HEMINGWAY INJURED

 

My topic for next week’s KONK Life column changed from yesterday to today.

My plan was to write about ICE. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. A group some view as Trump’s private army.

I began research during the week. More to do yesterday and then write the article. It never happened. I got out of my desk chair to get something and my back went out. An every 5-6 year experience. Back just goes. Killer spasms.

So much for any further research or writing yesterday.

I rose early this morning to complete the ICE research and write the column. Even before writing this blog. I completed the research. Eight pages of it.

I decided I would write today’s blog at that point and leave the ICE column for this afternoon. In searching internet for information suitable for the blog, an item on a history site garnered my attention.

On this day in 1918, Ernest Hemingway was a Red Cross driver on the Italian front. It was World War I. A mortar shell hit nearby. He received serious right leg and knee injuries.  Kept him hospitalized for six months.

Hemingway fell in love with American nurse Agnes von Kurkowsky. The relationship formed the basis for A Farewell To Arms.

Part of Hemingway’s recovery found he and Agnes spending a week at the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees in Stresa. On Lake Maggiore which separates Italy and Switzerland.

I have visited Stresa and Lake Maggiore several times. Enjoyed drinks each visit at the Grand Hotel. A huge magnificent structure from days gone by.

I made appropriate inquiries and was shown the bar room where Ernest and Agnes imbibed. A small room in the back of the first floor with one window overlooking gardens. No longer a bar. Today, a storage room.

In August 2015, I wrote what I considered a short but interesting rendition of the Ernest/Agnes relationship. It ended when Agnes sent him a Dear John letter following his return to the U.S.

Many years later after Ernest had departed Key West for Cuba, Agnes moved to Key West. Worked as a librarian for years. The two never met during any of Hemingway’s infrequent visits.

The 2015 column contains the Ernest/Agnes story from beginning to end. Covering a span of almost 40 years.

I was moved when I reread the 2015 column. I decided to rerun it next week as my KONK column and hold my notes concerning ICE for another time. Love always more interesting than pain and suffering.

Hemingway’s First Love hits the stands Wednesday.

Happy Birthday! continued into last night. Dinner with Lisa and the family. Loved it!

Robert and Ally are betting big. Fourteen and thirteen respectively. Young adults. Ally still enjoys the experience of singing Happy Birthday and watching the candles being blown out.

At 83, I only get one candle. Eighty three plus one would probably blow my heart out as I tried to blow the candles out.

I blew my diet. Per request, Lisa made a white cake with chocolate frosting. Two big pieces. Loved it!

My back pain was tempered. Had taken 3 Advil. Still sore. Tolerable, however.

Following Lisa’s headed over to the Chart Room. Kevin back in town. Arrived yesterday at 5. Two gins with Kevin and my back felt even better. Enjoyed our conversation.

Sleep came easy because of the Advil and gin. No pain till I got out of bed this morning. Three more Advil.

A stormy morning. It has been raining for at least an hour. Heavy. Exceptionally loud thunder and lightening. The lightening periodically coming through the blinds.

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

DINNER WITH JENNA

Jenna Stauffer and I have been friends for more than 10 years. We first met when she graduated college. She came to Key West seeking a career.

I had just started doing an internet show for Guy de Boer. Jenna taught me the ropes. Then proceeded to get involved with my show. In effect, becoming its producer.

Later, Jenna was instrumental in getting me a spot on Key West’s only TV station at the time. I did a one hour a week talk show that went from Key West to Fort Lauderdale. Jenna was a big shot at the studio at the time. She still made time for me and my show, however.

Jenna was doing her own TV talk show at the same time.

In those early  years, we both got involved with Larry Smith and an internet show he put together. I did not last long. The show was primarily music and jokes. I had no singing voice. A joker I was not. One show and I was out.

Jenna and Larry made a good fit. Jenna co-hosting the show with Larry. She got a great deal of experience working with Larry.

