Yesterday was another great Key West day!
Perfect weather! Happy people!
I met Marty and Mick Barnes at the outside bar at Southernmost yesterday afternoon. Marty you know. Mick is a Key West lawyer. Perhaps the best litigator in the keys. He recently obtained an $8 million result for a client after 2 trials and at least one appeal.
We chatted and enjoyed the ambiance. The setting at Southernmost is perfect. The pool was full with frolicking vacationers. The laid back atmosphere was contagious.
Driving home, I had the radio on. The station was playing a rerun of a Frank Mc Court interview made a few years ago. Mc Court is a widely respected author. Wrote Angela’s Ashes which won a Pulitizer Prize. He died last week.
Mc Court was talking about his never having gone to high school, but receiving a college degree. An intersting tale.
Mc Court was born into abject poverty. Born in 1930 in Brooklyn, the depression wreaked havoc on his family. His father took all of them back to his roots. Ireland! Mc Court’s Dad thought things would be easier there. They were not. The depression was worse. And the family was stuck there!
Mc Court did grammar school. Never high school. He had to work to help the family. To survive.
At 19, he returned to the United States. He did manual labor. Like loading and unloading ships at the New York docks.
He had a thirst for knowledge. Became a big time reader. He consumed Henry James and Dostoyevsky. Heavy stuff!
He decided he wanted to go to college. However he never went to high school. He figured it would take 5 years of night school to get his high school diploma. He did not have the time!
So he visited the admissions office at NYU. The admissions clerk was concerned he had not attended high school. A commotion was developing. The Dean of Admissions went to the counter to see what was going on. Mc Court explained to her he wanted to go to college. She said you have to go to high school first. He said I do not have the time. She asked what qualified him. He said I read. She asked what. He said Henry James and Dostoyevsky.
The end result was that Mc Court was conditionally admitted to NYU as a freshman conditioned on his maintaining a B average his first year. He did and subsequently was awarded his college degree. Without ever having attended high school!
Mc Court spent the next 30 years in high schools. As a creative writing teacher. He said the first time he ever set foot in a high school was the day he went to work as a high school teacher after obtaining his college degree.
An interesting success story!
Last night started at the Chart Room, as usual. I looked at the holes in the bar and pondered. I probably will every time I am there from now on.
Marty and I decided to eat at the bar at La Trattoria. Kathy’s night to bar tend. We like Kathy!
The bar was packed. Many interesting local people.
Paul Toppino was there with a lovely young lady. Paul always is with a lovely young lady! But this one was special. He introduced me. It was his daughter.
Paul is a Key West icon. His family is deeply imbedded in the roots of Key West.
Paul’s grandfather built US 1. All of it! He became enamoured with Key West and stayed and raised a family here. Paul is son of the son. Paul and his brothers are engaged in all sort of construction work now in the Key West area.
A good person. I am proud to call him friend.
Across the bar was Jean Thornton. What a woman!
In 1996 Jean and her girl friend Debbie Sexton were in Key West on vacation. They did the Mel Fisher Museum. Met Mel Fisher himself. An exciting thing, since Mel was originally from Indiana as Thornton was.
Jean and Debbie decided they wanted to dive and search for gold. Mel explained they first had to be cetified as divers. Also he explained how they could invest in his diving program and if gold was discovered, share in it.
The ladies did their training and became certified. They made their respective investments. And out they went on one of Mel’s ships. Their first day of diving produced nothing. They earned a second day by swabbinbg the boat’s deck and the like.
On the second day, Jean and Debbie found a 21 link gold money/wedding chain. A big find! These two school teachers in their 40s literally struck gold!
The big day was July 8, 1996.
Jean and Debbie have ever since been known as the Golden Girls!
Jean came over to chat. She brought Debbie with her. Jean is becoming a friend. Debbie I met for the first time.
All in all, it was quite a day and quite an evening!