Origins: Palm Beach County - #111

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

Palm Beach County sits on the east coast of Florida, about sixty miles north of Miami. Its beaches run along side the Gulfstream, which comes up from the Caribbean and gives the area the only semi-tropical climate in the continental U.S. -- mild temperatures in the winter, refreshing breezes in the summer. The location was developed during the early years of this century as a playground for the rich.  If you were rolling in money you could come to Palm Beach and roll in the sand -- or perhaps in the hay.  The man behind the blossoming of Palm Beach was Henry Morrison Flagler.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Henry Flagler was the industrialist who built the railroads that opened up Florida during the early years of this century.  He had a number of interesting strategies for getting people to come down and live along side his railroad, but for me the most interesting was his plan to get a group of Japanese to leave Japan, come here and recreate their home village in what is now Palm Beach County.

In 1903, Flagler encouraged a group of Japanese farmers to come to Florida and raise pineapples.  For twenty years they struggled with their farms.  But when the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s arrived, they gave up and sold their land.  There was, however, one colonist who remained.  His name was George Morikami and he worked in his fields until his death in 1976.  He also amassed a considerable amount of land and became quite prosperous.

Near the end of his long life, he donated two hundred acres to Palm Beach County to be used to honor the memory of the original colony and to build a cultural bridge between his two homelands.  Today, it’s known as The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.  The park has a pine forest, waterfalls, and lakes inhabited by golden carp, turtles and cranes.  In Japanese folklore each of these animals is associated with long life and good fortune.

There’s a traditional Bonsai garden.  Bonsai is a technique that allows the grower to produce a miniature version of a tree or plant.  The park also has an example of the dry Japanese gardens that are made from stones and sand.  Complex to design properly, but just my kind of garden when it comes to upkeep.  I like anything that can be fully maintained by vacuuming.

Morikami also has a series of exhibition galleries with Japanese artifacts, crafts and toys... A teahouse where a tea master demonstrates the ancient art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony... A cafe with excellent Japanese food... and a museum shop that’s about to get all my per-diem expense money.

The museum also presents a series of classes where traditional Japanese arts are taught.  Central to the art of Japanese flower arranging is the ordering of nature -- taking simple things and making them very important, a technique that was often used by the people who originally built Palm Beach.  Take, for instance, the story of Paris Singer.

Paris Singer was one of the seventeen illegitimate children of Isaac Singer, the founder of the Singer sewing machine company.  He was also a member of the Palm Beach crowd.  Paris had a pal named Addison Mizner who was living in New York and in bad health.  Singer convinced Mizner that he could regain his health by moving to Palm Beach.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Mizner had come from a prominent California pioneering family.  His father had been a U.S. Ambassador to South America, and Addison grew up living the good life.  He had been a decorator who worked with successful architects, a real estate developer, a painter, a collector of rare antiques, he had also been a successful gold miner and a boxer.  Let me tell you, Palm Beach County was his kind of place.

He showed up just as one of Florida’s land booms was getting underway and he soon became a very popular architectural decorator.  Singer and Mizner lived it up in Palm Beach while building it up for Mizner’s clients.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Mizner was actually not the perfect architect.  It appears that his memory for detail was sometimes impaired and he would forget little things -- like the kitchen in a huge mansion.  What can I tell you?  Mizner had a lot on his mind, and in 1925 he decided to do his own thing and he built The Cloister Inn.

Which is now known as the Boca Raton Resort and Club.  The Mizner style is all over the place and it’s great.  He loved Spanish architecture, gardens, Moorish fountains, antique furniture.  The present owners love golf, croquet, tennis and the beach.  But they’ve been able to keep the Mizner feeling throughout.  When you want to go from the original Cloister property to the new resort on the beach, they run a beautiful little boat up and back every ten minutes.  And in the tradition of Boca, they love good food.

