| Historical Essays

Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Essay No.74

Posted on 26 December 2013 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally, or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers that might be worried about certain old “scandals,” don’t worry, I won’t be writing about those (smile).

David Eller, Publisher

My most memorial Christmas yet my wife’s best and worst

For a Christian, having your birthday on Christmas Eve is a bummer. People can give you a present and say, “This is your birthday and Christmas present. This actually happened to my wife’s father, Arthur, and her mother’s father, Edward, both of whom were born on Christmas Eve. Therefore, when my wife, Deborah, was pregnant with our first child in 1971 and the doctor predicted our baby would be born toward the end of December, we all laughed about it making some sort of record if our baby was also born on Dec. 24.

However, on Dec. 23 about 4.30 p.m., our baby son, Dana, decided he wanted out of his mama’s belly and started kicking hard. This was before cell phones. My wife was at home, and I was driving around locally delivering Christmas gifts to some of our customers and calling her from a customer’s office every hour. I’d just talked to her about 4:15 p.m. and she told me everything was fine. Therefore, I was having a good time at Consulting Engineer John Grant’s office party in Boca Raton. But, when I called home about 5: 15 p.m.and no one answered, I knew I was in trouble. My wife, shortly after talking to me on the phone had suddenly gone into hard labor. Not able to reach me, she called my mother who lived nearby, who rushed over to drive her to Bethesda Hospital in Boynton. My mother, very excited, got lost a couple of times trying to find the hospital, but they finally got there just a few minutes before my wife gave birth. I also arrived to the hospital just in time to also welcome our first born, son Dana, into this world. It was 42 years ago this week. He weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 20 inches long.

The next day, Dec. 24,I went to the store and bought a little boys’ red outfit 20 inches long with Santa and reindeers on it. It turned out to be way too big, as I had forgotten to adjust the length down for his head sticking out of it.

However, unbeknownst to me, the “fun” had just begun. The next day, Christmas, Dec. 25,1971, the Miami Dolphins were playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City for the AFC divisional championship.

Both had identical 10-3 records. I just had to watch this game and figured I could visit my wife and new son in the hospital as soon as the game was over. I had no idea that this game would ultimately go down as the longest professional football game in history.

Meanwhile, two of my mother’s brothers arrived in town to visit my grandmother in Boynton. They were big Kansas City supporters and they invited me to watch the game with them and make a $100 bet for the Dolphins to win. I agreed since I figured I would still have time to visit my wife and new son after the game. Big mistake. Miami spent most of the game playing catch-up to Kansas City. Miami tied the score at 24-24 with just 1:25 left in regulation when Bob Griese threw a 5 yard pass to Marv Fleming.

They were still tied after the first overtime. But, midway through the second overtime, Miami kicker GaroYepremian, with shoe laces still untied, kicked a 37-yard field goal to win the longest game in NFL history.

I collected my winnings from my uncles and headed off to the hospital. I arrived just as visiting hours were over. But, when I explained why I was late, I was able to convince them to let me have a short visit with my wife and new son. My wife was not a happy camper, but our new son didn’t seem to care, and, now, he has four sons of his own.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Essay No. 73

Posted on 08 August 2012 by LeslieM

My wife requests that I write about some of the “humorous” experiences she has heard me talk about from my college years in the early ‘60s. So … here it goes.

My first year in college there was a tall skinny kid with black hair and a flat top haircut named Wally Smith who lived next door to me in the dormitory. We nicknamed him “spider” because he could spread his legs way out in the dorm hall and shuffle each foot up the wall until he could touch the ceiling with his hands.

One Friday night, he suggested a few of us go downtown to the theatre to see a popular new movie that had just started showing. It was a last minute thing, so, when we arrived there, bought our popcorn and drinks, and entered the theatre, it was obvious from the crowd that all the good seats were already taken. We were going to have to sit down in the front row. But, just as we started down, Wally stopped us and said “Stay here for a moment and I’ll get us some good seats.” We had no idea what he was about to do.

