I am upset this morning. Venting time.

Pigs does not refer to the four legged kind. Rather, those two legged. Man.

Two items in this morning’s Key West Citizen tick me off. Both have to do with the constant gouging of Key West Citizens.

One article concerns Stock Island’s Sunset Marina. Slip fees are being raised $5 a foot. The fees were raised last year also.

Most live on a boat because it is cheaper than buying or renting a home. Significantly. However with slip prices shooting up as they are, such will eventually no longer be true.

The other concerns towing fees.

The City Commission wants to raise towing fees from private properties by 35 percent. Increase other items also. Like allowing towers to charge up to $135 an hour where extraordinary effort is required. Everything will be extraordinary!

People are forced to leave Key West. More and more each year. They cannot afford the cost of living. The cost of living is much like the hills and steps which confront me in Greece and Italy. Everything up, nothing down.

Salaries contribute to the problem. Most are low paid hourly jobs. As time progresses, it is inevitable that a shortage of available employees will occur. Then, salaries will go up.

Getting back to the towing situation, the City Commission should be ashamed the way it handles Key West’s parking problem. It takes space away and raises parking fees for the limited space available. People are forced to park where ever they can. Such results in towing.

My yesterday began with a doctor visit. Another kind. Doctoring almost an every week thing. Then to Publix for a few things.

I had to hurry home after Publix. I was scheduled to be interviewed for 15 minutes on KONK News by Don Riggs. I had moved the time up to 12:45. Just made it.

Don and I had an interesting discussion re the Holocaust and the survivor Helen Sperling.

The evening was the best! The VFW on Northern Boulevard for dinner.

A big sign sits in front of the VFW building. Public Invited. I decided to try it. Glad I did.

Food good. Prices reasonable. Company excellent. A different breed of Key Westers. Veterans. They openly enjoy themselves. A happy group. They did their time in the military. Most fought. They have earned the right.

Met Schmegly. Spelled correctly. Looks like a thin santa Claus. A magnificent beard.

Schmegly has spent thirty years working Mallory Square at Sunset. Initially making creatures for children out of ballons. He considers such work an art. Today, he plays a banjo or guitar and sings.

Schmegly also walks Duval later in the evening playing the banjo. He refers to himself as a troubadour.

He makes his living from tips.

Schmegly’s real name is Richard Sloat. I never did find out how he got Schmegly out of Sloat.

He looks like an old timer you would find at Schooner Wharf.

Lighted Boat Parade tonight. An experience. Watch it from Schooner Wharf.

Tomorrow, the Parade of Paws. In the morning. Starts at Higgs Dog Park. Santa Claus will be there. The dogs will parade.

Key West loves dogs. Not only do we have Dog Park, we also have a Dog Beach. One of the best beaches in town. Right next to Louie’s Backyard.

A Saudi Arabian Prince referred to Trump as a “disgrace to America.” The Prince should talk. The pot calling the kettle black.

Saudi Arabia has much to answer for. The largest number of beheadings a year. No competition world wide. They abuse women. Do not permit them to drive. If an adulteress, stoning the penalty. Or, let a family member kill her and not prosecute the family member.

Enjoy your day!


Snowbirds are back. You can see them, feel them, hear them. All good things.

Snowbirds are those who own Key West homes who do not spend the full year here. They return to Key West when the cold hits up north. Snowbirds also include those who do not own, but return and rent each year during the winter months.

Snowbirds mostly in their 50s and up.

They blend right in. Hook up with old friends. Locals and other snowbirds.

I sensed the time was here for the snowbird influx earlier this week while at the Chart Room. The bar was packed. All senior citizens. I knew then the snowbirds were back. Observed it at the Cuban Coffee Queen yesterday. I stopped for lunch. Did not stay. A waiting line. The benches and stools taken.

I was at Hogfish last night for dinner. The same thing. Standing room. Waiting for tables. I luckily found a seat immediately at the outside bar. The inside bar consisted of fishermen and their ladies. Otherwise, Hogfish was packed with returning snowbirds.

