A great day yesterday!

Started with golf in the morning.

I played wuth Yankee Jack and Aaron. Yankee and I played a money game. Mano, mano! Yankee is a much better golfer than I am. Most people are! Anyhow, I wanted 2 strokes on the 6 high handicap holes and 1 on the rest, except for the 3s. Yankee said no. We compromised on 1 stroke a hole on all the holes, including the 3s.

I played my usual suck game on the front nine. Ended up with a 59. However I hung in there with Yankee and we were all even at the end of 9.

I was relieved!

Then came the back 9. I played the best golf in years on the back 9. Shot a 47! I have not broken 50 in about 8 years. Wild!

Even had 2 pars. One of the 3s and the 18th. The 18th hole is the number 1 handicap hole. A long par 5. I pared it! Was on in 4 and sunk a log curling 35 foot putt!

I won all 9 holes on the back side!

Wowie! Won $7! The money meant nothing! The score was everything!

And Yankee was a gentleman as usual and happy for me!

Last night started with Bobby Nesbitt at Aqua. Such a voice! Enjoyed his singing while socializing with several friends.

Afterwards, I met Marty for dinner at the outside bar at La Te Da. A good meal. Tonto was bartending. She is already a Key West icon.

Then across the street to the Keys Piano Bar. Friend Terri White was singing.

Such singing! Her voice is strong and vibrant. And polished! Her many years of professional engagement comes through with every note.

Terri and Mark Watson did a duet. A love ballad. Touching! Brought tears to my eyes!

That was my day! Great golf, great music and great friends! Life is good!

Tonight bocci! The final match in our 4 team round robin. A money game! The money game! For all the marbles! Winner takes all!

We are playing Larry Smith’s team. Competitors all, especially Larry. We beat them last year in a similar encounter. I hope the trend continues into this evening’s match. I am ready. My team mates are ready.


Bad day yesterday! I was tired all day!

I played the good neighbor yesterday morning by taking a friend to the airport. I had to get up at 4 am!

I spent a part of the morning at Borders. Started reading a book on Harry Truman. His people left Kentucky in the early to mid 1800s and traveled by covered wagon and boat to the western part of Missouri. Missouri was the “far west” in those the days! The outer limit of civilization!

That is as far as I got. 28 pages! I was falling asleep!

So home I went and climbed in bed. Stayed there all day and night. Slept on and off. Followed by a good night’s sleep!

That was my exciting day in Paradise yesterday!

This morning golf! I am ready! No excuses!

I have been up since 4 am. I opted to be a good neighbor and drive a friend to the airport this morning to catch a 6 am flight.

It is awful quiet that early in the morning. Little traffic. No people. Just you and the dark.

I had lunch yesterday at the Shrimp Shack.

The Shrimp Shack is a relatively new eating place. Been open about a year. It is located on Stock Island at the end of the road where Hogfish is located.

Nothing fancy. Really a fresh fish store with a few picnic type tables on the dock in the back.

The food is good and cheap! I had fish and chips. Large chunks of snapper quickly deep fried. Thick cuts of potato overly salted. Spectacular taste!

The unique feature of the Shrimp Shack is that it sits right on the shrimp boat docks. Yesterday at lunch time there were about a dozen shrimp boats tied up.

Key West had a huge shrimp industry at the turn of the century. Two turns back! Around 1900, not 2000. It has fallen off. However a shrimp business still exists as is evident by the large number of shrimp boats that still fish off our docks.

A shrimp boat is a strange looking duck! Generally constructed of wood, looks like a stunted barge to me.

The thing that makes a shrimp boat quickly and easily identifiable are the nets which hang out from the sides. These nets are huge and rigged in such fashion that they hang tall from the sides of the boat. Much like the head pieces the Sisters of Charity who taught me in high school wore.

The shrimp boats generally go out a week at a time. They fish by day or by night, depending on the type of shrimp to be caught. Shrimp are genrally of three kinds. Color is the determining factor. They are brown, white and pink.

Chum is thrown in the water. Chum is mucked up garbage fish. It is mixed with clay. The chum/clay mixture settles on the bottom. Shrimp in mass are attracted to the chum. The shrimp boats trawl and cast out their nets. The nets are weighted. They settle to the bottom and scoop up hundreds of shrimp at a time as the shrimp boat moves along.

Tough work! Tough people work at shrimping! They are all deeply tanned and weathered and worn appearing.

In my simple way, I have had limited experience with shrimp boats. Permit me to share a few as I recall them.