Suddenly, I heard a loud sound coming from the balcony of someone throwing up simultaneous with wet popcorn falling down on the people in the best seats in front of us. Wally had poured some of his coke in the box of popcorn and was shaking it out on the people below simultaneously with his “throw-up” sounds. The people below jumped up to get away from what they thought was nasty stuff coming down on them. At first, we didn’t know what was happening – just that Wally appeared suddenly and pushed all of us forward to take the seats that had just been abandoned. I couldn’t fully enjoy the movie for feeling guilty about the way Wally had gotten us the good seats. But, I have to admit, it makes me smile sometimes when I think about it. Wally eventually flunked out.

David Eller, Publisher

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Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Essay No. 72

Posted on 01 March 2012 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally, or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals,” don’t worry. I won’t be writing about those (smile).

– David Eller, Publisher


How we went from two employees to several hundred

-The new beginning-

For five years, from September of 1959 through April of 1964 when I graduated from the University of Florida College of Engineering in Gainesville, I was a full time student. It required 164 credit hours in order to graduate back then, which by taking 16 course hours per semester could be done normally in five years, which I did.

PRIZE PUMP, 1964 — David Eller is awarded first prize in the Engineer’s Fair at the University of Florida, Gainesville, for this irrigation pump, which he built himself. It handles 200 gallons per minute. David, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marlin Eller and a graduate of Pompano Beach Senior High, where he served as president of the Student Council, has a major in Ag-Engineering at Gainsville and made the dean’s list for the fall term. This is his senior year.

Unlike many of today’s students I graduated with no debt and paid for my college by receiving $40 per week from my parents; and I earned a few dollars a month playing my guitar at fraternity parties and doing machine work in the University Research Departments.

During my five years at college, I had made a lot of good friends from foreign countries like Sweden, Germany and France, who invited me to visit them after graduation. My parents weren’t too enthusiastic about the idea, but my mother had a dear friend from Pennsylvania, Elsie Dimmick, who wintered in our neighborhood in Deerfield every year.

I always enjoyed talking to her because she and her late husband had lived all over the world; he had been an engineer building steel mills. We affectionately called her Aunt Elsie. A few weeks before I graduated from college, she invited me over and gave me a check for $500 as a graduation present, which she suggested I should use to visit those friends I had made in college. I accepted, of course, and used the last few weeks of my college days planning visits to my foreign friends.

Back in the ‘60s, a new book had come out about traveling in Europe on $5 per day by using special train passes and staying in hostels easy to locate at every train station. So I set out to prove the book true.

I departed the day after graduating from the U of F and headed for Sweden, where I spent the next several weeks visiting my college girlfriend and her family and learning a little Swedish. Then, I was on to Germany and France for a few weeks before heading home, just before running out of money.

My parents, especially my dad, were extremely happy to receive me the July 1964 weekend I arrived back home.

On Monday morning, I got up early and dressed myself in dress slacks, a white shirt and tie to look the way I thought graduate engineers are supposed to look. When I walked into our “shop” next door to our house on Dixie Highway a block north of the Hillsboro River bridge that morning, I was surprised that no one was there, only my dad sitting in his office alone up front.

I looked around, then stepped into his office and said “Where’s Joe (our longtime welding foreman)? Where’s Horace (our longtime machine shop foreman)? Dad sitting at his desk reviewing bills looked up (looking sad) and said “I had to lay them off a few weeks ago. We have no jobs. No pump orders. I couldn’t afford to keep them.”

I remember a queasy feeling in my stomach. Then Dad said, “Go get out of those church clothes you’re wearing and get your machine shop clothes on. We’ve got a couple of lathe jobs to do for the Deerfield Rock Company and a drive shaft repair for Vrachota trucking. You change clothes and do those jobs while I go out to the Range Line (State Road 7) and visit some farmers and see if I can sell a pump or something.”

As dad was getting up to leave, I stupidly said, “Dad, how much am I going to get paid?” (Knowing my engineering buddies were getting on average of about $200 per week.) Dad stopped in his tracks and motioned me into his office. He pointed to a stack of bills on his desk that he had been looking over. There was a tape on top that read about $10,000. Dad said, “See that tape?” I said, ‘’Yes.’’ He said, “That’s how much we owe. Now, look in the checkbook.” I did. The balance in our bank read a little over $200. “So Son,” he continued, “we’ll try to pay you the $40 per week I’ve been sending you. And, as you can see, I’m only paying myself $75/week.”

Then he looked at me with a strong stare and said, “I’ve been holding on, waiting for you to get home. Now let’s get to work!” We did, and the rest is history.

