Historical Essays 51 to 60

Posted on 13 June 2010 by LeslieM

Historical Essay 60

Fishing was Awesome in the “Old Days”

My father, Marlin Eller, used to tell me about when he was a boy in the 1930s growing up in Deerfield, the water in the Intracoastal Waterway and Hillsboro River/Canal was clear most of the time. According to him, you could see all the way to the bottom and use treble snag hooks and cast nets to catch fish from the bridges or docks.

When I was a boy growing up some 20 years later in the 1950s, we only had clear water in the Intracoastal in Deerfield a few days a year, and it was never really clear in the Hillsboro Canal. However, the water was always clear in the Intracoastal on the back end of an incoming tide near the Hillsboro or Boca Raton Inlets. In December each year, the shrimp would start running, that is, they would float and swim in from the ocean by the thousands on an incoming tide. The run would continue through April. However, January and February seemed to be the best. And the very best was three days before and after the full moon. You could only see them at night with a light, because in the daytime they kept near the bottom. We would anchor our boat at the beginning of an incoming tide just off the channel so as not to interfere with boat traffic. Then, we would put our bright lanterns out on extender poles. Extending our dip nets out over the water just behind a lantern, we were ready to catch some shrimp. At night, the shrimp tend to swim near the surface, and you can see them coming because their eyes shine bright pink. Sometimes, they would be in groups of two or three and you could get them all with one swoop. But mostly it was one at a time.
Once you had a few in the net, you would dump them into the 5-gallon bucket in the middle of the boat. We would generally “shrimp” for two to three hours and then quit because it was pretty tiring and, sometimes, it would be biting cold. Back home, Mother would take the ones she wanted for frying or boiling and we’d put the others in the bait freezer.
Fishing was also good that time of year. We sometimes used a homemade lure, which we thought looked like a shrimp when trolled. We made it by cutting Mother’s orange and yellow embroidery threads into 5-inch-long pieces and tying them onto the links of a dog chain about 4 inches long. A ball sinker in the front and regular fish hook in the back finished off the lure. We’d troll between Boca Raton and Hillsboro Inlets in about 15 feet of water next to the first reef and catch lots of blue fish and some Spanish mackerel. If they weren’t biting there, we’d go into the deeper water of the second reef in about 50 feet of water and try to catch some kingfish or cobia. If that didn’t work, we’d anchor and chum up grouper, red snapper, yellow tail and the always dependable grey snapper or grunts. We could always catch fish. We had lots of fun and never worried about having something to eat.
David Eller

Historical Essay 59

My First Car … a 1949 Ford

15 Apr 2010
When you are 16 years old with a drivers license, but no car, life can be tedious. At least, it seemed that way to me. My parents would let me use their 1954 Chevrolet sparingly. They weren’t too enthused about me using their car for dating for some reason, so most of my early “dates” were limited to going out to Howard Johnson’s for ice cream on Sunday nights after church with one of the parents driving.

One of the girls in my Sunday School class was Sharon Bourne, whose father’s farm was what is now the Royal Palm Housing Development at the corner of the Hillsboro River, Federal Highway and the Intra-
coastal Waterway in north Boca Raton. After our ice cream, we would often drive around their farm with the lights on in her father’s truck, looking for rabbits to shoot with my “pumped air” pellet gun. We never killed one that I remember, but we had lots of fun trying.
We also sometimes played a game at their house after church called “three minutes of heaven.” Boys’ and girls’ names were put on different colored paper cards and put in a bowl. The girl drew a card, and if she agreed to … went into the closet with the boy whose name she drew for three minutes. She didn’t have to, and nothing beyond a little hugging and some kissing (primarily on the cheek) was expected. It was mostly just whispering in the closet with occasional giggling and guttural sounds, which in our innocence we thought was funny.
My Sunday School Bible teacher was Mr. Joel Horne. His parents had moved to Deerfield in 1903 (see Historical Article No. 46). He was a very sincere teacher and encouraged us to pray for other people and for ourselves last. I remember asking him one time if he thought it would be alright if I prayed to God to somehow have my own car. He looked at me seriously and then replied tenderly, “As long as you’re not going to use your church tithing money to buy it.” I agreed and started praying real hard.
A few weeks later he asked me, “Are you still praying for a car?” I, of course, answered in the affirmative. He smiled real big and said “I’ve already talked to your Mom and Dad, and they say it would be alright with them if you would like to buy my car. It’s a 1949 Ford and needs a paint job and some new tires, but I’d be willing to sell it to you for $100!” I didn’t hesitate because I knew I had the hundred dollars in my bedroom drawer. Dad spoke up then and said, “If you don’t have enough for new tires, I’ll throw those in for you!”  I gave Joel a big hug, Dad a big hug and Mom a kiss on her cheek – as it was obvious they had all conspired to make this happen. Life was good.
David Eller, Publisher

