Ike and Mamie's Navels

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower or wife Mamie plucked an orange from a bowl at the White House or at their Key West retreat, chances are the fruit was grown and harvested at Floyd and Jane Wray's Flamingo Groves in Davie. The couple's two-bedroom house now serves as the historic centerpiece of Flamingo Gardens wildlife sanctuary and botanical collection, which this weekend hosts a holiday craft and jewelry fair.

Floyd Wray kick-started the South Florida citrus business in 1927, when he transformed 320 acres of Everglades swampland into orange groves, leasing five-acre plots to enterprising folks who wanted to grow their own. Wray's Flamingo Groves citrus operation flourished in the 1930s, as he erected packinghouses, built a processing plant, and opened retail shops.

In her will, Jane Wray, who survived her husband, left the whole caboodle to the nonprofit Floyd L. Wray Memorial Foundation, which runs today's Flamingo Gardens, with its 60-acre botanical extravaganza boasting a clutch of rare behemoths known as Champion Trees, as well as countless varieties of foreign and domestic plants, plus a bevy of ornamental citrus fruits. Also on the premises: the Everglades wildlife sanctuary, where visitors can ogle alligators, otters, bobcats, turtles, and peacocks -- not forgetting numerous bird species in a free-flight aviary, and, naturally, flamingos.

Oh, the place still sells fruit. If it was good enough for Ike and Mamie...

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Michael Yockel