I have gotten into grouper recently. The grouper last night was outstanding!

Key West and the Battleship Maine are intertwined. The Maine left Key West for Cuba. It was blown up while in Havana Harbor. Triggering the Spanish-American War.

Many were killed when the Maine went down. A significant number were returned to Key West for burial. On this date in 1898, a Battleship Maine Cemetery Plot was dedicated in Key West. Ten thousand watched the procession and dedication.

My yesterday began with the anti-gravity treadmill. If it does not kill me, it has to help big time. Body Owners has become like a morning club for me and others being worked on. The staff part of the club. Makes hard work easier.

Then a haircut with Lori. Always enjoy visiting with Lori. She has been cutting my hair for 15 years.

Stopped at Cuban Coffee Queen for lunch. No room.

Went home for lunch. Anna there. Anna has been cleaning my house and doing my laundry for 10 years. A Polish immigrant who worked hard and is achieving the American dream.

Is it only immigrants who achieve the American dream today? Why not American born? Is it because the American born have lost something along the way? What?

A three hour nap. I was tired for some reason. Laid down and fell asleep immediately.

“The nights still belong to Hitler.” One of the quotes/observations  in this week’s KONK Life column Helen Sperling…..Holocaust Survival.

I saw the printed column yesterday in KONK Life. Somewhere between me and the printer, the column got screwed up. Sperling’s name was misspelled in the title. Quotes near the end of the column took a beating. One completely left out. Others bunched together. My listed order ignored.

Nothing can bed done. The publisher offered to rerun the column next week. I said, no. Next week should be and will be a new story.

I apologize for the errors/sloppiness. Not of my doing, however.

Staying with the Helen Sperling story, it appears in two additional places today. KONK E-Blast carries it. No errors. The column was also linked to my Key West Lou website. No errors.

I will be interviewed on KONK News at 12:45 today. 104.9 radio. The subject matter will be the Helen Sperling column.

There have been many police/black shootings. More blacks killed than police officers. Most officers not indicted. I read somewhere yesterday that cops have become uncharged murderer’s. I will receive a number of contrary comments tomorrow. However, I agree with the uncharged murderer’s label.

June Hudson…..Don’t break a leg! You will never make it back to the Keys!

Enjoy your day!



Helen Sperling died last week at the age of 95. She survived Buchenwald. A significant portion of her life thereafter was devoted to reminding others of what occurred during those World War II days.

Helen lived most of her free adult years in Utica, my home town. A close friend Sharon Smith knew her well. I did not. Sharon frequently spoke of her.

I met Helen only once at some gathering. We were introduced. It was a hello, how are you, and on our separate ways.

Helen’s story sad. Hard to believe, unless a person shared her death camp experiences.

Helen lived with her parents and brother in a small Polish town near Warsaw. Her father an architect. Her family middle class.

As a child, Helen was spoiled, pampered and imaginative. She was at home on vacation from college when the Germans marched in. Her first recollection is that of “boots…..the ugly, ugly black boots” the Nazis wore.

The Nazis stormed into her home. They emptied the drawers and closets. One sat in her father’s chair. He shoved his booth in her mother’s face. He then threw some of the family’s fine linens at her. The German yelled…..”Polish them!” Helen helped her mother.

That day was the beginning of six years of helplessness, humiliation and degradation.

The family was first sent to a ghetto. Then to prison camps or death. Her parents were sent to their deaths. Helen was transferred to Ravensbruck, a transition camp. The last stop before a death camp. She was subjected to manual labor. The purpose of the labor was to break the prisoners’ spirits. Her time there she describes as demeaning. She lived in squalor, hunger and fear.

Helen says, “You did not realize who your friend was and who was your enemy.” She had a close girl friend before the Nazis arrived. Her closest girl friend. It was her girl friend’s birthday. Helen escaped from the ghetto for a short time. Her purpose to wish her girl friend a Happy Birthday. Her girl friend was a gentile.

She telephoned her girl friend. Helen was received with all kinds of racial slurs. At that moment, Helen says “…..something dreadful happened to my soul.”

