MacArthur Causeway, Miami Beach
The Challenger was a boat berthed on the eastern side of the the MacArthur Causeway. The causeway connects Miami and Miami Beach, and was originally dedicated as the County Causeway in 1920.
Zora Neale Hurston lived on The Challenger
Zora Neale Hurston spent time in both Miami and Miami Beach, writing, researching, and voicing political concerns. In 1950 she lived on a boat named Challenger, and wrote a letter to Scribner’s editor Burroughs Mitchell. In the letter she updates Mitchell on the progress of her book, The Lives of Barney Turk, and describes the vivid scenes surrounding her life on the boat.
Reading these excerpts from Hurston’s letter to Scribner’s editor Burroughs Mitchell in 1950 we can get a sense of her time on the boat and her work as a writer.
" . . . it was impossible for me to write for the first two weeks. Then on later inspection, I had to tear up most of what I had written in that period . . . Now, I am feeling fine and in a working mood. Naturally, all is fish that comes into a writer’s net. I am meeting a great number of characters down here on the waterfront, and the cross section of life that I am getting! It is really something. The rich and the poor and their ways and concepts . . . The Challenger is berthed along the MacArthur Causeway, near the 13th St. Bridge and dead across from Miami’s well advertised skyline. The traffic pouring to and from Miami Beach makes a steady drone from dawn till nearly dawn again. There is a little park that I can reach in a few steps ashore, and I stroll across and pick a coconut or two that falls during high winds, or pay a visit to the sapodilla tree and pick what I find ripe . . . . And God keeps His appointment with Miami every sundown. Berthed on the east of Biscayne Bay, I can look to the western side, which I never fail to come top-side and do around sunset. Thus I get the benefit of His slashing paint brush all the way. It is just too marvelous, Burroughs . . . From your letter, I decided to rewrite the beginning of the book . . . The next fifty pages following what I am sending will deal with how Barney got to Honduras. The last part will of course detail what happened to him there . . . My love to your wife, Mr. Scribner, Mr. Darrow, and all . . .
With faithful feelings,
Zora (written on Saturday)"
(letter excerpt printed in Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, ed. Carla Kaplan)
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