We start today with a rembrance of Memorial Day.
Twenty five years ago I vacationed for three weeks with my family in Italy. My wife, 3 of my children and my parents. We rented a villa on the Mediterranian in Livinia.
Nearby was Anzio. The place where the Allied troops landed in Italy during World War II.
I was wandering around alone one morniong and came upon what appeared to be a military cemetary. It was. A British military cemetary from World War II. We have all seen the type. Perfect rows of crosses as far as the eye can see. Meticulous grounds.
I walked among the graves. Reading the inscriptions on the graves as I did.
Sad. Very sad. So young. Many in their late teens. Most under the age of 25.
Then I came upon a series of crosses that bore the following inscription: Known to God Alone.
It was too much for me. I started crying uncontrollably.
World War II had had a treffic impact on me. I was 5 to 10 years old durng the war years. Everything was the war! Family members in the sevice. Soldiers coming and going. Air raid drills. Blue and gold stars in the windows. Families huddling by the radio for any little piece of war news. Rationing. Stamps for everything. And so on.
I hurried back to the villa to get my children. I wanted to share this experience with them. Three of my children had made the trip. John, Lori and Lisa. John had just graduated from law school. Lori and Lisa still in college.
I took them back to the cemetary. I was excited. I kept telling them this great thing I had found.
When we arived, I threw open my arms to show them. We walked. I talked. Explained.
The cemetary had no impact upon them. It was just another sight to see. They did not appreciate where they were nor what they were experiencing.
I soon realized why. Their lives had no connection to the war. Mine had.
Yesterday was Sunday.
I spent the morning in bed watching Meet the Press and the other news talk shows.
Then it was to the beach for me. Higgs Beach. Alone. Lisa telephoned that the rest of the crew had to head up to Sugarloaf Key for some event Cameron was performing in.
I am always ready for the beach. My sand chair and a towel are always in the trunk of the car.
Higgs Beach was packed. Good! The holiday weekend was a success! Visitors were here!
The weaather was perfect. Warm. No humidity. A bright sun.
I read the newspapers, people watched, especially the women, went in the water frequently to keep cool and slept a bit.
It was soon mid afternoon and I was hungry. I decided on BO’s. Drove over. I could not find one parking place! Even in the large public lot.
So much for BO’s.
I headed for the Pier House. I can always park at the Pier House. I am a good customer and well treated.
I had a late lunch on the outside deck overlooking the beach and water.
The Pier House’s beach and bar area were packed also. Every one partying.
Read some more newspapers while enjoying fish and chips.
One of the newspapers contained bits of local history. I have been in Key West so long I think I know everything about the place. Periodically I am proven wrong. Yesterday was one of those times.
It is common knowledge many famous people made Key West their home or visited here frequently at different times. Truman., Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Burt Lancaster, Audobon and more.
I thought I knew of them all.
How about Gloria Swanson!
She lived in Key West for 4 years. I knew it not! Did you?
Swanson’s father was in the Army and stationed here. She was in her early teens those 4 years. They lived in Army barracks at what is now Peary Court.
While living in Key West, Swanson made her stage debut.
It was 1911. She was 12 years old. The IOOF had a theater on the first floor of the Lodge. The Lodge was located on Caroline Street. Swanson made her stage debut at that theater.
A decade later she was a big time star in Hollywood. First in silent films. Then in talkies. She received 3 Academy Award nominations. The last for the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard in which she starred with William Holden.
Swanson periodically returned to Key West to visit.
Why did I not know this? Why did many of you, if not all, not know of Swanson and Key West? Key West embraced all other notables who spent some time here. I suspect thare is more to this story.
This morning golf. With Tom and Larry. I will not be able to play Wednesday. Robert is graduating from kindergarten at 9:30 in the morning. I have to be there! I want to be there!
Enjoy your day!