MAN WALKS ON THE MOON

Many times I have mentioned that the two happenings which excited/impressed/moved me the most were man walking on the moon and the Berlin Wall coming down.

Today, the anniversary of the first man on the moon.  The year 1969. Neil Armstrong: “…..one mall step for man, one giant step for mankind.”

It happens too many times as I get older. Go for a routine physical feeling fine. Walk out concerned.

Every 3-4 years my blood pressure goes out of whack. It is out of whack again. Big time. One of the highest numbers I have recorded.

My ankles a bit swollen, also.

Most people might not be greatly concerned. At 82, I am. Everything concerns me.

Tests next week. Water pills for a few days immediately.

My blood work normal.

Doctor thinks my murmur is louder.

Sad about John McCain. A brain cancer tumor. One of America’s greats. May God help resolve the problem rather than take him.

Trump at it again. His consistency is his inconsistency. Never know what he is going to do. When he does perform, it is generally incorrect.

Three items of concern this week so far. Note it is only thursday.

First, pulling the CIA out of Syria. A major Putin victory. Makes us look less than dependable to the free world. Plus, Trump got nothing from Putin in return.

Second, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity which Trump appointed. Met for the first time yesterday in Washington.

I listened to the Chair and Vice-Chair speak. Two nuts. Both already believe there were major problems in 2016.

Finally, Trump’s words last night re Sessions, the Justice Department and Mueller. Trump fears the police arm of our government. He should if he has something to fear. Which I believe he does.

He wants to get rid of Sessions and the Acting Attorney General. Also Mueller, if Mueller gets into his and his family’s finances. On top of which he wants the FBI to answer directly to the President.

Anna, my Anna. She is presently in Athens. Always in a place where excitement is going to occur.

She e-mailed me yesterday. The media carried the story, also.

Ermou Street in Athens is one of its finest shopping areas. Like our Fifth Avenue. I walked down it twice every day. To Playka and back.

I wrote about Ermou several years ago. The streets full of beggars. Like I had never seen before. Makes our homeless look good.

So you can understand. Every day there was a man with no arms and legs. Face badly scarred. Hair burned never to grow again. Blind.

Propped up on a curb. His hands out searching for contributions.

Anarchists ran Ermou Street monday. Breaking windows, destroying the inside of shops. Throwing chemicals about. Sixty stores involved.

They were protesting on behalf of a 29 year old woman whose appeal of her terrorist conviction had failed.

The police did not interfere. When asked why, they said they did not have instructions to do so.

I can understand. As I wrote many times several years ago, the Greek Nazi Party is influential with the police. Half the members of the Nazi Party are police officers. The Golden Dawn (the actual name of the Greek Nazi Party) are a law unto themselves.

I wrote I had a sense of fear every time I saw them. Young Aryans. Blond. Great bodies. Wear black shirts, ties and pants. Swastika look a likes as armbands. The Hitler salute.

The Jew of Hitler’s days is the immigrant of today. They blame immigrants for everything.

I saw what I assumed was an immigrant being violently beaten by them one day. Just off Ermou street. Two police officers were nearby. They turned and walked away.

Hemingway Days today. At 6:30, the preliminary round of the Hemingway Look-Alike contest. Sloppy Joe’s

Big day in Key West history. On this day in 1985, Mel Fisher discovered the mother lode of the Spanish galleon Atocha. After 15 years of searching and struggling. $400 million in gold, jewels, and other artifacts.

Enjoy your day!

 

LAZY GECKO…..SO LONG, FAREWELL, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, ADIEU

Today, the last for Lazy Gecko. It closes at the end of business this evening. I give the Gecko a Sound of Music goodbye. Well deserved.

The Gecko has been part of the Park Ave. 200 block of Duval for many years. Seated between Sloppy Joe’s and Irish Kevin’s.

Word on the street is someone bought the building Gecko is in and raised the rent. Beyond what Gecko proprietors thought they could pay.

The number I hear is $30,000 a month.

High, but not high in comparison to rents of other lower end Duval properties.

