As most of you know, I have spent the last two Christmas seasons delivering packages for UPS on a golf cart. Last year I had a great route in a gated community that was, unfortunately, an hour away from our rig. That cut heavily into the profits I was making, so I pushed management this year to give me a closer route. After working a route about 15 minutes away for a few weeks, the neighborhood I wanted that was 3 miles from home opened up in the town of Indialantic-by-the-Sea. In the photo below, the area I was responsible for is outlined in red. The pod I worked from was where the yellow dot is across from Wendy’s. More on that light blue circle in a minute…
A typical day would be somewhere in the vicinity of 90 stops and 120 packages, topping out one day at 156 stops and 210 packages.
Here is my pod on one of the busiest days. It was also one of my rainiest days, and I had to tarp my 3rd, 4th and 5th loads.
Here is my cart with the first load ready to go. Somebody is having Omaha steaks for Christmas!
The lot where my pod was located was about a hundred yards from the beach…meaning it was mostly comprised of sand.
Several of the drivers bringing us our freight had issues with their 26 foot U-Hauls. Fortunately, I own a 4 wheel drive Ford and a tow strap. After the third time, I left the holes so future drivers would avoid this area. That worked.
So back to the map and that light blue circle. On my first day, not yet being familiar with the route, I loaded up my packages in order of the numbered streets: 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and so on. When I headed down 9th Street, I realized that the name had changed to Tradewinds Terrace, and that it interrupted the east/west flow of my deliveries. Hmmmm…how did we go from a grid with streets and avenues to an oddball street named Tradewinds Terrace cutting across the checkerboard??? Well, I continued on my way, adjusting the method I used to deliver the packages. I put the odd little street in the back of my mind and continued on.
Next thing I noticed is that most of the houses were built in the early 1960’s. That is consistent with the need for housing when Kennedy Space Center was in its’ heyday of sending men to the moon. Some of those homes have since been torn down and larger homes have been put in their place. But every so often, there would be an old Spanish style home sprinkled in. Looking at them, I figured they were from the 1920’s. Couple that with the fact that the streets were only a car and a half wide, I began to wonder just when the neighborhood was originally developed. A quick Google search led me down a very interesting path. I’ve always said that it does not matter how common a place seems, something interesting probably happened there at one time. Indialantic-by-the-Sea tuned out to be just such a place.
In the late 1800’s, the area north of Melbourne Beach and south of what is now Cocoa Beach was a series of pineapple plantations. Hard freezes in 1894 and 1895 wiped out the pineapple industry, and the land remained uninhabited for a number of years. The only way to get to the barrier island was by boat. In 1915, a man named Ernest Kouwen-Hoven brought his family to Melbourne from Chicago for health reasons. Staying at the Carelton Hotel, he was intrigued by the land he could see in the distance across the Indian River. The following year, he began buying up that land and laying out streets. Before too long, he had a wooden bridge built from the mainland to the barrier island, which opened up the area for development. The current causeway is named after him.
By the mid 1920’s, the streets that would become my UPS route were mostly in place, except for a large parcel in the middle of it that contained a hotel and a golf course. At first, the hotel was named the Indialantic Hotel after the development of the same name. Indialantic is a combination of Indian River and Atlantic Ocean, the two bodies of water that the town lies between. The hotel’s shadow can be seen just to the right of the number ’14’ on the photo above.
The hotel saw many famous guests, the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Jack Benny and Werner von Braun, to name a few.
As seen in the photo above, the accommodations were quite luxurious for that time. The Great Depression put a crimp on the development in the area, and the smattering of 1920’s era homes sat without many neighbors.
By the early 1950’s, development began to increase again, and the golf course was sold off. The hotel itself remained, renamed the Trade Winds Club. Ahhhh…. now that street name is starting to make sense! By the mid 1980’s, time had taken it’s toll on the structure, and the salty sand used in the concrete during construction compromised the steel beams to a point that the hotel had to be demolished. A north/south street named Tradewinds Terrace was put in, running right through the location of the former lobby in the interior photo above.
This spot, as close as I can tell, is the same spot where that lobby photo was taken. Who would’ve known that this common subdivision had such an uncommon past? The clues were there; all I had to do was follow them.
As a bonus, I was fortunate to be able to deliver packages to many of the older homes in the area.
This one is owned by the famous undersea explorer, Robert Marx. It is fabulous.
There is also a photo online of an old apartment building from 1926 called The Palms.
Here it is today, virtually unchanged.
I had to run a package upstairs to one of the residents, which revealed this lovely common area. The stairs creaked like an old Woolworth store. 🙂
And to keep me on my toes, I delivered to this beauty a few times. Walking through the ornate iron gate to the gigantic front door, I was sure this was one of those grand old Indialantic homes. That was until I pulled it up on Google Street View to show Diana:
This is the same corner not too long ago. The house is brand new, and all that established-looking landscaping is also! The homeowners are the nicest people, leaving Ghirardelli chocolates and San Pellegrino water out for the delivery guys.
I really enjoyed the new route. With the houses all being different, it kept things interesting.
The Christmas decorations were great, including Snoopy on his Zamboni. They must’ve known this old ice rink rat was going to be delivering for them.
I even looked up while driving north one day to see SpaceX sending a Falcon 9 towards the ISS. This is the one where the booster landed in the ocean and was floated back to port. All in all, it was a fun neighborhood to deliver packages in!
So wherever you are, stop and think for a minute what may have happened there in the past. Look for the clues that point the way. No matter how mundane the place may seem now, the history beneath it may surprise you. 🙂