My virtual friends over at Let’s Go Ride a Bike and I share the same sick appreciation of puns. Here’s Kermit riding his bike in a classic movie scene. The last line makes it all worthwhile: “If frogs couldn’t jump, I’d be gone with the Schwinn.”
About 20,000 vehicles a day cross over the FEC railroad overpass on Southern Blvd. in West Palm Beach says the 2007 Florida Department of Transportation. Westbound drivers, who crane their necks just right, might see an old weather-beaten building in the shadow of the bridge.
Probably few of them do. The place is about a mile from home… almost exactly half-way between home and my former workplace. That means I passed it four to six times a day for about 30 years.
I never gave it a second glance – shoot, I don’t know that I ever gave it a first glance – until recently, when my wife’s Odyssey needed some work done at Howard Allen’s Paint & Body Shop on Georgia Ave. in West Palm Beach.
Is it just a worn-out shack or is it a piece of local history?
The blue dot marks the spot
[At least it does in FireFox. It was MIA in Wife Lila’s Internet Explorer. If the blue dot is missing, look for a small red roof north of the overpass and west of the railroad tracks.]
The exterior might have been cypress
While waiting for her, my eye was drawn to the asymmetrically-placed arched double doors with the rusty flashing framing them.
I don’t know a lot about lumber, but the graying exterior looked like it might be cypress. It’s one of the few woods that hold up under Florida’s blistering heat and humidity.
Time and termites had taken their toll in a few places, but it looked pretty sound.
Square doors would have been easy
It takes a real craftsman to do cuts like this, especially with hand tools.
Rusty flashing and hardware only added to its character.
It’s being used as a paint spray booth
“When I first saw it, it still had all it’s windows, but kids and time have taken their toll.”
Did it come from Palm Beach?
Mike said that he’s been told that the building was originally a carriage house in Palm Beach and may have been constructed in the late 1800s.
But he doesn’t know that for sure.
“Some people have come by asking about it, and we’d be glad to give it to a good home, but they’d have to put up a new spray booth to replace it,” he said.
If it had its origin in Palm Beach, how did it get on this side of the water?
Moving something this size wouldn’t have been easy.
Even if it could have been floated across Lake Worth on a barge, the question is, why?
You would think that a new building could have been built for less than what it would cost to move this one.
Shrugs off hurricanes
Whoever erected it intended it to stay put. Large bolts hold the wooden structure to its concrete foundation.
It managed to survive hurricanes that splintered downtown West Palm Beach.
Buildings have souls
I could have spent hours looking at all the neat old hardware and wood patterns, but too soon my wife picked up her van and was ready to head home.
I’ve always felt a kinship to old buildings. I can walk though a deserted home touching walls, fixtures and doorknobs, picking up the vibes of people long gone and probably dead.
I can envision the excitement when the first person moved into a brandnew home with the paint still smelling fresh. I can hear the echoes of children singing “Happy Birthday,” and I can sense the Gold Star Mother looking out the upstairs window for the son who won’t be coming home from the war.
These walls didn’t talk to me
Maybe the years of being used as a paint booth have poisoned its spirit, but I didn’t pick up any of those strange feelings from this building.
It might have been because this was a “working” structure instead of a home.
I’d still like to know the real story
Maybe someone who sees this can unlock the real story behind this survivor of another era.
[NOTE: I have “sanitized” the images here, but clicking some of the pictures or links may take you to the WNBR web site which contains really shocking pictures of folks like you and me without their clothes on. Be Warned.]
Velogirardeau, the bike club in my hometown of Cape Girardeau, MO, sends me email about upcoming rides and the like.
The St. Louis World Naked Bike Ride
This morning there was an interesting account of the weekend’s Cairo Wildcat Century, but the big news was the St. Louis World Naked Bike Ride scheduled for August 15.
Tower Grove Park is just down the street from Bro Mark. I bet he’ll be one of the first riders to show up. He’s a weight wienie who does everything he can to strip grams off his bike, so this is a perfect event for him.
Are there any rides around here in Florida?
Purely in the interest of academic research, I journeyed to the official World Naked Bike Ride web site and put Florida into the search field.
- Palm Coast
- Saint Petersburg
- Tampa Bay
The Bad News
Palm Coast, Pensacola and Tampa Bay had ??? next to Date, Time and Location. Tampa’s site had links to media coverage of the Mar. 12, 2006, ride but nothing more recent.
Maybe the participants haven’t gotten out of jail yet.
The Sorta Good News
Yep, it WAS Russia.
Now there IS a new entry for Saint Petersburg, FL, on the list.