Shrimp boats are lovely to look at! From a distance! Their nets flying, a sight to behold! Up close they look like the men who operate them. Weathered and worn!

Forrest Gump was a great movie! Tom Hanks won an academy award for his performance. Remember how Forrest Gump made his fortune? Shrimping off the Louisiana coast!

In the late 1940s when I was a young teenager, one of the hits songs was Shrimp Boats. One of the lines was…”shrimp boats are acoming, there sails are in sight!” The sails were the nets standing tall on each side of a boat.

Shrimping in the Key West area takes place on the Atlantic side. The shrimp boats go way out to find the shrimp beds. If a storm is imminent, the shrimp boats come in. You can see 20 of them at a time on the Smathers Beach horizon returning to shore. A lovely sight!

What never ceases to amaze me is that the shrimp boats can sense a pending storm before it even hits. Every time I have seen the boats returning, the weather has been fantastic! Sunny and warm! Yet a couple of hours later we would be pounded with heavy rain and wind.

All this you have been subjected to because I went to the Shrimp shack for lunch yesterday!

Dinner was quiet last night. Ate with Lisa and the family. Played cards with the grandkids. Lost again!

Enjoy your day!

Good morning world!

I slept late! Good!

The sun is up. Another beautiful day in the making.

The swine flu is all over the news. Could be big time serious! The government seems to be on top of it. There apparently are 50 million shots available here in the United States. Not enough for all of us. So the manufacturers better get busy turning out more! Like yesterday!

There have been two previous flu epedemics of consequence. One in 1918 and the other in the mid 1970s.

The 1918 one was disastrous! Millions died world wide!

My grandfather Louis was a young married man and father of seven at the time. He and my grandmother Albina were immigrants from Italy. My grandfather got the flu. A death knell in the making!

My grandmother prayed. To two saints. Saints Cosmo and Damien. Both were doctors in Italy sometime in the historical past. They apparently suffered for their religion. And died!

Cosmo and Damien may have been born in whatever provinces my grandparents originated from. Not only my grandparents, but also many other Italian immigrants living in Utica at the time. There was much reverence for these two saints. In fact, an annual festival was held each year. Bands, parades, food and the like in honor of these two saints.

On the final day of the festival, a several mile procession was held. Statues of the two saints were carried on the shoulders of the young men. Long lines of men and women marched single file behind the saints carrying candles and singing religious songs. The candles were especially huge. Two or three feet in length and 2-3 inches wide.

My grandmother was afraid my grandfather would die from the flu. She prayed to Saints Cosmo and Damien and promised that if he survived, she would walk in the procession in their honor every year. Barfefoot!

Grandfather made it! And grandmother marched every year in her bare feet carrying a huge candle in honor of the saints who she believed saved my grandfather’s life!

Not easy on her feet! Sore and a bit bloody! But she hung in there and did it for many a year!

And so did I!

I recall as a young boy, walking beside her in the procession and carrying a smaller candle.

I loved my grandparents. They were the best! My grandmother was a special person. She did what she thought was right and proper to save my grandfather and ultimately the family. She prayed! And then did not forget! This was no battlefield foxhole conversion for her. She met her obligation each year thereafter by making the walk described honoring the two saints.

Sunday, Sunday! Love Sundays! A do nothing day!

I bought a bunch of Sunday papers and went to Martin’s for brunch. Sat in the back outside and read and picked. Even had a Bloody Mary! First one in years! Went well with the eggs benedict weinerschnitzel! Only in America!

Last night I had dinner with Lisa and the family. Love the grandkids! Robert and Ally wanted to play cards. Card playing is the in thing right now!

We played crazy 8s. Turned out to be a long game. Ally beat Robert and I decisively! I should have had a camera at the moment of her victory to record the proud look on her beaming face!

Grandchildren are good! I wish every one grandchildren!

Have a good day!

Key West is busy this weekend.

Normal that weekends are busy this time of year. Yes, the tourist season is over. Business is poor during the week. However on weekends the town is packed. The visitors are from the north. Except they are Floridians. People from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other places to the immediate north. They drive. No plane fares to deal with. Prices for lodging and food are slashed. Bargains are in the air! And south Floridians properly take advantavge of them every year at this time!

My Saturday was a solid one. I did it in Key West time as my friend Howard Livingston would say.

I walked in the morning. Did coffee and read the papers at the Coffee House on Duval. Lunched at Paradise Cafe. Watched golf in the afternoon on TV.

