Author: Evelyn Wilde Mayerson

Living Legacies

Past and present meet as local youth sit down with members of Indian River County’s African American community and record their memories as part of the Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation’s Teens Listen program. The exercise not only documents oral history, it provides young people opportunities to engage with their elders while learning about life in days gone by.

Small World

Despite Florida’s later start, Childcare Resources of Indian River, a sunny, immaculate and expanding early-care facility, only one easy block north of Miracle Mile, if you discount two cul-de-sacs and a blind alley, has provided for over 25 years the high-quality nurturing environment once suggested by Rousseau.

A Moving Experience

On a Saturday morning in spring, after two and a half hours of defensive drills such as ground balls and fly balls in the infield, a convoy of 20 pickup trucks, each driven by a member of the Fighting Indians, Vero Beach High School’s varsity baseball team, arrived at a small one-story house in a development on the street behind Applebee’s.

Advantage Mr. Fish

With 32 titles to its credit, the U.S. Davis Cup team has set the standard for team competition for more than a century, its alumni including not only Fish, but Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Bill Tilden, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

A Tale of Three Towns

In the spring of each year, usually sometime after the May Pops concert, a tribe of nearly 300 migrating Vero Beachers, of which I am one, empties freezers, puts up hurricane shutters and packs up cars. A few ship their vehicles ahead via transports where Mercedes perch like acrobats. A few decide to save 800 miles and freight their cars in the Amtrak Auto Train while they ride in coach; and some, like Connie and Bob Ferguson, toss their dogs, Sadie and Emma, into the back seat of their Volvo wagon and head north to Vermont.

Name Your Poison

No matter where we hang our Stetsons, the subdivision we all share is the Atlantic coastal ridge, sometimes called the rim of the Everglades, a narrow strip of land elevated a little higher than a curb and platted with beach and dunes, turtle grass jungles, mangrove swamps, tidal mud flats, marshes, hammocks, prairies, pastures and piney flatlands. Like any Eden, our idyllic parcel is also favorable to the mythical apple, the poisoned fruit. (The apple, incidentally, is not just mythically toxic. Slice through its equator and you’ll find a pentagram of chambers, each holding a lustrous brown seed veined with cyanide.)

Monkey Business

I grew up loving Cheetah more than Tarzan, more than Jane, certainly more than Boy. He was a funny-looking, hairy toddler who helped me get over the terror inspired by the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.

Forgotten In Fort Pierce

In the last few years of her life, broke and ailing African-American folklorist, anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston, once one of America’s most celebrated literary figures, went almost unnoticed. Fired as a librarian at Patrick Air Force Base, she left Eau Gallie, a $5-a-week rental cottage, a bird bath and a dog named Spot and arrived in Fort Pierce in 1957 in a beat-up Willys station wagon, with a typewriter that she would later pawn for groceries.

Friends with Benefits

Sometimes at an outdoor cocktail party when the pinks of early evening have turned to purple, the time that some Florida folks call “dark-thirty,” I suddenly feel it before I see it – a cloud of bats flying from a neighbor’s attic or the bat condominiums that our community maintains at its perimeters, swooping down above my head in a directionless flutter, their tiny faces like impish homunculi in a Bosch painting. The bats are small, not nearly as large as a fruit bat with its three-foot wing span. In fact, they’re more like three inches, similar to the bat described by James Joyce in Ulysses as “a little man in a cloak he is with tiny hands.”

Harnessing the Power of Collaboration

Writing is usually a solitary pursuit. Most writers chain themselves to a desk, a club chair, a kitchen table or the corner of a tearoom like J. K. Rowling, who finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on an old manual typewriter. They perform this act of self-immolation for a variety of reasons. Seeing their name in print is the least of these. No writer I have ever known writes to see his name in print, principally because they already know their name and second, writing is difficult and frustrating work. If you want your name in print, shoplifting is an easier way to do it.

What Do Hurricanes And Yellow Fever Have In Common?

I grew up in South Florida at a time before hurricanes were named and no one evacuated anyone anywhere. It was when grownups talked in somber voices of the hurricane of Labor Day 1935, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, with winds at 200 m.p.h. That was the time when World War I veterans, working in three CCC camps, were swept off the Florida Keys along with a rescue train that was blown off the tracks.

Florida’s Biggest Strip Show

Here in Florida, we inhabit a geographic cul-de-sac, a continental appendage that my second-grade teacher taught us to draw as an upside-down turkey, with Lake Okeechobee providing a Cyclopian eye. Perhaps the least changed in our ecological novelty of a state are our swamps, the vines and mosses eternally being born, dank with black water and rotted leaves and ripe with the scent of living creatures, including the legions of microscopic things chomping away at something.

Eden: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

It was early morning, the time when the night, as described by Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, “lingers on in the eyes of the blind.” The light from the sun was creeping west across the Atlantic, ribboning the sky in mauve and deep violet. Cloud shapes became visible and the hammock, still damp from its nighttime condensation, smelled dank and full of promise like any forest floor.