Helen was transferred to Buchenwald. A death camp.

She has memories of the cattle cars and sorting. The sorting involving a German officer telling her when she arrived at Buchenwald which of two lines she was to get into. One you lived, the other you died.

Helen was selected for the live line. She was young and strong. She was able to avoid the death part of Buchenwald for that reason. She was directed to the work phase of Buchenwald.

She was made to work in a munitions factory. She and other prisoners produced artillery shells.  When the guards were not looking, they did whatever to produce a defective shell. If caught, it meant death. Fortunately, Helen was not caught. She describes the destructive activity as revenge. It kept their spirits up.

Living quarters at Buchenwald were terrible. Filthy, cold, crowded. Food was limited. One piece of bread a day and whatever other slop was provided.

Each barracks/living quarters had a “block supervisor.” Also a prisoner. A trustee of sorts. The block supervisors had all kinds of privileges, including beating the other prisoners. Which was done frequently. In some instances to the same prisoner daily.

Helen’s block supervisor was a prostitute and murderer in her former life. She frequently stole Helen’s bread. The block supervisor did treat Helen good in one respect. Helen wrote poetry. She needed paper to write on. The block supervisor at great risk to herself would steal paper for Helen to write on.

Helen recalls the block supervisor thusly: “She still owes me the bread, but I owe her my humanity.”

Beatings by block supervisors and Nazi guards were constant. Helen owed her life to her fellow prisoners. On several occasions, she was beaten so badly that she was still bleeding at roll call time in the morning. Her fellow prisoners would hide her in the back row. In winter, red blood was obvious on white snow. Bleeding was not tolerated. The Germans would put such a bleeding Jew to death immediately. Then and there on the roll call field.

Helen says she constantly wondered while in Buchenwald why no one came to save her and the others.

Buchenwald was liberated in April 1945.

Helen was going nowhere. Except to a hospital. She was too sick. She was hospitalized for three years. When liberated, Helen was suffering from kidney cancer, pneumonia and malnutrition. She weighed sixty pounds. She also was infertile. No longer capable of bearing children.

At some point, her brother found her.

Helen immigrated to the United States. She met Leon. Leon was another Holocaust survivor. They married. Lived in different parts of the United States before settling in Utica. They adopted two children.

One day, Helen’s daughter came home from school crying. The other children had called her “…..a dirty Jew.”

Helen was incensed. She hurried to the school and confronted the principal. Helen insisted that she be given the right to speak to her daughter’s classmates the next day about anti-Semitism. She was given permission.

Not knowing exactly what to say, Helen decided to simply tell her story as told herein thus far. The impact on the class was astounding. She was invited to return every year thereafter to speak to the succeeding class.

The name calling and her first talk to a class took place sometime in the mid 1970s. Helen was not a public speaker. Her words made an impact, however.

Helen caught hold. Word spread. She was asked to speak everywhere. She gave the same talk three times a week for years. At colleges, universities, public and private high schools, police academies, monasteries, and churches. She gave these talks into her ninety’s. In central New York and through out the northeast.

It is seventy years since the end of World War II. Helen’s basic thrust was her concern that despite the lessons of the Holocaust, genocide has been ongoing. The story of the six million Jews has not taught man a lesson. The world stood by quietly while the Jews were being exterminated. Such conduct can never be permitted again. Speak up, yell!

Helen told her audiences that there was an Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shall Not Be a Bystander. No longer remain silent.

We talk about the genocides worldwide. Do we really do anything about them?

Some of Helen’s words I would like to share with you.

Helen started each of her talks with “Hello, my name is Helen Sperling. I am a Jew and a survivor of the Holocaust.”

Regarding those who stand by and do nothing as genocides occur: “…..a mistake. You cannot be a bystander. A bystander is someone who helps the evil.”

“There is no closure for a survivor. I tell the stories of what happened because they help me to survive.”

“Ninety nine percent of survival was sheer luck.”

Regarding survival: “A little bit of it was hanging on to dignity. Once you lost that, you didn’t have a chance.”

