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See Florida's Silver Springs from Paradise Park for Colored People, Brochure, ca. 1949
Subject - Corporate
See Florida's Famous Silver Springs from Paradise Park, America's Newest Recreation Area for Colored Persons
Seven miles east of Ocala, just off State Road 40
Nothing like it in the world is what you'll say about Paradise Park, the newest and most unusual recreation area now open in Florida for the use of the colored people of America and the world.
Opened on Emancipation Day 1949, Paradise Park is regarded by prominent civic, business, and religious leaders thruout [sic] the nation as the finest thing of its kind ever built for members of their race.
At Paradise Park for the first time the colored people of America and the world can have the use of those famous glass-bottomed boats that more than ten million amazed Americans have used during the past 30 years to view the underwater wonders of Silver Springs.
Now, for the first time, a beautiful park has been set aside where the family can enjoy a restful day boat riding, bathing, visiting interesting exhibits of animals, birds, and reptiles, picnicking, or just plain visiting with relatives and friends under acres of shade trees.
Admission is free to Paradise Park at all times, as is parking space and picnic tables. Paradise Park is open every day in the year, rain or shine, until sunset. No beer or liquor will ever be sold, nor will gambling be permitted in any form.
Your visit will not be complete until you purchase tickets for the glass-bottomed boat ride over the crystal clear waters of Silver Springs. During your nearly 50-minute trip one mile up the Silver river and over the big spring that is its source, you'll pass over 14 different spring formations.
You'll see hundreds of fish and turtles, catfish that weigh up to forty pounds, flowers blooming under water, petrified trees and boats, the backbone of a prehistoric monster, and occasionally an alligator or a wild bird.
Your boat guide will even allow you to feed bread to the nearly tame fish that you'll see by the thousands, and he'll tell you the legend of the Bridal Chamber as the boat floats over this 81 foot deep spring.
You'll see the Fisherman's Paradise spring where the fish play football! You'll pass over the Catfish Hotel where there's running water in every room and the manager is so big he looks like a baby whale! The Decorated Christmas Tree spring will delight the children as well as you!
When you've completed the boat ride, you'll do as have hundreds before you--head for Ross Allen's unusual Florida Reptile Institute with its great collection of snakes, alligators, Florida wild animals, birds, and an ever changing variety of lions, tigers, and animals of that breed.
At intervals, Mr. Allen, known thruout [sic] the world as a top expert on snakes, will tell you all about their habits as he "milks" them of venom. Or, Willie Johnson, his assistant, will personally guide you thru the exhibits and answer your questions. See and enjoy it all in about 30 minutes.
By that time you probably will want to swim and enjoy the white-sand beach bordering the Silver river. The bath-house is located in the gift shop-soda fountain building, and lockers and towels always are waiting you. No suits rented, however, so bring your own.
There is no activity at Paradise Park after dark, for it is simply a place to see and enjoy during the day. The soda fountain and lunch room offer popular priced foods and drinks, while the gift shops and photo stand will answer your demands for a souvenir of your visit. Other attractions will be added from time to time.
[Photographs from top left, clockwise:
You'll enjoy feeding thousands of fish!
Life guards will protect the children.
Willie Johnson shows a rattler's fangs!
Deer (and dears) always love attention!
The youngsters always have a big time.
Don't forget to bring your camera!
Swimming every day in the year!
Panoramic view of beautiful Paradise Park from the Silver river.
Paradise Park suits them perfectly!
Plenty of picnic tables, free.
Looking thru glass into 80 feet of water!
The Legend of the Bridal Chamber
Always, as far back as anyone could recall, Aunt Silla had been identified with Silver Springs where she lived in a wooded cottage and hobbled about during the day, telling those she chanced to meet the tragic story of Claire Douglass and Bernice Mayo; and although she must have repeated it many thousands of times, her account never varied. She died a few years ago, professing to be in her 110th year.
According to the legend handed down by Aunt Silla, there stood near the site of old Fort King, sometime in the early 80's or before, the plantation manor of Captain Harding Douglass, wealthy and aristocratic cotton baron whose broad and fertile acres stretched away to the horizon upon either hand.
Bound by the indomitable will of Captain Douglass like every other member of the household was an only son, Claire, who possessed the poetic temperament of his mother, estranged from Captain Douglass. Claire found relief from the imperious nature of his father in hunting and outdoor sports which caused him to frequent the woods and waters of Silver Springs.
One day as he lolled upon the bank beside the deep, clear water, Claire heard a twig snap behind him and turned to catch a fleeting glimpse of what appeared a golden-haired wood nymph disappear down the path toward Aunt Silla's cabin; and although he gave chase and drew up panting in front of the cabin, she had gone entirely and the gnome-like features of Aunt Silla gave no hint of having seen her.
