The approximate ides of October (mid-month) are unfortunately hurricane-prone, just when we are thinking about better weather. I’d rather not mention too many past storms, but one that occurred within my time frame (before 1950) has been somewhat forgotten, though those of us who were here remember it well enough. This was the storm of October 11, 1947, best remembered for causing what the late, well-remembered Florida historian Stuart McIver called The Great South Florida Flood.
Left: map of the Great 1947 Flood from an article by Bob Lamme. Dark area indicates land totally covered by water.
The 1947 flood was, in area covered, the greatest ever in the US at the time. Eleven Florida counties were more than 50% under water, and this lasted for up to three months. See the map, above. What happened was that starting in September, 1947 after a long drought there were two hurricanes in a row, the first a small one on September 28, the next, October 11-12, together bringing 100 inches of rain. Water poured into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee River Valley until the lake was full. To help drain the lake, locks were opened at South Bay. With no place to go but south via already swollen canals, the water roared down the North New River Canal to Broward and Dade Counties, spilling over banks and dykes eventually covering five million acres from above Lake Okeechobee across the Everglades and down to Broward and Dade counties with water. 90% of eastern Florida from Orlando to the keys was under water. Furthermore, the flood lasted for three or four months in the south center of the state.
Davie and Hialeah were hardest hit, almost 100% under water. In Davie water was waist deep. In Fort Lauderdale waves washed across Las Olas Boulevard and boats floated out of the New River and onto the streets and sidewalks.
In 1947 Hollywood west of State Road 7 was dairyland. While the water caused hardship for the dairies, in central Hollywood it did not come east of the then Seaboard Air Line Rail Road tracks (now Tri-rail) as the raised track must have presented a barrier and water could also drain out the C-10 Canal. (The finger canals and docks in that area didn’t exist them.) The land from 28th Avenue east to the FEC Railroad tracks was the highest in Hollywood and didn’t flood (that’s where I lived). However, Stirling Road, which reached out to Davie, became a river.
Left: Clubhouse of the Hollywood Rifle and Pistol Club at 2989 Stirling Road, during the Great Flood of 1947. The club remains at the same address today. Photo from the Rossman-Ellington Donation at the Hollywood Historical Society.
My thanks go to the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society for this piece. I relied on reports in Fort Lauderdale papers since unfortunately the key Hollywood source in the Hollywood Historical Society, the bound volume for October, 1947 of the Sun-Tattler, is missing, and the microfilm copy at the Broward County Historical Commission is now locked away. Also I am relying on memory. As I was a school child at the time, I remember this event quite well, including the typhoid shots given to all us school children. Furthermore, my father had the bad luck of being City Manager then, in time to have to deal with cleaning up after these storms. See the drawing of Tony Mickelson above.
But there are surely many stories about this flood related to Hollywood, so if anyone has a copy of the Sun-Tattler for October, 1947, we would dearly like to copy it for the Hollywood Historical Society.
Returning to the beginning of Hollywood, Florida: J. W. Young had bought the first parcel of land at the very end of 1920. He sent several salesmen and engineers, including my father, Tony Mickelson, down to get the city he had dreamed of started. The first year, 1921 was largely devoted to clearing the land (and of course, selling it), while the civil engineers drafted out the streets, blocks, parks, and such.
In May of 1921 this photo of my father was taken when Young told him, “Tony, stand here. This is where we’ll begin my city.” He stands at the future intersection of the Dixie Highway (which existed) and Hollywood Boulevard. This photo appeared in Young’s sales materials. In October, 1921 a foldout postcard published by the Hollywood Land & Water Company in the collection of the Hollywood Historical Society, said that “development had begun after land had been cleared.”
At first Mickelson lived in Annie Bloom’s Webb Hotel in Dania, a large, comfortable inn with home-cooked meals. In this January, 1921 photo, Mickelson sits at left while the other man isn’t identified.
As soon as he had surveyed the area, Mickelson bought two lots in the Little Ranches, giving him a full acre of land in the highest part of Young’s city, 14 feet above sea level. In the fall of 1922 he built a cottage there, which became the “engineering cottage,” with a group of young bachelors bunking dorm style and sharing a housekeeper/cook.
These friends included A. Louis Platt, Arthur Johnson, Tommy McCarrell, Eastie Eastburn, Arthur Scott, and John Gleason. Gleason would later become Tony’s brother-in-law (and my uncle).
Right, Tommy McCarrell, 1926. I don’t seem to have a photo of my uncle John Gleason or the others.
Left: buses line Hollywood Boulevard in 1921 bringing prospective buyers from Miami. Courtesy Hollywood Historical Society.
Right: the caption reads: Five new 21-passenger White DeLuxe busses Added to Hollywood Equipment. October, 1923. From Young’s “Hollywood Reporter.”
Also in October, 1921 Young acquired the first mile on the beach island providing him with ocean front. The beach area was purchased from Olof Zetterlund of Hallandale for about $600 an acre.
Hollywood flourishes, 1923. This was a big year for Young. Hollywood, like most of south Florida, was teeming with people eager to be part of both the land boom, and the fun. The Hollywood Land & Water Company was thriving. In October alone, the company began the beautiful FEC train station.
From Young’s “Hollywood Reporter.”
The same “Reporter” noted that the public golf course had been expanded from nine to 18 holes. A drawing of the entire course (see below), which doesn’t reproduce well, appeared in Young’s news magazine.
In this month also, Liberia was opened. The unwritten story behind Liberia must go like this: from Hollywood’s beginning, Young had a good number of trained workers close at hand, including the mostly-Bahamian blacks who lived in the unincorporated areas to the west of Hallandale and Dania.
