Go to:
The Palm Beach Post
historic palm beach logo

Tags

1928 Hurricane advertising African Americans agriculture airports Bill McGoun Black history month black icons boats Boca Raton Boynton Beach buildings Camp Murphy celebrities Christmas death Delray Beach Glades Henry Flagler hospitals hotels hurricanes immigrants incorporated Lake Worth Morrison Field museums newspapers notorious crimes Palm Beach parks photos place names railroads restaurant roads schools sports store theaters This Week in History unanswered questions West Palm Beach World War II WWII

Air Force Beach used during Korean War

Do you know the history of Air Force Beach and how it got its name? I’ve been told the Army Air Force used the beach for R & R during WW II. Also, I was told that there is a possibility that it was used to practice beaching the Higgins Landing Craft prior to the various mainland invasions, primarily Normandy. It was used in a similar manner during the Vietnam War. Can you verify if any of this is true? — Dan Canavan, West Palm Beach

We asked Debi Murray, chief curator for the Historical Society of Palm Beach County:

“Air Force Beach became the U.S. Air Force beach when Morrison Field was reactivated during the Korean War. The Air Force had to have its own beach as the beaches were segregated then and they needed a beach where both blacks and whites could congregate. It was not U.S. Army Air Corps property during World War II.

“Although I haven’t been able to verify the location, I did see a photograph with a small corner of a coastal watch tower that was labeled as being on Singer Island. Camp Higgins was on the south side of the Lake Worth Inlet (northern Palm Beach island) and was manned by army personnel with 70mm cannons and tanks. So I’m sure the coastal watch tower would have been further north on Singer Island to cover that part of the shoreline.”

Here’s some more on “Air Force Beach” from a 2002 Post Time column:

Through the 1970s and into the 1980s, it was one of the largest nudist beaches in the nation. The ½-mile-long beach was owned by billionaire John D. MacArthur, a frequent skinny-dipper, and once drew hundreds of people a day, many of them without bathing suits, with the population rising dramatically during weekends and college spring breaks.

When the state bought the beach in 1982 and made it part of John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, the foundation that controlled MacArthur’s properties — he’d died in 1978 — recommended an area be set aside for clothing-optional use. The state refused.

The beach also has been listed as a popular destination on gay travel websites.


Toni Anne Wyner, covering herself with only a copy of the Bill of Rights, is led away by state park officers on July 14, 1990, at the ‘Air Force Beach’ area of John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Wyner was charged with disorderly conduct after she led a protest against a law banning thong suits on state beaches.(Palm Beach Post file photo)


Possibly because nudists had scheduled a rally at Air Force Beach, park rangers armed with billy clubs were on patrol. The beach was one of the most popular nudist sites in the nation during the 1970s. (Palm Beach Post file photo)


The beach had not yet opened as a Palm Beach County Park when this aerial was shot in March 1981. Air Force Beach streched from the lower part of the photo north to just in front of the nearest condos at the top. (Palm beach Post staff file photo by Red Morgan)

Tags: , , ,

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg June 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm.

Add a comment

Blast from the past: Today, bugler is 90

For the last three weeks, we’ve revisited Morrison Field, now Palm Beach International Airport, while it was a World War II Army base. Our time machine: a dozen weekly base news magazines loaned to us by retired Lantana teacher Ed Sheedy.

On page 7 of the Oct. 4, 1941 edition: a feature on “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy Morton Savar.”

The story said the red-haired kid was the most unpopular guy on base, because it was he who roused everyone each morning.

“It’s just another job, like muck detail, or KP,” he told the reporter. But during taps, he said, “the temptation to jive is almost unbearable sometimes.”

savar1941

The 1941 story gave Morton, now 90, a laugh when we tracked him down in Mt. Laurel, N.J..

savar1

“A year later, the same guy’s now the most popular because he’s the photographer,” he recalled in August.

