As A Witness To Society Origins, My Chagrin Is Chargin' With Status Plunge

The Herald ran a two-page story on the Surf Club going public and getting a transformation.

Alfred Barton, whose genius fashioned the Saturday night galas at the vaunted Surf Club, should have been the Herald's photo selection -- not the stock shot of Winston Churchill painting. Alfred "made" the Surf the success it was...

Helen Wells covered the Society Scene for the Herald. I did the daily double wide society column for 15 years at The Miami News before moving to the nation's capital.
My columns for that era and my second 10 years at the Miami News (In between the Kennedy White House coverage) appear in my website, Joannielsenmchale.com and my blog goodnewswritesagain.blogspot.com )

This week's story in the Miami Herald headlined: "20s Surf Club may get 21st century makeover." The headline writer took political license..the club opened in 1930. The blockbuster headline fires a screaming salvo -- "private club to go public."

This week's story in the Miami Herald headlined: "20s Surf Club may get 21st century makeover." The headline writer took political license..the club opened in 1930.

The blockbuster headline fires a screaming salvo -- "private club to go public." The Surf has 122 remaining members on its roster.

Alfred Barton's name had value when one's reputation in life commended a crown. I have photographs of Alfred's birthday celebration with Mary Jane Sertel, founder of the Blue Book, and her husband Lino, whose insurance career soared when her Social Register regaled those of good reputation for inclusion. (He refused to be photographed for coverage.)

Now, the Surf will be open to whoever can afford to live in one of three crystalline hotel and towers rising around parts of the venerable building which won't bite the dust. A transformation would restore the faded luster of its historic Mediterranean Revival Building

The Surf Club and Alfred Barton - I wish I had a dollar for all the members who expressed a desire to write a book about the Surf Club and asked me to help write about the venerable 1929 building designed by stellar architect Russell Pancoast. They never got beyond that initial phone call.

I feel so fortunate to have witnessed and mirrored the goings-on and vivaciousness of its fun-seeking membership. It was an era, not an error, that survives in memory. Everyday I add more recollections which makes Miami live again.

Alfred Barton -- bless his soul -- told me in confidence, "I can stand most people but one thing I cannot tolerate -- Do not bore me!"