Here, at right, is Hollywood’s first building, originally a garage for repairing the company’s fleets of buses and trucks, and still standing at the N.E. corner of Hollywood Boulevard and 21st Avenue. Young had all his workers photographed, and the photos were included in the salesmen’s books carried around the eastern U. S. Posing with their trucks, neatly dressed and hatted, are some of the black men who built Hollywood.
Do bear in mind that Florida back then was strictly segregated by law, and blacks were not allowed to live with whites. J.W. Young was not a southerner. “Equal” meant something to J.W. Young. He was from the Pacific Northwest by way of California. Apparently he saw this law as both a wrong and an opportunity, for he decided to create a separate, actual all-black city, and he publicized it that way. Though smaller in area (at least to begin), Liberia was designed exactly like Hollywood, with a wide boulevard leading off the main highway (still the Dixie as U.S. 1 would not be put through until 1930), a handsome circle park named for the black poet Paul Dunbar, city water and electricity, and land donated by Young’s company for churches and schools. But Liberia was never incorporated, and eventually became part of Hollywood, as it is today.
May, 1923 plan drawing by company engineer Frank Dickey, showing Hollywood and Liberia. Note that Hollywood Boulevard does not yet extend west to the 3rd circle. North and South Lakes, although carefully planned, were still in the dredge-and-fill process. The Dixie Highway was a major north-south thoroughfare; the “east Dixie” shown here was Young’s 18th Avenue. It didn’t become U.S. 1 until 1930.
Hollywood, Florida’s Offspring.
As we tell visitors to our website who assume they have reached the movie capital, there are about 18 Hollywoods in the U.S., some created in the 19th Century. Hollywood, Maryland was named for a holly tree. In my biography of J. W. Young I tell how Hollywood, California, a development in west Los Angeles, got its name (all my own research). As for our Hollywood, founder Young didn’t name his city for “the movie capital” in 1920. For one thing, it wasn’t yet the movie capital and wasn’t famous, nor was Young notably interested in story-telling movies. He chose the name “Hollywood” because he liked it.
Interesting, to us, is that the city built by J. W. Young so impressed others at the time that according to an October 18, 1925 Times-Union, “Hollywood-on-the-Dixie,” below Jacksonville, “rides on J. W. Young’s reputation.” Hollywood, New Mexico, claims to have been named for Hollywood, Florida. More about these namesakes would be welcome.
Hollywood in Wartime. The second World War helped lift tiny Hollywood from its years of struggle during the 1930s Depression. The pages of Hollywood’s newspaper, the Sun-Tattler are filled with the patriotic energy that the war effort brought out in this small town’s citizens. One article that caught my eye, in October 22, 1943 was headlined: “Mrs. TenEick Joins Florida Unit of W.A.C. Wife of Postmaster Is Sixth Member of Family In Armed Services; Second Member of State WAC Unit From Hollywood.”
Pictured at right, 2nd Lt. Mary Nunez TenEick 1943 (1895-1989). From the Collection of the Hollywood Historical Society.
Mary was Charles W. TenEick’s first wife; Hollywood historian Virginia was his second. Mary TenEick had been a nurse at Fort Dix in World War I. She was sworn in as a WAC just the previous week in 1943 in Miami Beach, and hoped to be assigned to the air corps. Her husband, also a World War I veteran, wanted to re-enlist but as postmaster his services were considered too valuable at home. Their two sons, Charles Watson Jr. and Robert William, were at Georgia Military Academy. My thanks to Watson TenEick, for information about his mother.
Left, Mrs. Robert Callahan before joining the WACs in October, 1943. I believe her first name was Mabel. If so, her home had been a “homey” speakeasy back during Prohibition, according to Virginia TenEick!
Mrs. Callahan joined the WACs October first, leaving her position as office manager and bookkeeper at the Sun-Tattler. She too hoped to be assigned to the air corps where her son Robert Jr. already served.
At the same time, several local women signed up for the U.S. Navy WAVES. The first was Gwendolyne Trine, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Trine, 331 Hayes Street, who left her position at Breeding’s Drug Store to enlist. She was a graduate of South Broward High School. Before she left, Seaman Trine was given a luncheon in her honor.
Next local woman to join the WAVES was Ernestine Ingram, a teacher at South Broward High School, given a short mention on August 6, 1943. Her parents Mr. and Mrs. E.D. Ingram had lived in Dania, but moved to Palatka.
The September 3,1943 Tattler announced that two more young Hollywood women had joined the WAVES, Lucille Littell (or Lyttell) and Helen Swann. Miss Swann had been working for the Southern Bell Telephone Company and lived with her mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Barker. Other WAVES from Hollywood whose names I have located include: Ivy Holland and Frances Sproul.
Very possibly their interest in joining the WAVES had been stimulated by the appearance of dozens, then hundreds, of young women in uniform at both the Naval training schools in Hollywood during the war. The first five WAVES, already ensigns, arrived in July of 1943 to train (with the men) as air navigators. By August of 1943 there were WAVES at the Air Gunners School training the young men as gunners.
The article at right, from the August 20, 1943 Sun-Tattler, pictures Ens. Madeline Burks from Troy, Alabama and Ens. Virginia Withington of New Haven, CT. They are the first of a group of WAVES to arrive at the Naval Air Navigation School in the Hollywood Beach Hotel, where they would train in naval aerial navigation. Six weeks later they would be pictured again under the caption: “Girl Navigators Make Aviation History In Test Flight From Opa-locka Air Base.” With ten other women and 90 men, these WAVES passed their first test flight. October 15, 1943.
For a book I am planning, a group biography about the WAVES in Hollywood, I would like to hear from or about any woman connected with Hollywood, Florida who served in the WAVES. Please email me at email@example.com