For Pompano Beach’s black residents, the opening of the Sanders Park development was a step into the future.
Previously, housing options for blacks were decidedly limited — even into the early 1950s, many black residents, especially those who rented or lived in “quarters,” lacked electricity, indoor plumbing and lived on unpaved roads.
Sanders Park boasted of paved streets that were “gently curved to slow down traffic and eliminate dangerous traffic congestion.” All houses had municipal water, electricity, gas and telephone service, as well as individual septic tanks “approved by the F.H.A. and the State of Florida Health Department.”
Each concrete-block house came equipped with a 20-gallon electric water heater, a gas range and a gas wall heater.
The $500 down payment left many of Pompano’s black residents out of the Sanders Park market, but new development attracted professionals, such as teachers and business owners.
For Pompano Beach’s black residents, the opening of the Sanders Park development was a step into the future.
Pompano’s established a municipal water system in 1925 when the city council funded a deep water well just north of NE Second Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues. An electric pump moved the water up to a 30-foot diameter tank on top of a 100-foot metal tower.
The height provided adequate water pressure to serve even the new multi-story structures being built in Pompano’s downtown.
The water tower was torn down long ago, but the Mediterranean-style pump house is still standing in Founders Park.
When the Pompano Public Library opened on April 22, 1940, it had about 500 books in its collection.
During the first five weeks of operation, it was open 30 half-days, and loaned out a total of 1,022 books. The librarian, Isabelle Klingler, reported that this consisted of 338 adult fiction books, 49 adult nonfiction, 504 juvenile fiction and 64 juvenile nonfiction. There were an additional 67 books from a special collection that were rented. The proceeds from the rental collection went towards purchasing new books.
As the United States geared up for the invasion of Europe and many battles for Pacific island strongholds, the decision was made to cut back on efforts to watch America’s coastlines for enemy aircraft. In Pompano, many residents had taken part in this effort. The volunteers were provided official notice through a letter sent over the signature of Henry L. Stimpson, Secretary of War, dated May 16, 1944:
TO ALL VOLUNTEERS OF THE AIRCRAFT WARNING SERVICE:
You have had a unique opportunity to see and to take part in the gradual transition from the defensive position into which your county was forced at the starts of the war to the offensive that is today forcing our enemies back towards Berlin and Tokio. Many of you have served loyally and well in the Aircraft Warning Service ever since December 8, 1941. All of you have contributed your share to making this transition from retreat to advance possible.
The most crucial battles of our Nation’s history are now in prospect overseas. They demand the full resources of our country, both in manpower and materiel. For that reason, the War Department has directed the further reduction of air defense measures within the continental United States and the release to the offensive of trained soldiers and equipment that could not otherwise be brought to bear on the enemy.
The aircraft warning centers, at which so many of you have served and to which so many others have reported as ground observers, are to be closed. The Aircraft Warning Service, on a reduced scale, will be absorbed into installations used for the training of fighter pilots. The resulting savings in military personnel and equipment will be substantial.
This does not mean that the War Department is of the opinion that all danger of enemy bombing has passed. On the contrary, a small-scale sneak raid is still within the capabilities of our enemies. We must win this war in Europe and Asia, however, and the calculated risk we are assuming in reducing our air defense measures is justified by the offensive power we will thereby release.
During your period of duty with the Aircraft Warning Service, you have learned many facts which, if made public, might be of service to the enemy. The War Department looks to you to maintain silence with respect to these matters of national security. The obligation you assumed to safeguard military information remains in full effect.
This war has a long way to go. We are only just entering upon its crucial phase an victory lies far ahead beyond many bloody battles. The War Department sincerely hopes that you will not relax your war effort, and urges that you transfer to one of the many remaining vitally important jobs the loyalty and self-sacrifice you have shown in your work for the Aircraft Warning Service.
The War Department is deeply grateful for the important service you have rendered your country.
Pompano Beach’s Sand and Spurs Park is a municipal facility for the stabling, training and riding of privately-owned horses. Horse owners pay a rental fee for use of the stables.
The park was established in the mid-1950s, but grew out of a small riding facility at the same location that had been known as the Kiwanis Riding Ring. Part of the impetus for expansion came from the growth of the area; whereas in the past many local residents stabled horses in their backyards or on farmland, this was becoming increasingly difficult.