Word on the street also suggest Irish Kevin’s got a kick up in the rent. To $65,000 a month. Irish Kevin’s is significantly larger than the Gecko and does a much bigger business each night than the Gecko.

There is a party tomorrow night at the Gecko for its regular customers. A going away event.

Gecko’s demise sad. Life, however.

My new neighbor is gone, also. The golf course crocodile.

The croc was a she. Nine feet long, 200 pounds. Caught in the middle of the night after a four hour struggle. The croc was taken somewhere up the Keys and released.

She was caught at her home at the 11th hole pond.

The crocodile had traveled a bit. In the less than the month’s time she lived at the pond, she had also been sighted on Stock Island and Key Haven. Key Haven my former residence.

Stopped at the Chart Room first last night. Who calls out Lou? My political adversary/friend from the other evening. Paul. The fellow from Indiana who lives in Mike Pence’s district and knows him. The same Paul who got excited while talking in support of Trump.

The guy is my friend! No question. We talked long last night. No politics. Met his wife Kim. A honey. Typical midwest. Warm and friendly.

Pete came in for a beer. We started talking. Age came into the discussion. I advised him I had just turned 82. He told me he was 76. Looked exceptionally great for his age.

Pete has been in Key West since the 1970s.

He still works. A civilian employee for the federal government. Said he had to. He has a 14 year old son to educate. Born of his fourth marriage.

I laughed, he laughed. It is funny when you think about it.

I admired his desire to make sure his last child’s education was totally paid by him. He had done it for his other children.

I told him I understood. I educated my four children. One hundred cents on the dollar. I did not want them to struggle financially through school as I had.

The one hundred cents on the dollar included a car and spring break vacations. I frequently thumbed. Spring break? What was that?

Near the time I was getting ready to leave, Jessica walked in. A Miss America type! Actually, Mrs. America. Around 40. Lives near Los Angeles.

I was in a hurry to eat. It was 9 and I had not had anything since breakfast. The growling in my stomach took precedence over Jessica.

My destination was Tavern ‘n Town. They have a new Happy Hour from 9-11. Tapas and drinks half price.

Last night was my fourth visit.

I like the late Happy Hour. A tapas, two drinks and a light bill. $18.

Can’t go wrong.

I made an error in yesterday’s blog. Mentioned Mel Fisher Days was ending today. Not so. Mel Fisher Days has not yet begun. It starts next thursday and runs through saturday. The event commemorates Fisher’s discovery of the Atocha.

This weekend’s edition of The Wall Street Journal carried an interesting article front page. Cookie tables at wedding have  become larger and more common.

I recall cookie tables at the weddings of my children. Their mother, the family and friends baked for weeks in preparation for the cookie table. I was unaware that it had now grown into a big time expensive item for what the Journal described as “modern weddings.”

The article reported a recent wedding in Youngstown, Ohio where 18,000 cookies consisting of 150 varieties were served.

Enjoy your sunday!

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY CONTINUED

My birthday continued into last night. Donna and Terri invited me to dinner. I did not realize they were going to do Happy Birthday.

I was greeted with Happy Birthday as I arrived. Imagine Terri’s crescendo! Drinks followed by a home cooked meal by gourmet chef Donna.

After dinner, Happy Birthday cake. Unexpected. Home baked brownies topped with whip cream. And two candles: One an 8, the other a 2.

Happy Birthday sung again!

Gift, a bottle of Beefeaters.

Received an e-mail from Joseph. Biblical. He thanked me for letting him participate in the “Feast of my Nativity.”

Joseph is 69. Ailing from a back surgery more than a year ago. Not perfect yet.

Joseph is 69. Short and thin. A white beard and mustache. Needs a cane. His cane is a rod. A six foot wood pole.

I refer to Joseph as John the Baptist since he began using the pole.

I spent yesterday doing nothing. Laid around all day. I was beat! Moving and unpacking had taken its toll. Shot!

My new neighborhood is a delight to behold. Cute single family homes. Greenery everywhere. Trees arching over the roadway.