David Eller

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Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Essay No. 71

Posted on 12 January 2012 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals,” don’t worry. I won’t be writing about those (smile). To read previous historical essays, go to www.observemewspaperonline.com and click on “The History of Deerfield.”

David Eller, Publisher


Birth of a newspaper

Deerfield Beach got its first newspaper in 1930 called the Deerfield News.

The first issue was on July 4, 1930. My father, Marlin Eller, 14 years old at the time, was featured in the first issue on the front page with his picture and a caption for having built a large model military airplane.

There was also a lot of local news like “Mrs. Butler had guests from Texas, the Longs, visited her last Thursday.” The Deerfield News folded after a short time.

Deerfield’s current  newspaper, The Observer, was founded in 1962. In reviewing some of the early Observer 1963 issues, the big stories included the fact that Hillsboro Boulevard, which had been dead-ended, was being extended with a crossing over the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks going directly west, rather than having all the traffic winding around Dixie Highway to head west, as it had been before. Hans Pufahl, Deerfield’s mayor, dressed western style in a cowboy hat, is shown cutting the ribbon, along with State Senator A.J. Ryan and Broward County Commissioner Bill Stevens.

The event was further celebrated by declaring it the “Westward Ho Day” with participants, including  Mr. and Mrs. Charles Parton, who had recently founded the Deerfield Beach Country Club, shown (right) in front of the Deerfield Furniture Company Store. Their nephew, Bob Parton, is the current president of the club.

Learning about stockings in college

Meanwhile, this writer, a son of Deerfield, was still off in college in northern Florida, first at Stetson University and later the University of Florida, studying engineering, but also learning much about certain social graces.

My first date in college was arranged by my roommate, Bob Hutson, who had a date and wanted me to go with his dates’ roommate to a drive-in movie in DeLand, Florida. Bob was driving, so my date,  a girl from New York, was in the back seat with me.

We had hardly settled in to watch the movie when I felt her hand take my hand and put it on her knee. The skin on her knee felt funny, kind of like snake skin, so I pulled my hand away.

A little while later, she did it again, and I pulled my hand away again. This continued a few more times until she gave up and left me alone. I thought the evening would never end.

Finally, we took them back to their dormitory. As I’m walking her up to the door, I finally got the nerve to ask her, “What’s wrong with the skin on your leg?” She said “What do you mean?” I replied, “It feels very rough, like scales!” She started laughing at me and said, “I’m wearing stockings, you idiot!” I must have turned bright red in the face. After all, Florida-bred boys didn’t know anything about girls wearing stockings.

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Historical Essay No. 70

Posted on 10 November 2011 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally, or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals,” don’t worry. I won’t be writing about those (smile). To read previous historical essays, go to www.observernewspaperonline.com and click on “The History of Deerfield.”

David Eller, Publisher


While I’m Away at College, Observer  newspaper is born – In Deerfield –

Some of you may have noticed that there has been a pause in my Historical articles for a few months and may have wondered why? It is quite simple. I’ve only written about things I personally knew to be true. How our family came to South Florida in 1923, after having first immigrated to North Carolina from Switzerland and Germany some 150 years earlier.

How my grandfather, Hoyt Eller, a skilled carpenter and farmer in his early 30s brought his wife and five children here to live in a tent next to the Hillsboro River/Canal and Dixe Highway. How he worked directly for the famous architect Addison Mizner to do the finish carpentry work for the Boca Raton Hotel. How he saved his money and went to farming land he bought for $1 per acre at what is now Quiet Waters Park, and later on $15 per acre in what is now the City of Parkland.

I wrote about some of the farm families like the Butlers, Wiles and Jones, who were already in Deerfield at the time.

How my father, Marlin Eller, quit farming with his father at age 21 to start his own business manufacturing large water pumps to sell to local farmers and government agencies for irrigation or drainage.

I wrote about the fact that when I started first grade at Deerfield Elementary School in 1947, there were only six students, and I was the only boy. Now I’m informed that first graders in Deerfield are measured in the hundreds. Stories about other local families were included along the way, as I wrote many stories trying to share what it was like growing up here in north Broward County in the 1940s and ‘50s. The ‘60s began with me at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and then onto the University of Florida in Gainesville, which I graduated from with an engineering degree in 1964.