Pompano Beach Mayor Albert J. Smoak and Pompano Beach Parks Department Supervisor Lester D. Parsons were instrumental in getting the City to “take over” the Kiwanis Riding Ring and in using the surrounding grounds for stables and paddocks. Much of the construction work was performed by volunteers.
The name, Sand and Spurs Park, was chosen in a contest and was made official in March, 1958.
Were your ancestors here in Florida before it was a state? If so (and you can prove it), you qualify for a Florida Pioneer Descendant Certificate from the Florida State Genealogical Society.
According to the FSGS website:
The website also has a list of Florida pioneers who have been identified through this program.
This award can be given to any person regardless of his or her place of residence who shall provide documentary proof satisfactory to the committee, which establishes a solid chain of evidence that he or she has an ancestor who settled in Florida (present boundaries) before the state was admitted to the union, 3 March 1845. The application and all supporting documentation shall remain the property of the Society and the Florida State Archives.
Pompano, unlike some other cities such as Fort Lauderdale, was not platted by the Florida East Coast Railway, and therefore the community pretty much grew on its own.
Also, it appears that the FEC’s land-development subsidiary, the Model Land Company, took relatively little interest in the property it had acquired in the Pompano area.
South Florida developers, as early as the 1920s, found that they could create waterfront property by digging canals inland from waterways such as the Intracoastal. The digging of these “finger” canals also provided the developers with fill to raise the level of surrounding land.
In Pompano, the first of this type of canal was the Caliban Canal, which runs from the Intracoastal Waterway, west to NE 23rd Avenue, between NE 15th and 16th Streets. Work on the Caliban was started in 1948.
The name Caliban comes from one of the characters in William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest.
When Chis-Craft, the pleasure boat manufacturer, opened a new factory in Pompano Beach on August 22, 1957, many in the community saw it as a harbinger of transition from a farming to a manufacturing economy.
Although agriculture was still the dominant economic force in the area, by far, there were plenty of indications that its primacy was endangered.
Obvious to all was the sale of farmland for residential developments. By the mid-1950s, large sections of agricultural areas had been converted into new towns, such as Margate and Lighthouse Point, or large unincorporated neighborhoods such as Cresthaven.
Few saw the trend stopping, and it didn’t.
According to the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, between April, 2008, and April, 2009, Florida’s population dropped by 58,000 residents.
This was the first decline in the state’s population since 1946, when most of Florida’s World War II military bases closed down.
The loss of 58,000 people represents less than one-third of one percent of the state’s 18 million citizens.
When the automobile was in its infancy, the State of Florida required owners to register their vehicles, but did not issue license plates:
from “History of Florida’s License Plates,” Brevard County Tax Collector website.
Chapter 5437, Act No. 66, Laws of Florida, May 11, 1905, required all resident owners to pay a $2.00 fee to register their motor vehicles with the Secretary of State and to provide make, description, serial number and horsepower of the autos. The Secretary of State in return issued a paper certificate, the number of which was displayed prominently on the rear of the vehicle. The owner was thus required to provide his own license plate, a practice common to many states and localities prior to about 1910. Although it was not required, some license plates displayed the “FLA” state designation. License plates of wood, leather and metal are known, some being homemade while others were made by local sign smiths or purchased from a mail-order firm. These permanent numbers were required until September 30, 1915.
How many of Pompano Beach’s city commissioners have been the direct descendants of former commissioners?
Our current mayor, Lamar Fisher, is the grandson of Louis Fisher, who served as Pompano’s mayor and commissioner in the 1940s.
Emma Lou Olson, was a commissioner in the 1970s and 1980s, and served as mayor from 1978 to 1982. Her father, Frank M. Carson, was elected to the Pompano City Council in 1926 and served through 1928.
Bruce Blount (commissioner from 1957 through 1960) was the son of George L. Blount, who served in the 1920s.
During the Second World War, Pompano residents volunteered to take shifts on the beach watching for Nazi U-boats and enemy aircraft:
Historical Souvenir Program, Pompano Beach Golden Jubilee (1958), p. 52.
