Miami Beach Joins 
The War Effort
At first, it was believed that America's entry into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would spell doom for Miami Beach's tourist industry. It turned out otherwise. During the 1941-42 winter season, with the full impact of the war on the economy or consumers still in the future, people who planned their seasonal visits followed through. Helen Muir, a columnist for the Miami Herald in those days, wrote that after the initial shock of Pearl Harbor wore off "the predictions of pessimists that Miami would become a deserted playground for the duration were lost in the ring of the cash register, the beat of the rhumba, and the splash of the surf off Miami Beach."1
By assignment, Muir's range of vision was focused on the celebrities, rich capitalists and European gentry who, despite the war, continued to visit or live in Miami Beach. "At the Surf Club when tired millionaires gathered, the word was out to soft-pedal lavish parties as being in 'bad taste' during wartime," wrote Muir. "It  never occurred to anybody to spit that taste right out of their mouths. Playing was the area's prime business and some tourists sold themselves on the idea that it was 'patriotic to keep fit' by continuing the practice of vacationing in winter. "2
However, there was another, more dominant scene about to overwhelm Miami Beach. Rather than multitudes of tourists in flamboyant attire, these visitors wore khaki. Word of a major military presence in Miami Beach came in February 1942 when the Army Air Corps announced that 4,000 men, in

[ Home ] [ Back ] [ Read on...]