Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just what we're looking for...

(Originally published in The Forum May 12, 2010)

by: Chad Quinn

“I have some photos from the tenth anniversary, not sure if you’d be interested in those.” That was the message that greeted me as I returned to the office one afternoon late last month – I dialed the number back so quickly that I miss-dialed at least three times.

Take a breath. Slow. 9-5-4-7-2-1…

“Hi, may I speak to Jane Gibbons?” That was who had left the message about the photos – an interesting woman with a great story to tell. She and her husband Tom moved into the Heathgate subdivision (one of the original in the City not to be restricted to 55+) back in the early 1970’s with their thirteen year old daughter. After talking for a few minutes we agreed on a time when she and Tom would be able to drop by City Hall the following morning.

What she brought were examples of just the type of items we’re looking for. Jane told me how Tom often would buy her the “latest” camera and she enjoyed taking pictures. Her hobby is our good fortune in that she was more than happy to donate her photos of Tamarac’s tenth anniversary parade to our Historical Society. Although faded, they show a colorful parade of costumes and floats making its way down Commercial boulevard near the Woodlands (as she remembers it).

In addition to the photos of the parade, Jane also brought with her something more recent – photos of the Everglades fires from about ten years ago and, perhaps even more valuable than her photos, she recounted how she used to work for the Behring Corporation, in insurance, and remembers being invited to Ken and Pat Behring’s home in the Woodlands for a holiday party one year. “It was a magnificent home, it even had a moat.”

I asked Jane how she heard about the Historical Society and she said she had read about it in the Tam-A-Gram, and here in the Forum, and she had seen “The Behring Years” display at City Hall. “That display brought back so many memories for us.”

In addition to Jane’s call, I also recently received an interesting old folder of yellowing news clipping from the late 1960’s that Commissioner Pam Bushnell had forwarded to me. This collection of clippings was fascinating to read – the articles all seemed to focus on one of the main selling features of Tamarac in the early days, the “maintenance free lifestyle.” For a relatively small monthly fee residents enjoyed lawn maintenance, roof cleaning, house painting – everything that made condominium living so attractive to many, in the convenience and privacy of a single-family home.

These articles from the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel chronicled a particularly controversial time between the City, the Behring Corporation, and the residents . Unfortunately the articles do not tell the whole story, but through them I now know that the original City Hall was not even in the City’s limits; the Behring Corporation headquarters’ original address, and reaffirmed some of the key players within the community by the use of their quotes in some of the writings.

Interesting. Fascinating, and exactly what the Tamarac Historical Society is looking for. Do you have pictures from parades gone by. Can you fill in some of the details of those contentious maintenance fees or the early growing pains of our great City? If so, then you are exactly what we’re looking for and we’d love to hear from you. Please call (954) 597-3523, or email