However, when I wrote the story about college, I suddenly realized that I was getting away from my original objective of writing about the history of this area, the north Broward County/South Palm Beach area. Therefore, in order to stay true to my initial objective, I will attempt now to combine the two, by telling some of what was going on in my life at college and, at the same time, to tell what was simultaneously going on back home in Deerfield (using the Observer archives). Eventually, the two storylines will merge when I graduate from college and come home.

For instance, while I was away at college, in 1962 the Observer newspaper first began publishing under the direction of Margaret Moore (the mother of my good friend from high school, Adrian Moore) and the first Publisher, Bill Beck of Delray Beach.

Meanwhile, in the morning of my first day at college in DeLand, we freshmen engineering students found seats in the auditorium before the head of engineering, Dr. Lowry entered. Very distinguished-looking with a white beard and wavy white hair he told us to “Look at the student sitting in front of you. Now look at the one to your left. Now look to the right. Only one of you will ever become an engineer. The others will flunk out … or become a lawyer… or something else.” That was my first day and introduction to college. And he was right.

David Eller, Publisher

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Publisher’s Perspective: Historical Series No. 69

Posted on 30 June 2011 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, either experienced personally, or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals” don’t worry. I won’t be writing about those (smile).

— David Eller, Publisher


College life was good, but not always fair

In my last Historical Essay, I shared about my first day in college at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where I played a guitar with my new friend, Bob Bidwell, learning rock and roll. I then went out and pigged out on green olives the first evening, making myself sick.

My first roommate in that dorm turned out to be a rather difficult fellow named Dale from New Jersey, who did not want to be there and was determined to make both our lives miserable. He succeeded for a few days before I was able to arrange to get a new roommate who was more compatible.

David Eller and Bob Hutson

His name was Bob Hutson from Tampa, Florida, a quiet type fellow engineering student whose family owned an orange grove and who could have been a twin of the movie star Tom Selleck. We soon found out that he could attract the ladies with his tall good looks and I would schmooze them along with personality and guitar. We made a good team and had a great time the rest of our five years together in college as engineering students, 2½ at Stetson University in DeLand and 2½ at University of Florida in Gainesville.

Since I was on a scholastic scholarship, however, I had to make exceptional grades to keep my scholarship. Fortunately, I had had a high school teacher named Joe Calis at Pompano High School who had given me some good advice. He told me, “David, when you get to college, it is very important for you to make really good grades your first semester. If you make mostly A’s your first semester, the professors the second semester will know you are a good student and will ‘carry you’ going forward, giving you the benefit of the doubt and blaming themselves if you’re not doing quite as well in their class. They will grade you up. Meanwhile, most of your freshmen classmates will be partying their first semester, many flunking out. So, their second semester, they will have to study all the time and you can ‘take over’ their first semester girl friends. It’s a win/win for you.”  He was right, and it worked. Life was good.

Wally Smith was another friend I made on our dorm floor. His nickname was “spider” because he was real skinny with long legs and could literally walk up the wall in the hallway by spreading his legs out to each wall and jerking each leg up in spurts until he could touch the ceiling with his hands. He once bragged that he could get us good seats on Saturday night in the normally crowded theatre in downtown DeLand. When we got there, he bought a small bag of popcorn and water which he mixed together and took it up to the balcony of the theatre, telling us to stay below. He then leaned over the balcony, over the best seats in the theatre, and made loud “throw up” noises as he scattered the wet popcorn on the people down below. They started jumping up and running to the rest rooms to remove what they assumed to be nasty stuff. Wally ran down and directed us college boys to assume the great seats, which had just emptied. We tried not to look at them or smile when they came out of the bathroom and went down to find new seats down front.

Life was good, but not always fair.

David Eller


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Historical Series, No.68

Posted on 17 March 2011 by LeslieM

Since our family, the Eller family, has lived in Deerfield Beach since 1923, I’ve often been asked to put in writing some of the history of the area, that I either experienced personally or that I heard from my parents or grandparents. For some of you old timers who might be worried about certain old “scandals,” don’t worry, I won’t be writing about those (smile).

