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Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween past

With Halloween, coming up, we got this Postcard From a Friend:

Regarding Halloween this year, I would like all the fun-seekers to give half a moment's remembrance of Greg Gillingham, a native Grovite who started the Coconut Grove Halloween Street Party some 30+ years ago, way before CocoWalk appeared, and destroyed much of the remaining Grove ambiance.....sadly, MayFair was first destroyer.
Where once, (now MayFair) was a supermarket, a laundry, a truly noteworthy restaurant called, "The Country Store," and several other small businesses that genuinely helped make a community, now there is a flailing, would be office building and pseudo renovation that cheaply un-does what the original architect and developer, Ken Treister placed his ego upon. 
Yes, times and places change. Mutability is the only constant.  
Greg's party was a great success, so much so that the City of Miami shut him down for a year or two and forced the event to Deering Estate. Sadly, Greg died of heart attack in his sleep in Uruguay where he had stopped on the round the world trip he was taking in his own airplane. (His younger and quite attractive lady co-pilot did not comment on details).
To round things out, Greg was instrumental in starting and supporting Mary Luft's longstanding and well acclaimed "Tigertail Productions." They both lived on Tigertail at the time. (Greg worked as a roofer most of his life, until his grandfather died and bequeathed him much of the property the Ritz-Carlton now occupies.)

Feel free to send in Coconut Grove observations (good or bad) and we will run it as a "Postcard From a Friend." Any observation, long or short, if it's not good, please try not to use names of people or places. Email address is to the right, you can email your "postcard" there. We'll keep it unanimous.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Blogger Tony Scornavacca Jr. said...

Nice post. Gillingham's Halloween parties were absolutely landmark events. He certainly deserves the credit.

(This post is certainly from a longtime Grovite who knows the terrain, evident by the "Country Store" reference.)

October 13, 2014 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Madeline Kraskin said...

Wasn't it the Country Kitchen?

October 13, 2014 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


October 13, 2014 2:12 PM  
Anonymous ellen foss said...

Think it was Quick Check market..Gas Light across teh street, LOOVED Country Store restaurant. Such a shame.

October 13, 2014 3:23 PM  
Anonymous ellen foss said...

They had a fabulous global artichoke stuffed with small shrimp and Louis dressing..delish

October 13, 2014 3:30 PM  
Blogger Mark Weiser said...

Greg's Halloween parties were legendary. Looked forward to it for months in advance. It was a can't miss event because it was fun and ALL your friends would be there!!!

October 13, 2014 3:36 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Morris said...

Greg was a super good & cool guy and a big part of the Groves history, btw I think it needs to be noted he was handsome too..... and I love to brag that I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane with him :)
He deserves the remembrance...

October 13, 2014 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like Greg made out nicely with the sale of his property to Ritz Carlton. I'm sure similar old Grovites did as well when it came time to selling land that later became the Mayfair, and other iconic buildings of the Grove's so called decline.

Let's remember, that none the development in the Grove happened in a vacuum.

October 13, 2014 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Jill said...

Remember Jim Fox ?
He, too, helped Greg with his annual Halloween bash.

October 14, 2014 10:26 AM  
Blogger MPeggyQ said...

Greg was a character for sure...and a Grove stalwart. Whatever happened to Mary Luft? and Tigertail Productions? Miss those days... i think the Mayfair was a Winn Dixie... or was it Pantry Pride? I'm guessing WD... then there was the Oak Feed, Grove Deli, Grove Pub, Tom Thumb, I Ching, Joe's Bike Shop, Om Jewelry, Last Carrot, the Village Inn... these businesses were the heartbeat of the Grove...alongside Hare Krishna... good times...Think Greg would laugh at the New Republic blah blah blah...

October 14, 2014 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Formidable character indeed this Gregster dude! Thanks for posting - Let's hope a new generation of wild and genuine Grovepilots - and lady co-pilots - is just lying dormant somewhere, or he wouldn't be too pleased these days, would he?

October 14, 2014 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Country Store?

October 15, 2014 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the four most recent commentators:

Jill @ 10:26 10/14/2014....Jim is well remembered, especially for the wacky game of CoCo Bocce he and Jack (Smith?) invented. I have photos of the 'World Inaugural' at Alice Wainwright Park. Will bring to Mango party this Sunday.

To M Peggy Q @ 4:50PM 10/14/2014 ....Mary Luft and Tigertail Productions are very much alive and well, though now based in Spring Garden neighborhood. Get details of their 35th season @ tigertail.org

To Anon @ 8:29 PM 10/14/2014....
Wild and Genuine Dudes & Dudettes of the Grove still abound. Come to the Mango Strut Kickoff Party @ Calamari 4-8 PM Sunday, 19 Oct. Many will be there who knew Greg and Jim.

Anon Also @ 11:07 AM 10/15/2014.... Yes, "The Country Store", approx. the N.E corner of Mayfair's current promenade.



October 15, 2014 1:23 PM  

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