Jenna is off to all sorts of great things today. A successful free lancer. In addition to her Key West activity, she is frequently in Miami hosting a show here or there and doing some modeling.

Last night was the first time in months we were able to get together. Our schedules conflicted. It was a pleasure seeing her. As lovely as ever. As bright and cheerful as ever.

Dinner at Berlin’s.

Jenna is in love. I am happy for her! The relationship seems to be moving in the right direction.

I am to meet the lucky man. Probably a week from now. To provide grandfatherly approval.

Bria Ansara sang. She leaves in 8 days for Norway and Germany. A much deserved vacation.

Stopped at the Chart Room for a night cap and chat with John before going home. Met Melissa. A manager at Schooner Wharf.

BOB is still on a sort of sabbatical.

There has been much conversation recently re civility in politics. I find it difficult to agree with most I read.

Republicans and Democrats are at war. Big time! Primarily because of Trump and his crazy ways. Feelings being stomped on. Many becoming aggravated. Trump administrative persons have recently been the center of embarrassing situations while dining in restaurants.

It bothers me that many Democratic leaders are saying such conduct was bad. Should not continue. Be civil!

How wrong their attitudes.

Republicans fight down and dirty. They go for the jugular. Democrats pussy foot around. With apologies to Michelle Obama, I do not agree with her philosophy that when “they” go low, we go high.

You hit me and I am going to hit you back. Harder. I am a don’t tread on me type guy.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson recently wrote a column regarding the issue: Democrats Must Channel Anti-Trump Fervor Into Winning Midterms.”

The column’s opening and closing paragraphs clearly express my feelings. I am glad that another, especially a Eugene Robinson, shares my thoughts.

Robinson wrote in opening: “Let me get this straight. President Trump and his associates treat politics like a back-alley knife fight, but his critics are supposed to pretend it’s a garden party? I don’t think so.”

His closing paragraph: “The remedy is not for progressives to choose their words oh-so-carefully and hope no one takes offense. It is to be loud and clear-and tough as nails-in fighting back.”

In June 1914, Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. A series of events followed leading to the beginning of World War I a few months later.

I mention the Archduke’s assassination and the precipitating factor it became re World War I in order to make a point. In an unruly world, we never know what incident will result in the carnage of a world war.

The world society is unsteady today.  The constant fear exists that some leader/country will perform an act leading to a major war. Significant deaths resulting in a short time.

I worry in these times that some idiot will press the button. The button’s size being immaterial.

Today is the day I write my KONK Life column for next week. I have not yet decided on a topic. I would like to do another that does not involve politics, war, etc. A change of pace story.

Last week it was sand.

I am toying with the idea of doing something about the Key West Cemetery. There is a local effort to identify all buried persons. Many graves are without stones or markings.

Perhaps a history of the Key West Cemetery.

Enjoy your day!

 

JACK KELLY

My undergraduate school was Manhattan College. Over the past few years, Jack Kelly and I have run into each other at the Chart Room. Jack a Manhattan grad also. A bit younger than me. He graduated in 1968. I, 1957.

The Manhattan College thing provided instant bonding.

Jack once had a home on Cudjoe Key. Long gone. In recent years, he has been taking a week here and there to visit Key West.

Jack was at the Chart Room last night. Always good to see him. We talked a bit about Manhattan and some of the grads. One or two we both know. Then Jack surprised me. He is returning to Key West full time.

Jack is buying a home in Bayview. He is also in the process of closing on three restaurants. That’s returning big time!

One is the former Finnegan’s Wake. Last operated for several days as Backspace. Jack will be reopening it as Cayheuso. A tapas place.

Another is World of Beer. Near Sloppy Joe’s. Jack plans on naming the new establishment Jack Kelly’s Citizen. Such vanity! Not really. Turns out the location was the first home of the Key West Citizen.

The third place is on Front Street. Across from Two Guys. Not Island Dogs. Next door to Island Dogs. An empty two story commercial building.

