It was 1918. Millions died world wide. From the worst flu epidemic up to that time.

Now 100 years later. A flu epidemic of huge proportions gripping the United States. Not as devastating as the 1918 epidemic. Affecting more than normal, however.

The flu vaccine this year only 10-30 percent effective. A new flu bug. N3N2. The vaccine ineffective against it.

California hit bad. The hospitals full. Giant camp like tents being set up in parking lots to accomodate the sick. Nurses being brought in from out of state. Hospitals already full beyond capacity turning away ambulances.

Persons over and below 65 dying. The young normally can handle an attack and survive. Yet 40 under 65 have already died this year. The year is not yet a month old. Last year, 9.

The 1918 flu epidemic hit Utica. I was not born yet. The family has told me of relatives who died. There was a significant relative who did not die. My grandfather.

He was dying. My grandmother attempted the only recourse left her. She prayed. To Saints Cosmas and Damian. Saints revered by immigrant Italians.

The Saints were twins, physicians and martyrs.

Every year on the last weekend in September, a feast honoring Cosmas and Damian was held in Utica. Still is to this day. My grandmother told the Saints she would march in the procession on the Sunday morning of the feast barefoot the rest of her life if they saved my grandfather’s life.

She did.

My grandfather recovered. He lived to 94.

I have a specific recollection of the feast and Sunday morning procession. My grandmother permitted me to join her when I was small.

I wore shoes, however. She, barefoot as promised.

My grandmother carried a candle. A big one! Three feet high and 3 inches in diameter.

Some years, not easy.

I have my grandparents’ wedding picture hanging in my living room. My grandmother was a sleek beauty. Thin. By 1918, she had 7 children and the years showed bodywise. She was a typical Italian grandmother. Short and obese.

The walk and candle were hard for her. Some years, the sweat poured from her. She persevered. Never missed the feast till her late 60’s when she developed heart problems.

Tomorrow could be a significant day in American history. Budget or no budget. A confrontation. Who will blink? Will anyone blink?

Key West weather continues to be cold. The high today projected at 60 degrees. The low tonight 53.

An emotional story on page one of the Key West Citizen this morning. Photos, also.

Two Vietnam veterans meeting again after 53 year. Willie Powell, Houston, Texas and Ray Gutierrez, Key West. They had fought together shoulder to shoulder in the jungles of Vietnam.

They discovered each other last year on the internet.

Powell was in on a cruise ship with his daughter. The two men spent the day together.

I don’t know what it was. The way the story was written or the essence of the story itself. Whatever, the story brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, the Chart Room and Tavern ‘n Town.

The Chart Room great! Good crowd, interesting people.

Things a bit confusing at first. A very lovely young lady standing on one side of me and a couple seated on the other. Turned out all three had roots in Cape May, New Jersey. Their conversation was running through me and over me till the young lady moved to an empty seat next to the woman.

Eventually, I was allowed into the conversation.

The young lady is Morgan. Extremely beautiful. No exaggeration. Twenty six years old. Recently moved to Key West. Her mother already living here.

Morgan bubbly. Well educated. She has a Master’s Degree. Geography. Started working two days ago at the Naval Base at Boca Chica. She is employed by the federal government. Excellent starting salary and benefits.

Turned out Morgan knew me. She has been reading this blog quite a while.

The couple were Ed and Yvonne. Now residing in Charleston, South Carolina. Run a beach bar. For 30 years. Three grown children.

They have been visiting Key West twice a year for 15 years.

Now looking to buy. They started looking this trip. Ed and I spoke about Key West real estate, the value of living in Key West, etc.

It was time to eat. I headed out to Tavern ‘n Town. Lucky to get a seat at the bar. Enjoyed prime rib again. Getting to be my diet dinner. Only the meat and au jus sauce.

Guaranteed fun night this evening. Dinner party at Donna and Terri’s. Eight of us. Large stone crabs!