After similar meetings when upon closer view Claire seemed to recognize his forest wraith, he learned that this lady of his dreams with whom he had fallen instantly and desperately in love was no figment of the imagination as he half feared at first but a real and vibrant young woman of exquisite charm and beauty, despite her poor circumstances, who bore the name of Bernice Mayo and had but recently come from Sanford to make her home with an aunt in Ocala.
That she was Aunt Silla's "honey child" was due to the fact that the old colored woman once nursed her through a severe illness and accounted for Bernice being seen so frequently at Aunt Silla's cabin where the latter was wont to read her fortune in the cards and foretell a future of wedded bliss in the big white house on the hill with a handsome young gentleman answering the description of Claire Douglass, for Silla was really quite fond of Claire.
Therefore it required only a little cajolery on his part to bring about a meeting with Bernice which soon ripened into mutual love and a constant companionship which had as its trysting place the cabin of old Aunt Silla or the big Boiling Spring (now the Bridal Chamber) where they were wont to sit in Silla's boat for hours, watch the spring and dream.
Then came that day of all days when Bernice promised Claire to become his wife, when for want of the usual ring to bind their engagement, he slipped upon her wrist a little bracelet with which her had planned to surprise her. They were happy in their great love which promised to endure until death while they swore no power on earth could ever separate them.
But they reckoned without Claire's stern father who objected strenuously to his son marrying a poor girl and contrived to send the youth away to Europe in company with a wealthy cousin and her chaperon in the hope that Claire would forget Bernice and marry his cousin who was nearer his own station in life.
When Claire took leave of his betrothed, he promised to write every day and return soon to claim her for his bride, but Captain Douglass continued upon some pretext or other to prolong his stay abroad and intercept the letters that passed between them with the result that days lengthened into months and when nearly a whole year had passed without word of her beloved, Bernice pined away and became ill of the all-consuming grief that are her heart away.
Even sympathetic Aunt Silla was unprepared for the emaciated little shadow that appeared at the door when, realizing she was going to die, Bernice dragged herself to the cabin at Silver Springs, where she had spent so many happy hours with Claire; and there upon her deathbed she exacted a promise from the old colored woman who knelt sobbing at her side--a promise so weird and awful that Silla shivered and drew her shawl closer about her shoulders as she sealed it with a kiss upon the fevered brow of the dying girl, whom she once saved from a dangerous illness but was powerless to aid now. In the dead of night while only the stars looked on and the doleful hooting of an owl broke the eerie silence, Silla bundled the limp body of Bernice Mayo in a sack and carried it to her bateau moored to a tree at the water's edge. Tenderly and lovingly she deposited it in the boat and with her gnarled and withered hands paddled slowly to the Boiling Spring where she lowered all that was mortal of Bernice Mayo into the rocky crevice below. She had fulfilled her promise.
Upon the morrow, Claire Douglass returned. It was the date they had set more than a year before, the day he and Bernice were to have been married had everything gone as they planned and their hopes not been frustrated by parental interference. Small consolation that, when he had not heard from her in a whole year although he had written regularly as he promised. He supposed she had found a new sweetheart in his absence, one she loved more than himself. Women were fickle like that, had he not often heard his father say? He would have just one more look at the Boiling Springs he and Bernice had loved so much to watch, before returning home to pay court to his wealthy cousin his father had chosen for his wife.
Aunt Silla sat with downcast eyes in her boat at the bank. Throughout the long night she had sat like that, scarcely moving, and she did not raise her eyes or respond to Claire's greeting when he clambered into the boat and steered toward the Boiling Springs where, allowing the boat to drift, he peered deep down into the crevices of the rock eighty feet beneath him.
Suddenly he started in horror at the sight of a woman's hand protruding from the rocks, for upon the wrist he recognized through the crystal-clear water the bracelet he had given Bernice.
Straight down into the cavern her dove and though the pressure of the deep water pained his ears terribly and his lungs felt as if they would burst, forced himself to the bottom and into the rocky crevice until he could seize Bernice's arm. Vainly he strove to raise the dead weight of her but her body was caught in the rock and try as he would he could not dislodge it.
Then he drew himself down beside her and clasped her dead body to him in an embrace that has defied time and elements, for Aunt Silla swore that when he did so the rocks opened up to receive these unhappy lovers to the bosom of Mother Earth, then closed again over their dead bodies; and people do say their bones still repose there.
Silver Springs probably has the largest flow of any spring in the world, namely, 22,134,780 gallons per hour.
[Photo of Aunt Silla]
110-year-old negress as featured in the legend of Silver Springs
[Photo of Bridal Chamber]
Bridal Chamber--81 Feet Deep
Chicago Manual of Style
See Florida's Silver Springs from Paradise Park for Colored People, Brochure, ca. 1949. 1949 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/333821>, accessed 4 July 2022.
See Florida's Silver Springs from Paradise Park for Colored People, Brochure, ca. 1949. 1949 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/333821>