— David Eller, Publisher

From Pompano High— to Stetson University in 1959

In September of 1959, I packed up my belongings in my green 1949 Ford and headed north to DeLand, Florida to attend Stetson University on scholarship. About a one-hour drive west of Daytona Beach, Florida’s first private university was established in 1883 by Henry DeLand, in cooperation with the Baptist Church organization. Later endowed by the famous hat maker, John B. Stetson, it was best known for having Florida’s first College of Law, as well as its first School of Business Administration, School of Elementary and Secondary Education, Pre-Ministry and Florida’s first intercollegiate basketball, baseball and football teams. I was enrolled in its well-respected pre-engineering program, which was co-operating with Georgia Tech and the University of Florida to educate mechanical and civil engineers.

Having been pre-assigned a dormitory room, I drove my green ‘49 Ford up to DeLand – 40 miles west of Daytona Beach – found a parking spot in front of the dorm and got out to go find my room. Not wanting to leave my solid body Melody Maker Gibson guitar in the car, I strapped it over my back and started in. Suddenly, I heard a strong male voice say, “Hey, can you play that thing?” I looked up from under the baseball cap I was wearing to see a tall fellow with wavy black hair and a big grin on his face. I thought for a moment that he looked like a poor man’s version of Elvis Presley. I smiled back and said, “I wouldn’t be carrying it if I couldn’t play it!” He laughed and said, “My name is Bob Bidwell and I’m the sophomore in charge of this freshman dorm. After you get your stuff inside, bring your guitar down to the dorm lounge and show me what you can do. I’m looking for a rhythm player for the band I’m forming to play at fraternity parties.”  “That sounds great!” I replied. (Thus began a friendship that continues unto this day).

When we got together later that evening to play for the first time, I quickly realized that, although I knew most all the chords and had played a lot of country music and church hymns, I knew nothing about playing rock and roll. My new friend Bob started off by calling out different chords for me to play. When he was satisfied that I knew the chords, he started asking me to play them using several different types of beats or rhythms. I confessed that I only knew the standard rhythms used in country and church music. He laughed and said, “That’s alright.” He then picked up his guitar and said, “But now I’m going to teach you some rock and roll, which begins with learning how to play the “blues.”

I was excited and immediately agreed. He continued, “Watch the fingers on my left hand press the strings down at the right places right behind the frets, and do the same thing I do. Now, with the pick in your right hand stroke only the top two strings at the top, eight times on rhythm, then drop down a string and do it again but only four times, then back up for eight, etc, etc….” I caught on quickly, and was soon able to follow his lead on several blues songs. We played for over two hours without stopping. Suddenly, I realized the tips of the fingers on my left hand had started to bleed from the continual pressure on the strings making the chords. I’d never played continually that much time before, thus hadn’t developed the calluses needed on those fingers.

So I bid Bob goodbye and drove to a nearby convenience store to get some snacks to keep in the room. I picked out a few items when I noticed a bottle of pimento-stuffed green olives. My mind flashed back home, where my mother would only let us have two or three olives at a serving with a meal. I was never satisfied and always wanted more. Suddenly, I realized that in my new freedom away from home, I could have all the green olives I wanted. So I started eating them and I didn’t stop with two or three. I ate the whole big jar of olives. Then when they were all gone, I drank all the brine juice. Shortly afterward, my stomach started to hurt. And my sore fingers hurt. Thus, my first day at college taught me two important lessons: Don’t overindulge in anything. All things should be done in moderation.

David Eller, Publisher

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Historical Essay No. 67

Posted on 03 February 2011 by LeslieM

How I made it to college!

In the spring of 1959, my senior year at Pompano Beach Senior High School was rapidly coming to a close. I had applied to the University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of California at Davis and Stetson University in Deland, Florida, and they had all accepted me into their mechanical engineering programs. I had assumed, with Principal Walden’s encouragement, that I would get the substantial scholarship offered to an engineering student from Pompano High each year by a certain unnamed benefactor. However, about a month before graduation, Principal Walden called me into the office to let me know that the benefactor had decided instead to give the scholarship to one of my classmates who was planning to study electrical engineering.

When I got home that night, I shared the bad news with my parents and apologized to Dad saying, “I hope you’ve got some money to send me to college.” Dad looked surprised and blurted out “I don’t think you need to go to college. You’re a good machinist. You can stay here and make good money as a machinist.”

I reminded Dad about the big pump project our company had lost to a sugar company in Belle Glade because we didn’t have a graduate engineer on staff. Although our prices were the best, they gave the job to a company that had professional engineers on staff to certify the product.

