In 1994, when I was a much younger woman, my mother handed me a book entitled: “To Hell With Politics,” a compilation of the writings of Jane Wood Reno.
My mother noted that the author was an incredible woman. She had built her house with her own two hands; was a savant; she had had a career as a reporter for the Miami Herald; she once hiked many miles northward, for days and nights, along the Atlantic’s shoreline meeting, speaking, and writing about the people she met along the way; she had befriended the Miccosukee Indians and they considered her an “Indian Princess;” she raised peacocks on her very large parcel way out west of Downtown Miami; she was a dedicated mother and wife…..she was Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla’s mother.
To say the least, I found Mrs Reno’s story interesting and never forgot the book. Fast forward twenty years; I was invited to visit the house, and I did.
Driving down on October 24, 2015, I thought it would be a straight shot down the Turnpike from Stuart. But somehow I “took a wrong turn” and ended up in the craziness of Downtown Miami driving in carpool lanes as a single driver, cameras taking my picture, and barriers forcing me to stay in “my lane.” As I pulled off I-95 stressed out and sweating Siri’s voice rung in the tense air. Then I saw it, the mailbox.
Turning right down a long unpaved driveway I exited the bustle, excessive traffic, shopping malls, and crowded housing developments, and went back in time. Driving in I noticed wild coffee plants and gumbo limbo trees just like some areas of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. “Weird.” I thought. “Is there a creek around here somewhere? I wonder what Kendall looked like before they drained it, filled it, mowed it down, and planted hedges? A pine forest? An oak/palm hammock? Beautiful…”
I parked my car and looked around. Time stood still. A tropical breeze floated through the trees and the sun shined. Birds were chirping. Legend Maggy Hurchalla greeted me and I toured the grounds of her family home. She was there caring for her sister, former U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno. It was a day I will always treasure. A day a book I read as a girl came to life now that I am a woman.
I think the photos will say it all, so I won’t write much more.
The house is an island. It is a symbol of what was, and what has become. Thank you to Maggy Hurchalla who helped keep what happened around her childhood home from happening in Martin County.
Sally Schwarz’ article about park in MC: (http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2013/12/07/martin-county-names-park-after-maggy-hurchalla/)