BOB AND HELEN…..WHERE ARE YOU?

An exciting reunion tomorrow!

Some 30 years ago, I was Best Man at the wedding of Bob and Helen Marks. The wedding took place in the evening in a small candle lit Lutheran Church in Portland, Maine.

Helen wanted to be married there. Her parents were wed in the same Church during World War II. Helen wore the same clothing her mother wore. A maroon suit with an accompanying maroon hat.

It was a cold evening. As cold can be in wintertime Maine. It was  during Carter’s administration when there was a fuel crisis. In the hotel and shopping malls, people worked wearing coats, gloves and fur lined boots.

I went to Portland with a hell of a head cold. Returned with pneumonia. Kidding re the pneumonia. Felt lousy, though.

Bob and Helen and I have probably only seen each other twice over the years.

Bob went on to be a major executive with one the America’s largest insurance companies. For many years, he was Vice-President of its west coast division stationed in San Francisco.

Helen worked with the same company. She became a major executive in her own right. Worked out of the midwest somewhere. She was in charge of all asbestos cases in the United States for the company. Major responsibility!

Both retired. Two homes. One in North Carolina and the other Las Vegas.

They travel. Seems like once a month for years.They have been all over the world.

They are on a Viking Caribbean cruise. The ship stops in Key West tomorrow for the day. We will be together. It will be emotional. A bit of a tear jerker.

I am picking them up in front of Sloppy Joe’s at 12:30. Lunch at 1 at Louie’s Backyard.

I received an e-mail from Bob yesterday. They were leaving last night on a red-eye from Vegas at 11:45.

Probably will pick up the Viking today in Fort Lauderdale or Miami.

I am thrilled!

One of Lincoln’s State of the Union addresses was given this date in 1862. The address’ closing sentence…..We shall nobly save, or manly lose, the last, best hope on earth.

I worry Trump may be leading us to a loss of the last best hope on earth.

Place all Trump’s failures aside, except for two. North Korea and the present problem with Great Britain. The man is crazy and is moving the U.S. further backward by day.

HIVE this morning opened with an apt description of the President: “Good morning dear reader! It was another disheartening day for poor woebegone Donald Trump, a bathrobe-wearing bathmophobic and struggling crisis-management consultant, who occasionally dabbles in racial provocation and genocidal brinkmanship.”

An amusing observation. The White House outdoor Christmas tree was lit last night. Referred to as the National Tree Lighting. One of the hottest tickets in town. Twenty thousand tickets distributed via a lottery. All free.

Normally jam packed. Not last night. Videos show rows and rows of empty seats.

Will Trump claim attendance the biggest ever?

In all fairness, Obama had a similarly small crowd in 2015.

The Senate tax bill a joke were its effect not so serious. The Senate is having trouble bringing it to a vote.

The reason simple. The bill being discussed this morning was redone overnight. Senate Republicans want a tax bill passed. Its contents take a second seat. If and when it comes to a vote, the Senators will be voting for a pig in a poke. Buying blind. Few if any will have read the bill. There has been no debate.

This is what our government has come down to. Rush laws through. The glory of a new law important. Its impact not so.

Today is World AIDS Day. Key West was greatly impacted when the AIDS virus struck. The community came together to help their own. Gay and straight alike.

AIDS not the life taking danger it was. Fortunately.

At 4:30 today a candlelight parade will begin at City Hall and march to the AIDS Memorial at the White Street Pier. The Memorial a sight to behold if you have not seen it.

My friend Dee was one who came to the assistance of AIDS victims in Key West. She had graduated from Boston University with a Ph.D in Psychology. She came to Key West considering opening a practice. Instead she ended up working for AIDS Help. Twenty five years.

Dee made significantly less money than she would have in private practice. It was the cause and the need that attracted her. Now retired, Dee feels she had a satisfying career helping those afflicted with AIDS. She is proud of her work with AIDS victims.

Santa Claus tonight from 6-8 at the Historic Seaport. Take the kids!