Let me introduce James Reaux, the executive chef.  Today he’s going to prepare a pecan-crusted chicken breast.  James starts with a skinless chicken breast with almost all the bones removed.  The wingbone stays in but only because James thinks it makes a better presentation -- and it does.  The chicken is painted with a light coating of mustard... then a little salt and pepper.  A cup of bread crumbs and a cup of roasted, chopped pecans are mixed together.  The chicken is dipped into the breadcrumb and pecan mixture to give it a nutty crust.  A tablespoon of vegetable oil is heated in a sauté pan.  The chicken goes in and cooks for thirty seconds on one side and a minute on the other.  Then into a 350-degree oven for ten minutes.

James makes a salsa as follows.  A ripe banana is peeled and sliced -- that’s about a cup’s worth.  That goes into a bowl, followed by a half cup of red bell pepper that’s been diced... then a half cup of yellow bell pepper, also diced.  A teaspoon of chopped fresh cilantro... a half of a jalepeño pepper, coarsely chopped... then the juice of a fresh lime.  Then a tablespoon of light brown sugar goes in.  A little salt and a little black pepper.  A little mixing and into the refrigerator to rest for an hour.  Now it’s time to plate.  A tower of mashed potatoes goes onto the center of the dish... then the chicken... the salsa... and a simple abstract sculpture made from fried strips of banana and scallions. Art you can eat.

And now a little more art, but this time it feeds your soul.

Palm Beach County is the home of the Norton Museum of Art, which is considered to be the finest museum of art in the state.  It was founded in 1941 by Ralph Norton.  Norton had been the head of the Acme Steel Company in Chicago.  When he retired to Palm Beach he decided to use his personal collection as the basis of a public museum.  The museum now contains representative works of the French Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists -- including Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Renoir and Gauguin. The American art from 1900 to the present features works by Hopper, O’Keefe, Motherwell, Pollock and George Bellows.  There’s also a very interesting collection of Chinese work, including ancient bronze, jade and ceramics.

DAVID SETFORD:   This is a great painting by Picasso from 1924, and here you have a table with... It’s called The Red Foulard.  This is the foulard, or a scarf, printed scarf with a pattern printed on it.  And here you see a bowl with fruit in it and a guitar and of course Picasso was so keen on music, because he felt that all the senses -- music, visual art, and sound, and everything went together, and that’s what I think he was trying to evoke in a painting like this -- everything at the same time.  The joys of all the senses, and as I say, I think, I feel that you could actually lick this painting it’s so gorgeous -- the paint work is so luscious.  It’s creamy like one of those wonderful icings you get on some cakes.

Well, this one’s by Robert Delaunay who was living in Paris around the same time as Picasso and people thought he was a cubist but you can tell he wasn’t a cubist because it’s not all angles.  In fact, he developed this language, this artistic language based on orbs, you know.  These orbs.

BURT WOLF:  An orbist.

DAVID SETFORD:  That’s right.  But at this point in 1916, he was in Portugal having a really wonderful holiday in Portugal.  And this is a memory of one of his breakfasts...

BURT WOLF:  Breakfast?

DAVID SETFORD:  In Portugal.  Here’s his dressing gown, bottom left-hand corner. 

BURT WOLF:  Watermelon.

DAVID SETFORD:  Wonderful watermelon with a slice taken out of it that you can imagine him eating.

BURT WOLF:  Seeded watermelon.

DAVID SETFORD:  Seeded watermelon.

BURT WOLF:  Poor guy.


BURT WOLF:  Pears...

DAVID SETFORD:  ...and probably small oranges...

BURT WOLF:  Right.  Or really old eggs.

DAVID SETFORD:  Or really, really rancid eggs.

BURT WOLF:  Do you think that there’s a particular group of painters that painted more food than others?  Did the French paint more food than the Spanish or the Americans, or different periods...?

DAVID SETFORD:  Well, I think the French love food.  And I think that the French painters around the turn of the century and the early twentieth century -- because they had this thing about one sense building off the other sense; they love to get food into the paint and actually some of the actual paintwork is actually delicious and you get the feeling you could almost eat it.

BURT WOLF:  So the French general love of food carries on into their art.

DAVID SETFORD:  Carries on into their art, yes.

