Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What history has taught me

(Originally published in The Forum December 23, 2009)

by: Chad Quinn

This time of year usually brings reflection – we reflect on the events of the past year, good and bad, big and small. Perhaps, if you’re like me, you take time to think about those who are far away, or those who are no longer here.

Also, this time of year is filled with festivities – from holiday parties to family gatherings.

Recently the Tamarac Historical Society held its first ever reception – a sort of festive occasion full of reflection about Tamarac’s early years.

In five short months, our Historical Society has made great strides. Since our inaugural meeting in July we’ve formed a tight-nit group of dedicated volunteers that numbers about twenty; more of an extended family actually. These men and women, along with myself, none of which has any experience in the field of gathering and maintaining a historical record or collection, have forged ahead, learning as we go; gathering info and artifacts, to begin the definitive account of our City’s story.

We’re fortunate to be the beneficiaries of the kindness and expertise of new found friends in neighboring cities. We’re also fortunate to have new volunteers coming on board all the time – a recent addition is a retired archivist! That is truly fortunate.

Everything we’ve learned, or attempted to learn, was on display to the public for the first time at our reception held December 9, 2009. The display, “The Behring Years” attempts to chronicle the very beginning of Tamarac and the formative years that followed. As you may know, Tamarac was founded by a young and ambitious developer, Kenneth E. Behring. The years Mr. Behring was a part of our City were quite remarkable; 1962 – 1972.

In the beginning Mr. Behring wanted to develop homes with small lots that offered the convenience and care-free lifestyle of a condominium, with the privacy afforded a single-family home. The City of Fort Lauderdale would not allow him to build on the small lot size he envisioned and so he decided to buy unincorporated land and develop his own City. Tamarac Lakes was born – small single-family homes on small lots starting at $8,990 – and for a $23 a month maintenance fee owners received lawn maintenance, periodic painting and roof tile cleaning, use of the clubhouse and all activities within the community!

These homes sold quickly, appealing to snow-birds up north who cherished the warmer climates. New owners became quickly acclimated to the tropical climate, new friends and neighbors, and the easy living. In fact, the homes were so popular several more neighborhoods quickly sprung up, all using the same formula of 250 homes surrounding a common clubhouse.

Tamarac, which began around the Prospect Road bend, began its spread westward. The Mainlands were next to be developed with same basic principles, but with slightly larger homes and adjacent to golf courses. Later, in 1968, Mr. Behring began development of his City’s crowning achievement – the Woodlands, a private golf course community with estate size lots appealing to a more affluent clientele. The Woodlands is where Mr. Behring and his wife, Pat, settled, along with their five sons… that is until 1972 when he left Tamarac a “better way of life.”

Of course four paragraphs is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we’ve learned in the past five months about “The Behring Years”… in fact, we may even have it wrong. Old newspaper clippings and second-hand stories only tell a part of the story. As Barbara Tarnove, one of the amazing volunteers we have (who took the lead on this particular project, guided us, and lived and breathed “The Behring Years” for the past couple of months), would say… “We’d love for you to visit our display, read through it and then point out that its wrong…” – I’m a little more hesitant, I’d prefer you point out maybe one or two minor details that are wrong.

The point is, you can complete our story and we depend on you.

At one of our recent outings I met Larry Wark, the first police officer hired by the Tamarac Police Department’s first Captain back in 1969. We’ve met the oldest living original resident in Tamarac Lakes, Lucille Wynn (who is a wonderful woman and we were thrilled to be able to have her with us at our opening reception). We’d like to meet you too. Come visit us, or perhaps we can come to you. Your story, your photos, your miscellaneous paperwork that you think no one would be interested in (we are) – we’d love to have them all.

“The Behring Years” display will remain in the Atrium of City Hall (7525 NW 88th Avenue) for the next couple of months. Stop by and peruse what we’ve learned and help us fill in the gaps.

To me, all history is fascinating… and over the past five months, I’ve learned that Tamarac has a unique and inspiring beginning; I’ve also learned that through history people can come together, not only did we have a great crowd at our opening reception, but Tamarac’s history has brought me together with an incredible group of volunteers who are sharing this learning experience with me.

You can reach the Tamarac Historical Society at, or (954) 597-3523.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tamarac Historical Society

(As published in the October/November/December 2009 Tam-A-Gram.)