Decided I would try to walk again. The peaceful surroundings called out to me.

I walked this morning. Early. Out of bed, into shorts and sneaks. Before I said, screw it!

The walk delightful. Once around a block. All of 10 minutes. I am starting off slow. Want to succeed this time.

Three popular Key West events on going or imminent.

Mel Fisher Days began thursday and end today. The event is to commemorate Fisher’s discovery of the Spanish galleon Atocha.

Mango Fest next saturday July 15. Bayview Park. All kinds of activities and mango foods. Sponsored by the Key West Police Athletic League. The League supports and participates in all kinds of children’s activities.

Finally, one of the best. Hemingway Days! Ten days of Hemingway fun beginning July 18. Including the Running of the Bulls, the Hemingway Look Alike Contest, and Sloppy Joe’s Hemingway Birthday Party.

The things I learn from William Hackley’s life. His diary for this day in 1856 records Hackley paying the rent on his Key West home. Paid for six months with a $450 Treasury warrant. Works out to $75 a month.

Can’t rent anything for $75 a month anymore! Hackley’s rent today would be at least $3,000 a month.

Hemingway. One of Key West’s most famous citizens.

On this day in 1918, Hemingway was 18. World War I three years old. The United States not yet in the war.

Hemingway wanted to participate. He joined the American Red Cross and was stationed in northern Italy as an ambulance driver.

While serving on the front, a mortar shell went off near him. Hemingway was seriously injured. Spent quite a while in the hospital because of shrapnel wounds. One leg especially beat up.

During his hospital stay, he fell in love with a nurse. A serious romance. After he returned home and was arranging for her to follow him, his loved dumped him for a lieutenant of royal lineage.

While living in Key West, Hemingway worked on his manuscript A Farewell to Arms and had the book published.

The book  reflected on northern Italy during World War I, the experiences of a Red Cross ambulance driver, his love affair with a nurse, and the tragic ending of the love affair. The nurse love died in the book.

Hemingway’s actual war time life experiences formed the basis for his first best selling novel.

In 1962, the movie PT-109 was filmed on Munson Island in the Keys. Pt-109 was the war time story of John Kennedy and his heroic experience following the sinking of PT-109.

A lot of local background.

Munson Island was owned at the time by Sheriff John M. Spottswood. Subsequently to become a Florida State Senator.

Kennedy was visiting Key West if my memory proves correct for a meeting with Great Britain’s Prime Minister MacMillan. Spottswood was close to Kennedy. He suggested a good place to shot the movie was Munson Island which he owned. Munson Island became the place.

Munson Island today is Little Palm Island.

Spottswood had five children. He was the patriarch of the family. A Key West icon. His children all successful today and respected community leaders. I only know one. Robert and his wife, Elena. Two fine people.

Cliff Robertson played Kennedy in the movie.

I met Robertson 12 or more years ago at the Mel Fisher Museum. The Museum was kicking off a national fund raising campaign. Robertson was honorary chairman.

The good looking young vital man of PT-109  days was now aged. Never the less, dapperly dressed and sharp of wit.

A Trump observation. He is out of his class at the G20 meeting in Hamburg. In over his head. Especially with Putin.

Enjoy your day!

 

ROOFTOP BIRTHDAY DINNER

A wonderful evening! Birthday dinner at the Rooftop as the guest of Joseph Lyles.

Joseph, the host extraordinaire. My John the Baptist friend still walking with his seven foot pole.

Joseph has had an extensive career in the food industry. Managed fine dining at places like the Hot Tin Roof and Little Palm Island.

A man held in high esteem by his restaurant cohorts. Clearly evident last night. The owner and chef stopped by the table. The table itself special. Special appetizers selected by Joseph before I arrived.

The chef recommended the snapper special. Joseph and I followed his advice. Did not go wrong.

Courtesy even to a double locals discount. I was impressed.

Joseph is a person of deep intelligence. A thinker. I enjoy his company. We have decided to do it again. Next time at Martin’s for Happy Hour.

