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International Cooperation and Interest in Palms Spans Half a Century!

Contributed by Jorge Zandivar, Board Member of SFPS

Miami Daily News 1942 article with headline "Florida Palm Colection Amaze Colombian Botanist"

See photos and article.

Started in 1896, The Miami Daily News built and operated from a landmark building in downtown Miami named The Miami Daily News Tower from 1925 until 1957. The building is today mostly known as the Freedom Tower. Changing its name to The Miami News sometime in the 1950s, the newspaper's last edition was printed on December 31, 1988.

I found this newspaper page from 1942 interesting on several different levels: The main article about a distinguished Colombian botanist visiting Florida palm collections is timely and remarkable, considering the recent International Palm Society biennial in Colombia. Time capsule mentions of prominent palm collections we are lucky to still have today include The Kampong, Montgomery and Fairchild.

Notice the caption at upper left, stating that Dr. Fairchild took all the pictures except for the center image. Having read his book, The World Was My Garden, I knew he was an accomplished photographer. The photo of a wax palm at upper right is captioned with the botanical name Ceroxylon Guindinense. It appears that is a previous name for the palm now named Ceroxylon quindiuense. That same caption states that a few seedlings are growing in local palm collections, even though it also states it is a palm Floridians cannot have. (What are palm nerds if not optimistic?)

Even the advertisements are interesting; one shows there used to be a nursery named Coral Way Gardens at 1661 SW 22 Street; that's on the north side of Coral Way, between 16 and 17 Avenues. Today that land is a parking lot, but in 1942 the nursery there sold Haden mango trees. Current Miami-Dade County property records show the plat name for most of the land on that block is still Coral Way Gardens.

Lastly, if you are into photography, the page includes other nuggets: We tend to think of World War 2 as a black-and-white image, with color pictures coming in the 1950's. But the ad at lower left, from Moser & Son, shows that color photography was available in the early 1940s. Also notice the photograph of a teacher and pupil on bottom left, and how the caption includes all the details on how it was taken; camera, film, shutter speed, aperture - even what flash bulb was used! Considering the page as a time capsule, and knowing that newspapers tend to print what interests their readers, it appears that there was much interest in horticulture and photography at that time.