Telling Souldier Stories.

“The Rise, Fall and Recipes of American Beach: Part 1: Relief in Distress.” Over the summer, my brother and podcast partner, Mr. Darren Dante Bonner, turned me on to Ms. Marsha Dean Phelts, a celebrated librarian, author and historian out of Jacksonville, Florida — and he also hipped me to American Beach, on Amelia Island. Ms. Phelts is the author of three books — all on American Beach. As a foodie, her second book, The American Beach Cookbook (University Press of Florida, 2008), seductively captured my heart; as a filmmaker, her first book, An American Beach for African Americans (University Press of Florida, 1997), completely captivated my soul. Her third book, on American Beach Homes, had a limited print run and I have yet to get my hands on a copy, although this is an active and ongoing pursuit. Ms. Phelts’ work on American Beach led me, first, to Ms. Annette McCollough Myers’ book, The Shrinking Sands of an African American Beach (2008); then to Mr. Russ Rymer’s book, American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth and Memory (HarperCollins, 1998). The more I read and cook from these books, the more I hear the Ancestors speaking to my soul, the more inspired I become to create something beautiful from their ashes, and the more strengthened I Am to continue the Unfinished Work of their souls.

In this first hour of an ongoing series, we are cooking our way through the roots, history, culinary heritage and spiritual legacy of American Beach, Florida’s first Black-owned and Black-populated coastal resort, created by Abraham Lincoln Lewis (1865-1947). These are the stories and life lessons, memories and milestones, and the recipes and reminiscences of those pioneers and trailblazers whose paths we venerate and emulate.