Giorgio tonight, also. He leaves Key West monday for good. Sad because he is a great guy. Irma got to him. Also his health. He’s afraid the helicopter might not make it to Miami in time. Drinks at the Chart Room and then dinner.

Tom and Fran from Buffalo will be joining us.

Enjoy your day!

 

CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA

We are lucky this year. Two Christmas days. Yesterday, the actual holiday. Today the day after, a legal holiday providing workers with a day off.

For me, today will be a screw off day. Not sure at this point what I will do. Dueling Bartenders tonight a good shot.

I planned on starting a walking regimen today. I knock off ten pounds and then gain it back. Know full well exercise is half the battle.

My plan was to get up at six and get out! Good luck! Time not the problem. I wake at 5. Did get out of bed. Looked out the window. Dark and uninviting. My body was talking to me. Go back to bed! Screw the walking! At least for today. That is what I did. Listened to my body.

Maybe tomorrow the walking begins.

I have shared America’s Christmas with you the past few days. From the Puritans in the 1600s to the concluding portion today which will bring us to present times.

President Ulysses Grant is credited with making Christmas a national holiday. He did not. In 1870, Grant signed a bill into law which said Christmas “…..shall be a holiday within the District of Columbia.”

The District of Columbia, not the United States.

The States however began legalizing December 25 as a holiday. Oklahoma was the last to do so in 1907.

It is felt Christmas Day became a national holiday as a result of Grant’s District of Columbia bill signing and the States legalizing December 25 as a holiday.

Christmas received a further boost in 1897. The now famous editorial in the Sun of New York. The significant line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Christmas was practiced and recognized as a holiday through World War II. For whatever reason, it received its most gigantic step forward recognition wise and celebration wise following World War II. Everyone got into the act after the war. Maybe because people were happy and grateful to have won.

Fini to An American Christmas.

Christmas Day at Lisa’s is a morning brunch. Much too much food. All good, all tasty.

Ally is developing culinary talents. She made waffles from scratch. No box. Impressive! Enjoyed a couple of thick pieces.

Robert and Ally met me at the door as I arrived. Both telling me at the same time what Santa Claus brought them. Each a laptop.

Amazing how our young ones are trained to use computers. They are already experts to a degree. Their own means they will no longer use their parents’ computers.

Liz’s for an open house in the afternoon. Good food and good company. Liz’s friends local and out of towners.

Liz’s food exceptional. The ham delicious! Egg nog, also.

I like Liz. A cooking expert and talented entertainer. An interesting personality and sharp mind.

Key West loves Harry Truman and Harry Truman loved Key West. I cannot make the statement too many times.

On this date in 1972, Truman died. Simply of old age. Pneumonia brought him into the hospital where his body organs began failing one at a time.

A question. Perhaps one of you may know the answer. My recollection is that I read somewhere Truman was in a nursing home prior to his death. I tried to corroborate my recollection. Could not find the answer.

Did he spend time before his death in a nursing home prior to being delivered to the hospital?

My concern is why this great man was not cared for at home rather than a nursing home. If the nursing home is a fact, Truman deserved better.

Enjoy your day!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve at Lisa’s last night. A magnificent meal. Good company. Robert and Ally all excited.

Santa could not make his usual pre-dinner visit this year. He was busy up the keys visiting children he had not been able to in previous years. Robert and Ally were disappointed. They still believe.

Yesterday, I mentioned three writings that changed Christmas in the United States. Three writings that gave a new complexion to the holiday. A Visit from St. Nicholas, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Cooper, and A Christmas Carol.

The three writings got Americans on a new road. Christmas as celebrated today broke ground. Took many years to arrive at the point it is today, however.

Christmas divided the North and South. Not just slavery. Christmas was a Southern thing. The North paid little attention to it.

Lincoln wanted to demoralize Southern troops during the Civil War. The South believed Santa Claus was on their side.

Lincoln authorized a famous artist in 1862 to do a drawing of Santa Claus watching over Union troops. The drawing appeared on the front cover of a prominent national magazine on January 3, 1863.

Sort of a God is on our side thing.

