“ The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side ”          by  Sue Ellen Beasley


Dania Beach is right outside of Ft. Lauderdale on US 1,  just before you get to Hollywood Florida. It’s a very small Atlantic Ocean town, where the black people literally live on the ‘other side of the tracks’, while the white people live on the beach side. The main street, (US 1 or N. Federal Hwy) is filled with quaint antique shops, with a grocery store and other shopping within walking distance.


Although obviously segregated, Dania has had a black woman Mayor. Modern day racism wasn’t the issue really. It’s more about historical racism. Black people were not allowed to live in the main street areas in the day and it basically remains that way.


Dania has one of the most beautiful clean beaches anywhere! I loved being on the beach at night when no one else was around. Like on Ft. Lauderdale beach, my doggie loved burying her ball in the sand and digging it up again. The difference was that she’d stand in front of me, dig up the sand at warp speed, kicking it right in my face and lap. I’d move and she’d be right on my heels to start digging again.  


Dania Beach had outdoor showers, so after frolicking in the Ocean, I’d rinse off the sand. It felt naughty showering outside. But I was fully clothed so it wasn’t scandalous.


In 1993 I rented an office only a few feet from Us 1, on 1st Avenue, NW.  The office building wasn’t typical either. It was a 2 story, laid back building with bathrooms in each office. My office had a large sunny main room, a back room that I lived in, a bathroom and a nook for a make shift kitchen. I added a mini fridge, electric cooker and shelves. The entire place was lovely, convenient and inexpensive.


The owners wanted me and my doggie to live there because it provided extra security at night and weekends when the other offices were closed. They were architects, with a huge office 2 doors down from mine on the 2nd level. An artist, real estate broker and 3 other people occupied space on ground level. The artist and I became friendly. I even transported one of her large pieces to the National Museum in D.C., on a trip back up north.   


One of the owners was so nice he even baked cookies for my doggie. She had the kind of effect on people. I still received little packages from overseas. The packages weren’t for me. They were always addressed too and for my doggie.  One of my financial clients knew she loved peppermint candy and sent her some every now and then from Germany.


My baby was so unusual that kids would come to the door and say, “Can Sandy come out and play?”, as if she were a human child. I’d let her go out, with instructions not to play near the street and to bring her back in before it got dark.


Her and I traveled all over this country together and flew down to the Islands when we needed a special vacation treat. Needless to say, people from all over the world offered to buy her from me. Parting with her would have been like losing both legs and my arms.


Dania was so small that we walked everywhere and got to know every part of it. I’d walk across the rail road tracks to get to know people. One elderly woman in particular, was my favorite. She was 100 years old, very intelligent and living in a senior complex that had individual small homes.


I enjoyed talking to her about current events and hearing about the past. She was originally from Georgia and grew up picking cotton from the time she was a little girl. She told me how back breaking it was and how little it paid, but it was the only work they could get during that time. When she got married, she moved to Florida. She said if she never saw cotton again, it would be too soon!



Some little kids walked by, waved and spoke to her. She said they were nice kids with good manners. They’d rake her yard when she didn’t feel like doing it.


Then she told me that their mother was dying of AIDS. She had been in a car accident, didn’t get badly hurt, but she had needed a blood transfusion. The blood was tainted with AIDS.


The mother had been sick every since and didn’t have long to live. She had two kids; Mary who was 8 years old and a 10 year old son. They loved their mother so much. The elderly woman told me that little Mary was always saying she wanted to die first so she'd already be in heaven when her mother got there. Later on, Mary’s aunt and other family members said the same thing.


To get to school, the kids had to cross the rail road tracks. One morning, Mary, he brother, cousin and other kids were crossing the tracks when they saw the train in the distance. They had plenty of time to get off the tracks and everyone did so.  When they turned around, Mary was still on the tracks. They yelled for her to get off, but she refused. She said she wanted to die so she could be in Heaven when her mother got there.


By then several people were yelling for Mary to get off the tracks. Her brother ran to her and tried to pull her off, but she fought him and pushed him away.


He hit the ground and rolled off the tracks. There wasn’t time for an adult to get to her and pick her up.

The train came.   
 In an instant, Mary was finally in heaven.