Swimming in seaweed as waves roll in from the Sargasso, counting down the minutes until the seasonal hurricane frenzy begins, unimaginably far from a clam boat at the Two Lights shack or breakfast at the Bellavista in Brunate. Adrift. Then again, there was surfing legend and lifetime Palm Beacher David Reese’s milestone 90th birthday dinner on Saturday night at the venerable Sailfish Club — surf tales, sushi, lobster salad, tenderloin, and flashback Beatles tunes.
A century ago, David’s grandfather Tip Reese was mayor, first treasurer of the Everglades Club, bank president, and vice-president/manager of Bradley’s Beach Club. His father, Claude Dimick Reese, E. R. Bradley’s godson, served 18 years as mayor and 38 as a Town councilman. And today, more than 145 years since his great-grand landed on Palm Beach and opened the Cocoanut Grove Hotel, David still has beach sand beneath his feet.
Though never mayor, he was one of the generous supporters who fought the Town of Palm Beach’s surfing ban on its 13 miles of beachfront. Palm Beach banned surfing in 1965 to protect the town against “unwanted surfers.” Three years later, Circuit Judge Hugh MacMillan ruled the Palm Beach law unconstitutional. The Town of Palm Beach appealed that decision. On July 1, 1970, the Florida Supreme Court upheld MacMillan’s verdict and in a 4-1 decision ruled the Town of Palm Beach could regulate but not ban surfing. In September 1970, the Town of Palm Beach Shores on Singer Island rescinded its anti-surfing ordinance that fined violators $100 and/or ten days in jail.
Happy Birthday David!
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