My book. Irma and Me. The hurricane and Louis. Forget me not. Available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and kobobooks.com.

Enjoy your day!



Syphilis is a venereal disease of old. A cure available. A quick one. Penicillin. The disease still around, however. Just not in significant numbers.

Six months ago, Key West had no syphilis cases. Recently, 10. An epidemic of sorts.

Nine of the 10 involve 18 and 19 year old males. Recent high school graduates. The final one a much older male.

Investigation revealed the 9 young ones got the disease post-graduation.

Authorities advised the infection not necessarily gay acquired.

The matter remains under investigation. The initial Key West source of the infection and others who may be infected.

Some things just never go away.

I have two pair of horn rimmed glasses. Thirty or more years old. Lens replaced, never the frames. Love the frames! Cost $700 each when purchased. Think I got my money’s worth.

One of the frames broke. Old age probably. I took the glasses to Key West Optical yesterday. Located in the gray shopping center on Kennedy and Flagler.

They were able to fix the frame! No guaranty how long the repair will last. Whatever, I am thrilled. I am wearing the glasses at the moment.

Key West Optical good people. Not the first time I have gone in for a repair. Always happy to help. Always no charge.

Moved on to K-Mart. Need a small table and stool. Did not have the size I needed. I want to move my video show outside. The background would be magnificent.

Then to Don’s Place. No room in the parking lot or street. Did not get to stop. No disappointment. I will see my Don’s Place / bocce friends tonight at bocce.

The Chart Room the next stop. Chatted with John a bit.

Steve Kelly seated next to me at the bar. Mid-50s. From West Chester, Pennsylvania. With his friend Pete. Both staying at the Pier House. Prior Key West visitors.

Steve and I hit it off immediately. A lot in common. An interesting conversation.

Steve is in a family business. His Mom and Dad started it. He runs it now. His son works with him and will take over when Steve walks away.

The business involves sporting goods. Athletic equipment. Called Kelly’s Sports. Sells directly to public and private institutions, as well as the public. University, colleges, and private schools. Sells also to booster clubs, parent organizations and fan clubs.

A big operation. One hundred employees. We laughed about payroll.

Steve and his son have been moving the business into internet sales. The wave of the future that is already here.

Easily observable was that Steve is proud of the business. His third generation family business.

I have been on a diet. Nothing even close to heavy. Yogurt and cottage cheese. Needed a steak last night. A small one. Stopped at Outback for their 6 ounce filet mignon and steamed vegetables. Like I had not eaten in several days. I had not!

Watched McDonald’s All American High School Basketball on TV. Some of the kids are good. They know it. You can see it in their faces.

My grandson John played on a Niki All American Team eight years ago. I traveled to see him. Think it was Charlotte. John was good. Not Division 1 good. He played at Albany State for four years. Captained the team in his senior year.

John is now in his last year of law school.

Moving back to the afternoon for a moment, I did some legal research. An issue I wanted to resolve. I felt like a lawyer again.

Skipper Kripitz is one of the most loved persons in Key West. Also, one of its best musicians. Skipper plays the drums.

He arranges the Tuesday night show at Virgilio’s. Always a sell out. This coming Tuesday the Savage Beets.

I read a write up on the show. Skipper was described as ubiquitous. A big word. Smart as I think I am, I did not know what it meant. Looked it up. Defined as found everywhere. Applies to Skipper. He is all over town playing.

Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway in my life the past 24 hours.

I could not sleep during the night. Watched an old movie on TV. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. I have seen the movie at least a dozen times. The story and setting turn me on. Filmed in Rome.

Tennessee William’s in the credits. First time I noted it. Williams wrote the novel from which the movie was made.

The Ernest Hemingway tale disturbs me. Love Ernest Hemingway!

A Nicholas Reynolds wrote a new book: Writer, Sailor, Soldier: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961.

The book sacrilegious in part.

Reynolds writes Hemingway was a Russian spy 1940-41. Doing espionage for the Soviet Union. Worked with the NKVD, predecessor to the KGB. His cover name Argo.