At the end of one Helen’s talks, a student asked whether she could forgive the Nazis. Helen’s answer: “The issue is not whether we can forgive the Nazis, the issue is whether we learned the lesson – genocide continues to occur in our world…..we have not learned our lesson.”

Helen challenges students to “Go and save the world!”

“I still don’t believe it happened.”

The memory “never stops hurting.”

“The days are mine, but the nights still belong to Hitler.”

Regarding hope and dignity: “You can live without food for a long time and without drink or anything. But you cannot live without hope and without dignity…..the Germans were trying all the time to take it away from us.”

“We do not have the right to be silent. The Eleventh Commandment is Thou Shall Not Be A Bystander.”

Rest in peace Helen Sperling. The first true peace since that day the Germans entered your home.


Wednesday for me is as friday for most others. The end of the work week! Time to take a few days off.

Friday through tuesday are research, writing and radio days. Nine thirty tuesday night ends it for me. The time my blog talk radio show concludes.

Wednesday is a do nothing day. Love it! Some celebrate wednesday as hump day. For me, a screw off day.

Happy birthday Don Manaher! Finally, 40! Ho ho!

Big birthday party tonight at Don’s Place. Seven o’clock. Great entertainment. Larry, Christine, Kathleen, and Ray amongst others. Don’s children and grandchildren. Son in laws to be. And the best of the best, wife Stephanie.

A big time Christmas event this evening. The Lighted Bike Parade. Bikes thoughtfully decorated. Riders, also. Parade itself starts at 6:30 from Bayview Park. To Mallory Square and back to Bayview. Partying  at Bayview begins at 5. Santa Claus has promised to be there.

Spent yesterday researching further and fine tuning last night’s blog talk radio show. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. A multitude of sins covered. From Helen Sperling and the Holocaust to Pittsburgh police who refuse to be drug and alcohol tested.

An early dinner at Roostica. Love Bobby’s food! Last night sausage covered with peppers and onions in a red sauce. Five pieces. Plus, great bread. All for $10!

Hurried home to watch the Syracuse/Colgate basketball game. Syracuse supposed to win. Colgate nowhere the same class. Last night was Syracuse’s 50th consecutive victory over Colgate.

The score 78-57. Syracuse was supposed to win that big. The team looked better than their last game. Not there yet, however. Rebounding continues to be a problem. Each team had 32 rebounds.

It was Mike Hopkins’ first college victory. He is the acknowledged Boeheim successor. May he have a 1,000 victory career!

One of the most strenuous and exasperating days for me is when I have to renew my drug coverage and supplemental hospital plans. Comcast easier to communicate with.

Monday, I did the drug plan. AARP sponsored United Health Care Plan. Only took an hour this year. Only had to talk to four different people. Waiting between them forever.

I have to do the supplemental hospital renewal. Same company, a different phone number. Tried monday following the drug plan renewal. Hung on the line a good 15 minutes waiting for a body. Listened to suck music. Finally, a recorded voice told me it was better if I tried between 7 and 9 in the morning. I have yet to get to it.

Sea turtles a loved species in the Florida Keys. Everything is done to protect them. We even have a Turtle Hospital. The Turtle Hospital this past weekend hosted the Annual Sea Turtle Workshop. Over 120 attendees. From as far away as Italy.

Enjoy your day!

DECEMBER 7, 1941

December 7, 1941. The day after when addressing a joint session of Congress seeking a declaration of war against Japan, President Roosevelt described December 7 as “…..a day that will live in infamy.” It has.

President Roosevelt also provided U.S. citizens with a bolt of confidence: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

This morning’s Key West Citizen provided interesting data re the attack. Two thousand four hundred three American military and citizens were killed. The Japanese lost only 64 of its Navy personnel.

I was six when Pearl Harbor occurred. I distinctly recall evenings sitting around the radio as a family hanging onto every word of the war news. Families wanted to know how the country and their own were faring. This kept up till the end of the war in 1945.

My Sunday was not as planned.. When I discovered yesterday morning that Helen Sperling had died, I decided to write this week’s KONK Life column about her. Helen was a Holocaust survivor. Spent significant time in Buchenwald.