I love to go to the movies. However I rarely go. I dislike going alone. I guess I need someone to hold the popcorn!

Last night I said the hell with it and went. Saw State of Play. A good political/newspaper flick with Ben Afflick and Russell Crowe. Fast moving and exciting. Thought provoking.

Crowe was terrific! Could be an academy award nomination in it for him.

Afterwards I drove into town and went to the Keys Piano Bar. Terri White was scheduled to sing. Floridians and locals alike packed the place.

It was good to see Terri and Donna again. It has been a few days. Terri looks trerrific. Her recent Broadway success is evident. She walks a little taller. Head high. Radiates. We will be losing her in the fall when the full Broadway production of Finian’s Rainbow begins.

The only negative yesterday was I screwed up with my drinking. Two before the movie and two later in the evening at the Keys Piano Bar. Such is life! A saint I am not!

The weather continues to be fantastic. Around 85 by day. There continues to be a strong wind off the Atlantic. About 30 miles per hour. Into its second week. Strange. People are talking about it. Whatever, it keeps 85 cool.


Work by day and fun by night yesterday.

Physical labor of any kind has never been my forte. I have avoided it like the plague my whole life. Yesterday for some reason I decided to get physical.

I have a 20 x 40 foot deck on the second floor outside my bedroom. It is tiled and has plants. The plants were getting overgrown and the tile had that typical Key West salt buildup.

So I hosed and scrubbed down the tiles. Then I attacked the greenry. Pulled weeds and the like.

I observed the gutters were plugging with leaves and whatever. So I climbed over the railing, hung by one hand and cleaned with the other. How stupid! One slip and I would have fallen and broke an arm or leg or something worse!

This morning my back aches and my ass is dragging. So much for physical labor!

My daughter Lori has been in town the past few days visiting. Son in law Allen and grandson Andrew were with her also.

Lori is an attorney now running my former law firm in Utica, NY with her brother John. A lovely girl! Now obviously a lady! But to me always a girl, my little girl!

She, too, married late in life for the first time. Ergo had a child immediately. Grandson Andrew is now 7 and in the first grade.

My son in law Allen is a gem. His second marriage. He is now in his early to mid 50s. Has 2 grown children from his previous marriage. A son who recently graduated from college and a daughter in college. Allen travels big time. All over the world. He is a senior vice president with a major medical supply manufacturer. He just returned from a week in Germany last Friday. Flew to Key west this week. Flies back to Utica today. Leaves Monday for Germany again for 10 days.

I don’t know how he does it!

We had dinner together last night at La Trattoria. Seven year old Andrew and I sat next to each other.

Andrew is smart!

He had some sort of computerized game he was playing. He tried to explain it to me. Good luck! I cannot even rest my watch yet for the time change of 3 weeks ago! I have to mentally add an hour every time I look at it!

The game was in French. Andrew speaks and understands French! He studied it at Montessori school up north. And he also has visited Paris 3 or 4 times already in his short lifetime.

Allen lived in Paris for 2 years way back working for his company. He still does a significnat amount of business in France. Daughter Lori has always loved France. In fact, when they married she wanted the ceremony under the Eiffel Tower! I was not for the idea. Thought a Paris wedding would be too expensive. So the compromise was a wedding on the beach and then a reception at the Casa Marina here in Key West. Black tie. Lovely! Best wedding I ever attended! Cost me over $100,000. I could have had it in Paris!

They leave at 6:30 this morning. They are probably seated on their plane right now waiting to take off. A safe journey to them!

Today is Saturday. What will I do? Don’t know. One thing is certain however, no more cleaning/physical stuff for me!

Last night was a big night in bocci!

We had to win! A side money match!

We won! Ho, ho, ho!

We had not won even 1 game in the last 8 weeks. We are the cellar team this season. The worst of the worst. However, last night we rose to the occasion.

We won the first game decisively.

The second we won also. But it was a squeeker! We won 16-15.

We all played well. Even me! I was deadly in the first game. Good in the second game till the end when I faltered. Badly! Made 2 very bad shots when the chips were down and we were behind 15-14. My partner was Rob. He came through! Made 2 very outstanding shots and we won!

I could not stay for the third game so I am unaware of its outcome. Not important, however. We only needed to win 2 out of 3 which we accomplished by winning the first two games.

There is one match left in our side bet 4 team tournament. It is next week. It is for all the marbles! Going to be fun!

Another nice day in the making here in Key West! I watched the sun come up this morning. A bright orange ball breaking over the water!

Enjoy your day!