The first meeting of the new Tamarac Historical Society was held on Tuesday, July 14, 2009. The response from the community to the call for volunteers and donations has been tremendous – about 20 individuals have stepped forward so far to volunteer with the project and many more have made donations of photographs, memorabilia, personal recollections and more!

The volunteers have been meeting on a regular basis as they tackle the formidable task of organizing the Society’s structure as well as the existing historical data, artifacts, and new donations.

Wendy Wangberg, the Historian for the City of Coral Springs, was a guest speaker at one of the early meetings and graciously hosted the volunteers for a fact-finding, and inspirational, field trip to the Museum of Coral Springs History (located at Mullins Park, 10250 N.W. 29 St. Coral Springs, behind the Performing Arts Center), on Tuesday, August 18, 2009.

The volunteers are on track to have their first display this December at City Hall, and we need your help — whether you want to volunteer your time, donate items of interest, or share your recollections of Tamarac’s past. Please email, or call (954) 597-3523.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aging but active

(Originally published in The Forum November 25, 2009)

by: Chad Quinn

I recently celebrated another birthday… I’m not someone who dreads getting older (at least not yet), so I try to embrace the idea that I’m another year older.

Even as I embrace getting older, what brings me back to reality is that as I get older, so too do the people around me. It’s a sobering thought, but inevitable. As much as my subconscious likes to keep a younger image of me at the forefront, my mind plays the same tricks with memories of my family. I have to remind myself of my mother’s real age – although I see her in much the same way that I always have, as energetic and youthful, the truth is she tells me more often about aches and having to take it just a little bit easier. The same goes for my grandmother, a wonderful and active woman who in my mind’s image is sharp as a tack and as active as ever, but in reality is keeping pace with my own aging and sometimes forgets details more than I like to admit.

Getting older reminds me that now is the time to ask questions of those around me to complete my history – the history of my family; where my grandparents came from and their life experiences. Asking those questions now is important, because once the people who can share those first-hand experiences are gone, it makes completing the puzzle much harder.

The same is true with our City’s history. As I’ve talked at various homeowner’s associations and neighborhood meetings, and have had the opportunity to speak with people from all walks of life within our community, it’s clear most everyone has a story, a piece of the puzzle, whether they realize it or not.

A great example is one of our very own, Miriel Stein, who has been a volunteer with the Tamarac Historical Society since we formed in July, informed us just last month that she had some sales brochures and advertisements from her community – the exact items we discuss in our meetings and solicit donations of from the community… because of her role in helping to get the Historical Society up and running she forgot to look in her own home.

Tamarac was originally founded, and thrived for much of its history, as an active retirement community. Original owners are becoming harder to come by (although I have met quite a few). Now is the time to speak with them, to ask the questions about the way Tamarac was and what they remember about its evolution. Like any members of a family, we can’t take their time with us for granted.

If you have a neighbor, or if you yourself, are a long time resident we’d love to speak to you. As you know, we’re in the early stages of the formation of the Tamarac Historical Society; our information gathering is not yet as sophisticated as we strive for, our oral history/interview skills still need to be honed, and like everything else about this new endeavor, we’re learning as we go. But its truly an amazing journey, and those who have already shared their memories with us have provided invaluable information and a foundation for us to move forward. Often the information we are given, or that we obtain through research leads to more questions and yet another direction for us to look.

Recently I was given a bound, very worn, history of the Mainlands 4 neighborhood – a combination of written narrative and various photographs that describe the beginnings of the neighborhood and show many of the early residents. It was fascinating to read about the $10 down payment for new homes and the various stores where the buyers would go to pick out their fixtures, not to mention the many challenges and new experiences the residents would have – like feeding that odd looking reptile with the long tail hot dogs (once they realized that alligators were very dangerous, it was moved to a safer location farther away)!

Tamarac will be 50 in 2013 – and although fifty is the new thirty, or whatever the checkout magazines are proclaiming this week, our City is aging… I think for the better. But it’s the journey that got us here, and the path we’re on right now, that we need to preserve for future generations. That is what the Tamarac Historical Society is all about and we need your help. No matter how small or trivial you think that sales brochure is, or the menu you kept from your favorite diner, or the photo of your niece’s first place finish in the 1st annual Turkey Trot, it means something to us. Do you have any of these items, or perhaps a quick story you’d like to share about a business that you use to patronize regularly that is no longer in Tamarac, or one that has been here for years… call (954) 597-3523 or email

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Events that shape city history (or, The Plane! The Plane!)