Date: Trying for the Summer 2008
Time: Not set yet
Location: To be decided. Might be in another county.
History: Hi all..We had a ride in 2005 and in 2006 but none in 2007..So if we can generate enough interest for a ride in 2008 for the summer ride, we’ll see what can be done to make this a all nude ride. If this falls thru in Saint Petersburg then we can see about having it in Pasco county just north of Pinellas county where they are not as much against nudity as these religious people are in Pinellas. Another good place would be in the Miami area but far away from Haulover beach or in another city besides Saint Petersburg or Tampa and if it is in another area then it will require the help of some others in that area to make the arrangements..I’m posting this in the Florida groups also. Lets see what can be done for 2008..Cheers..Keithmj
Sounds like we had better not count on the Florida Saint Petersburgians getting their acts together.
What is a naked bike ride all about and other questions?
The official site has an extensive FAQ that addresses just about everything you ever wanted to know about stripping down and hopping on your two-wheeler.
Actually, the FAQ says that “skateboards, inline skates, rollerskates, rollerblades” are welcome and “unicycles, tricycles, chopper bikes, tandems, recumbants and rickshaws” have also shown up. No petrol-powered conveyances, though, please.
Do I have to be naked?
Nope, just “as bare as you dare.”
Can I hurt myself?
“Only if you don’t wear sunscreen or if you fall off the bike.”
You’ve seen those perfect family portraits where everyone is dressed up in their Sunday best, not a hair is out of place and everyone is smiling like they’d just won the lottery, right?
How do you get that result?
Actually, I don’t know. But I can walk you through how we got as close as we’re ever going to get.
Here are the gory details in 7 minutes 46 seconds
It was a family Easter Sunday
The whole West Palm Beach Steinhoff Clan gathered at Ken and Lila’s for Easter egg hunting, dinner, biking and swimming.
I was ready for a nap when Son Matt hauled out his Nikon D700
Matt, AKA Farmer Matt, herded us out to a shady spot in the backyard that was cluttered with debris from our recent construction project. Thecast of players included Matt’s wife Sarah, their 4-year-old son Malcolm, Son Adam and his wife, Carly, Mom and Dad.
Photographers don’t get any respect
Poor Matt tried hard, but our family is a tough act. It didn’t help that Dad decided that the whole process should be documented with his new Canon FS100 video camera.
After much hauling of cinder blocks, moving of debris, cajoling and threatening, Picture One was taken with a self-timer.
Matt didn’t like it
Malcolm wasn’t looking at the camera.
He didn’t like this one, either. He wasn’t happy with the some of the expressions. (Malcolm’s still not looking at the camera and he’s got that Are-We-Done-Yet? look that the rest of us feel, but mask.)
This time everyone has a great expression. Malcolm is looking into the camera and giving a perfectly adorable smile.
What’s not to love about this?
Oh, Mom has her eyes closed.
Time to do it again
While Matt is futzing around trying to convince us that I’m the only one going to be eligible for Social Security before this is done, he notices our bemused backyard neighbor watching the proceedings.
Despite all the ways that perching a six-year-old on a concrete block so he’d be tall enough to push the shutter release could be a bad idea, the result wasn’t bad.
At least by the standards of folks who wanted to move on to biking, swimming and napping. It might not be art, but it’s as close as you’re going to get with this group.
[Disclaimer: No actual family members (or neighbors) were injured in the making of this photograph.]
I mentioned that we started up to see the Space Shuttle launch last week, but it was scrubbed because of a hydrogen leak. We decided to give NASA a second chance. The only big change we made was to cancel our old room reservations and book a new room in Clermont so we’d be closer to where I was planning to ride the next morning.
I called the old place and said, “I just read a bunch of reviews about your establishment. Any time there are headlines like ‘frightening’, ‘filthy’ and ‘should be condemned,’ I get nervous.”
Instead of an argument or explanation, the guy at the other end just said, “Your cancellation number is…..”
We ended up at Robert Nicol Park
Let me go on record that Robert Nicol Park must have the cleanest restrooms on the Space Coast. They have to be clean because they were locked. On a Sunday afternoon when hundreds of people were going to show up.
We scored a nice spot
The park has limited parking, but plenty of room for people to spread out. We picked a shady spot on a slight rise away from the water’s edge. I figured a couple of trees would look good silhouetted in the launch gl0w. Besides, I didn’t know exactly where the Shuttle pad was, I didn’t HAVE to produce any art and I’d rather be cool than sunburned.
Continue reading “Shuttle Launch Reminds Me of Disney World”