Some historians believe the cover drawing achieved Lincoln’s desired effect.

Enjoy your Christmas Day!

DON AND CHRIS ENGAGED

Finally, Don and Chris are engaged. It only took 11 years for Don to bend a knee and ask…..Will you marry me? With a 2.5 carat engagement ring in hand.

Chris burst out crying and exclaimed…..Yes!

Chris should not have been so quick to accept. I would have made Don sweat a while for making Chris wait 11 years.

The couple happy. The wedding next year in Key West.

I met Don and Chris several years ago at the Chart Room. They visit Key West 3-4 times a year. Don is part owner of a South Korea company. He spends the better part of the year in South Korea. Chris travels for her employer. Marketing. Most recently in Germany.

Home is Syracuse.

Larry and Peggy…..I am proud of your son for finally doing the right thing. Chris is a wonderful person. Devoted to your Don. Don equally wonderful and devoted to Chris.

The perfect couple.

Don and Chris joined me at Aqua last night. Tom Luna and Heather Mae performing.

We parted company after Aqua. Don wanted to watch a football game. I wanted to go to bed. Stopped at Roostica on the way home for lemoncello wings.

Big night for the kids! Christmas tree lighting and Santa Claus at Bayview Park last night. Santa arrived on a fire truck, horn blaring all the way.

My podcast show this evening. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

A different show tonight. My plan is to discuss one topic. A topic which the media fails to give proper attention. Actions taking place which bring shame to our Nation.

Standing Rock, North Dakota. Native Americans, a pipeline, and excessive police activity.

An interesting, fast moving, informative show. Again, join me.

Syracuse/Wisconsin tonight in basketball. Wisconsin a 6 point favorite.

My show interferes with watching. Game at 7. I will get in the first half and probably last 5 minutes. It will be the first time this season I will see Syracuse play.

Installment 25 of my rendition of the Key West Rotary history by Wright Langley. Today, years 1986-88.

Tomorrow, the final installment. Will center around Key West Rotary’s 75th anniversary.

Rotary’s budget in its infant years beginning in 1915 had to be a pittance. Not that way by the time 1986 came around. The projected income budget for the year was $68,415.

Rotary’s 1988 Annual Report noted the Club had 100 members.

Major accomplishments for the year included raising funds for Polio Plus, sponsoring Key West’s only Fourth of July fireworks (a tradition which began in 1979), sponsoring the Sunrise Rotary Club, continued the annual $4,000 scholarship, and established the Key West Rotary Foundation.

Tomorrow, Rotary’s 75th anniversary.

Enjoy your day!

A SPORTS AFTERNOON

An interesting sports afternoon! I did not view much of it. The results astounding.

First, Syracuse.

Football. Syracuse lost as anticipated. Finally the football season is over. The score of the game unusual. Syracuse beaten by Pitt 76-61. The numbers reflect a basketball score. I am pleased that Syracuse kept it close. Only lost by roughly two touchdowns.

Basketball. Here I thought success would be ours. It was not. Syracuse lost to South Carolina 64-50.

No excuse. However…..Seems South Carolina’s defense was unique. New to college basketball. Syracuse could not handle it.

Boeheim will overcome.

Finally, the Ohio State/Michigan game. #s 2 and 3. Went to two overtimes. Ohio State finally won 30-27.

I only got to watch the overtimes. Fantastic football!

Last night with Liz. A lady. Charming. Her two deanships at law schools make Liz an extra interesting dinner companion.

I picked Cafe. The vegetarian restaurant. A funky appearing place. Reminds me of a college hang out. Food excellent. Business, likewise excellent.

I enjoyed a spinach-artichoke dip and mussels. Liz had some type veggie dish described as a pepper steak. No steak, of course.

Pie at Liz’s home afterwards. Potato pie made with rum. Never had potato pie before. Taste close to pumpkin pie. Made from canned sweet potatoes.

Fidel Castro has died.

A tyrant. Dictator. People forget that he replaced a despot. Batista. Initially, Castro was viewed as a hero.

