I don’t want to send out yet another warning about climate change, there’s enough of that going on in the blogosphere. Sure, I could rant and rave and point fingers and hurl dire warnings of doom, but I’m not in the mood. Instead, I’m just going to tell you a story.
I come from a typical New York Italian family. My great-grandparents emigrated from Italy early in the last century and my grandparents were proud first generation Italian-Americans. On my Mom’s side, that is. On the other, they’re as Yankee as they come and Dad still makes his home in Maine. However, in the late 1950s, my great-grandmother LaColla left her home in Brooklyn and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, thus precipitating a great migration that eventually included nearly every branch of the family.
My family didn’t make the journey south until 1974, when I was eleven, but by that time, Fort Lauderdale was already a second home for me. Annual summer vacations to visit Nonna and my cousin / best friend Natalie were the norm. The 1960 film Where the Boys Are was an annual standard at our house that I was allowed to watch, despite its groundbreaking exploration of youthful sexuality. By the time we arrived in the Venice of America, it was like coming home.From the 1940s through the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale was the destination for college students during their rite of passage known as spring break. For those of us who lived there and during my high school years, spring break meant piling into someone’s car and hitting ‘the Strip.’ The Strip was Fort Lauderdale’s beach, running along state road A1A from Sunrise Boulevard to Las Olas, where the Elbo Room, the famous bar featured in the above movie, still stands. In the mid-seventies, the Strip was a rowdy and wild place, full of drunken young people looking for sex, drugs and rock and roll. Eventually, city planners cleaned up the Strip and the college kids moved to Daytona Beach. The city then poured millions of dollars into revitalizing the area and Fort Lauderdale Beach became a sophisticated and cosmopolitan upscale area. That was my home. That was where I grew up, where I, like the frolicking students of Where the Boys Are, came of age. But the beach of my youth is disappearing and probably will be gone before I will. That’s a scary thought. That something that played such a huge role in my life will simply wash out to sea. Really kinda puts things in perspective, ya know?