Steve Thompson walks quietly, but the foot prints he leaves are imposing. I am beginning to realize this the more I get into TACOS. Were it not for TACOS, I and many others would not be aware of his exciting lifestyle.
I shall be covering two paragraphs this morning. One I might label Dink, the other Father Tony. Before each, some introductory background so as to further understand what Dink, Father Tony and Steve did.
Paragraph 11 is Dink’s passage. In order to fully appreciate Dink, I have to go back to his father Toby Bruce and his relationship with Ernest Hemingway.
Dink’s dad was Telly Otto “Toby” Bruce.
Hemingway and his wife Pauline arrived in Key West in 1928. Pauline was pregnant. She wanted to be with her mother when the child was born. Her mother lived in Piggot, Arkansas. Hemingway and Pauline moved to Piggot.
The mother’s home was small. Cramped. Hemingway had trouble sleeping and writing because of it.
There was a barn behind the house. Toby was a Piggot furniture maker. Hemingway hired him to turn turn the barn into living quarters.
During the course of the renovation, Toby and Hemingway became close friends.
When the time came for Hemingway and his family to return to Key West, both men were genuinely sad.
They did not meet again till 1935. Hemingway had bought the house on Whitehead, He wanted to build a wall around it. He asked Toby to come to Key West and do the job.
He did. He never left when it was finished.
Toby became Hemingway’s closest friend. His man friday, driver, money holder, and secretary. Their close relationship continued till Hemingway’s death in 1961.
Toby continued living in Key West till his own death. He is buried in the Key West Cemetery.
Along he way, Toby married Betty. The two in due course became the parents of Dink.
After Hemingway’s death, his fourth wife Mary Walsh Hemingway visited Toby and Betty. The actual purpose of the visit was to follow up on a message Sloppy Joe’s owner at the time had sent her. He advised there was a back room at Sloppy’s full of writings and artifacts her husband had left when he moved to Cuba.
The purpose of Mary’y trip was to search through the boxes to see if there was anything of value, etc.
Mary took very little. A few pages of some writings. She gave the rest to Toby and Betty with whom she had been staying. When they died, the Hemingway materials passed on to their son Dink.
A treasure trove!
Dink Bruce became a legend in his own lifetime. Liked by everyone. People referred to him as “Key West happy royalty.”
Dink never worked a day in his life. Apparently sustained himself from the contents in the boxes found in the back room at Sloppy Joe’s. The contents contained among other things, a completed manuscript Hemingway never published and a multitude of short stories.
Dink died two years ago. I never knew him till the last 2 years of his life. We would run into each other at Louie’s Backyard and La Trattoria.
With that background, TACOS paragraph 11 is set forth.
There is another guy in town his name is Dink / You’re bound to see him when out for a drink / He’s a fifth generation Conch and a good friend of mine / We traveled all over and had many a good time / We sailed to Cuba and fished in Alaska / But he never went to work, I guess he didn’t have ta / I told him I saw his dads photo one day / In the Lodge at Sun Valley with Hemingway.
Father Tony is the subject of paragraph 12. Another of Steve’s close friends. Full name Anthony Mullane. To everyone, Father Tony.
Born in Ireland.
He was referred to as the “hippie priest.”
Steve’s close friends all seem to have had a hippie background. His wife Cindy, Dink, and the good priest.
Father Tony and Steve arrived in Key West about the same time. Met and became instantaneous friends.
Father Tony’s first Church was on Flagler in Key West. The Church long gone. Today housing for the homeless being built on the property.
Then he was transferred to St. Peter’s Church in Big Pine. He was stationed there for more than 35 years. Father Tony often commented the Bishop had forgotten him. He was not unhappy about it. He and Big Pine walked hand in hand.
When the good priest retired, he was “not sure” what to pursue. Golf and travel were foremost in his mind.
He traveled to Alaska, Colorado, Utah, all of the Northwest, the Bahamas and every Key.
Big Pine loved him. They named a street after him: Father Tony Way.
Regarding Big Pine, Father Tony said, “I was the epitome of the single man who just decides to bloom where he is planted. This is where I was planted.”
Which brings us to TACOS paragraph 12.
A lot of my friends avoided police / But my best friend by far was a Catholic priest / Father Tony came over every day / We had just one rule we used to say, / I wouldn’t talk about my taco business / He wouldn’t talk about anything religious / Not a place in Colorado we didn’t ski / Sailed all the Bahamas and every Key.
Dink, Father Tony and Steve icons. In life and hereafter.
Enjoy your day!