Somewhere along the way, he ended up on Russia’s side. I have always wondered why not on the side of the U.S.

Batista was a whore. He and his associates became rich. Organized crime and international corporations paved their way in Cuba with bribery dollars.

Key West, the State of Florida and the U.S. have constantly guarded against Castro actions and influences as they might affect each.

An Emergency Management organization exists. Its primary purpose to guard against any large scale immigration. Also to observe any unusual happenings.

Monroe County’s Emergency Management has kicked in. As has Florida’s. Monitoring Cuban activities.

Santa Claus is coming to town! Monday evening at 6. Bayview Park. Key West’s Christmas tree lighting. Santa’s first public appearance.

This morning’s KONK Life E-Blast has an elderly health article. The article notes that 1/3 of people over 65 fall. I am one of them!

Pope Urban II is responsible to some degree for today’s Muslim problem. On this day in 1095, he ordered the first Crusade. His speech considered the most influential of the Middle Ages.

He cried out “Deus vult!” God wills it! He even told everyone that those fighting would have a remission of all their sins. Such meant immediate entrance into Heaven. No Hell or Purgatory. Sounds sort of like the Muslim 17 or 21 or whatever number of virgins who will be waiting for those who die for the Muslim religion.

Pope Urban’s Crusade was the first movement against the Muslim world. For 461 years, the Muslims had battled and seized 2/3’s of the Christian world. Pope Urban wanted the Christian lands reclaimed.

Whatever the reason, a forever war.

The history of the Key West Rotary continues. This is Installment 23.

I have noticed that beginning with World War II, the history contents of Langley’s work have become sparse. Five years missed here and there. Cannot be nothing occurred. Whatever, this feature of my blog will see its conclusion by the end of the week.

When I started, I advised Langley’s history went to 1975. I recently discovered there was later a sort of addendum bringing it up to 1991.

April 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Key West Rotary. The Club’s golden anniversary. It was celebrated in a befitting manner.

A gala cocktail party and dinner at the Trade Winds Supper Room in the Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn was Key West’s largest hotel/motel for years. It was torn down and replaced with what today is the Marriott Beachside.

One hundred Rotarians and guests attended. Guest speaker was Cleve Allen of Coral Gables. His thunder was stolen by Joe Pearlman, one of the Club’s pioneer members. He told stories about yesterday. Back when.

Interestingly, when the Key West Rotary was established 50 years earlier, it was only the third in Florida.

The 1960s found the U.S. heavily involved in Vietnam. The war was very unpopular. Returning soldiers and veterans were not acclaimed. Actually looked down upon.

The Key West Rotary recognized Vietnam veterans were being overlooked. At the January 26, 1967 luncheon meeting, 4 U.S. Marines were invited. They were recuperating from their wounds at the time at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Key West.

Enjoy your Sunday!

PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS

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!

 

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING!

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Especially Christmas Eve.

Seven fishes, Santa Claus, twenty plus to dinner.

The meal outstanding. Baccala that took three weeks to prepare. Shrimp fried in egg batter. Smelts. All to die for. Prepared only at Christmas Eve.

Santa Claus always visited. Just before dinner. For my children and grandchildren. He visits in Key West also. Dinner tonight is at Lisa’s. Santa will be there. He will arrive just before dinner.

I think Robert and Ally are conning us. They are 11 and 10 respectively. Still believe in Santa Claus. I find it hard to believe. Most kids know the truth by their ages. Friends at school have had to tell them.

Lisa will have prepared a seven fish meal. The food excellent. However, she has yet to hit seven. I think the best has been five.

Jake will eat well tonight! We are generally told not to feed him. Everyone does.

I look beautiful! I have eight blood scabs on my head. All visible.

Yesterday began with the anti-gravity treadmill. It was work for some reason. Staff all dressed in Christmas attire. Friend Dave working out.

Followed the treadmill with a manicure. Tammy. The place was busy. Very crowded. Women getting ready for the holiday. Coming in without appointments. You must do me! Come back in an hour! Tension.

I was the only male. I had an appointment.

