The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 10, 1968 · Page 172
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November 10, 1968

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 172

Publication:
Location:
West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 10, 1968
Page:
Page 172
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Page 172 article text (OCR)

Florida's baiefoot mailmen They carried matches and a small fry pan with them in which they cooked potatoes, salt pork, grits, and a few other things they took along. Mostly they lived off the land, finding turtle eggs in season, gathering oysters profuse in those days and still good to eat and not contaminated by sewage as they are now. They picked wild fruit and husked coconuts for their drinking milk and meat. For fresh water, needed in quantity during hot humid summers, there were a number of sources. Ponds, fed by rain and the shallow water level, lay not far back from the beach. A few lakes, such as that at Boca Raton, were handy, though sometimes, when a hurricane opened an inlet to it, the water became salt. In Biscayne Bay, across which the mailman at one time sailed a skiff to deliver the mail, there was a curious source of fresh water. Here, for the use of mainlanders boating across to the beach, was erected an odd structure. A wooden platform was suspended on three pilings and on it was a brass-hooped barrel connected with a pipe that led down into the salt water. The liquid in the barrel, however, was fresh, fed by a spring on the bottom of the bay which had been tapped. The mailmen caught pan fish with their bare hands in tidal pools on the beach rocks. One place they did this was at the Jap Rocks just south of Delray Beach, and this can still be done today. Sometimes they caught more fish than they could eat at the time, so they carried the extra in the mail sack strapped to their back. In those days complaints about mail delivery were based upon letters stinking of fish. When he came to rivers and inlets the mailman had a skiff cached in the dense jungle growth in existence on their banks at that time, in which he rowed across. When he reached Miami Beach he rowed or sailed across the bay to the south point of the Miami River at Brickel Point where the Brickel family had a general store housing the postoffice. When the mailman arrived here a conch shell was blown to inform the community. Here he stayed overnight before starting back the next day. Occasionally people at either end accompanied the mailman on his route. They were called "foot passengers" and at first paid him three, then five, dollars, which included the passenger's food on the way, such as it was. The bed provided Mr jjW "J " '--.mm- y Jvyf I 5 r,j He rows his skiff across on inlet where James Hamilton, a real barefoot mailman, may have been killed by the alligators. Hamilton disappeared near Pompano Beach in 1887. 10 All Florida Magaiint

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