The Way Things Used To Be

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By: Kate Teves, Archivist Delray Beach Historical Society Special to the Delray Newspaper

Working at a historical society, I have come to know the elegies our community so often cries for the past. They are the words any of us, as citizens of South Florida, has uttered at some point: “Things just aren’t the same anymore.”

It’s hard to know when we all started saying these words. Was it in the 90s? Maybe in the 80s? At the Delray Beach Historical Society, we like to look back through the archives and glean a thing or two about the city we’ve built, the city we’ve lost, and time and time again, the city we’ve mourned.

We know, for example, our citizens mourned Delray in the 1960s when a tsunami of development flooded the state of Florida. That was the era when several townspeople, concerned about the vanishing history of their community, banded together to form the Delray Beach Historical Society.

We also know that in the 1920s, an early settler named Anna Hofman wrote mournfully of the old, quiet days when she could still hear the birds on her farm in Pineapple Grove. “[O]ur world is changing here in Delray. We are no longer the village by the canal. Now we are called the ‘City of Destiny.’ … it’s sad to see the land change and lose its old identity. The whippoorwills no longer call at twilight, and the blue heron no longer lifts her wings.”

Surely the American Indians mourned the past more painfully than any settlers. As they watched their lives and their land disappear, they must have thought not only that things were changing but that things were, quite simply, done.

Exploring our archive, the past speaks up with an important reminder: today’s imperfect present may soon be remembered as the perfect past. The condominiums and cookie-cutter homes could very well become the architectural treasures of tomorrow. I-95 could be the quaint country road of a tangled future. And today’s modest fish could be the king-sized bounty for decades to come.

Things are not the same anymore, but remember: they never were. And so we ask you to help us imagine what future residents of Delray Beach will remember about our time here in this town. What are the things from our present that are worth remembering and romanticizing? Email us at archive@delraybeachhistory.org with your thoughts.

Contact the archive to learn more about your town. 561-274-9578