Historical Essay 58

U.S. Government’s Unclear Labor Laws

– Nearly bankrupts my Dad in 1955 –

1 Apr 2010
My Father, Marlin Eller, was a very honest businessman, and would never knowingly violate a law. However, when laws are passed, there are often  “gray areas” which have to be tested and clarified in our court system. That is what happened to my Father with a U.S. Labor law situation requiring time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over 40 hours. When it was passed there were a lot of exemptions made. One of the exemptions had to do with agriculture-related businesses.
Most of our business at the time was related to the repair and manufacturing of farm equipment. In addition, Dad’s investment partner at the time was a farmer, and a lot of our company’s work related to maintaining equipment on his farm. Normal working hours, at the time, were five eight-hour days plus four hours on Saturday morning for a 44 hour work week.  Dad did it that way for years and paid straight pay for 44 hours. The business was small and, besides Dad, there were typically two machinists, two welders, two laborers and I, as a teenager part-time after school.
One of our long-time machinists, Horace Holliway, decided to quit us and go to Alaska to make some big money. So Dad hired a 30-year-old young man named Bart, who had just moved down here from up north and assigned him to the 24”Nebal lathe near our large front door facing Dixie Highway.  Bart was a very good machinist and very personable. In fact, he liked to meet our customers as they entered the front door and find out what they needed. Dad began to notice that some of the customers bringing items in for repairs woul
d leave with their items shortly after talking to Bart.
Suspicious, Dad called one of the customers and asked why?  The customer told Dad sheepishly that Bart had told the customer to bring the work to his, Bart’s place, on Saturday afternoon and Bart would do the work for a lot less than Dad would charge. Furious, Dad called all our workers to the front of the shop. Pointing his finger at Bart, Dad explained what he had found out and loudly told our other workers “This man is stealing from you and me, and I’m firing him right now!” Bart gathered up his tools and slunk out the side door.
A few weeks later, a heavy set man in a white shirt and tie with a goatee, carrying a clipboard, walked in and handed Dad his card. He was with the U.S. Department of Labor in Miami. He said there had been a complaint filed by a man name Bart who asked to see Dad’s payroll records. He, then, asked Dad why he wasn’t paying time-and-a-half for the four hours worked on Saturday. Dad explained that it was his understanding that because most of our work was farm-related, it didn’t apply to us. The man asked to see our invoices. Going through them he noticed that we also had done work for a rock quarry west of town. He said that disqualified us from the agricultural exemption.
By this time, our workers were clocking out and standing around to find out what was happening. When they heard Dad arguing with the man and saying that if that was the way it was, there would be no more Saturday work. Hearing that, our workers started getting agitated with the government man and all agreed that they would sign a petition asking to be exempted from the time-and-a-half in order to get the extra four hours pay.  This seemed to make the government man mad. He left in a huff and then served Dad with papers ordering him to go back three years and pay extra half time to all workers involved, and the workers were not allowed to refuse it. Dad did it, but it almost broke our business.
Dad even had to mail our top former machinist, Horace Holliway, a check up in Alaska. When Horace got the check he called Dad to see what was happening.  When he found out, and then learned that Dad had fired Bart, Horace admitted that Alaska was too cold for him and asked for his job back. Dad quickly agreed. So something good came out of the situation. Horace, who Dad always said was the best and fastest machinist “in the world,” came back to Deerfield to work for us until he retired.  Dad assigned me to work with Horace, on the lathe next to him, until I went off to college. He trained me well. I was able to get machinist jobs in the research departments at both Stetson University and the University of Florida years later, when I went off to college.
David Eller

