USS KEY WEST

The Key West Citizen showed a partial picture of the submarine USS Key West front page this morning. The replica was part of the Veterans Day Parade yesterday.

The picture tickled my interest. I researched the USS Key West.

There have been three USS Key Wests over the years. The first was a steamer during the Civil War. The second a World War II frigate. The third the submarine represented in the parade.

The submarine was launched in 1985. The vessel has spent its entire career in the Pacific. Remains active.

I have been dieting since monday. Satisfied so far. However, I have had to control myself. Have remained in every evening. As explained in an earlier blog, I have to avoid the near occasions of sin for me. Food and drink. I am weak.

Tonight, I am going out. I miss people. Need to have their company. Need to converse.

Syracuse basketball began this week. Syracuse beat Colgate 83-55. Not to get excited about. The first several games each season are played against teams of lesser quality. Warm up games.

The lesser talented schools come to the Carrier Dome knowing they will be beaten. Not a problem for the school’s administration.

The superior college pays a stipend to the less able one to take the beating. Dollars sufficiently significant to induce the lesser talented school to participate.

Syracuse football today. Against North Carolina State. Each team 4-5. North Carolina a seven point favorite.

Syracuse may lose. Our extremely talented sophomore  quarterback Eric Dungey may not play. He was injured in last week’s Clemson game.

On this day in history 1948, 25 convicted Japanese war criminals were sentenced, Seven received death sentences. One, Tojo. The trial took 30 months.

One of my law school professors was Robert Miller. I took two of his classes. Criminal Law and Evidence.

Miller had an interesting background. He was one of the defense attorneys in the trial. He occasionally peppered our classes with stories from trial.

In the 1970s and 1980s, I visited La Costa frequently. A health spa. I called it a fat farm. People went there to lose weight and tone up their bodies. Easy to do on 800 calories a day and a 9-5 exercise regimen.

La Costa is located outside San Diego.

Movie stars took advantage of the program. People like William Holden, Rodney Dangerfield, and Arlene Dahl. Repeat customers, we became friends.

William Holden died this day in 1981. I got to know him well during our visits. Alcohol was a no no. We would sit together in a quiet lounge drinking Perrier and smoking cigars in the evening.

Holden was a gentleman. Water volleyball was one of the exercise activities. Twice a day. Holden was always the first out of the pool to retrieve a ball.

He was short. Surprisingly so. Like 5′ 6″ at best. Maybe 1 or 2 inches less. I asked how he always looked so tall in the movies. Always equal to or taller than the ladies he would kiss. He laughed.

Back in those days, bottled Coca Cola came in wood cases. Cases would be stacked one upon the other. He stood on the cases, thereby conveying his tall appearance.

The USS Constitution is the oldest U.S. vessel in service. The Constitution had two contacts with Key West.

The story begins with this installment 11 based on Key West Rotary history.

At the December 31, 1931 luncheon meeting of the Key West Rotary, Commander Louis G. Gulliver was guest speaker. He was the commanding officer of the Constitution.

The Constitution had arrived that morning in Key West. It was located at the foot of Duval Street.

The Constitution had been reconditioned at a cost of $12 million. Earlier in 1931, the Constitution began a three year 90 port visit.

That morning alone in Key West, over 500 people had already visited the Constitution.

The Constitution was a wood hulled three masted frigate. Long in history even in 1931. George Washington had named the Constitution. Her first engagements were in the quasi-war with France and the defeat of the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

The quasi-French War interesting. The U.S. owed France money. The French Revolution occurred. The U.S. refused to pay the Revolutionary government. The U.S. position was that the money was owed to the King’s government which no longer existed.

During the several years of Revolutionary government, the U.S. and France warred. Never on land. Only on the sea.

The Constitution was highly successful. Captured many merchant vessels and sunk five battleships.

There was a move in the late 1920s to decommission the Constitution. It was in terrible shape. Need refurbishing big time.

The public cried out a loud no. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a poem in tribute to the vessel. Many believe Holmes’ poem contributed greatly to the saving of the Constitution.

Today, the Constitution is being reconditioned once again. A three year restoration at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Massachusetts.

There is another connection with Key West. Not a big deal. Significant nevertheless.

A model of the USS Constitution under glass is located on the second floor south porch of The Little White House.

The 200th anniversary of the Constitution took place in 1997. On July 21 in Boston Harbor, the Constitution proudly sailed in an armada of tall ships. The Constitution rang out a 21 gun salute during the sail.

I was there in Boston Harbor. Exciting. Moving.

I was on my son in law Mark’s boat. Us and a thousand other vessels. So it seemed. Celebrating an American day!

Enjoy your day!

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