Monday, April 28, 2008

The American Czech-Slovak Cultural Club ~ Still A Place For A Drink

The legend is that the famous gangster Al Capone used to run booze from the Bahamas smuggle it up Arch Creek to this spooky old house on the west bank of the south branch. The road out front used to be the main road to and from Miami, and the Florida East Coast R.R. tracks are right across the street, perfect for getting the contraband to market in northern states. That was the legend, anyway. There's no real proof that Capone ever set foot in the place, although it's quite likely that it was used for smuggling booze during Prohibition, that ill fated experiment on sobering up the country before World War II.

Arch Creek from U.S. 1 to Biscayne Bay has since been dredged, straightened, lined with concrete seawalls, and incorporated into a maze of man-made canals now known as Keystone Point, an upscale neighborhood in North Miami. Expensive homes line the banks and docked behind many of them are ocean going sportfishing boats and deep-V ocean racers usually referred to as go-fast boats. All Big Money.

The mouth of the canalized Arch Creek is a straight shot across Biscayne Bay to Baker's Haulover, a cut leading out to the ocean. And then it's a straight shot across the ocean to Bimini in the Bahamas, less than a hour's run in one of those go-fast boats. Chances are pretty good that this historic route is still being used for bringing contraband into Florida, but now it's pot and coke rather than booze, and gets offloaded at the docks of fancy houses instead of a spooky old wooden house in the oak grove on the banks of Arch Creek.

When I was a kid the place was already in use as the American Czech-Slovak Club. The building and the surrounding oak grove are still pretty much as they were half a century ago, and the restaraunt and bar are open to the public, with a charming interior, great food, and reasonable prices. It seemed an ideal place for the North Miami Historical Society to meet for dinner.

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