Historical Essay 57

Alligators in the Hillsboro River and me

18 Mar 2010
Back in the 1950s, there was no public swimming pool in Deerfield. So in the summertime, my young friends and I would often swim in the Hillsboro River near where the boat ramp in Pioneer Park is today. There used to be a big rubber tree next to the river, with its largest branch extended out over the water. Someone had tied a long rope with knots in it on the branch. We could grab the rope, swing out over the river, let go and fall into the deep water below and swim to shore. It was lots of fun.
We never worried about alligators because it was common lore that local men had killed off all the alligators all the way to the Everglades many years ago. At least we thought that was true. However, one of our neighbor’s dogs had disappeared recently shortly after someone had seen him swimming in the river. Thus, we were on alert, watching for the dog.
One afternoon, I was fishing for mangrove snappers on the west side of the Dixie Highway bridge crossing the Hillsboro River when , suddenly, I saw an alligator about 6-feet-long swimming slowly along the shore almost directly under me. It appeared he was stalking some birds on the water’s edge. I took note that he was only about 100 yards from our swimming hole on the river at Pioneer Park. I instinctively knew it would be all right with my dad for me to kill the gator. However, time was of the essence, since he might swim away and hide.
So I ran as fast as I could to our house (about 150 yards away), grabbed my single shot 22 caliber rifle from the closet, a few hollow point 22 long bullets and ran without stopping back to the bridge. I put a bullet in the chamber before leaning over the bridge looking for the alligator. Sure enough, the gator was only a few feet away from where I’d first seen him. He was still stalking the birds. I leaned over the bridge railing, took careful aim at his temple about 2 inches behind his right eye and squeezed the trigger. The shot hit him right where I aimed. His tail splashed out of the water, his body jerked sideways and he rolled over and sank. I never saw that alligator again.
However, a few days later, I was fishing near the same spot and saw a much smaller alligator, about 3 ½ feet long, lying on shore. I had my gig with me, which is a three-prong spear with a rope tied to the end. I threw the gig at the gator hitting him in his side with one of the prongs just behind his right front leg. I was afraid he would get off if I tried to lift him up to the bridge. So I jumped down to the ground, flipped him over on his back (which automatically puts alligators to sleep) and drug him by his tail all the way home.  When I got to our back screen door, I hollered to my mom to come out “and look at something.” She didn’t respond fast enough so I opened the door and drug the alligator up the steps and into the kitchen where mother was cooking supper. She was stirring black-eyed peas and didn’t look around at first. I had the gator, still on its back, about a foot behind her when she looked around. Seeing the alligator, she let out a scream and jumped, throwing black-eyed peas into the air and all over the kitchen. I was laughing, but she didn’t think it was funny.
I put my new alligator friend into a pond we had in the backyard leaving him firmly tied by the rope attached to his tail. But when he went under water we noticed bubbles coming out of his back where my gig had penetrated him. Dad suggested that we should take him to the new Animal Park, which had opened, recently on Federal Highway in Pompano. So we put him in the trunk of mom’s car and drove him down there, always keeping him on his back. The manager of the park seemed glad to get him, said he would fix his wound. He didn’t give me any money for the alligator when I asked, but did give me a year’s worth of free passes to the park. We went to see my gator a few times after that, but I don’t think he ever recognized me.
– David Eller