This work is by Gustave Courbet, about 1871 to 2, one of the great realist painters of France and look at those fabulous fruit you feel you could really pick those up off the bowl.  Now, the funny thing was, that at the time Courbet -- wasn’t that funny, he was in prison!

BURT WOLF:   For his paintings?

DAVID SETFORD:  No, actually politically.  He’d been imprisoned after the fall of Napoleon the Third because he was suspected to have engineered the mob that pulled down the Napoleonic column in the Place Van Dome in Paris.  And apparently he hadn’t, but anyway they threw him in prison, and he was languishing in prison, dying of starvation because he loved to eat.  He did a wonderful job, I think, of these very tactile fruit, but sometimes he didn’t even have a canvas to paint on, so sometimes he had to paint on his palette like you see over there, and there’s a Courbet painting...

BURT WOLF:   Wow!  On a palette.

DAVID SETFORD:  On his palette.  Painted at the same time in prison.

When Renaissance artists like Michaelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci were working on a big painting or a wall fresco, they would start by sketching the work out on a large piece of paper. The full-scale drawings were made in the artist’s studio, then taken to the wall to be painted and held up against the surface as a pattern. The large pieces of paper were known as cartone, which is where our word cartoon comes from.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   During the middle of the 1800’s England was very busy building a new palace for its Houses of Parliament.  Prince Albert, who was married to Queen Victoria, thought it would be nice to cover the inside walls with frescos -- and so he held a competition.  When everybody got a look at what had been sent in, it was apparent that the fresco had fallen on evil times.  The stuff was terrible.  A magazine called Punch decided to make fun of the entire affair, and they published a series of drawings called Punch’s Cartoons.  That stuff was very funny, and everybody got a kick out of it.  Within weeks, the word cartoon came into the English language with its present meaning.

This is the International Museum of Cartoon Art and it is located in Boca Raton, Florida.  Its collection is the largest in the world, with over 170,000 works on paper, 10,000 books, and a thousand hours of animated film.  There are comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons, and sports cartoons.  And some cartoons I take very personally.

BURT WOLF:  So you had the first cartoon to go underneath the North Pole...

MORT WALKER:  I also had the first cartoon that was faxed, over a fax machine...

The museum was originally set up through the efforts of Mort Walker.  Mort is the creator of one of the most popular cartoon characters of the 20th Century -- Beetle Bailey.

BURT WOLF:   What’s your definition of a cartoon?

MORT WALKER:  It’s a very simple drawing that capsulizes a human event.   I like to think of it as a universal experience that everybody has had that the cartoonist takes and crystallizes it and comments on it and brings it to the reader with a minimal effort so they all understand, and they say “That happened to me!”

BURT WOLF:   Do you have to be able to draw?

MORT WALKER:  Well, sometimes it hurts the cartoonist...I always advise people not to take art lessons, because how could you draw an arm like Popeye if you’re familiar with anatomy? You know?  You can’t do it.

Well, the greatest thing about being a cartoonist is that you don’t have to dress, you don’t have to get out into the elements and go to work or drive a car and face traffic -- you just work right at home, you work in your shorts, you can eat when you want to, you can take naps when you want to... The only difficult part about it is that you’re lying there in your Barca-Lounge chair, with a piece of paper in front of you, staring at the ceiling, and you try and convince people that you’re working!  And they come in and they say, “Would you take out the garbage?”  “I’m sorry, I’m busy --”   “You’re busy like fun you are, you’re just staring at the ceiling!”  But then, the greatest thrill is to be with a blank piece of paper and you take your pencil and you get an idea and you write it down and you realize, “That idea didn’t exist before.  Anywhere.”  And you created it.  And it may live for two, three hundred years -- there are cartoons here in this museum that are a hundred, hundred and fifty years old and people are still laughing at ‘em.  And that’s the greatest thrill.  Laughter is good for the whole body, you know?  I just cut this out of the paper this morning, from Ann Landers.  It says, “Nobody says you must laugh, but a sense of humor can help you overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected, and smile through the unbearable.”