The name of the new enterprise escapes me. Its purpose not. Jack intends it to be family friendly. In addition to food, etc., the restaurant will provide all kinds of games for the kiddies to busy themselves with. Even the parents.

Jack is retired Air Force. He presently lives in Washington, DC. He remains active with the Arnold Air Society.

Welcome back, Jack! Good luck!

Jack and I hung together for a few hours at the Chart Room. While there, I met Devin Callahan. A snow bird. He is in Key West frequently. Surprising we had not met before.

Then Wilk and Erin. Their second visit to Key West. Hail from Spring Lake, NJ. My cousin Lois had a summer home there and I frequently visited. A high rent district.

Wilk liked my watch. He kept looking at it and commenting. He has one similar to mine. The watch is nothing fancy. A SWATCH. I bought it at an airport kiosk in Athens three years ago.

I learned something about the watch. It is water proof. Never knew. He says he showers and everything with it on. Showed me on the back where it says Water-Resistant.

We got into Lobsterfest. Wilk and Erin are enjoying the event. He did mention however he was shocked when they had to pay $15 each for two broiled lobsters on the street. He initially thought the price out of line. So did I when he mentioned it. However after tasting and enjoying the lobsters, he said they were well worth it.

The high point of the conversation was when Wilk told me he was a Mercedes technician. Joy of joys! I bought a Mercedes 420 SEL new in 1987. Kept it 27 years before selling. In mint condition. Only 124,000 miles. Never driven in winter the last 20 years. Everything original and in good shape.

I took care of the Mercedes. Probably because it was the first expensive car I ever bought. Paid $54,000 cash in ’87. A lot of money for a car back then. A lot of money period!

Lobsterfest by the way appears to be a gigantic success this year. Makes me happy. Lots of kids. A family event.

Met Tyler and Sandy. Celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Congratulations! They are from Cherry Hills, NJ. It was a New Jersey evening.

Tyler is in real estate. Sandy a distributor for Wegmans. Sandy was surprised I knew of Wegmans. Not a southern supermarket. I explained I originally am from upstate New York. Ergo, know Wegmans.

Jack, Tyler, Sandy and I ended up having a late dinner at Michael’s. Great food! Enjoyed the veal chop. The dinner conversation enjoyable. Humorous on occasion. Jack, Tyler and Sandy good company.

The lovely Suzette bartending.

A long day ahead for me. I will be writing this week’s KONK Life column. The research is complete. It is the story of Ernest Hemingway and Agnes von Kurkowsky. Their love story. Agnes was Hemingway’s nurse when he was recovering from war wounds. Agnes is Catherine Barkley in A Farewell To Arms.

There is more to the story than most know. I will be tracing the impact of their love affair into the 1960s.

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Happy Father’s Day!

Always nice to see the day come around again. Unfortunately, I do not think fathers are treated and revered as in days’ past. Something is different today. I hear it from every father/parent who has grown children.

I believe the cause is the way my generation raised our children. We gave them too much. We gave them everything. We wanted the better life for them we had not experienced.

We raised a generation who believe they are entitled to everything. The Age of Entitlement! Which means most care not as they should for their parents.

Another thought. Society is becoming fatherless. Many one parent families. When first one parent families came upon us, we cheered. Generally, it was the mother. What a great job the ladies were doing!

Not so great from my perspective. I admire them. I also feel sorry for them. And the children.

It has been said we live in a fatherless society today. True. Think about it.

I am old school. I believe there must be a return to old school. Two parent families. Whether straight or same sex. It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes two parents!

I am going to be bombed with comments tomorrow! No question. I have scraped the scab off a festering wound.

Lucky are we who live in Key West and the Florida keys. The weather generally great. Scenery always beautiful. Peaceful. Nothing like seeing water every day.

I am fortunate to live on the ocean. The slight blast of hot air that hit my face this morning as I stepped onto the deck irreplaceable. A great feeling. You just know it is going to be a great day.