Historical Essay 56

Guitar works wonders … with girls

4 Feb 2010
In the last two historical articles, No.’s  54 and 55, I shared how I’d spent my first two teenage years, ages 13 and 14, in Deerfield flat on my back in a body cast to correct a spinal problem. I was in recovery mode through most of my 15th year, and developed a great interest in guitars and girls. In that order, I might add.
My Dad had an old acoustic Gibson guitar he kept in the closet behind the suitcases. One night, I dug it out and asked him to teach me how to play it. He’d been working hard in our machine shop all day, and at the time, was relaxing in his favorite recliner chair reading the newspaper. His response to my request was to lower the newspaper, look at me briefly and say: “Your hands aren’t big enough yet.”
He had used that excuse several times already, and I was beginning to get frustrated. Especially, since a new fellow my age, Richard S., had recently started Pompano High School in my class and had performed for our assembly program at high school by playing the guitar. His hands didn’t seem to be any larger than mine, and he could really play that guitar and sing. The girls were always very friendly to him, which I admit made me a little envious.
I had also become enamored by one particular girl in the class behind ours. She was just the right height for me, had medium length bright blond hair, a good figure and a great smile. I’d spoken to her a few times and knew she lived in Lighthouse Point and was allowed to date. Her name was Gail, she was gorgeous, and was always nice to me when we chatted. I had dreams of taking her out on a date as soon as I turned 16 and got my driver’s license.
That day finally arrived. I passed the test for my driver’s license the first time, got permission from my parents to use their car on Saturday night, and waited around the school hallway on Tuesday where I knew Gail would be walking. Sure enough, she was right on schedule as I sauntered up next to her and blurted out, “I got my driver’s license yesterday and my parents said I can use their car Saturday night. Would you like to go to a movie?” She hesitated for a moment. It seemed like forever. Finally, she said slowly, “OK. What time?”  I told her 6:30, and when she agreed, I just wanted to give her a big hug. But knew I shouldn’t, at least not yet!
Wednesday and Thursday were wonderful days. Friday was, too, up until my last class, when I got out and I saw Gail waiting for me with a serious look on her face. I went to her and said: “What’s up?” She said, “I can’t go out with you tomorrow night!” Thinking maybe she was sick or something I said, “I’m sorry. Are you OK?” Without any expression or apology she simply said, “Oh, Richard S. invited me out, and I’d rather go out with him.” I felt like someone had slugged me in the stomach. I said, “Why would you rather go out with Richard than with me?” She immediately replied, “Richard plays the guitar and sings.”
I was not a happy camper. So that night, when Dad gave me his standard excuse for not teaching me the guitar, I did not quit. I told him what had happened at school that day and insisted he teach me “Now! Tonight.” So, he did. He sat with me that night and explained that most songs can be played on a guitar by using only three chords in a progression. However a few songs only use two chords. Since I was just beginning, he taught me the same two-chord song he had learned as his first song – “Birmingham Jail.” It’s played using only the chords “D” and “A7.” By the time I went to bed that night, I had mastered those two chords and that song. Within a month, I’d mastered several more chords and many more songs. I never did have a date with Gail. But I never lost out on another girl I was interested in dating to someone who could outplay me on a guitar either.
-David Eller

Historical Essay 55

My Best Christmas – Walking Again

17 Dec 2009
In previous article, No. 54, I described how as a 13-year-old boy in 1954, I was diagnosed as needing an operation to prevent spinal curvature caused by an accident when I was much younger. It was an experimental operation consisting of inserting a 12-inch hard plastic rod into my back next to my spine. However, after about nine months, the doctors determined that the plastic was not bonding to my back. Therefore, a second operation was necessary to remove the plastic and insert a bone, which did bond, and is still there today. The doctors assured me that I would have the strongest back in town. They apparently knew what they were talking about, as I’ve never had any back problems since.
It’s been said that small towns have big hearts, and it was certainly true in our case. My eighth grade classes were completed at home

under the direction of Mrs. Lorena Lasher, who came twice per week teaching me and helping to keep my spirits up. My teenage friend James Stills visited me regularly, and Dad even took the two of us fishing once in our new 14-foot fiberglass boat. I was probably the only person to ever go fishing in a boat while in a full body cast. James teased me as he carried me into the boat, saying I would make a good anchor. Another friend, Johnny Dickens, loaned me his short-wave radio, which occupied many an hour; and the only town barber at the time, Clint Hayes, even drove to Miami once to cut my hair. When Dad tried to pay him, Clint said jokingly that he didn’t take money from his ‘regular customers.’
By ninth grade, a new communication technology had arrived on the scene. It was a telephone system wherein a speaker/receiver was installed next to my couch in Deerfield with a corresponding portable

unit plugged into each of my classrooms at Pompano High School. (Deerfield did not have a high school at the time.) I was able to listen to the teacher and my classmates in class and push a button whenever I wanted to ask a question or speak. It was reportedly the first such system in Florida, and received a lot of publicity. The telephone company charged $52.80 per month for the toll charge, and the Deerfield Beach Council of Clubs, led by Robert Sullivan, guaranteed and paid for it.
During this almost two-year endeavor occupying most of my 13th and 14th years of my life, a lot of people felt sorry for me. That, of course, is normal, and I felt sorry for myself some days. However, in retrospect, what I went through was a real blessing in that I became a ferocious reader and was able to obtain and study the text books for my ninth, 10th, 11th and even some senior year classes way ahead of time. Thus, I was able to make almost straight A’s through the rest of my high school career and, ultimately, receive several scholastic scholarships paying much of my college expenses.
On Dec. 22, 1955, the doctors removed the body cast and I was able to stand up next to the Christmas tree in our living room wearing my “South Florida Little League Baseball Champions” jacket, which I had earned just two years prior. I couldn’t walk at first. I actually had to learn again. But I committed myself to walk by Christmas day, and I did. And every Christmas, I think about it again and thank God.
Merry Christmas!

