Today brings to mind three recollections. One well known. The other two personal.
The first not so long ago. On this date in 2008, Barack Obama was elected America’s first African-American President.
A history making date.
The second involves refugees and the Hungarian Revolution. The Revolution occurred in 1956. Hungary was Russian dominated. People unhappy. Protesting in the streets. Nothing violent.
After ten days, things heated up. Rocks and beer bottles being thrown at Russian soldiers and tanks. Days 11 and 12, the beer bottles turned into bullets.
On this date in 1956, the Russians said no more. They sent in the tanks. Blazing away. The so called Revolution was over. Two thousand five hundred killed, 2oo,ooo Hungarians fleeing the country.
Those who fled were refugees. A problem the world knows today.
Where to go?
Some ended up in the United States. How many I do not know. Many were college students. The students were taken in by various American colleges. Every college did its fair share.
I was a senior at Manhattan college. All of a sudden in the middle of a semester, we had a dozen Hungarian students in our midst.
One became a friend. Gergo. He spoke excellent English. We talked evenings after diner. Generally at a bench on campus.
Gergo told the story of the Revolution in simplistic terms. He said no one wanted a revolution. Especially the college students. He said that after drinking beer in the evenings, they would throw rocks and beer bottles at the Russian soldiers and tanks. For fun.
After a while, the Russians no longer consider the throwings a fun activity. They started shooting back.
The students got some guns and returned the fire. At this point not yet a revolution in their minds. Merely tit for tat.
When the tanks came out big time firing, things got serious. One night only. That is all it took. The students retaliated with molotov cocktails. No competition for the tanks.
The students knew they were done and had to get out of Hungary quickly. Here it was two weeks after fleeing and Gergo and I were talking about what happened.
No one argued about taking refugees in at the time. Of course, the number of Hungarian refugees was significantly less than those that have come out of Syria in recent times.
Personal letters from Santa Claus a final recollection.
I came across on the internet an advertisement by Magical Xmas Letters. Send the company $17.94 and your child will receive a personally signed letter from Santa Claus and some North Pole information. The letter printed. The signature written.
Back in the 1960s, two Utica attorneys did the same thing at Xmas time. Pat Bernardi and Jim Zogby. Law partners. Both now long gone.
Pat and Jim were five years older than me. Young lawyers did not make much money in those days. They came up with the idea of sending Santa Claus letters out. Parents wrote. Pat and Jim’s operation returned a handwritten and signed letter from Santa Claus.
The cost was relatively cheap. The exact amount, I cannot recall. Two dollars sticks in my mind. A probable price some fifty years ago. I had the letters sent to my children.
Pat and Jim’s Xmas business took hold. Soon they had to rent space and hire a number of women to write the letters. Even Pat and Jim got into handwriting responses. Business boomed.
A tiring, but banner Xmas season for Pat and Jim. An experience that left them extremely tired came Xmas Eve.
Bocce last night. Don’s Place won 2-1. Not good enough. Needed all three games. Will remain in second place.
Syracuse/Clemson tomorrow. Clemson a top 10 team. Favored by 27 points.
Syracuse has played well the last two games. I see the game closer. Maybe an upset?????
Installment 5 of a Key West Rotary history.
The year 1925.
Nineteen twenty five was a busy year for the Rotary. Today only a partial report. The year will take 1 or 2 additional installments to complete.
Sloppy Joe’s was not Sloppy Joe’s in 1925. It was the Victoria Restaurant.
On October 15, a Cuban Boy Scout Troop visited Key West. The Rotary honored the group at a luncheon at Victoria’s. The Scoutmaster only spoke Spanish. His words were translated by Sebastian Cabrera.
Dr. J. Y. Porter, Sr. was a Key West charter Rotarian, local physician, and the first public health doctor for the State of Florida. A week after the Cuban boy scout event, Dr. Porter was 78 years old. The Rotary threw him a birthday party. Talk, singing, and birthday cake with 78 candles. Porter blew them all out!
Judge Jefferson B. Browne recalled how Dr. Porter had been instrumental in stemming the spread of yellow fever in Jacksonville.
Dr. Porter had returned to Key West after his State service to take charge of the Chamber of Commerce.
Captain Jack Maher was commander of the Key West Army Barracks. At the party, he sang When You Were Young Maggie and The Sunshine of Your Smile. The latter being Dr. Porter’s favorite tune.
The Key West Rotary was conservation minded. Late in October, the Club endorsed a proposal to ban the shooting and trapping of birds and protecting Key deer.
Time does not change some things. We are still protecting Key deer. Dr. Porter spoke in support of protecting birds. He viewed birds as eating disease carrying mosquitoes and insects.
More 1925 to follow tomorrow.
Enjoy your day!