I had neither research nor notes. I was prepared to write about Teddy Roosevelt. I had to start the column from scratch. It took the greater part of the day to get the column out. As a result, I never made it to the Gardens at 5.

The President’s TV speech disturbed me. He said nothing new. The concerns of the American people were not directly addressed.

I do not know what his problem is. Unless I am wrong and he has everything under control, his worry not attitude the correct one. I doubt it. The situation worries me.

Between writing the Sperling column and the President’s speech, I had Chinese delivered to the house.

The new City Hall’s furniture in the news again. Our spendthrift Commission approved the expenditure of $755,000 for furniture for the new City Hall. Top of the line furniture. All the buttons and gadgets. Like hydraulic desks and electric window blinds.

The World Almanac section of the Citizen carried a very fitting quote by Willa Cather: “The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.”

How true!

Enjoy your day!


The Jewish celebration Hanukkah begins at sunset today. It lasts till monday December 14. It is a Festival of Lights.

My blog today is not about Hanukkah. Though I wish all a Happy Hanukkah! Especially, my Jewish friends.

I spent many hours yesterday researching this week’s KONK Life column. It was about Teddy Roosevelt and an executive order of his that exasperated many world wide.

I woke this morning to learn that Helen Sperling had died. Unknown to most. A Buchenwald survivor. A woman who dedicated her adult life to telling her story and reminding us not to forget what happened.

Helen’s story is hard to hear. Dark. Overrides the Roosevelt story. I am shelving Roosevelt for another day. This week’s column will be Helen’s story. Titled Thou Shall Not Stand By.

Changing columns means a long day ahead for me. I am late with today’s blog because I have already spent four hours researching the new column. There are several more. Then the actual writing.

Helen’s story would be appropriate any time. However with the Jewish holidays upon us, it has a special meaning.

Georgetown beat Syracuse yesterday 79-72. The game was not as close as the score might indicate. At one point in the second half, Syracuse was behind 20 plus points.

Syracuse played lousy. Simply stated. Could not make threes nor control the boards. Georgetown pierced the zone defense at will. Their big man hurt us badly. I keep saying, we need a big man! Some one screwed up in the recruiting process.

The team was not with it. A major problem was hesitation. The team failed to take threes when they had the shot. The threes they took did not drop. They moved slowly around the court. Always seemed a step behind. There were moments when a Syracuse player would stand still holding the ball, not certain what to do with it.

The Syracuse team yesterday was not the same one I watched beat two ranked teams in the Bahamas two weeks ago.

Boeheim not being there not a factor.

I who love small town parades decided to skip Key West’s Christmas Parade last night. I was not in the mood. Instead, I had dinner at Tavern ‘n Town.

Met Larry and Linda. Enjoyed their company tremendously.

Most importantly, Larry and Linda were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Congrats to them! They live in Fort Myers. Came to Key West for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary.

Linda is originally from the Buffalo area. She and I are New York neighbors of a sort. About 175 miles separating Buffalo and Utica. Larry is from Youngstown.

The two did cocktail hour at Alonzo’s before Tavern ‘n Town. They stopped at Tavern ‘n Town for dessert. Key Lime pie. They were interested in experiencing every aspect of Key West.

The San Bernardino shootings have raised many thoughts, questions, solutions, etc. One is that people would be safer if permitted to carry concealed weapons. Such would discourage the bad guys.

Someone wrote a comment today. His thought was precisely what I have set forth. Carry concealed weapons.

Jerry Falwell’s son Jerry Falwell Jr. is now President of Liberty University. He claims carrying would prevent  San Bernardinos. His justification was not directly to save lives. It was that “…..we could end those Muslims.”

I do not agree with gun carrying, concealed or otherwise. Ultimately, society would be as in the Old West. The Muslim situation on the other hand I find troublesome. Islamic radicals are a danger to us, to our way of life.

President Obama is speaking tonight to the issue. I hope he hits a home run. People are discouraged about his handling of ISIS. Empty words will not help.

Enjoy your Sunday!