There was a quiet that hung over us as we arrived to play golf yesterday morning.

The normal banter and kidding each other was not there.

The cause was Linda’s death. An unspoken thing as we gathered to divide into teams and go forth to play.

Once play commenced, everything fell into its normal routine. I played with Don, Tino and Michael. I finally had a good day at golf! Was the big winner! Proud was I! All of $9!

The custom is that the winner buys drinks. Normally the winner walks away with around $20. Drinks cost me $7.50. Without tip! So my better game yesterday ended up costing me money! I did not care! I was thrilled to have finally played well again!

We sat around on the porch of the club house drinking and talking after golf. About 10 of us. The ice was finally broken. Some one mentioned Linda’s name. And then in varying degrees every one spoke of and about her. Some even shed a tear or two.

I was watching one of the TV talk shows last night. Alex Kerensky’s name was mentioned. In what context, I am not sure as I was half asleep. And I find no mention of him in news reports on the internet this morning.

Let me tell you a bit about Alex Kerensky.

He was the first President of free Russia.

At the time of the Tsar’s abdication in 1917, the Russian people were divided into two groups. The White Russians and the Red Russians. The good guys and the bad guys as it turned out.

Kerensky was the leader of the White Russians. His presidency lasted about 8 months. There was a civil war and the Reds beat the Whites. The Reds were the beginning of the Russian communists as we have come to know them. The Reds were ideologically led by Lenin. From the Reds ultimately came Stalin.

Keresnsky, overthrown by the Reds, had to to flee Russia to save his life.

He ultimately settled in New York City and eventualy became a Professor at Columbia University.

I attended Manhattan College in New York City. Columbia and Manhattan are on the Seventh Ave subway line. Columbia at 116th Street and Manhattan at 242nd Street.

Kerensky agreed to be a visiting professor at Manhatttan College for one semester. To teach Russian history covering the 20 years from 1898 to 1918. The 20 years leading up to the Russian revolution and the revolution itself. He rode the subway 2 times a week from Columbia to Manhattan and back to teach the course.

The class was limited. About 20 persons. I was lucky to get into it! I was excited to take the course. I was a history major and what could be better than to take a course from an individual who had actually lived the material he was teaching!

The course was fantastic! Wild! Overwhelming at times if you were a history freak as I was. Here was a man who led the revolution! And a man who understood the consequences of communism. Recognize that I was taking this course around 1955, a time when the United States and Russia were in deep conflict. The threat of actual war hung over us. About this same time Kruschev, the then Russian leader, took his shoe off at the United Nations, slammed it on a desk and told the world Russia was going to bury the United States. The conflict was reality!

Kerensky was distinguished appearing. He had presence. Soft spoken. If I had to compare him physically to someone, I would say he looked like a white haired Jack Kennedy.

Tonight bocci! A big match! For the money, as the saying goes!

I hope my golf streak continues into the bocci matches!

Linda Schrufer died Sunday night.

Sad. Very sad. I feel terrible.

She was a dear friend. A true friend.

I first met Linda and her husband Bill about 10 years ago. About the time I bought my home here in Key West. Linda and Bill were from Reading, Pa. They wintered here. They were for real snowbirds.

Home in Key West was a lovely condominium in Truman annex. Linda furnished it tastefully. It was a bright colorful place. Vibrant! Just as Linda was!

Linda enjoyed entertaining. She was the hostess with the mostest! The Pearle Mesta of Key West! The food and drink were always good. Her mixture of guests superb.

Linda was loyal. Or maybe she just liked collecting stray cats. When I first met her and Bill, I was living with my wife. Since that time, we have separated. This was no problem for Linda. She continued to invite me to her home and out to dinner. Something most others failed to do. My being a single instead of a double did not affect her relationship with me in any way. In fact, as I think about it, Linda was sort of a collector of sad souls. Many times there was a widow or widower in her company.

Good of heart might also be used to describe Linda! I remember when my daughter Lisa was about to marry. Linda threw her a lovely shower. Though genrations apart, it made Linda and Lisa’s relationship forever special.

Linda’s charity here in Key West was the Red Barn theatre. She was a fund raiser supreme! How could any one say no to her charming smile! A generous heart in her own right to whom generosity returned.

Linda, we are all a bit less now that you are gone. You are already missed by all who knew you. You touched each of us.

Last night I searched the heavens looking for that bright new star. I know you are there somewhere!

One final thought. When you are scurrying around in Heaven, you will probably be inviting the Lord over to dinner. He’s a single!