Morton would avoid combat the entire war and return to the Philadelphia area, where he spent decades as an event photographer, retiring around 1990; “I was too old to chase the Bar Mitzvah boys and the brides.”
He’s married 60-plus years with three kids and three grandkids.

The youngster had enlisted May 27, 1941, his 21st birthday.

As Morrison’s bugler for six months, he was no novice; as a teen he’d played with a 6-piece band that worked Philly hotels.

After Pearl Harbor, his bugle was replaced by a public address system and he was assigned as an official base photographer, a job he held at Morrison for four years.

“They came to Morrison Field to get all fitted out with the shots, clothing and orientation. It was a very busy airport.”

Late in the war, Savar was shipped to the South Pacific, again as an official photographer.

He said he got a shot of a Japanese envoy leaving Manila for Tokyo Harbor to take part in the surrender aboard the Missouri.

Thanks to Ed Sheedy, both Morton and you now can read every page of the dozen 1941 Morrison Field news magazines here on www.HistoricPalmBeach.com.

The cover photos alone are worth the look; from sleek prop planes ready for takeoff to “cheesecake shots” of local girls — maybe your grandmom — splashing in the surf !

Tags: , , ,

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg and Morrison Field October 14, 2010 at 7:16 am.

Add a comment

Pearl Harbor attack changed the tone of Morrison Field news magazine

This is the third of four columns visiting the 1941 weekly news magazines of Morrison Field, now Palm Beach International Airport. You can read every page on HistoricPalmBeach.com.

These snippets are from just before Pearl Harbor and just after. Watch the tone make a dramatic change.

Nov. 15: “There’s gold in them thar hills,” was the cry of the men and women of ‘49, and the same cry will be heard on this base next Saturday night when Morrison field officers drop their 1941 garb, let down their hair, and throw formality to the winds in a shootin’, rootin’, tootin’, gun toting Forty-Niner party at the Officers’ Club.

Nov. 29: Commissary Will Provide Staple Groceries at Low Prices. Housed in modern shelves and maintained by modern business methods the $15,000 stock will be composed of items on housewives’ and soldiers’ shopping lists from ammonia to yeast.

Dec. 6: The Protestant enlisted men’s choir will make its public debut tomorrow at the inter-faith service in the chapel at 9:30 o’clock. (“Tomorrow:” Dec. 7.)

morrisonfielddec131941

Dec. 13: The first radio bulletins on the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which reached this section soon after the noon hour Sunday, catapulted base authorities into action. All personnel were restricted to the base, and an order was issued to keep civilians out. We are no longer merely selectees and enlisted men spending a required training period on a military reservation. The novelty, if there ever was one, is over and finished. We are now a part of a nation which has sprung to life in defense of its material and spiritual possessions. A nation which is girding itself for the most tremendous war effort in all its history. We must act accordingly.

Dec. 20: Midnight Mass, a traditional Christmas service in the Catholic Church since its early days, will be celebrated in the Morrison Field Chapel Wednesday midnight, according to a statement released yesterday by Chaplain Edward J. Burns. Plans for this mass had been abandoned since so many of the men of the Base were scheduled to leave on Christmas furloughs; however, since the start of hostilities canceled these leaves Chaplain Burns has now completed arrangements for the impressive and beautiful ceremony.

Next week: The boogie-woogie bugle boy.

Tags: , , ,

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg and Morrison Field October 7, 2010 at 7:59 am.

Add a comment

Newspapers recount everyday life at Morrison Field

Last week we told you about newsletters from 1941 for Morrison Field, now Palm beach International Airport. They were loaned by retired Lantana teacher Ed Sheedy.

You can read every page here on HistoricPalmBeach.com.

Here are some highlights:

Aug. 30: The picnic, held last Saturday by the 54th Material Squadron, seemed to be a big success. The boys all had a nice time out there on the beach during the afternoon, and then came back to spend a quiet evening in camp — it has been said.

