The picture I refer to in the caption, an excerpt from Bobby in Naziland, is the one above, a colorized photo of my parents, Eleanor and Irwin Rosen, taken November 1948, on their honeymoon in Miami Beach. Back in Brooklyn, many decades ago, the photo stood on the dresser in their bedroom, and I'd stare at it every time I walked in.
I didn't have the photo when I was writing about it; I was going by memory. But I have it now, and clearly, the ocean is not turquoise and the sand is not golden. Yes, the memory plays tricks, but the photo is 71 years old, so the colors have obviously faded. Though I think when it first penetrated my consciousness, probably in 1956, the water was some shade of blue and the sand, if not golden, was certainly not gray.
Inspired by the photo, I spent my childhood longing to go to Miami, "the most beautiful city in the world." But to do so seemed an impossible dream, as fantastic as going to the moon. Ironically, in the early 1970s, when I began to expand my horizons through the magic of low-cost jet travel and hitchhiking, I was no longer in any rush to get to Florida. Europe and California called more loudly, and I listened.
I finally did make it to Florida in 1975, during my brief career as a speechwriter for the secretary of the air force. I'd written a graduation speech for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, and I flew down there to watch the secretary deliver it. The morning of the speech, from my hotel balcony, I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic.
Perhaps more ironically (though not surprisingly), when my parents retired to Florida 25 years ago, moving to a town called Greenacres, near Lake Worth, their condo at one time was within a few miles (if not yards) of two uncles, one aunt, two cousins, and four of their friends, all originally from Brooklyn, some with their accents intact.
Journeys to Florida, where my mother still lives, have become routine, and it now seems about as exotic as Brooklyn did all those years ago.
As for Miami Beach, my wife, Mary Lyn, loves the place. So visits to Greenacres always include a side trip to that revitalized and climate-change-threatened city, faded in parts, but still, in its way, retaining a touch of magic.
Meet me in St. Louis, Wednesday, October 16, 7 PM, at Subterranean Books. I'll be reading and signing copies of Bobby in Naziland.
I'll be reading and signing Bobby in Naziland at Temple Sinai, in Dresher, PA, Sunday, October 27, 10 AM. To attend, please RSVP by Oct. 22 to Tobey Grand, firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free, all are welcome, and, I'm told, there will be a candy store and egg creams. Seriously.