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Metal-detecting on the beach at Palm Beach

Thanks to AUR’s vivacious board member, Debra Tornaben, I was lucky enough to speak to the Palm Beach Round Table about my Travels with an Archaeologist. A hundred or so gathered for a fine lunch in The Pavilion belonging to the Colony Hotel. Here the stars had gathered in the ‘40s and 50s. The old elevator belongs to that golden age and has the smell of perpetually burnished brass.

The Pavilion, The Colony Hotel

Steeped in Florida’s history, it was a rare pleasure to sit next to the extraordinary Chairman of the Round Table, Hermé de Wyman Miro. This 98-year old introduced and ruled with a twinkle in her eye (much to the unalloyed delight of the assembled tablers). Talking with her as we ate I was soon smitten by a gracious and indeed romantic woman with an epic tale. Married in Vienna in 1937 to a Belgian banker, she accompanied her husband on a business trip to New York just as war broke out. Stranded in the United States, they were elevated to ambassadorial status in Washington DC. Returning to Europe, even at the war’s end, seemed less attractive, and so they answered the call of Palm Beach, arriving first in 1952. Her tale, crisply told, was sharply detailed, almost Homeric. For some minutes I was immersed in a history that crossed countries and cultures and was now most definitely American even if Hermé retains a strong Middle European accent and poise belonging to the ‘thirties.

Memorial to the Cowboys of the Sea

Before meeting Hermé and ‘her’ Round Table I chanced upon the recent history of the beach: “the cowboys” of Palm Beach who created a memorial to the 1930s, and then, thinking nothing older would crop up, I spied beach-combers using a metal-detector, wending their way through the languid sunbathers and swimmers. Archaeology, as I told the Round Table, is everywhere, Florida included.

Archaeology is everywhere - metal detecting on Palm Beach

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