DALE AND KENDRA

 

Blog late this morning. 11:30 and just starting. Slept late, laid around in bed.

I had an exceptionally good time last night. My activities limited to the Chart Room and Antonia’s.

Old and new faces at the Chart Room.

Met Dale and Kendra. Great people! From  near Allentown, Pennsylvania. They have been visiting Key West every year for 10 years.

Both school teachers. Dale, a high school history teacher. Kendra teaches elementary school.

Parents of twins! A boy and girl. Now 5 1/2 years old.

This was a special meeting. For them and me. Dale has been reading my blog since 2010. Seven years!

He and Kendra have visited the Chart Room each trip during that time looking to meet up with me. Finally, last night.

We chatted a while. I enjoyed my time with them tremendously. Good people.

Jean Thornton! Last night, finally! She has been back several days and we have been missing each other. Jean’s sister was with her. Two exciting women.

These are Mel Fisher Days. Jean is back in Key West for the annual celebration.

Some 15 years ago, Jean went diving with Mel Fisher. Pushed herself on him. Took her a year for him to finally agree to take her diving. Fisher had already found $400 million in Atocha gold and emeralds.

Jean discovered some gold coins and emeralds herself that day. Would you believe! Quit her school teaching job and bought a condo in Truman Annex. Since that time, she spends at least six months a year in Key West.

Love her dearly!

Enjoyed a lengthy political discussion. With two Trump supporters. Interesting. We rarely agreed. Friends at the start and we were still friends at the end of the conversation.

One was Kevin. Kevin is a regular at the Chart Room. Owns a home on White Street. I knew he leaned conservative from prior discussions. Learned he leaned farther than I thought last night.

The other was Gordon Anderson. Gordon owns the Larian Motel in Tombstone, Arizona. Proud of it. Number one for two consecutive years on Trip Advisor.

Gordon visits Key West twice a year. A huge Mel Fisher aficionado. Took the tour yesterday of the Fisher lab. Learned how stones, jewels, coins and other artifacts are preserved. Excited him.

Today, the Mel Fisher Schooner Wharf Party. He and Kevin were making plans to attend.

The politics were good. Kevin and Gordon’s views generally diametrically opposed to mine. They enjoyed, also. We chatted back and forth.

Covered a multitude of sins. The Second Amendment. Both extremely knowledgeable about gun rights. Both conceal carry. Legal in Florida and Arizona. Kevin had me feel his gun which he carried in the back of his pants covered by his shirt. First time I was aware he carried.

They viewed Trump as the new Messiah (my description). Echoed the Republican speaking points. To the letter. Media responsible for the negatives heaped on Trump, everything is Obama’s fault. Both felt that if Trump were impeached, the people would rise up. Not tolerate it.

We have a problem. Our country is split 50/50. Both sides dug in. I do not ever recall politics this hard fixed.

The Chart Room crowded. John working hard.

Tom Cochran was a bartender back in the days when the Chart Room began and Jimmy Buffett was starting. The Chart Room’s bartender.

I have never met him. He was standing at the end of the bar. Tall. Cowboy hat. Tourists listening to him in awe as he described Jimmy Buffett’s beginnings, etc.

Never got to talk with him. The crowd surrounding him too tight. Hopefully, another time.

Time to eat. Opted for Antonia’s. Place packed. Fortunate to get a seat at the bar. TK bartending. I have known TK better than 20 years. Still looks as young as when I met him. He attributes it to botox.

Met Mike Grasso who was seated next to me. In advertising. Philadelphia. MCG Media LLC. His shop.

Knowledgeable. If I recall correctly, he owns or has a piece of Back Page.

We spoke of Philadelphia, Rittenhouse Square and David Wolkowsky. Exchanged growing up Italian stories.

Mike left. Replaced by Roddy and Clarisse. They had been seated a few seats away. Could tell I was a lawyer. Sat next to me for desert.

Both attorneys. Young compared to me. But then, everyone is. Married four years. Roddy a civil litigator in Orlando. Clarisse an immigration specialist in Miami. They have homes in Orlando and Miami.

We did lawyer talk.

Enjoyed them! The world their oyster. I wish them well.

As I was paying my bill preparatory to leaving, in walked John Marston. A Key West attorney and friend. He introduced me to his lady. A beauty! Great smile! I had never met her before. I am ashamed to admit I cannot recall her name.

