Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Miami River Festival Canoe Race

When they built roads across the Evergades they'd dredge a canal and use the dirt to build up a strip of land for the road. U.S. Route 27 from Miami to Lake Okeechobee starts out at the Miami end as a straightend out stretch of the North Branch of the Miami River. It runs through the town of Miami Springs where they had an annual Miami River Festival. The Miami Springs Baptist Church runs the church on the Tamiami Trail Miccosukee Indian Reservation as a mission.

Lots of Miccosukkees went to the festival every year, selling crafts, their famous patchwork clothing, fry bread and other delicacies, and my friend Bobby Tiger and his sons Robert and Spencer would wrestle alligators. The 'Springs residents also had booths selling various handicrafts, and foods like spare ribs and hot dogs. One of the highlights of the festival was the canoe race. No heavy dugouts here. Modern aluminum and fiberglass craft propelled by eager teenagers raced up the canal.

I don't know if they still hold the festival anymore. Robert got killed in a motorcycle accident back in the 1970's, and a few years ago I went to Bobby's funeral. He'd had a heart attack. Spencer married a nice Jewish girl from Miami Beach and settled in North Miami. Then one day he was gone! I've tried to track him down, but to no avail. I haven't been able to track down his sister Donna either.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ran into Florence Tiger a few months ago. She's now a widow. Spencer died a year or two ago. Donna Tiger had a son Robert, named after his uncle. Donna had died about five years ago and Florence and Spencer adopted Robert.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Al Kaplan said...

I ran into Florence and Robert a bit over a year ago. They live nearby and we stay in touch. She gave me Spencer's 30-30 Winchester 94 carbine, saying "Here, Spencer would have wanted you to have it."

The day he bought the gun we went out behind his house and propped a Pepsi can on a twig through the hole. He took a shot and there was a hole in the can. He handed me the gun and I took a shot. I was sure that I hit it but there was only one hole visible. When we walked the fifty or so yards to the can we discovered two holes on the back side of the can. I'd put that bullet right through the same hole!

7:59 PM  

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