Twas the night before Christmas … and Howard Carroll, no known relation to fantasist Lewis Carroll, is missing a stack of Christmas presents. Of all things in of all places, Main Street on Palm Beach.
How could this be?Taking a few minutes away from perusing the latest climate crisis or the whereabouts of Yevgeny Prigozhin, I found myself tumbling down an endless summer rabbit hole into an ephemeral diversion. Captivated, I began sifting through several decades of Lost & Found classifieds in The Palm Beach Post from 1916 until the 1940s, including the chaotic aftermath following The Breakers inferno in March 1925.
Although I never uncovered if Mr. Carroll’s Christmas presents were ever found, along the way I discovered a woman’s purse was removed from the teller’s counter at the First National Bank on County Road. Someone has galloped away on a brown and white pony from a children’s party. Another diamond brooch has disappeared at The Breakers. An Airedale, answering to Skip, has strayed in Midtown. Maria Ouspenskaya’s citizenship papers were taken at the Palm Beach Playhouse. Down in the South End, Paul Moore cannot find Billy. Mr. Beavers’ handbag is gone, and he knows exactly who took it.
1916 – 1925
March 18, 1925
After the fire …
Wartime Palm Beach, 1941-1945
Lost at Palm Beach …from Christmas presents to ration cards and gasoline coupons. Never found? And, just who was Howard Carroll? Could he have been one of several thousand who lived unimaginable lives outside of social columns? Interestingly, I did find other history pages reserved for Howard Carroll. Apparently, Mr. Carroll was a quintessential Prohibition-era entrepreneur, a bootlegger and rum runner, of sorts. Evidently, he was probably involved in running an inside-upstairs, private, door-knock, dining room above Wax’s Restaurant on Main Street when his Christmas presents were taken.
At one time, Mr. and Mrs. Carroll lived on the Lake Trail. Both were arrested numerous times for alcohol-related offenses. Howard owned and/or operated various establishments, providing refreshments for restaurants, private dining rooms, back-room nightclubs, clip joints, speakeasies, and North Dixie Highway dives in West Palm Beach as well as in Martin and St. Lucie counties.
Beginning in 1923, the Carrolls were targeted for several years by the West Palm Beach branch of the Ku Klux Klan, the Dry community’s moral conscience. The costumed KKK fanatics accompanied local police raids shutting down drinking venues. At one point, Mr. Carroll was given a one-year sentence at an Atlanta federal prison, only to be pardoned, rearrested, tried, convicted, but somehow, never jailed. He and E. R. Bradley must have owned the same politicians. Eventually, the Carrolls moved to Southern California during the 1950s, according to available records, without the Christmas presents.
PALM BEACH POSTCARD
Monday, 17 July 2023 — 1 p.m. ROYAL POINCIANA PLAYHOUSE
While you were away … Out with the Olde — In with the …