Roadside History: The Night Owl Beauty and North Miami

April 12, 2014

International House of Pancakes in North Miami, c 1970

International House of Pancakes in North Miami, c 1970

NORTH MIAMI – In a December 1970 edition of National Geographic, the cover subject was pollution. One of the “pollutions” photographed was visual pollution. To illustrate the point, the magazine photographed the highway strip along Route 1 in North Miami.

Today, the strip is completely changed, and almost denuded of all signs. Also missing are the Holbrook Antique Arms & Gun Museum, A&V Teak and International Interiors. Holbrook was the most interesting; it sold wholesale art relics and displayed military medals.

We are curious if anyone remembers the Night Owl. It is a curious name for a salon, we admit.

Remembering Lesters of Miami Beach

December 28, 2012

MIAMI – Does anyone recall Lester’s, the snazzy coffee shop and lunchroom in Miami Beach?

Today, there’s yet another Lester’s, namely the Lester’s at Wynwood at 2519 NW Second Ave., Miami, FL, 33127. Call (305) 456-1784. It’s much trendier with all sorts of events, a sort of idea place as put together by Daniel Milewski.

Find out more at

Do You Remember Floridaland in Osprey?

December 28, 2012

OSPREY – Dozens of theme parks have disappeared from Florida, some more interesting than others. One park in the Sarasota area was Floridaland.

It had various themes, including a dolphin show, and a prime location near Casey Key, now one of the most exclusive places to live on the West Coast of Florida.

Today at the intersection of Tamiami Trail and Blackburn Point Road is a plain old shopping center, but it once had a lovers lane and shows with chimps feeding dolphins.

Does anyone have memories of Floridaland they would like to share? Leave comments below.


Stop in Arcadia for Antiques, Old Florida

December 28, 2012

ARCADIA – When driving through the center of Florida along Route 17, this cow-centered antique town is a must stop. The city, which is west of Okeechobee, is packed with dozens of antique shops of varying quality. The rest of the town is worth a drive too; particularly notable is the 1915 St. Edmund the Martyr Episcopal Church, the U.S. Post office and back streets of historic frame Victorian houses.

Progress has definitely left Arcadia in the dust; that’s both good and bad as its done up enough to feel safe and comfortable, but missing the snazzy restaurants and art galleries that bring real money into the town. Read more

Clearwater Shows Dolphin for Republican Convention

July 23, 2012

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Dolphin WinterCLEARWATER BEACH – The Clearwater Regional Chamber, along with support from Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the City of Clearwater, has launched a project to artistically showcase the bottlenose dolphin.

Dolphin sponsors and artists have been recruited to showcase the talented local artists as they uniquely decorate upright 6’ tall fiberglass dolphins. The tie in with Winter and Dolphin Tale is a natural fit since Winter resides at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Read more

Take a Real Train Near Ellenton, Florida

June 27, 2012

PARRISH – Just east of the outlet mall in Ellenton in Manatee County is the Florida Railroad Museum. It’s a museum of real trains put together by volunteers, and on weekends they take an old diesel engine, pull a couple of passenger cars, and ride up the rail to an abandoned logging “town” called Willow.

The trips take just over an hour; you get to see a few orange groves, creeks and strawberry fields. The railroad right of way is owned by Florida Power and Light; a conductor said that while the plant is fired by natural gas (pumped across the Gulf of Mexico, wow!), the rail line is preserved in case they ever need to refire the plant with coal in an emergency.

There are two engines that pull the cars, one used as backup. The cars have different histories. The observation car is basically a reworked freight car but the two passenger cars really take you back, including one that served on the Alaska railroad.

It’s a great family adventure, and the kids from age two to six seem to enjoy it the most.

At Christmas, there are Santa specials. On special occasions, the museum is taken over and becomes a vehicle for a Thomas the Tank Engine promotion. It’s a few miles past the Ellenton Prime Outlets on Route 301 on the route to Sun City in Manatee County.

Below, a video of the ride and some shots of the railroad and museum.


Way cool in Lakeland

March 26, 2012

LAKELAND – well with a trip downtown plus groovy signs galore20120326-230156.jpg



Jim Morrison on Nudity, from His Miami TV Interview

February 28, 2012

MIAMI – The historic interview with The Doors’ Jim Morrison, as he discusses nudity and music performances back in 1970.

BBC Details Underwater History of Florida

February 28, 2012

A brilliant documentary shows underwater Florida, and shows how it has one of the richest fossil records from the Ice Age.

Miami TV: Remembering ABC’s Surfside 6

February 23, 2012

MIAMI – Television was the great medium that helped put Miami on the map; indeed whenever the city has needed a boost, television was there to help sell it.

In the early black and white days of television, Surfside 6, the ABC television show, gave the city lots of fame. The Warner Brothers show had Troy Donahue, Van Williams and Lee Patterson as detectives who worked out of a houseboat in Miami. Surfside 6 TV show of ABc

Also on the show was a Boom Boom Room cha-cha singer played by Margarita Sierra and a socialite played by Diane McBain.

The houseboat became famous as it was the place where killer Andrew Cunanen was captured; in fact the actual houseboat was apparently involved and was no longer in Miami, and spent a time as a restaurant in Brunswick, Ga. Many Surfside 6 boats were made by a fellow named Larry Vita under that name.

Love for some readers to give some history on the Larry Vita boats.

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