I told Dad, “I don’t want to ever be in that position again wherein a potential customer doesn’t buy from us for that reason. I intend to get an engineering degree and ultimately a professional engineering license, so that kind of thing can never happen again.” Looking exasperated, he said, “Well, good luck. But I don’t have the money to send you to college.”

Taken aback, I went to bed and prayed. The next day, I went to Principal Walden and told him what happened. He responded with compassion saying, “David, I’m so sorry. Don’t you worry. I’m going to get on the phone today and see if I can get you some scholarship money! Come see me in two days.”

I knew he had good news when I walked into his office two days later. “Come on in, David,” he said with a big smile on his face. “I’ve got your whole engineering education planned out for you. My alma mater, Stetson University has agreed to give you a substantial scholarship to their pre-engineering program — they co-operate with the University of Florida. You can go there for two years and then enter the University of Florida as an upper classman. I’ve arranged two other scholarships, one local and one from the State of Florida, to make up the rest of your financial needs as long as you maintain high academic standards.”

Impressed, happy and surprised, I jumped up to give him a hug as he stuck out his hand instead, which I grabbed and shook with both hands. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Walden, I will never let you down,” I said.

I didn’t let him down and graduated a few years later from the University of Florida with an engineering degree and a minor in business. The fellow who was awarded the original engineering scholarship by the unnamed benefactor ended up flunking out of college. It seems he was great in math and science classes, but could not spell or write very well.

By my second year, my father relented and bought me a new car and helped pay expenses.

David Eller, Publisher

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Historical Essay 66

Posted on 30 December 2010 by LeslieM

Volunteer Fire Department

Sounded sirens to bring in the New Year

Growing up in Deerfield, there were a few events which happened for so long that it was thought of as a tradition. One of them was the annual celebration of the New Year coming in by having the fire department sirens sound off exactly at midnight on Dec. 31 and continuing for a few minutes into the new year on Jan. 1.

As a child, I was normally in bed when it occurred and I remember being gripped each time by a feeling of nostalgia, realizing I would never experience that particular year again.

The siren otherwise was used to notify citizen volunteers that they were needed to fight a fire. They would rush in from all over town, jump on the fire truck(s) and proceed to the fire to put it out.

Eventually the city went from volunteers to full-time firemen and a very tall main siren was located on Fire Department property at 928 E. Hillsboro Ave. The tradition of midnight sirens went on for decades, but ended for some reason in 1976.

Deerfield police Chief “Pappy” Brown, with officers Roy Bennent and Lloyd Newman standing guard in the mid 1950s in front of Deerfield’s two fire trucks. Fire volunteers include “Chief” Merle Johnson (sixth from the end) flanked by Mr. Blackwelder, to his right, and Bob Butler, to his left. Leaning on the other truck is Milton Vincent.

David Eller, Publisher

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Historical Essay 65

Posted on 23 December 2010 by LeslieM

How Christmas used to be celebrated

— at Pompano Beach Senior High School

With students from Pompano, Deerfield, Hillsboro, Lighthouse Point

In the fall of 1958, when I was elected president of the student body at Pompano Beach High School, there was a lot of stress going on in the schools of our country. Students in the schools of the South historically had been separated by race, including our school. Therefore, there were usually “white” schools and “black” schools in each town. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to be illegal, and demanded they be integrated, there was a lot of stress occurring within the schools. President Eisenhower even had to federalize the National Guard and send troops into Little Rock Arkansas’ largest high school in May of 1958 to force racial integration there.

Meanwhile, by September 1958, here in Florida, at Pompano Beach High School, the stress was palpable also. Part of the reason was that our school’s official name for its sport’s team was the Pompano Beach Bean Pickers because beans had been the most prominent crop in the area. However, since most people actually picking the beans were black, confusion reigned; especially among the newcomers from the North arriving. Many of them complained to me, and it became an issue during my election campaign for student body president. Consequently, I took a position that if elected, I would lead an effort to change our school’s name.

After my victory, I sat with our Principal Larry Walden, who agreed we could change the name, but it should be voted on properly. Since a tornado had recently struck the area, and blue and gold were our team colors, we came up with the idea of changing the name of the school team to The Pompano Beach Senior High School Golden Tornadoes, which it still is today.

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