A passing comment. I had not been to the Rooftop in at least 10 years. You hear me say this often. Ten years. Key West has many fine restaurants. Plus, I am a creature of habit. Enjoy going to the same places.

I am adding Rooftop to my list of places to frequent. I forgot how good it was.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! So many Happy Birthday greetings. I am a lucky man.

Barbara enjoyed dinner with Joseph and I last night. She left early this morning to return to New York. She was a tremendous help in getting me unpacked, etc.

We lunched together at Harpoon Harry’s yesterday. One of those sudden heavy summer rains occurred. Kept us at Harry’s an extra half hour.

Spent most of the day unpacking. More to go, though not much.

I have been in Key West many years. I feel like I am a part of Key West. The feeling is accompanied with an attitude that I know everything about my island.

I do not. As I frequently learn.

The wall behind the bar at the Chart Room is loaded with photos. Some covering each other.

The other evening, I discovered one of Mel Fisher and Johnny Carson.

Fisher found the Atocha and gold in July 1985. Like $400 million worth. Within days, he was on the Johnny Carson show. July 30, 1985 to be exact.

Soon thereafter, Carson traveled to Key West. He wanted to dive the Atocha. Fisher took him.

Fisher also took him to the Chart Room where the photograph was taken.

In depth knowledge of William Hackley is a bit at a time. On this date in 1856, Hackley wrote in his diary that he received a letter from his mother. Enclosed in the letter was his “quarterly salary.”

Leads me to believe Hackley might have been a trust fund baby.

Hoover Dam…..One of the wonders of the world! Definitely so at the time of its completion in 1935.

Time and other construction has diminished its number one position as the largest of dams. Today, Hoover Dam is the 2nd highest in the United States and 18th largest in the world.

I write about Hoover Dam for several reasons today.

One is that construction began this day in 1930.

Others include the dam being finished two years ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget. A feat impossible in today’s world.

Interesting to note is 21,000 men worked on the dam during its 5 year construction period. Jobs for many during the great depression.

Enjoy your day!

THOMAS EDISON AND THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE

One of the greatest inventors of modern times lived in the Little White House for six months. Thomas Edison. Around 70 at the time, the U.S. government looked to him for weapon development at the beginning of World War I.

Edison lived and worked in the same building made famous by Truman’ s many visits years later.

Edison developed 41 weapons during his six month stay.

I spent yesterday rewriting and polishing two chapters of Growing Up Italian. Will I ever finish this book? The funny part is the writing will be 3-4 books. The first is sub-titled The First Six Years.

Mel Fisher’s name is embroidered in Key West’s fabric. A name for the ages. Never to be forgotten.

Fisher struck gold and other rare jewels on July 20, 1985 after many years of searching. He sought the Atocha. He found it after roughly 15 years of searching.

Value of the gold, etc. $450 million.

On this date in 1986, Fisher presented Queen Sofia of Spain with a bronze cannon from the Spanish galleon. The presentation took place in Washington, D.C.

Trump is diminishing the image of the United States world wide. In a very short period of time. He has succeeded in pissing off most of the free nations of the world. Those autocratic, he is turning from enemies to friends.

Trump neither understands nor appreciates the need for friends world wide. Friends with values. Character. Not despots.

Tanks are effective. Especially by authoritarian regimes. Against those who protest their governments.

Two uprisings come to mind. Hungary and China.

The Hungarian Revolution occurred in 1956. Began October 23, ended November 10. The protesters using stones and molotov cocktails. The Soviets, troops and military equipment.

The soviets finally got tired of the constant street fighting. Soviet troops and a handful of tanks fighting the poorly armed rebels. Mostly students.

In one day, the troop number and tank number were increased Dramatically. The revolution was over. Force won out.

Two hundred thousand Hungarians fled Hungary immediately.

Total Soviet troops engaged 31,55o. Tank number 1,130.

I was fortunate to become friends with one of the revolutionaries. A Hungarian college student. He attended Manhattan College during my senior year. He said, we were throwing rocks and molotov cocktails. They came at us with tanks from every corner. The revolution was over.

Tiananmen Square another example of tank power.