Historical Essay 54

Jerry Lewis Comforts Me In Miami’s Children’s Hospital

3 Dec 2009
It was October of 1954. I’d just turned 13 years old and returned from playing in the Little League Baseball SoutheastUnited States Championship in North Carolina when my parents told me they had been waiting for the baseball season to finish before taking me to an appointment with a Dr. Kaiser at the Children’s Variety Hospital in Miami to get my back/spine checked out. It was because my back had been injured eight years earlier at age 2 ½ (See Historical Series No.18 ) and, although I never had any back pain, there was a concern by our family doctor, Dr. Martin, that my upcoming teenage growth spurt might cause me to have excessive curvature of the spine unless corrected.
Dad went with Mother and me to meet Doctor Kaiser, a kind-looking middle-aged man with receding black hair, wearing rimless bifocal glasses. He first examined the X-rays and then, my back. Next, he turned to my parents and solemnly confirmed that I needed a spinal operation. Dad immediately wanted to know what it would cost. Dr. Kaiser disarmed Dad by saying something like “Don’t worry about the cost. You probably couldn’t afford it if we charged you. This is actually going to be an experiment, so we won’t be charging you anything.”
That seemed to satisfy Dad, but I didn’t like the “experiment” description. However, there was nothing much I could do but to go along with the adults. Doctor Kaiser said we should come back the following Monday, prepared to check me into the hospital. We did, and thus began a journey which lasted nearly a year and a half, with me spending it mostly in a post-operation body cast.
I don’t remember much about the operation itself except they put me to sleep using something called a spinal tap. They then inserted a hard plastic rod about a foot long in my back next to my spine and sewed it into my back. When I awoke, they wrapped me in a plaster body cast from the top of the back of my head, down to the lower part of my left hip, and then down my right side around my right leg to my knee. I could not sit up, and soon found out I couldn’t even roll over. However, they did leave about a 7-inch round opening in the front of the cast at my stomach area, so I could breathe, which I greatly appreciated.
A few days later, I was told that the famous comedian Jerry Lewis was coming to the hospital to visit the children, including me. When he arrived, I was expecting to see his big smiley face like I’d seen on TV and in the movies. However, when he walked into the room and looked at me in my full body cast, his face reflected tremendous sympathy, rather than humor. He looked at the name tag on my bed, which listed me as “James David,” and said “James how are you doing?” I gave him my best smile then lied and said “fine.” He patted me on top of my head and left. But I really appreciated his coming to the hospital to visit us. In fact, I still make a point of watching his muscular dystrophy telethon on Labor Day every year and usually make a donation.

Historical Essay 53

1954 was an important year … in many ways

19 Nov 2009
I was 12 years old and about to become a teenager. When on …
Jan. 14 – Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe.
Feb. 10 – President Eisenhower warned against U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
Feb. 23 – Salk vaccine was used for first mass inoculation against polio.
Mar. 1 – U.S. exploded first 15 megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll.
Mar.25 – RCA manufactured first color TV set. Was 12 ½ inch and cost $1,000.
Apr. 12 – Bill Haley & the Comets recorded “Rock around the Clock.”
Apr. 18 – Col. Nasser seized power and became Egypt’s Prime Minister.
May 17 – U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed “separate but equal” 1896  decision for the nation’s public schools.
June 14 – President Eisen-hower signed order adding “under God” to the pledge of allegiance.
June 17 – Rocky Marciano beat Ezzard Charles in 15 rounds for heavyweight title.
July 6 – Elvis recorded first hit “That’s All Right Mama.”
July 12 – President Eisen-hower introduced plan for interstate highway system.
July 15 – The first commercial jet plane, a Boeing 707, had its first test flight.
Sept. 21- The first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, was commissioned.
Nov. 23 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the peak reached in 1929 just before the crash … and my little brother, Dwight, turned 6 years old.

