The details and ads of an early 1959 edition of the Fort Lauderdale News seem a distant dream.
Like rates for an overnight stay at the Diplomat Hotel: $8 per person double occupancy, or $10.50 for a single guest. The golf course was free to guests.
Like paying $2,499 for a brand new Chevrolet four-door sedan.
Like admission to Dania Jai Alai: 35 cents.
In front page news: Eddie and Liz became engaged. (That’s Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor, premier celebrities of the day, in the most high-profile marriage of the time. Just five years later, Liz and Richard Burton became the most talked-about marriage of their time.)
Also front page news: Tibet’s Dalai Lama fled the Chinese Communists and found refuge in India. Thus began a lifelong quest to keep Tibetan culture alive. Just a few years back, thousands of students came to see him at the Nova Southeastern campus in Davie.
In science news, a new cold vaccine was touted, one which could prevent 80 percent of colds. It was two years away from wide use. If only.
In local news, a move by city officials was underway to shorten the name Fort Lauderdale to just Lauderdale.
As for real estate, dreams could come true for not much money. A full-page ad proclaimed: “In Fort Lauderdale, this Waterfront Home would cost $28,000.” Below that grabber is a photo of a ranch-style home with three bedrooms. Under the picture is this headline in larger type: ACTUAL COST: $16,950.
That either makes you smile or cry. Especially if you’ve been trying to break into the housing market recently.
The featured home is in a community called Coral Key Estates in Pompano. The canal home is “minutes away from the beach and Atlantic fishing.” Among its list of attractions: “Paved Streets” and “Sodded Lawns.”
And don’t forget “sanitary sewers, no septic tanks.”
Imagine that, sodded lawns, sewers and paved streets!
How about the dining bargains? Saturday specials at a Chinese spot: Pork Chop Suey with noodles: 39 cents. At the Townhouse downtown, a Blue Ribbon Steak Dinner is $1.95.
At Tale o’ the Tiger Restaurant and Lounge on Federal Highway, Roast Prime Rib of Beef is also $1.95. If you wanted to spend a little more you could go to Ruttgers-by-the-Sea in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and get the “Ruttgers Smorgasbord” for $2.95. The Luau Buffet at Yankee Clipper on Sundays was a whopping $3.95. But for breakfast deals, Chuck’s offered all you can eat waffles or hotcakes for 50 cents.
Drinks? Ladies Night at Lenny’s served up drinks for 55 cents each, at least for “all popular drinks.” Then you could be entertained by the ever-popular Bonnie De Vow and Her Escorts. (In the pages and pages of restaurant ads and specials there is no mention of a Japanese, Thai, French or German restaurant; although there is the “Gemuetlichkeit Dance” at the local Shrine Club.)
On the other hand, the Fort Lauderdale of 64 years ago had quite an entertainment scene. Dozens and dozens of clubs featured live music. Advertised performers in a smorgasbord of venues: Jaye P. Morgan (get it?), the Berge Vaughn Quartet (from the Arthur Godfrey show), comedian Woody Woodbury, The Cuban Cavaliers (“Enjoy The Captivating Cha-Cha and Merengue”), the Hal Iverson Trio, Buddy Morrow and His Night Train Orchestra, Wild Bill Davison’s Dixieland Band, The Lennie Herman Quintet, The McCormicks, Wee Bonnie Baker and more.
If you enjoyed your music at home, popular 45s were on sale at the Tune Tent for 35 cents. Albums at Record Riot, regularly $2.98 each, were on special at $1.57.
Movie theaters also abounded. On tap that weekend: Imitation of Life (with Lana Turner, at the venerable Gateway Theater), The Hanging Tree (Gary Cooper), Some Like It Hot, Naked in the Sun, Jesse James’ Women, Silent Enemy, Some Came Running (with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine) and Gun’s Glory. Have a ball trying to find them on Netflix.
In 1959 we were only one year away from the debut of a film that would take the city to another level. Featured on the Showtime cover of December 16, 1960: the Where the Boys Are world premiere. An unforgettable moment in the city’s story. It featured Connie Francis, Frankie Avalon and of course, The Elbo Room.
But that’s a column for another day.