Key West’s pace is invigorating. Invigorating a strange word to use. Everything is slow paced. Easy going.

Most happy, even those that have little reason to be.

All kumbaya!

I finally decided yesterday what this week’s KONK Life column will be. I spent yesterday researching. I have a bit more today and then the writing itself. Charleston motivated me. I intend to show the black problem from three perspectives. World War I, World War II and Charleston.

Anna has been my housekeeper for more than 10 years. A fancy description for cleaning lady. Whatever the title, I state it with the utmost respect.

Anna leaves me for two months every two years. She returns to Poland, her land of birth. The whole family goes. God bless them!

Anna and her husband work hard. They do not waste money. Ergo, they can afford the trip. They are received in Poland as rich Americans. Anna laughs when she tells me.

Key West is a conglomeration of those born in foreign lands. Some come and stay. Others have green card problems and move on. Most become citizens. Others save a few dollars and return from whence they came.

I have always had an interest in those who go back. It appears that if they have a few bucks in their pockets earned here, they can live better in the old country than here. They initially came for economic reasons. They return because the problem has been solved to some degree. They can now live cheaper back home.

I share the Anna and other immigrants story because most of us believe those from another country come to stay. Not necessarily so.

Another police shooting last night. Los Angeles. The neighborhood a safe one. The incident took place in broad daylight.

A man was standing by his car with a white cloth rapped around his hand. He was yelling…..Stop! Stop!…..to the police car as it approached. The police car stopped. They told him to “drop it” as he was raising his wrapped hand. He did not. There was nothing to drop. They shot him in the head.

The police claim they thought he had a gun. He did not.

The man is in critical condition. A resident videoed part of the happening. Sick to see!

The two officers are nonchalantly saying as the man lies on the ground something to the effect….Oh, how sickning…..his brains are coming out.

The man is lying on his stomach. While this discourse took place. At the same time, the video shows one of the officers handcuffing the unconscious brain oozing victim.

He is a victim!

Enjoy your Sunday/Father’s Day!

MEMORIAL DAY

“In Flanders fields where poppies blow…..Between the crosses, row on row.”

In Flanders Fields. A famous poem born in the early stages of World War I. Its author Lt. Col. John Mc Crae.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for remembering those who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The holiday had its beginnings around the time of the Civil War.

I had the opportunity to visit Arlington Cemetery. Most buried are war dead. A moving sight. One never forgotten. Especially comes to memory on a day such as this.

Many years ago, I spent a month with my family in Italy. Our villa was on the Mediterranean in a small town called Livonia. Just outside Salerno where the Allied troops landed in World War II.

I was driving around and came across the British cemetery. Set up just like Arlington Cemetery. White crosses. Row after row in perfect line.

I walked among them. Read the names of those buried. Suddenly, I came upon a series of graves marked Known To God Alone. Broke me up. I started sobbing uncontrollably.

I am still not right. A bit better each day. Significantly better since last tuesday when I woke with a very painful stomach. Being down has caused me to miss a few annual Key West events this holiday weekend.

One is the Minimal Regatta. Crazy people in home made boats! Material to be used is restricted. Only one 4′ x 8′ plywood sheet, 1 pound of fasteners, and 1 roll of duct tape. Many start the race. Few finish. The boats fall apart.

The race is in front of Schooner Wharf. Hundreds line the waterfront watching, cheering and laughing.

A fun afternoon. Watch the race, drink a bit and enjoy the comradeship of those around you. Typical Key West.

The weather is high 80s by day and high 70s in the evening. Humidity has arrived. Not so bad yet. Wait till August and September!

Same sex marriage a big winner in Ireland! The Irish know what they are doing.

Approval was by vote. Sixty two percent voted to permit same sex marriage. It is the first time a nation has voted on the issue.

I am debating whether to shave. I have the start of a beard. Looks horrible at the moment. My neck itches. Decision time today.

Enjoy your Memorial Day! Remember why it is celebrated!