Sept. 13: When the Woman’s Club offered the use of the main portion of their beautiful club house on the lake front to be used as a service club for the personnel or Morrison Field Air Base, the idea was so new and novel that the generous offer was slow of acceptance, both from the men and the public.

Sept. 20: Every seat in the handsome new chapel was filled at the impressive dedication services Wednesday, with a dozen ministers from the Palm Beach section, a number of prominent citizens and several ladies in attendance.

morrison-field-sept-27-page-1

Sept. 27: (Cover photo above) Seductive surf and sirens — super magnets that attract millions of visitors to the Florida bathing beaches and of course fascinate the personnel of Morrison Field Air Base, at Palm Beach.

Oct 4: Fun and pranks of an innocent nature are essential to this as well as any camp but unfair methods, dishonesty and dissipation will be frowned up and those who indulge in these infractions of the rules will eventually lose the respect and friendship of their associates as well as that of their super officers.

Nov. 1: The three weeks since the final appearance of Morrison Field AIR, which has been replaced by FLIGHT, were crammed with activity and events. While Morrison Field personnel scampered about in the night making preparation for a storm of unusual proportions, one that actually blew ships from the water onto the streets of Nassau, a big hurricane changed its mind just north of Miami, turned westward, and lost itself in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nov. 8: The cage squad made its last appearance Friday night a week ago when it outclassed the Montgomery-Ward team from West Palm Beach by a 66-27 score.

NEXT WEEK: The mood changes.

Tags: , , ,

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg and Morrison Field September 30, 2010 at 6:30 am.

2 comments

Magazines capture slice of World War II era airport history

Sometimes snippets of history fall out of the sky, so to speak. Retired teacher Ed Sheedy of Lantana recently dropped off for our perusal no fewer than 12 editions from the last four months of 1941, of the “weekly illustrated magazine of Morrison Field Air Base,” now Palm Beach International Airport.

All but two are dated prior to Dec. 7, 1941, a date that needs no explanation, after which their light tone changes.

Ed, whose father was a Navy pilot, had bought them from a local man who’d collected them.

The editions are a wonderful snapshot of a long-ago time. The coolest part is you can read every page on HistoricPalmBeach.com here.

First, a brief history:

In 1940, the Morrison Field municipal airport was leased to the U.S. Army for an air base. More land was bought, expanding the airport to 1,825 acres. A 1940 Works Progress Administration project expanded runways and taxiways. On Feb. 27, 1941, it became an Army post, although it still handled civilian air traffic.

After Pearl Harbor, the Morrison Field Army Air Force Command was activated.

“The base was like a swarm of bees,” the late Louis Zorzi, who managed the field’s officer’s club during the war — and whose son Ed helped manage Palm Beach County’s airports — said in 1977.

A little more than a month later, on Jan. 19, 1942, the Air Transport Command began operation . The army bought still more land, increasing the airport to 2,270 acres. Runways and other facilities were built, expanded or renovated, and water and sewer service brought in.

During the war, about 3,000 people were stationed at the field. Virtually every U.S. bomber destined for battle flew out of West Palm Beach, and about 45,000 fighters trained at or left from Morrison Field. About 6,000 planes passed through in the eight months before D-day. And the base maintained many giant C-54 cargo planes that “flew the hump” to supply Chinese fighting the Japanese invasion. On June 30, 1947, the U.S. Army Air Force, successor to the Army Air Corps, deactivated Morrison Field. A year later, it gave the airport back to Palm Beach County. On Aug. 11, 1947, county commissioners changed the name to Palm Beach International Airport; that became official Sept. 27, 1948.

Next Week: AIR.

morrison-field-nov-08-page-1

Tags: , , ,

Posted in Morrison Field September 23, 2010 at 7:20 am.

2 comments

© Copyright 2014 The Palm Beach Post. All rights reserved. By using PalmBeachPost.com, you accept the terms of our visitor agreement. Please read it.
Contact PalmBeachPost.com | Privacy Policy