|Posted by Anne Siren on October 26, 2012 at 3:40 PM|
By Judy Vik
Oakland Park – A father and son, longtime area residents and business owners, were among the pioneers honored recently by the Broward County Historical Commission.
Andrew Buchta, 92, and his son Dennis, 62, were among five Oakland Park residents of the city’s Historical Society nominated for the honors.
Andrew started Broward Tool Repair, 3547 Dixie Hwy., Oakland Park in 1967. Dennis joined him there in 1977 and is currently company president. His father retired in 2002.
In the early days, Diane’s Diner was next door where Florida East Coast Railroad engineers stopped for meals regularly.
The Buchtas’ first Florida home was the last house on Commercial Boulevard then known as Northwest 50 Street.
The state bought the house in 1969, to make way for I-95 north.
Dennis fondly recalls his boyhood days of playing baseball in the two-lane street until his dad whistled that it was dinner time. “If someone came by on the road, we’d wonder where they were going.”
He biked to North Andrews Elementary. He saved soda bottles to turn in for two cents to buy baseball cards. The family enjoyed fishing off the seawall at Oakland Park Boulevard when the surrounding properties were barren. And Dennis spent Friday nights at the roller skating rink on Oakland Park Boulevard.
For shopping the family traveled Prospect Road to 441 and Broward Boulevard to King’s Department Store or to Fort Lauderdale to Burdines.
The movie theater also was in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Dennis remembers Saturday mornings at the movies in Fort Lauderdale. The first time they went, his friend Anthony’s father rode with them on the city bus to Fort Lauderdale.
The next week they were on their own. Dennis was 10 and Anthony, 11.
“We were a little scared the first time, but week after week we got more confident.” The second week by themselves they visited the dimestore. “Things were so much simpler back then,” he says. “Would I put a 10-year-old on a city bus today? I don’t think so.”
He and his buddies rode their bikes to Northeast High to play baseball in an area where they first mowed the grass to make their own diamond. They played until they knocked the skin off the ball. Then he’d ride home to get masking tape to tape up the ball and play again until it unraveled.
Andrew, a U.S. Army master sergeant, stationed in in Honolulu during World War II, came to Florida when an army buddy asked him to be a partner in a window cleaning and lawn service business.
In 1957 they sold their house. He, his wife Emily and two sons, Kenneth and Dennis, arrived in January. A few years later, Andrew started his own window cleaning and lawn service company. Next he worked as a mechanic for Broward County Parks Department.
Broward Tool Repair was founded in 1967 on Powerline Road. He later moved the firm to Northeast 12th Avenue and finally to Dixie Highway and Prospect Road.
The business caters to contractors, fixing contractors’ tools only – skill saws, drills, routers, etc.
In the heyday of construction, they had six employees. Now they’re down to the sole proprietor, Dennis, who joined his dad in running the business in 1977. He had been coming in after school for years to help out.
“Dad taught me to treat customers like I want to be treated.”
In 1996, when the state widened Dixie Highway, Andrew went door-to-door gathering merchants’ signatures on petitions to protest the plans, which called for eliminating parking in front of their stores.
“We wanted them to move Dixie Highway further east,” Dennis recalled. They lost that battle, but Florida Department of Transportation wound up adding seven parking spots near their business.
Andrew served on the city’s board of adjustment and once ran unsuccessfully for mayor losing by only 10 votes.
“Everyone came here with their problems anyway,” he said of his shop, in explaining why he ran.
He is the one who initiated hanging American flags on city light poles during holidays. To get that started he again went door-to-door soliciting donations. Andrew is a life member and past commander of the American Legion, Post 222, in Oakland Park. He is also a member of the Voiture 890 at 40 & 8 in Fort Lauderdale. In 1981, he was named national chef de chemin de feur, the national commander for the 40 & 8, which is like an honor society for Legion members.
He and his wife Emily traveled around the country visiting Legion posts.
Emily, his wife of 54 years, died in 1996.
Both father and son are members of the J. Dewey Hawkins Masonic Lodge and Christ Lutheran Church in Oakland Park.
Andrew now lives in Coconut Creek with his second wife, Ruth Brosen.
Dennis serves on the board of Oakland Park Kiwanis. He was president from 2009-2110.
He and his wife Cathy, residents of North Andrews Gardens, have three children, Casey, Wesley and Ashley, all graduates of the University of Florida. The children attended the same Oakland Park schools he did.
Dennis graduated from Northeast High School in 1968. He received an associates degree from Broward Junior College in 1970 with BS/BA degrees in management from the University of Florida in 1972.
Through the years, Dennis was a T-Ball coach and “coach-pitch” coach for Oakland Park Recreation and served on the board of Northeast Little League. He and his wife were involved in Scout programs.
Dennis serves on the city’s code enforcement board and chairs the civil service board.