It may look like just another orange grove in Palm Beach, Florida, but it is considered to be the site of a new industry.  It’s called Agratourism, and it combines farming and tourism, and Palm Beach is the perfect place for it to get started.  At the Callery-Judge citrus groves an old-fashion tram takes you on a tour of a four thousand acre grove.  And Stan Bronson makes it pretty interesting.

STAN BRONSON:  We have approximately 485,000 trees here at Callery-Judge; we have six varieties of grapefruit and eleven different varieties of specialty-type fruits, such as navel oranges, many different types of tangerines -- right here we’re entering into a block that was planted in 1965.  It is a combination of temple oranges and Orlando tangeloes.  Most people don’t realize what the tangeloes are, but they’re hybrids between two different varieties.  It was developed in 1937 by the USDA, and it was a combination of tangerines and grapefruit.  Most people don’t realize that.  Most people think it’s a combination of tangerine and oranges. ... In the case of grapefruit, if you do a blindfold test you’ll find that the color of grapefruit really makes no difference because they’re chemically identical inside.  And there is really no difference between the sweetness of white grapefruit and red grapefruit -- they are the same.  But our eyes play tricks on us, because of the fact that when we see that red color we think, “Wow, that must be really sweet!”  And it really has nothing to do with the sugar level inside.

BURT WOLF:   It’s that old line -- “You eat with your eyes.”

STAN BRONSON:  You sure do, you sure do.  When you’re in the supermarket, the first thing that you should look for is -- obviously, being prejudiced, coming from Florida!  Another thing you should look for is flatness, especially in grapefruit.  The flatter the fruit, generally the thinner the skin.  And so that’s one thing to look for, is flatness in the fruit. 

BURT WOLF:   So I’m not gonna look for a round one, I’m looking for one with a flat top and a flat bottom.

STAN BRONSON:  Flat top and flat bottom, especially on grapefruit.  Now, you won’t see that on oranges, but on grapefruit you will.  Another thing to look for is a very smooth texture on the skin, and that’s going to make a -- generally, the smoother the texture of the skin, the less peel that you have, so the more juice you’re gonna have in the fruit.

Palm Beach County is also the home of the PGA National Resort and Spa.  No one’s quite sure when golf got started, but we know that during the 1400s the Dutch played a game they called kolf, which means “club” or “stick.”  But they played it on frozen canals.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  At the same time, the Scots were playing a game that is clearly the ancestor to modern golf.  It became so popular, that in 1457 King James II and the Scottish Parliament sent out a proclamation forbidding people to play the game.  The king felt it was taking people away from archery, a skill that was essential to the survival of the nation.  Of course, the Scots kept right on playing, and they played on little grassy hills by the sea called “links”  -- a word that is still used to describe a golf course.

The PGA National Resort and Spa is clearly designed to meet the obvious needs of the golfer, with courses and classes and equipment shops.

The spa has also addressed the physical needs of the golfer in other ways, and some of them are rather unusual. The spa has a collection of pools called the Relaxing Waters Of The World.  They import famous healing salts from all over and add them to their pools.  This one is a flotation pool with salts from the Pyrenees.  Lots of calcium, potassium and magnesium.  And this one contains mineral salts from the Dead Sea. Seawater normally contains 3.4 percent salt.  Dead Sea water contains 27 percent salt.  So if mineral baths are your thing, the Dead Sea is the liveliest.

The resort has also developed a spa cuisine called “Florasian,” which is a cross between the foods of Florida and the foods of Asia.  It’s low in fat, low in salt, low in calories, but fortunately it’s high in taste.

Clearly, the PGA National Resort and Spa is a great destination if you’re looking to play a big game of golf.  But what if you’re searching for just Big Game?

Safari is an Arabic word that means “trip.”  It was originally brought into the English language to describe a hunting expedition to East Africa.  The primary objective of the safari was big game hunting, but almost all the hunters were charged with additional responsibilities that were political, commercial and scientific.  Many of them were sent out by the British Royal Geographic Society.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now if you love wild animals and the sensation of being on safari, but you like to have that feeling in the comfort of your own air-conditioned automobile, which, quite frankly, is much more my style, then I recommend to you a visit to the 500 acres of the Lion Country Safari in Palm Beach County.