Finally, home to bed.

Tonight, party time. I joined the Sons and Daughters of Italy last year. Love the members! Fun people!

A bocce party. Pizza, beer and wine. Good company and simple food and drink. Nothing better.

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!

 

ROGER WESTERLUND

We come and go. Death a certainty. Inevitable.

July 6 was a major milestone in my life. My 80th birthday. It was a sad day in Roger and Mary Ann Westerlund’s lives. Roger died. He was 83. The world lost a good man. Key West one of its favorite persons.

Roger was a retired anesthesiologist. He retired from the NYU Medical Center. He and Mary Ann moved to Key West sometime in the late 1990s. They were already here when I bought my Key West home in 1998.

My wife at the time and I were strangers. Knew few people. The Westerlunds were always quick to introduce us to others.

It is sometimes hard to describe the real person. Roger can best be understood by his plaque at the Tropic Cinema. The Tropic was raising money for the new location. Roger made a donation. A urinal donation.

There are two urinals in the men’s room. Roger paid for one of those urinals. On the wall over the urinal is a plaque. Eye level. It reads…..THIS STATION FOR YOUR RELIEF PROVIDED BY ROGER WESTERLUND.

Roger will be remembered by those who use the urinal and those who do not. Robert was a well known figure around town. Loved and respected by all.

My day began with my friend the anti-gravity treadmill. A real work out. I have increased the miles per hour and inclines. Thirty minutes and my tee shirt was sticking wet.

It was lunch time. The Cuban Coffee Queen. A cheese toast and large Cuban coffee. Sat there a while reading the newspapers.

The new location of the Cuban Coffee Queen in Key Lime Square behind Antonio’s has turned into a gold mine. Good for them!

Dinner last night at Hot Tin Roof with Rick and Cynthia. Wonderful people. We are relatively new friends. It was at their home three months ago that I suffered the first of my three consecutive days of falling. Not their fault. My body’s fault.

Rick writes. For KONK Life as I do. He is openly against anything he senses is wrong. He brings lawsuits on his own to fight what he perceives Key West injustices. No lawyer. Rick feels he is qualified, however. He did a year at Yale Law School.

Charlotte and Skip stopped by our table. I have seen neither in a couple of months. Skip is a premier radio broadcaster. Was the man in Key West. Relocated to another station in Islamorada where he and Charlotte now live.

Charlotte is from one of the Carolinas. She worked for United Health Care. I beat her up many times with my complaints about the company. United Health Care my AARP supplement.

If my recollection is correct, Charlotte is now associated with the dolphin facility in the Keys.

Charlotte lived many years on her boat in the Carolinas. Not taking well to apartment living. She intends to bring her boat down to Islamorada for her and Skip to live on.

Charlotte runs. The big marathons all over the country. She told me when last we met that she was going to do the 50 mile run from Marathon to Key West. She told me last night she did. Completed the run with no difficulty. I who cannot walk very far! I hate her sometimes!

Jean Thornton back in town. I looked for her before and after dinner last night. Could not find her. Emily at the Chart Room told me Jean and Sheila were participating in the Mel Fisher Treasure Hunt. The winners received $5,000. I don’t know if Jean and Sheila won.

Jean already won. Some years back, Jean was diving with Mel Fisher. She was either his guest or paid a small fee to do a one day dive. Jean found emeralds and gold. Changed her life! No more the Indiana school teacher. She and husband Joe now live in Birmingham and Key West. They have a condo in Truman annex.

Jean has come to be known as the Key West Golden Girl because of her find.

This morning’s KONK Life E-Blast carries my KONK Life column for the week. Illegal Human Trafficking. Not about prostitution. About Uber. An historical walk re a relatively new company.

You have picked up I am sure that I have not written re Greece the past few days. The situation confuses me at this point. My lips are sealed till there is a result/conclusion.

Enjoy your day!

NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT…..

On this day in 1940, the Battle of Britain began. The Great Air War. It lasted 114 days.

Germany’s air forces significantly out numbered the Brits. The Germans more experienced. Yet the British beat the hell out of the Germans. So much so, that Hitler pulled all German air activity away from Britain and sent the planes to Russia. He could not afford to lose planes so rapidly. Germany’s air industry was unable to replace the planes as swiftly as the British were shooting them down.

