Does anyone know more about South Florida history than Paul George? Now we'll finally find out for sure. Recognized for the numerous tours he's conducted over the past twenty years in or around places like the Miami City Cemetery, the Miami River, Hollywood, Coral Gables, Stiltsville, and Morningside, the local historian is a walking encyclopedia of South Floridiana. And well he should be: He grew up here, has a doctorate in history from FSU, and he also teaches a course at Miami Dade College on South Florida history. Ask him where Janet Reno grew up and he can probably rattle off her address without a hitch.
This time, however, George will sit back and let others shine with their knowledge of obscure facts about our fair city. He'll play a sort of sun-baked Alex Trebek, quizzing folks during the South Florida History Challenge, a game show -- with prizes! -- being held at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Three or four lucky contestants have already been chosen (sorry, kids!) to be grilled by the good doctor with easy questions like "Who was the great champion of Coconut Grove in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries?" (Ralph Munroe) to tougher queries like "Who was the first Jewish mayor of Miami?" (Abe Aronovitz) and "Under whose auspices did Everglades drainage begin?" (The State of Florida's Internal Improvement Fund).
Folks who have gone on George's tours in the past and have a good mind for retaining facts might fare best in the competition. For those who haven't, George recommends brushing up by reading books such as Helen Muir's Miami U.S.A. and Ralph Munroe's The Commodore's Story. How does George, himself, remember all that information and all those dates? "It's just a facility I have," notes the professor. "I still can't change a tire on a car, which my wife reminds me of all the time!"