FRED VOLPE:  To the left here we have our spider monkeys from South America...

Fred Volpe is on the staff, and he makes it interesting and fun.

FRED VOLPE:  Now this section here is Lake Nocaru and in Africa it’s home to your East African Crowned Cranes, known for its bright plumage.

BURT WOLF:  Great hair.  It’s got Don King’s hair.

FRED VOLPE:  And also they’re noted for their mating rituals where they hoot, they jump, they dance around their mate.

BURT WOLF:  Ah, like my kids.  Same mating ritual.

FRED VOLPE:  Of course we have our flamingoes.  And they get their color from their diet.

BURT WOLF:  Which is?

FRED VOLPE:  Well, shrimp.

BURT WOLF:  So they’re that color because they eat the shrimp shells.

FRED VOLPE:  Beta carotene -- same thing found in carrots -- and if they didn’t they’d just be another white bird.

BURT WOLF:  Amazing.

FRED VOLPE:  And now we’re getting ready to come into the Serengeti Plain which is home to most of our animals.

BURT WOLF:  And some ostriches.  Do they really stick their head in the sand when they’re afraid of something?

FRED VOLPE:  Oh no.  Not at all.  These animals are nine-foot tall, three hundred and fifty pounds, and they can deliver a very swift kick with their feet.  They’re almost prehistoric looking.  One ostrich egg can hold a quart of water, and nomadic tribes used to use those as canteens.  The first canteens.

BURT WOLF:  Must make a heck of an omelet, too.

FRED VOLPE:  And now we’re entering our state-of-the-art “elephant pad.”

BURT WOLF:   Lions afraid of elephants?

FRED VOLPE:  Lions will not attack an elephant.  And if they’re at a watering hole, they will wait.  They can weigh ten to twelve thousand pounds; they’re eating machines; and they’re very intelligent animals.  And of course you can tell they’re African elephants because their ears are shaped like the continent of Africa.  Their tusks alone can weigh...

BURT WOLF:    Wait, wait...That’s very interesting.  You can tell that they’re African elephants because their ears are shaped like the continent of Africa.  That’s right!  Isn’t that amazing?  Rhinos!  They really look prehistoric!

FRED VOLPE:  They’ve been on the planet for fifty million years.  Though they weigh eight thousand pounds, these animals can run close to twenty-five miles an hour, and they can turn on a dime.

BURT WOLF:   They just don’t care about the cars!  I love this!

FRED VOLPE:  They’re very content.

BURT WOLF:   They know who’s in charge -- them!  Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty...

FRED VOLPE:  Breakfast is being served -- meat.  Of course, the female is the most aggressive and does most of the hunting and mostly runs the pride.  Though these animals weigh three to five hundred pounds, they could run sixty miles an hour for about a quarter to a half a mile, and these animals can leap about twenty feet and usually they break the neck of their prey before they even hit the ground.

BURT WOLF:   I probably get a better look at the animals here than I would if I went to Africa.

FRED VOLPE:  Yes.  If you go to Africa and you see a pride of lions, you’re surely not going to see any of the species in that area.  And we’ve been here now for thirty years; last year we did 465,000 people drove through the Lion Country.  I guarantee you always see something different.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  I couldn’t leave Lion Country without telling you my favorite Safari joke.  It’s about these two guys who were out on Safari, and suddenly they notice a hungry lion heading for them.  First guy jumps up and starts to run.  Second guy starts to look around, pick out the shoes he would like to run in, pick out a shirt that would look good.  First guy yells back “Come on, Harry!  We gotta out-run the lion!”  And Harry answers, “No, I just gotta out-run you.”  I, on the other hand, have no intention of out-running you, because you are my audience and without you I am nothing.  So I hope you will stick with me and join me next time as we travel around the world

looking at the ORIGINS of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf.