Pop Pop’s Violin

Above is a photo of my grandfather. We called him Pop-pop, apparently because, as a young child my older sister couldn’t say grandfather, or grand-pop. In that photo Pop-pop’s posing with his violin. The picture was taken about a century ago. Later on in life I would learn my grandfather sat as the first string violinist for the Philadelphia Philharmonic. Ironically, no one in the family ever heard him perform, or knew why he stopped playing.

According to my father, when he was just a young child, he heard my grandfather practicing in his bedroom. As it would turn out, this would be the first, and last time he ever heard his father play the violin. On that day, my father, walked into the room where Pop-pop was practicing. He was astounded to see his father playing so beautifully. Pop-pop, suddenly stopped playing when he saw the boy, and smacked him in the face. The boy ran out of the room scared. Pop-pop stopped playing, put the instrument away. My father never heard his father ever play again. It’s said that he never did play again after that.

Before my father died he shared this story with me. Even at that time he was still perplexed. Both men would go on to become famous fishermen after relocating to Miami Beach. Haulover Beach, located in the city of Miami Beach, put up two historical placards in honor of these men, and memorializing them for their contribution in the industry, and military service.

Capt. Jack Stone (far left), and Capt. Elsworth Stone (far right).

Pop-pop’s real name was Elsworth Stone. Harry Stone, his father, (my great grandfather), and he were two of the founders of the sports fishing industry in Miami. Harry Stone is also named on the two Haulover Beach historical markers.

I had only met Harry Stone a few times in my life. On one occasion we were visiting his home in Miami Shores. My younger sister nearly drowned in his huge backyard swimming pool on that first occasion. I can still recall her laying at the bottom of the pool motionless, and my father jumping in to save her. That was on a Thanksgiving day. I’ll never forget my grandfather’s prayer over that dinner that evening. He said, “Good bread, good meat, good God, let’s eat.” His wife slapped him.

One time I returned to his home when I was about twelve-years-old. I rode my bike to that house, and knocked on the door. A young woman answered. Behind her there was a Cub Scout meeting in progress. I would learn from that woman that her family had purchased the house a few years earlier. I would learn from this stranger that the former owner moved to Rhode Island with his former next door neighbor, a woman who was about forty-five, or fifty years younger than he. Later on, I would learn of his phone number, and call him. He was ninety-eight at the time. I tried to explain to him that I was his great, grandson, but he kept thinking I was my father. We both have the same name. So, I talked to my great grandfather as if I was his grandson, his son’s son. This saddened me because every memory he spoke of that he had shared with my father, I had no knowledge of. During that entire conversation, I continued to let on that I was my father, and that I remembered all that he said. When we said our good byes, I knew that would be the last time I’d ever hear his voice again. He died shortly thereafter. The woman who had been his neighbor back in Florida, married him, and received all of his wealth, and probably discarded all of his family photos, and other memorabilia, as I never heard from her. I am glad though, that there was somebody there to take care of him in the final years of his life.

Jack Stone (age 10). Haulover Beach, Miami Beach, Florida. Circa 1946.

My father never discussed the violin incident, and neither did his father. It was never acknowledged in our family that Pop-pop, Elsworth Stone was one of the world’s greatest violin players, in one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

I thank my sister Sherry for the violin photo. I had known of this story, but I hadn’t known of the existence of this photo. I remember my father’s story, and this photo validates it for me.

Haulover Park Memorial. Miami Beach, Florida.

Historical Marker
Title: Haulover Beach Sports Fishing Docks
Location: Baker’s Haulover
County: Miami-Dade
City: Miami

Description: The historical marker is two sided. The originally known Lighthouse Dock, once at this site, marked the beginnings of this area’s fame as a sportsman’s paradise. Folklore, and history relate that a man named Baker (c. 1810) “hauled over” fishing boats from the bay to the ocean. In 1926, Captain Henry Jones (1883-1968) built the first dock with a permit from the War Department. By 1937-1939, the Lighthouse Restaurant, and the Ocean Bay Trailer Park shared this property. These early docks served as the foundation of an international sport fishing tourist industry as charter boat fisherman searched for marlin, sailfish, and other big-game fish in Miami’s abundant Gulf Stream waters.

Adjacent to these docks was an official weighing station of the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament, the oldest, and largest fishing contest in the world. Many record catches were certified here. Captains navigated their charters beneath the hazardous Haulover Bridge with its treacherous currents. They also contended with the threat of enemy submarines, just outside the Inlet, from 1942 to 1943. Some captains assumed duties as sub-spotters. A Coast Guard vessel was moored here during World War II to ensure civilian safety, making this a strategic military site at that time.

In 1944 the Lighthouse Dock became part of the Haulover Beach Park. The Dade County Parks Department assumed management, and changed the name to Haulover Beach Docks. In 1951-1952 the docks were replaced by a marina, built farther to the north. Calling these docks home were the captains, their boats, and a few women who worked as mates for their husbands.

The earliest pioneer captains were, Henry Jones, (boat Henrietta), George Hamway, (Popeye), Joe Reese, (Ethel Lee), Slim Caraway, and his wife Marjorie, (Lady Luck), John Saconchik, (Martha Mary), George Helker, (Gremlin), Ralph Nemire, and his wife Iris, (Seacomber), Harry Stone, (Oke Doke), Ira Gregory, (Lucky Strike), Elsworth Stone, (Anhow), W.D. Murphy, (Pat), Charles Smith and his wife Mary, (Interim), Harold Alford, and his wife Jeannette, (Privateer), Otto Reichert, (Restless), Robert Paterson, (Huskee), Frank Kurek, (Sportsman), Ernie Luebbers, (Mystery), B.C. Millard, (Surf King), and Paul Goerner, (Vee Gee).

Other individuals contributing to the success of the Haulover fishing fleet are Official Dock Photographer, Doris Barnes; Dock/Weigh Masters, Norton/Waggoner, and Taxidermist, Al Pflueger. They recorded the feats of tourists, and such celebrities as Hollywood superstar Robert Mitchum, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Jackie Gleason, and TV host Arthur Godfrey.

A Florida Heritage Site
Sponsored by the Miami-Dade Park, and Recreation, and The Florida Department of State
Marker Number: F-468
Date: 2003
County: Miami-Dade
Marker Type: City

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