(Originally published in The Forum October 21, 2009)

by: Chad Quinn

History is about shared experiences; some good, some bad. Some seem frightening at the time, yet years later provide for pleasant reminiscing. Take for instance the dramatic “emergency landing” (I’ll explain in a moment why that’s in quotes) that took place in Tamarac in the early 1970’s.

At approximately 7:25 on a lazy Sunday evening in early August 1973, the 5th to be exact, a plane dramatically crashed, uh I mean “emergency landed”, into an empty field off University Drive and Commercial Boulevard (where the Denny’s on 57th and University stands now). The plane, owned and operated by Happy Hours Air Travel Club, was a twenty-two year old Lockheed Constellation that flew a route between the Bahamas and Ft. Lauderdale. Toward the end of the trip, and relatively close to its final destination, the “Connie”, as Constellations are known, lost power in all four engines [due to fuel “starvation”]; the pilot choose to glide the plane in for a wheels up landing in an empty field.

About a year or so ago I received an email from a resident commenting on an article he had read in the Tam-A-Gram (Tamarac’s official publication) – in referencing how long he had been a resident he stated that he was “here when that Constellation crashed off University…”

What, a plane crash in Tamarac? As someone fascinated with airplanes, I had so many questions, and a morbid curiosity. Unfortunately he did not remember details. I immediately did a search on the internet: Tamarac+plane+crash. Nothing. Tamarac+Constellation+crash. Nothing. A few more key word searches and still nothing. Defeated I thought surely he was mistaken; maybe he had gotten the location wrong.

Fast-forward to June of this year. After one of the initial articles about the new Tamarac Historical Society was published I received a call from a wonderful woman, Betty Porter. Betty had a story to share with me and an old newspaper article to back it up. “I have an article about that plane that made an emergency landing back in 1973.” I was excited, could this be what I was unable to find a year earlier? “Really! I heard about a plane that crashed, but I couldn’t find anything…” She interrupted me, “You’re not listening, it didn’t crash, it made an emergency landing. It flew right over my house I could look in the windows of that plane and see the people. It was really frightening.”

Now you see why I wrote emergency landing in quotes. I had it wrong.

This event touched many lives. I’ve spoken to many residents who remember that day, the landing, and being able to tour the plane as it sat in the field for several days before being dismantled and removed. Jane Coco, a long-time employee of the City, shared a photograph with me of the plane lying in the field and remembers taking her daughters to tour it. Commissioner Diane Glasser recalled seeing the plane “off University” as well. Others shared their recollections and even though I was not there to witness this part of Tamarac’s history first-hand, it is now part of my shared experience [and the newspaper Betty donated is one of my most prized items in our budding collection]. Many people remember hearing the plane, watching it fly in above the roof tops and land in the empty field. Many more remember driving by, taking photos and even touring the plane.

A total of eight people were on board the plane that evening – five crew and 3 passengers – and all survived uninjured. Believe it or not, other planes have landed in our City (the most recent being a single-engine just a few months ago off the Sawgrass Expressway), and although these type of events don’t shape our City’s politics, boundaries, growth or demographics, they do shape what we experience together – good or bad, tragic or triumphant, they become a part of our story and a stitch within the fabric of our community.

Do you remember the plane that made a wheels-up emergency landing (which, for the record… seems like a crash to me) back in August 1973, or any other story? The Tamarac Historical Society would love to hear from you – share your experience, photos and memorabilia by calling (954) 597-3523 or email

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A long road

(Originally published in The Forum September 9, 2009)

by: Chad Quinn

History is a journey… and so too is a Society. Of course societies, made up of groups of people, have created the past and shaped the future, but the Society I refer to is the one I’ve been helping to build over the past several months – the new Tamarac Historical Society. The formation of this new Society has been quite a journey… one full of its own history.

From concept to proposal, approval to initiation, the foundation was laid like slow curing concrete – but it was the opportunity to advertise and promote the new Society that provided the first steps to the building of our super-structure. The response from the community was tremendous. Many people called to share stories and artifacts. Many more called to offer their services.

You could compare this stage to the building of a Habitat home… the more volunteers, the quicker the walls go up. Tamarac’s new Historical Society is being hoisted up and nailed together with the help of volunteers anxious to share their skills, and to learn new ones.

