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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Reminiscing about the old Grove

Every once in awhile I catch a show on PBS about the old Coconut Grove, the Grove from the 1950s and 1960s. There are a few different shows including the one where they talk about Jim Morrison and the Doors at that infamous concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in 1969. I only bring this up because it's fun to reminisce. 

The episodes I like the best is when they show old movies of the area and talk about what it was like. Some of the people being interviewed, I know today, so it's interesting to note that after all these years, they are still here in the village.

The stories go that it was mostly a winter home for artists and musicians, some quite famous, whose songs we all know today. They would all live in Greenwich Village in NYC and when it got cold in the winter, they would hop in cars and come down here. They would just do it on a whim.

They describe the Grove as being the Greenwich Village of the south. It was all green with lots of trees and foliage and they all lived near each other, where they could bicycle or walk over to each others' houses and write music and hang out.

They worked in local clubs and it was said that there were enough clubs to keep everyone busy, one mentioned was the Flick Coffee House, which is where the Titanic is now on Ponce de Leon, off of US1, so perhaps the clubs were all around the Grove and extended out onto US1 into the Gables.

Many said that they are shell shocked when they come back today, they don't recognize the place.

My earliest memories are of the Winn-Dixie on Virginia and Grand and I remember hippies selling tie die shirts near Main Highway and McFarlane Road, sort of where Panther Coffee is now. I remember the iChing building, near where the Cheesecake Factory is now and I remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Grove Cinema, when it was at the corner of McDonald and Grand, not when it was on Virginia Street, near where The Grove Spot is now.

I remember old shotgun houses on Oak Street which were turned into businesses. You would walk up the steps and be in a store. I remember the Bookworm on Fuller Street, that same door you enter to get into Barracuda was the entrance to the Bookworm. And I remember Oak Feed near where either the 24 Hour Fitness is now or maybe Smoothie King. Sandy Pukel, the owner, tells me that he still has that big 40 foot carrot that hung on the front of the building. They gave him a hard time back then about the size of the signage and they made it be "art," rather than a sign, so that it could stay.

My memories are from the 1970s, but the guys on tv who remember it from the 1950s and '60s, make it sound very special back then. They made it sound like it was the poor stepchild of the City of Miami and that's the way they liked it. It was a little forsaken corner of the city.

This 1966 song, "Coconut Grove" is by the Lovin' Spoonful. It captures the vibe back then. A perfect summer song.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good memories! I loved the reading!

August 05, 2015 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember it too, ta king art classes at the Grove House, a wonderful place, seeing hair at the Grove Playhouse, hippies on Main Hwy, and Oak Feed was a pretty new concept then. Btw, nice pic of the Winn Dixie at Panther Coffee!

August 05, 2015 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Madeline Kraskin said...

Oak Feed was where the Soles store is now.

August 07, 2015 4:24 AM  
Blogger Ed Sager said...

I lived on Virginia St. at Virginia Garden Apartments (#35) back in 1971-72 right next to the fire station and tennis courts. Nice to reminisce about that era. What about Lums across from Peacock Park? Dinner Key was fun to go to, interesting boats and people down there. Used to ride my bicycle to work every day - served as a conscientious objector with Goodwill Industries back then. Quite a time to be there. Ed Sager, Sebring

December 26, 2015 9:37 PM  

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