Winston Churchill was preparing comments to be delivered to Parliament regarding the great victory. He penned the words while riding in the back seat of a car. Somewhat like Lincoln who penned the Gettysburg Address while riding a train.

He ran a phrase by a friend riding with him. “Never in the history of mankind….was so much owed to so few.” The word mankind seemed inappropriate to his companion. He asked, “What about Jesus and his disciples?”

Churchill changed the wording to “Never in the field of human conflict…..” The corrected sentence…..”Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

A haircut yesterday from Lori at Blown Away. Quiet. Only Lori and another working.

Summers slow for Lori. Even though there are many tourists in town this summer. Her business is made up of locals and snowbirds. The snowbirds are gone during the summer. Many locals on vacation. I was the only customer.

Lunched with KONK Life owner and publisher Guy de Boer at Roostica. We periodically get together for no special reason. An enjoyable luncheon. He has expanded KONK Life throughout the entire Keys. Key West to Key Largo.

I had some time to kill in the afternoon. Decided to write. It was back to Growing Up Italian. Two days in a row! Good for me.

Mel Fisher Days continuing. The J. B. Magruder has been commissioned into the Conch Republic Navy. Tomorrow a big day. The Duval Street festival. Afternoon and evening. The blocks around Sloppy Joe’s will be crowded. Music. Drinking, Partying. What people do at a Key West street festival.

Enjoy your day!

 

GROWING UP ITALIAN GETTING THERE

No question the Key West summer has arrived. Proof, the humidity and rain. The humidity is heavy. Seems like August already. A bit of rain each day. Lasts five minutes. Has already rained today. Still thundering, however. Poured a few minutes ago. Through the sunshine. Everything bright with large rain drops falling. The sun reflecting off the rain drops.

Writing takes time. Book writing. I could never understand why it took authors 2-10 years to write a book. Sit down and knock it out! Does not work that way. First one must sit and write. The hardest.

Get words on paper. Express thoughts. Make sure characters intermingle properly.

Then the best part of writing from my perspective. Rewriting and polishing. A must. Takes forever.

Growing Up Italian is still a work in progress. I spent my yesterday working on it. It had been a while. I have so many experiences to share that I can see half of what I am composing will have to be cast aside. Otherwise, the book will be War and Peace in length.

So there is no misunderstanding, I am nowhere close to finishing the book. It will not take ten years. However, a year or two more would not surprise me.

Roostica for dinner. An early one. I try to eat at Roostica on tuesday night’s before my blog talk radio show. It is located close to my home.

Bobby and Michelle at the bar. Talked with Bobby a while. They have a hit with Roostica. I highly recommend the place. The food is excellent. Prices low. Drinks just as expensive as downtown, with one difference. Roostica pours a good sized drink. Downtown the drinks are measured and small.

It was sausage and peppers last night. Good!

My blog talk radio show in the evening. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Spent a lot of time on Greece again. The topic deserves a lot of time! What happens with Greece and the Eurounion could impact world finances. The wrong move and a deep recession could result.

Mel Fisher Days begin tomorrow. The 30th anniversary of Mel’s treasure discovery. People remember. They are still walking around. Thirty years is not that long ago. Bobby was around and participated in the excitement of those days. He knew the players. Many will be returning for the celebration. He will be partying with them.

I saw a picture of the actual salvage vessel involved. Not what I expected. I envisioned a big sail ladened vessel. The Magruder looked like a large tug boat.

It was reported yesterday that Elena Spottswood had been reappointed by Governor Scott to the Board of Trustees of the Florida Keys Community College. Good for her! Elena is a wonderful person. Warm hearted. Concerned. One of Key West’s kindest citizens.

Wednesday begins my Louis time days. I begin writing saturday afternoon. The research for the KONK Life column. I write the column on sunday. Monday is spent researching and writing for tuesday night’s blog talk radio show. Tuesday is spent fine tuning the show and doing it. If I am ahead of the game and have extra time, I write. As I did yesterday re Growing Up Italian.

Sounds like work. It feels like it some times. However, love every minute of it. After tuesday night, I need a few days off. This is the first of those days. Screw off time!

Enjoy your day!