Then did Christmas shopping! Could not get it done all in one day. Two more items to get. I know what. Will be easy later this morning.

I stayed home last night and wrapped gifts.

How life changes. I never wrapped gifts when married. I have to do it now. If not me, who?

I need a woman. You already are aware for sex and cooking. Wrapping Christmas presents has now been added to the list.

The Trump/Clinton battle is warming up.

Sex is on the table. Hillary says Trump is “angry and vulgar.” A “sexist.” That he has “a penchant for sexism.” Trump countered with a threat that if we are going to get into sex, Hillary should BE CAREFUL.

It is leaning towards the down and dirty. Trump has thrown the gauntlet. Will Hillary respond?

I do not like the way the discourse is going. Trump’s fault. No question. Sex is not what a Presidential campaign should be about.

This week’s KONK Life column An American Christmas was linked this morning to my Key West Lou website. Enjoy!

Enjoy your Christmas Eve also!

 

WORLD AIDS DAY

World AIDS Day was celebrated in Key West yesterday. At the AIDS Memorial at the entrance to the White Street Pier.

Key West remembers the AIDS victims. All loved. Sadly gone.

Key West jumped in to help in the early days of the epidemic. AIDS Help came into being. A special friend Dee Raniuk was part of AIDS Help for 20 years. AIDS victims became her life’s work.

Dee was raised on the Cape. Earned herself a PhD in psychology. She could have worked anywhere with the degree. For significant dollars. Instead, she opted to work with AIDS victims in Key West. She dedicated herself to them.

Dee is now retired from AIDS Help. She has a second home on Cudjoe Key. Tragedy has befallen Dee. Not AIDS. Something just as bad. She is a cancer victim.

The past two years have not been easy for her. A couple of operations. A lot of suffering. Cannot eat. Only drink. And not alcohol. Her drugs too powerful. A couple of sips of wine and Dee is off the wall.

I love Dee. I am glad she has been a part of my life in recent years. I hope she continues to be.

Yesterday afternoon was spent fine tuning last night’s blog talk radio show. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Did the show in the evening.

For some reason, I had more material than normal. Twice as much. Not certain why. Perhaps more things happened this past week. Whatever, I got them all in. I can’t wait to listen to the archived edition later this morning. I am concerned I might have talked a bit too fast.

Santa Claus and Don’t Pee On Me were two interesting topics.

A shopping mall in New Jersey decided to charge to see Santa Claus this year. Built a special house within the mall. North Pole thing. Children charged $35 each to talk to Santa Claus. Family fee was $75. Only lasted 5 days. The public outcry was too much. Now free. As it should be.

Don’t pee on me interesting. Apparently, people have taken to peeing outdoors in large numbers worldwide. Generally against a wall. The result an enduring disgusting smell.

Cologne and San Francisco among those with the problem. In San Francisco, party goers and the homeless. In Cologne, men in general.

The solution, a special hydrophobic paint. The walls were painted with the urine paint. It caused urine splashed against a wall to be returned to the peeer (such a word?) at the same angle. The peeer pissed on by his own excretion.

In Cologne, warning signs: You pee on me, I pee on you.

Another item discussed is the new $313 million cloning plant being built in China. Primarily to clone cows. Not enough beef available for China’s middle class.

This morning I saw a news report that the director involved with the cloning plant says humans can be cloned. Now. Today. Public reaction is the only thing prohibiting it.

My column in KONK Life this week is The Eiffel Tower. A biography. KONK Life hits the stands today.

Syracuse/Wisconsin tonight in basketball. Hope Syracuse continues its winning style.

Read an article about Tiger Woods. Doubts he will play golf next year. His back and a nerve condition. His exercise is presently limited to walking.

I feel badly for Woods. At some point, he may have to make the decision to pack it in. Retirement no shame. It will take years before another golfer achieves his accomplishments.

Today, screw off day for me. Other than this blog, nothing to write, no show to prepare for. It will be be an easy day for me. Not sure what I will do, except for watching the Syracuse game tonight.

Enjoy your day!