On [one] occasion, one of the volunteer plane spotters became highly excited because of a family wash hanging on a line. A family bearing a German name but patriotic American citizens lived near the beach. The good housewife found it necessary to have two wash days one week. Seeing this the sky watcher became convinced that the arrangements of the freshly laundered garments on the line spelled out some kind of code message to a German submarine lurking offshore. He enjoyed his excitement all by himself. No one else bought the story.
In an interview, former Lighthouse Point Mayor Frank McDonough remembered that there was a “pet” alligator that hung out around Cap’s Place restaurant, in part because it frequently was fed by local residents. Unfortunately, the alligator became a victim of “progress”:
Interview of Frank McDonough by Barbara Zisk, February 20, 2001, Florida Atlantic University Digital Library.
And so they were dredging Cap Knight’s Bayou, which is the entrance into Lighthouse Point from the Intracoastal Inlet and around the bend. And all of a sudden … they were dredging with these big pipes … and all of a sudden out of this comes this huge alligator. He had been laying on the bank down there. And so, they pulled him out, I guess as they were dredging. And that’s the alligator they came and took away. But he had been … a pet alligator.
In August, 1916, less than a year after it was created, Broward County held a referendum on the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
The “dry” faction won overwhelmingly, 421 to 170, carrying every precinct in the county.
The closest the “wets” came to winning was in Pompano, where Prohibition was supported by a narrow 32 to 30 vote total.
In spite of extensive flood control efforts, Pompano area farmers had to contend with sporadic flooding well into the 1950s:
“Bean Prices Hold Steady Despite Rains,” Pompano Beach Town News, November 18, 1954.
While the quality of beans suffered somewhat due to last week-end’s bad weather, brokers at the Pompano Beach Farmers’ Market reported this week that no great impact was felt on the prie line of the produce. Vegetable prices held steady to the previous week and were plentiful.
Heavy rains ruined crops of peppers and beans in several areas south of Pompano Beach where drainage couldnot accommodate the run-off. In the west and northwest sections of the Pompano area, while several acres were flooded, damage was reported no wide-spread. Farms along Highway #7 [State Road 7] were still pumping at full capacity this week in order to save low fields.
Three dates to mark in your calendars:
Wednesday, September 16th: The Historical Society’s monthly programs resume with a covered dish supper at the Dick & Miriam Hood Center (217 NE 4th Avenue, Pompano Beach) and a preview of the upcoming season.
Saturday, September 26th: The Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society will conduct a tour of the Hillsboro Lighthouse. For additional information, visit the organization’s website.
Saturday, October 31st: The Pompano Beach Green Market begins its seventh season in Pompano’s historic downtown.
Before mechanization (and even afterward) Pompano farmers relied on animal power for heavy work on the farms, and no animal was as efficient as the sure-footed and hardy mule.
A mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, and the offspring is sterile. Thus, few, if any, local farmers felt it worthwhile to breed their own mules; it was most cost-effective to purchase or rent the animals.
Bud Garner remembers Pompano’s “mule lot”:
At the corner of N.E. 6th St. and Flagler Ave, the Florida East Coast Railroad had a “Mule Lot”. It was built many years ago to handle the rather large business of livestock being shipped into this area, mainly for the farming industry. “Mule Daniels” was the primary shipper of mules to this area. They were shipped mostly from Tennessee and arrived in Pompano in groups of three or four “Cattle Cars” or livestock cars. Each car carried about twenty or so mules depending on their size.
A number of Pompano’s early residents later moved to other parts of the state.
One large family than came and went was the family of Joseph W. and Emma Skates. The 1910 census indicates that at least eight members of that family lived in Pompano, but at some point after that date they moved to the area around Arcadia, Florida.
Up through the 1950s, some Pompano churches conducted full immersion baptism ceremonies at the beach. In some cases, it is said that baptisms were performed in the Pompano Canal.
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea dates its incorporation back to 1927, but it was actually incorporated twice.
The town was was first incorporated on November 30, 1927, during the twilight of the Florida land boom era. The ensuing Great Depression destroyed the financial viability of the municipality and its charter was revoked by the state in 1933.
In the years following the Second World War, as thousands of new residents arrived in South Florida on a monthly basis, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea was reincorporated on November 30, 1947.