We’re collecting artifacts to tell Tamarac’s story… more than just a City, it’s a collection of individuals who often share similar journeys and memories.

One of the items that many of our long-time residents – more than I can count – like to ask me when we first meet is: “Do you know how Tamarac got its name?” Sometimes, depending on the level of excitement in their eyes, I tell a little white lie and say “no” because I know they want to share their knowledge of our City’s history with me, and I’m very honored by that. The sparkle in their eyes continues as they tell the story as they’ve heard, or read, it… something along the lines of:

Ken Behring, who was the founder and original developer of Tamarac, had moved to southern Florida from Wisconsin where he was a successful entrepreneur and businessman. One of his original businesses up North was a car wash called “Car-A-Mat” – spell that backwards and you have Tamarac.

I’ve read the history of Tamarac’s name in several locations; in various old newspaper clippings, on the internet, etc…. but some of those clippings, and Ken Behring himself in his book “Road to Purpose,” also mention that the name could have come from the Tamarac Country Club that he belonged to at the time and was close by, or from the name of a tree, or even an Indian chief.

Part of our journey will include more research into the exact reason Mr. Behring named his new city Tamarac and we want you along for the ride. Your stories and recollections tell our tale, so please share them with us… besides, the look of excitement in the eyes of someone who wants to tell their story is priceless.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dig up the past to celebrate the future

(Originally published in The Forum, August 12, 2009)

by: Chad Quinn

I’ve always been interested in history… especially the transition from the 19th to 20th Century – the Gilded-Age, titans of industry, the growth of our Country through the determination to explore, build, and make great... but, recently I’ve become interested in events that are more recent, and closer to home.

As the Public Information Specialist for the City of Tamarac, I have a unique vantage point of what is happening around the City. It is my job to disseminate information to the public through publications, the media, the web, social media, and direct contact with our residents. Everyday in Tamarac is different.

I received a call earlier this year from an interior designer out of California who was working on redecorating one of our local restaurants – they wanted old photographs of our City. Unfortunately, I did not have a central stockpile to go to and therefore was unable to help him… it got me to thinking, Tamarac could use a Historical Society.

History has been made every day since those initial subdivisions (Tamarac Lakes), geared toward active adult living, were first developed on what is now the east side of the City. Ken Behring, an entrepreneur from the midwest saw an opportunity to provide maintenance-free living in what was essentially pastureland at the time. This maintenance-free living was unique in that the “living” would be in unattached single-family homes.

An entrepreneur, recognizing opportunity, and developing it, is a common theme among the history of many of Tamarac’s neighbors such as Lauderhill and Coral Springs. It is that history, filled with ups and downs, challenges and triumphs, that must be preserved.

Of course Tamarac has evolved, the City was incorporated on July 19, 1963, into a sprawling, if not slightly odd shaped, 12 square miles of bustling City with roughly 60,000 residents. We will celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2013 (as will Coral Springs and Parkland). Now is the time to begin collecting our past for posterity… we need your help.

We’re looking for donations of photographs, books, sales brochures, menus, pamphlets, and more – anything with, or the potential for, historical significance. We’re also looking for volunteers for Tamarac’s new Historical Society.

So, do you have a story to tell, memorabilia to give, and time to share? Let me know by calling (954) 597-3723, or email

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

History [in the] Making

(As published in the October/November/December 2009 Tam-A-Gram.)

Last year, we featured an article highlighting Tamarac’s 45th Anniversary — another year has passed and as we march toward our 50th in 2013, we’re asking our residents for their help in preserving Tamarac’s history.

We’re in the process of recruiting volunteers for the newly formed Tamarac Historical Society — we need your help to preserve our past.

Not only do we need volunteers, but we’re also looking for historical items such as: photographs, videos, sales brochures, restaurant menus, street signs, pamphlets, and much more — anything with historical significance (or the potential for historical significance in the future) and items that should be kept for posterity — items that show the changes and growth of our City through the past 46 (or so) years.

In addition to items of historical significance, we’re also looking for testimonials; interesting stories and facts from long-time residents.

Tamarac’s Historical Society will be a volunteer group comprised of residents from the community with a staff liaison.

We need your help...
Do you have organizational skills, enjoy history, want to pass on your knowledge and stories, or have items to donate? If so, call Chad Quinn, Public Information Specialist, at (954) 597-3523 to volunteer or for more information.