Called "Widow-Wise", the paperback rests among a stack of books gracing Alyce Gross' coffee table. She's the author; a book about three Jewish college girls in the 50's and their trajectory through life. For Alyce, oh what a life!
Crane your neck as you pas by a the smashing glass and concrete contemporary at Bayshore and Rome (built decades before the recent "mid-mod" craze) and you might spy Alyce and daughter, Rochelle, drinking in the sunset view from their morning room terrace. The morning room, or the living room, there is NO room in the house that DOESN'T capture a postcard picture of the Bayshore; the bustle of the traffic, the sun riffing off the water.
Ascending the front steps is akin to the anticipation of unwrapping a coveted treasure. And then, you enter; a passage from nature's glories to the glorious genius of design; drinking in the art, architecture, decor and detail, all leave you a little tipsy.
What's could've been a cold, hidebound contemporary cavern is, instead, a joyful ballet of cool: A long, tall hall colored in the hues of an eclectic art collection, carries you past a private courtyard for cocktails and a chat, to the majestic maple double doors of the sybarritic master suite; with his and hers baths, sitting room and secluded terrace, all of it whispering a quiet elegance.
It's all about the details; very little escaped the eyes of owners Alyce and Sam Gross. Arrive at the street level garage and the elevator carries you and the groceries half a floor up to the maple and frosted glass kitchen. Rooms are subtly separated by ceiling heights, broad openings, and ingeniously designed sutom cabinets. Inviting, down-filled seating begs you to sit a spell, and a treetop penthouse suite entices you to stay awhile. (The elevator will take you there with the touch of a button).
The house came near the end of Sam Gross' life; a life marked by unspeakable tragedy, and an indomitable spirit; the house is a sort of blazing white Phoenix rising from the ashes of Nazi cruelty.
For years Sam refused to share how his mother, father, five brothers, and one sister were rounded up from the Czech home and shipped off to Nazi death camps. His parents soon perished.
But Sam survived, as did every one of his six siblings! They landed in America, and sweating blood and tears, chiseled out the American DReam, their home-building business hitting boomtime status in Ohio.
And, when tough eonomic times hit, the always resourceul Alyce and Sam moved their family to Tampa, re-building their business, and finally, just three years before Sam's death, the couple realized their live-in piece of art on the Bayshore. The welcoming spans of glass and shady corners embrace you with the same delight that lights up Alyce's face when you arrivve. The only thing missing is Sam; a tiny man with the presence of a general, and the grace of a prince; qualities that live on in the whipsering corners of architectrual brilliance and, in the pages of Alyce's book. OH WHAT A LIFE!