My grandparents lived in Daytona Beach all their adult lives. Both arrived in 1915; my grandfather was originally from Western Pennsylvania, and my grandmother from West Virginia. My great-grandparents, John Stansbury Barbe and Minerva (Kemp) Barbe (Minnie) were very active in Daytona Beach: She was a hotel owner and busy with all sorts of community affairs, from business to politics to schools, and he was at one point mayor of the Town of Daytona Beach (before it became a city).
My grandmother ran the hotel for a while, but by the time I knew her had retired from the business and was living in my favorite place in all of Daytona Beach: 431 North Grandview Avenue. Sadly, both the house—now a business—and the neighborhood have changed, but at least the building's still there.
What more could a child want? It was a big house with lots of places to explore, a cellar that was sometimes visited by poisonous snakes, a picnic table and my grandmother's amazing flowers in the back yard, and an outdoor shower that we sometimes shared with lizards. (Living in Florida myself now, lizards are commonplace. But they were an exotic treat for a child who lived in upstate New York and only visited every other year.)
Why the outdoor shower? Not because there were no indoor facilities, but because the house was a mere two blocks from the ocean and the incredible beach; the shower was an easy way to wash off the sand and salt from our frequent swims before entering the house. It was also an easy walk from my grandparents' home to the Bandshell and Broadwalk (not "boardwalk"). As a child I was completely oblivious to the seamier side of life in Daytona Beach, though I understand now why we were never allowed to go to the Broadwalk without an adult.
Then there were the people. My Florida relatives were different from most of the folks I knew back home, which thanks to the presence of General Electric, had a higher-than-normal population of engineers and other intellectuals. My grandfather had worked for the Post Office and retained an intense interest in collecting stamps—if only I had managed to figure out how to enjoy his enthusiasm without feeling obliged to share it! My uncle was a fisherman, and I loved it when he'd let us fish with him off the Pier. My cousins were much older than I, and therefore very cool, especially the one that could be counted on to do dangerous things like set off firecrackers in the backyard (not sure how my grandparents felt about that...), and the one who was at first a lifeguard (very high coolness factor to a young girl) and eventually worked for NASA in exotic places like Grand Turk Island and could tell us stories about the astronauts (even higher coolness factor to a young nerd).
Because of their former hotel business, my grandparents had made friends from all over who still came to visit them. They even had a maid who came occasionally to help with the housework—no one else of my acquaintance had a maid—and what's more, the maid was black, which made her even more exotic than the lizards to one who was growing up in a town where "cultural differences" meant that some of your friends' parents might have come from Italy or Poland. I wish I had been more curious as a child to hear the stories of all these different people.
My grandmother was a wonderful cook, especially when she was cooking fish that had been caught just hours earlier, and most especially if they were fish that I had caught. We hardly ever ate at restaurants—in those days few ordinary people ate out, even if their grandmothers weren't good cooks. But when we did, for special occasions, more often than not it was at a place called Kay's, at 734 Main Street. It was a "family restaurant" with what you might call ordinary American fare, though my taste buds recall their fish as anything but ordinary. And definitely on the extraordinary side was a drink they called a Tiny Tim. When I knew it, the restaurant had Dickens-era decor, and one of their specialty mixed drinks they called a "Dickens." The Tiny Tim was a non-alcoholic version of the Dickens.
We all liked the Tiny Tim so much that we had it whenever we could, and eventually I begged the bartender to give me the recipe:
- 2 packages Bartender's Lemon Mix
- 4 packages Bartender's Lime Mix
- 1 package Bartender's Coconut Mix
- 3 gallons water
- 3 quarts pineapple juice
- 1 quart orange juice
- 1/3 quart lime juice
- 2 small cans grapefruit juice
- 1/2 quart cherry juice
- grenadine for color
Unfortunately, that didn't help much, though I'm sure it was only because I didn't try hard enough to find the ingredients that were not readily available at the grocery store. It occurs to me that all my efforts were BI (Before the Internet). Maybe I should try again. Anyway, I'm putting the recipe online for anyone who wants to check it out. I'm not hurting Kay's by giving away trade secrets: sadly, the restaurant went out of business, thanks in part to the neighborhood's change from family-oriented to one that catered to bikers and other tourists.
All these memories were triggered by a lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. There, Porter ordered their Frozen Iced Mango drink: "Mango, Tropical Juices and a Hint of Coconut Blended with Ice and Swirled with Raspberry Puree." It came with a strawberry, a slice of lime, and a slice of lemon as well, which may explain why despite the different ingredient list, it tasted more like a Tiny Tim than anything I've had in years. Whatever it was, next time we visit the Cheesecake Factory (which seems to be about once a year), that's what I'm ordering to go with my Avocado Egg Rolls, which is the reason for going to TCF in the first place.