Attempted to verify the representation. Hard to do. A prior book written in 2009 suggested the same, but indicated Hemingway probably did it to get background for a novel.

I did not have time to research further. Patrick, if the subject interests you, do a little digging and let me know what you come up with.

Have to hustle. A haircut appointment.

Enjoy your day!





I made a new friend a couple of weeks ago. Lizabeth Moody. We had dinner together for the first time last night. The bar at Berlin’s.

Liz is an exceptional person. At 82, mentally sharp.

Liz’s life is one of dedication and success in the field of law.  A Yale Law honor graduate, person to score highest on her bar examination, Dean of two law schools, Cleveland State and Stetson, a good friend of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, active in the highest levels of the American Bar Association, first woman President of the Cleveland Bar Association, and on and on.

A lover of Key West, also. She and her husband purchased their Key West home in 1981. Her husband now gone.

Liz was President and CEO of the LSAT operation. The organization that runs the examination that dictates whether you are qualified to be accepted in law school. During her time with LSAT, she worked arm in arm with Craig Christensen. Craig was Dean at Syracuse Law when I was Chairman of the Board.

Intellectually superior. When studying several weeks taking a cram course for the bar examination, she and a girl friend slept late, played 18 holes of golf and attended a 4 hour lecture in the evening. Every day. Liz scored the highest of all taking the bar examination. A feat!

I contrast her bar exam cram course experience with mine. Did the same 4 hour lecture in the evening. Out at midnight. Studied till 2. Up at 7. Studied all day. For six weeks. Only one day off. The Fourth of July.

I was happy to pass. Liz was happy to be first.

Liz Moody, a star in the legal profession.

We chatted and laughed over  a few drinks. Each of us had a 2 pound Maine lobster.

A great evening!

Yesterday, a manicure with Tammy, the Key West Aloe Store for after shave gel (Men: I have been using it 20 years. Absolutely the best.), and stopped to look at the former Sq.1 now the Ocean Grill & Bar.

The Charlotte videos confuse me. There is something we are not being shown.

Early yesterday morning, I saw a video on TV of a police officer wearing a red shirt bend over and drop a gun on the road. In the same place in an earlier video where the gun did not appear.

The video has never been shown again. All day yesterday into this morning.

We seem to have a negative impression of protestors who cause property damage. Destruction of property appears to make a protest illegitimate.

Recall the 1773 Boston Tea Party. Property damage big time. I guess one’s conclusion is based on which side he or she is on.

As with the Boston Tea Party, you must admit it got the Brits to pay attention. Not enough, however. A war was still required.

The blacks want to be heard. The problem ended. The protestors are doing whatever it takes to get the nation’s attention riveted to the problem.

The Civil War ended 150 years ago. The problem still exists.

Trump talks about building a wall. Not a new concept. I am not referring to the Great Chinese Wall.

France and Great Britain are experiencing the immigration problem big time. Black Muslims are coming out of Africa into France. From France, the route for many is to Great Britain.

All kinds of issues. One, whether the immigrants be searched/vetted in France or Great Britain?

France and Great Britain got together. Decided to build a wall at the Port of Calais. Sixteen feet high. Coils of razor wire running along the top. Cost was $29 million. The two countries split it.

Great Britain out foxed France in one respect. The immigrants would be searched/vetted on the French side by the French. Turned out to be cumbersome and costly. Britain has agreed to pay France $20 million a year to do the job.

I suspect I have gotten Diane Millikan involved in my William Hackley comments. Diane has begun digging behind what is written. Good show!

Her present search involves the Kate mentioned in today’s diary. Hackley paid William Randolph $8 for her services. Diane suspects Kate was a black slave owned by Randolph and rented to Hackley.

Lets see what she comes up with.

Syracuse/Connecticut at 1. Connecticut a 3 point favorite. Just maybe Syracuse will win this one.

Enjoy your day!