Historical Essay 52

“Peeping Tom” Unites Neighborhood

8 Oct 2009
Air conditioning didn’t exist in Florida and Deerfield in the early 1950s. In the summer, it was so hot that we had to leave our windows open to try to catch a little breeze. Although wire screens across the windows kept most of the mosquitoes out, at night you could hear them buzzing around trying to get in. My bed was next to a window, and often a mosquito would bite me on the tip of my nose when I would press it up next to the screen to try to catch a little fresh air. Thus was life in Florida at the time.
In order to be comfortable, it was necessary for people to leave their screened windows open in the summertime. Thus anyone inclined to could walk up close and look into people’s windows, to see whatever there was to see going on inside.
Our neighbors across the street were “Bear” Moseley and his wife Vernell. Bear’s father lived at the south end of the block on the corner of Dixie and Hillsboro. His other son, Jay Moseley, lived around the corner and had been Deerfield’s Mayor while still in his twenties — which at the time was the youngest mayor in the United States. It was a close-knit neighborhood.
Shortly after my father, Marlin Eller, was elected as Police Commissioner in Deerfield, the Moseleys complained to Dad about a “Peeping Tom,” who was coming around their houses, looking in the windows. Since we and the Moseleys had all recently gotten telephones for the first time, Dad told them to call him the next time they saw the “peeping tom,” and Dad would sneak down the street and get behind the rascal. Then the Moseleys could rush out and help Dad catch him.
The plan worked perfectly, at least almost perfectly. Dad got the call from Bear in the early evening on a weekend night. Dad jumped up from watching TV and quietly ran around the back of our house, down the side street and came around toward the Moseley home. He spotted the peeping tom and quietly snuck up behind him. Dad grabbed the Peeping Tom, wrestled him to the ground and then pulled him up, holding both arms behind his back until Buck ran out of the house to help him. Dad was still holding him from behind as Buck drew back his fist and swung with all his might at the face of the Peeping Tom. As Buck’s fist came forward, the Peeping Tom simply cocked his head to the side and Buck’s fist hit Dad squarely in the face. With that, Dad was knocked backwards and let go of the culprit, who took off running down Dixie Highway toward Boca Raton, never to be seen again. Mother patched up Dad’s bruised face. It was the last time Dad took matters into his own hands alone when it became necessary to arrest someone.

Historical Essay 51

My Father, Marlin Eller, built Deerfield’s first Fire Truck  in 1954 for $2,800

24 Sep 2009
Dad apparently lost money on the deal because he never built another one. It was built on the chassis of a 4-wheel drive 1953 Dodge power wagon and had a Champion Pump. Myrle Johnson had been appointed as chief of the 15-man volunteer fire department, and some of his volunteers, especially M.A. Peterson, helped Dad build the fire truck. They added heavy-duty fenders to the frame and a water supply tank. After  it was all painted red, they attached a hose with nozzle, a siren and radio. It did the job well and cost less than $3,000. Today the city has reportedly spent over $500,000 for just one fire truck, and they have several.
The first fire station was located at the intersection of NE 2 Street and NE 3 Avenue just across the street and south of Pioneer Park. It had a dirt floor inside a barn-like building with two double doors.  When the fire alarm sounded, it could be heard all over town. Myrle would leave with the first group of volunteers to arrive. But before leaving, he would point a rotating wooden arrow mounted on a compass at the fire station in the direction of the fire for the volunteers who had not yet arrived to know which way to go.
When one of the young teenage volunteers was found to be starting some of the fires to get the stipend to participate in putting them out, the city decided to pursue a more professional force.
Subsequently, in 1956, the City of Deerfield hired Herbert E. Gimmel from Cleveland Heights, OH as its first full-time fire chief.  He and City Manager Clarence Landsitell, along with local contractor and City Commissioner Odas Tanner, led the charge to create Deerfield’s first paid fire department. Bill Abernathy and Horace Freeman were hired in January 1958. They each alternated on a 24-hour on, 24-hour off duty schedule so that a working fireman was on duty at all times.

By 1973, the City of Deerfield, with a population of 27,700, had 27 personnel in the fire department, or one fireman per 1026 residents. Many of the firemen had also been cross-trained as state-certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). By 1976, a second fire station was occupied adjacent to Century Village, Deerfield’s population had increased to 31,200, and there were 47 personnel in the fire department, or one per 664 residents.
In 1981, a third fire station was added on SE 21st Avenue; population was 50,422; there were 75 fire department personnel, or one per 672 residents. Today, there are 150 fire department employees to serve Deerfield’s population of approximately 80,000 people, plus Hillsboro Beach’s 2,400, for a total of 82,400 people. There is one fire department personnel per 545 residents, or approximately twice the number of firemen per unit population as it was in 1973. Productivity is going in the wrong direction, and it makes up a huge amount of the city budget. Does anyone out there care?

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