Imagine a little boy at the grocery store puzzled by the etchings on someone’s arm. He turns and asks his mother what this means. This is not about a child of today but a child born maybe in the 1950’s who grew up in South Beach and sees numbers etched on some one’s arm that had been a victim of the Nazi concentration camp.
My Miami Beach Art Deco workshop for my “Splash and Color” coloring book is about the people and the buildings of South Beach. Buildings were made by people—for people. Without them both there is no story to tell.
As I looked over my planned Art Deco workshop, I saw that it did not include the true history of the buildings. I became aware of the blanks after attending a “Learning through the Holocaust” workshop. When presented with more information and the true story of this young boy, I began to wonder who the residents of the buildings were. Some were obviously immigrants from the Holocaust. But did they come directly from Europe or the US. What was their story?
I knew and read on the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s website that many of the buildings in the Miami Beach Art Deco District of the 1930s and 1940s were designed, built and operated by Jews. I knew Barbara Capitman, a Jew, started the Miami Design Preservation League that established the Art Deco District and that the residents of the buildings were mostly elderly. Yet, so many of my questions remained unanswered.