One hundred thousand students began the protest on April 15, 1989. Their numbers enlarged daily by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants. The protest went on for seven weeks.

The Chinese government finally had enough. The tanks went in on June 4. The protest was over. Hundreds killed. Thousands arrested.

I love the comic sport poem Casey At The Bat. I have used the poem’s final line many times to express my sorrow at a Syracuse defeat.

Casey At The Bat was published this date 1888.

The line: “…..there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”

Enjoy your day!

MAN ON THE MOON…..WOW!

Today marks a remarkable event in history. The event being the most memorable of my life. Impacted me. Man on the Moon!

On this day in 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon. I was 34 at the time. It was late night. Around midnight. I was excited. A human walking on the moon. The thing science fiction movies were made of. Not reality. Yet, it was about to happen! Live on TV in front of my eyes.

My four children were all under 10 at the time. I woke and got them all out of bed to watch. I wanted to view this moment in history. It meant nothing to them. They were merely amusing their crazy Dad. To this day, when I ask if they recall watching the event on TV, none do.

I am now 80 and nothing has matched or exceeded Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

Today has a special significance for Key West. Mel Fisher found the mother lode of the Atocha in 1985. Changed his life! His family’s life! Jean Thornton’s life!

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I had been researching Margaret Sanger for this week’s KONK Life column. As I dug further, it became obvious that the recent story re Planned Parenthood selling aborted fetus baby parts superseded it. Ergo, I wrote Planned Parenthood Sells Aborted Fetus Baby Parts. Margaret Sanger gets a paragraph near the end of the column. The article publishes wednesday in KONK Life.

I was half asleep watching the British Open when the phone rang. It was Dee. Hello, how are you, etc. It was close to dinner time. I asked if she wanted to meet me at Roostica. She said ok. Meet you there in an hour. Dee lives on Cudjoe Key.

A nice dinner. Dee good company most of the time. An intelligent woman, she is interesting to talk with. She has a doctorate in Psychology and teaches at Boston University.

Olga working. My new waitress friend. She gave me a beaming smile and wave as I walked in.

It was work day around the house yesterday. For Keith and Jennifer. Not me. Keith attacked the jungle outside my house. Everything grows swiftly in the heat. The trees, bushes, etc. need to be trimmed 1-2 times a year. Jennifer was cleaning up inside. Anna is in Poland vacationing for two months and Jennifer has been helping out in her absence.

Anna’s story similar to Tammy’s. She is another who has succeeded in achieving the American dream.

Anna and her husband immigrated from Poland many years ago. Today, her husband is the Chef at Cafe Sole, one of Key West’s top restaurants. Anna cleans homes. The job may not sound dignified. The money is. Anna is busy all the time.

They have their own home. They vacation two months with their children every two years in Poland.

I love Anna’s sundays. She refuses to work. She goes to St. Mary’s in the morning and spends the rest of the day at Fort Zachery Taylor Beach.

Hemingway Days begin tomorrow. Will run through sunday. I look forward to having a god time at certain events.

Anna e-mailed me. She is settled in on Amorgos. I envy her!

I have spent much time on Amorgos. Made many friends. I was the only American on Amorgos most of the time. People would stop by to meet me. I was an oddity. They had never met an American.

Anna’s e-mail made me feel good. People were asking where Louis was.

Mythos owns my favorite restaurant on Amorgos. He and his daughter were wondering what happened to me, was I ever going to return. I would spend my afternoons at Mythos’ place sitting outside in the shade writing. Antonio at the restaurant next door wondered when I would be back. He prepared the best smelts! Just like my grandmother made. Elini whose home I stayed at was wondering if I would ever return.

Flora on Amorgos again. Cleaning rooms for the summer. An Albanian school teacher otherwise. I wrote a short story about Flora three years  which I published in my book. The title…..Flora’s Story. A sensitive tale.

The Greeks are taking a beating in the media these days. They are made to look lazy and careless. The island people are neither. They are simple happy folk living life as their forefathers did 100 years ago.

Enjoy your day!