When you go fishing in the Delray Beach Historical Society archives, there’s no telling what you might find! During a recent research project to gather information about original Lake Ida homes, we re-discovered a collection of extraordinary handcrafted scrapbooks and diaries created by local fishing legend, Randall Wilson Davis, when he was a teenager way back in the 1930’s.
Randall’s family settled in Delray Beach in 1925, and his father, Jacob Davis, and older brother, Orville, started the Davis Transfer Co., in early 1926. (In fact, one of his Dad’s contracts was to deliver bailed hay from a side-track railroad box car in from of the old Delray Electric Power Station run by Doc Ranson.
Randall graduated from Delray High School in 1937, and his first job was lifeguard and recreation director at the Gulf Stream Bath & Tennis Club. But his true passion was fishing, and Lake Ida his favorite honey hole.
At that time, Lake Ida was a sprawling wetland where bass fishing ruled supreme. And Randall Davis was one of the best fishermen in town. A true sport-fishing fanatic, Randall won many fishing contests, even taking home first prize in 1937 from Field & Stream Magazine for the 15 lbs., 12 ounce, 36 inch long bass he landed.
When Randall wasn’t casting a line into Lake Ida and other area lakes, he was writing about fishing, contributing columns to the local papers. It was his desire to save his articles, stories and fish tales for posterity that got Randall involved in what could be called an early form of scrapbooking.
Randall began documenting everything in elaborate, handmade scrapbooks he crafted using personal photos and little pieces of cut construction paper, glued alongside typed poems and funny anecdotes, cutout newspaper articles and small, hand-drawn pictures. These pages became unique living works of art documenting life in Depression-Era Delray Beach.
And in 1990, Davis donated his marvelous scrapbooks and diaries to the DBHS so we would be able share them with you. They’re wonderful and inspiring, and whether you’re a fan of fishing, a Delray Beach history buff, or a weekend scrapbooker, you’ll love pouring over them.
There are literally hundreds of stories in our museum-quality, archival bunker. That’s what we do. We share the stories of Delray Beach and preserve them for future generations. Our Ethel Sterling Williams Research and Learning Center is open to the public. Come visit us and explore our treasure trove of historical artifacts, photos, records, original blueprints, media, art and a wealth of other documents detailing the founding of our Village By The Sea. Attend one of our exhibits or events, tour the Cason Cottage or wander through our native Florida plant gardens.
See the Randall Wilson Davis Scrapbooks at our “Memories of Lake Ida” exhibit, open though October in the 1926 Bungalow.