ballet Preparatory II , age 6: 1 to 1:30 p.m.
▪ Auditions for the 2015-16 school year program will be at 10:30 a.m. for girls ages 8-9, with audition class to be from 11 a.m. to noon.
▪ Auditions for all boys, ages 8 to 10, will begin at noon with registration and audition class from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
▪ Auditions for boys and girls, ages 10 to 12, will begin with registration at 1:30 p.m. followed by the audition class from 2 to 3 p.m.
Boys and girls ages 13 to 18 will register for audition at 1:30 p.m., followed by audition class from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
For more information call the MCB School at 305-929-7007 or go online to> miamicityballet.org/school.
Puerto Ricans Overseas in Florida (PROOF) will celebrate its silver anniversary and the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women’s Alicia Baro Achievement Award from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 15 at the Miami Springs Country Club, 650 Curtiss Pkwy.
The event will feature music by David Lucca and his Orchestra and tickets are $65 per person in advance and $70 per person at the door. Attire is semi-formal.
If you go, make your reservations by calling Hector Collazo, MD. at 786-261-1133; Jose Berrios, MD., at 305-491-1863; Piro Hernandez at 305-206-3524, or Jose Milian at 305-785-0519.
Back to School Fun Day/Fair
The community is invited to participate in the Back to School Fun Day/Health and Information Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Olinda Park, 2101 NW 51st St.
Sponsored by Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson of District 3, the event will feature the distribution of nearly 2,000 book bags with school supplies for school-age children. There will also be entertainment and hot dogs and sodas for those attending.
The event is also a time for the community to contribute school supplies and book bags. Donations may be delivered to the commissioner’s office at 2525 NW 62nd St, Suite 4200, Miami, FL 33147. Volunteers will fill the book bags with supplies a wee prior to the Aug. 15 event.
Also that day is the Health and Info Fair, which is open to any entity that can provide a service gratis and/or information to the public such as information on domestic violence, nutrition, diabetes prevention, financial planning, and blood pressure screening. Those who cannot participate, but would like to include a give-away in the book bags and provide informational material, should call Edmonson’s office at 305-636-2331 or 786-402-5679.
A table and two chairs for the outdoor event will be provided. There will be no tents or covered areas.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email email@example.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.