Cindy Lynch, a love of my life. We met about 12 years ago in Key West.

Cindy and husband Tom are from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Until recently, spent 2 months a year in Key West.

Special. She has had 7 operations for 6 different cancers. Two for brain tumors. Lost one of her legs. All of it to the groin. Cannot be fitted for a prosthetic. Uses a wheelchair or titanium crutches or skips around short distance on one foot.

Cindy falls a lot. She tries to do too much I suspect with one leg. On the other hand, she is living life. A rare personality. Always up. Never complains. Fun to be with.

Her husband Tom a gem. Retired early to care for her. With her most of the time. Occasionally, Cindy goes off on her own.

She did this tuesday. Driving their car. Involved in a three car accident. Saw a picture of the cars. Bad!

She is home recovering in bed. Next week, a parachute jump!

Ernest Hemingway penned many true words. Words reflecting his life experiences. A quote attributable to him is…..”Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”

Makes sense. I know.

I guess I am into quotes today. Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

Sounds like some who comment to this column.

The votes still coming in. Being counted for the first time. Simultaneously, some States are already at the legally mandated recount stage. Florida and Georgia examples.

What initially appeared not to be a blue wave has definitely become one.

Another shooting. A college student hangout. Twelve killed.

A physicians’ journal recently carried an article decrying the NRA and its power. The NRA shot back. In effect saying to the doctors not your business, stay out of things you know nothing about.

The doctors hit back. One wrote and said we are involved. Challenged the NRA to stand next to a child coding from a gunshot wound.

Doctors involved in every shooting!

November 9 a day of significance.

On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. It had been up 30 years.

Two years earlier. Reagan spoke standing before the wall. He said, “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall.”

A story little known goes with the statement.

Reagan’s speech was constantly being revised by his speech writers in the weeks preceding his appearance before the wall. Reagan kept adding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the wall.” His speech writers kept taking it out. Too harsh, they said.

The day before leaving for Berlin, Reagan was going over the speech again. The words had been omitted. He asked an assistant standing next to him…..I’m the President, aren’t I? The assistant responded….Yes sir. Reagan said…..Then it stays in!

This day in 1938 significant also. Sadly, however.

An event that took place in Germany and Austria. To Nazis the evening was known as Kristallnacht. Also referred to as The Night of Broken Glass.

It was the beginning of mass suppression of persons of the Jewish faith. Occurred prior to the Holocaust. The Nazis launched a campaign of terror against the Jewish people, their homes and businesses. The event marked a dramatic escalation in Hitler’s plan to purge Germany of Jews.

Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere.

Trump held a major press conference wednesday. CNN’s Acosta and he had words. I watched the entire press conference. Acosta asked a couple of questions. The President did not like them. He became extremely abusive to Acosta.

The event was videoed.

Trump took back Acosta’s White House press credentials.

A female intern attempted to take Acosta’s mike away from him while Trump was shouting sit down. The next day when the White House announced the removal of Acosta’s credentials, the video was shown.

Not similar to the original which had been shown the night before and earlier in the day. The White House video appeared to have been doctored. The White House version indicated Acosta had assaulted the intern. Not the case. The White House presented an altered version.

Today, friday. Love going out friday nights. Not tonight. Remaining in. For a better good. Syracuse playing Louisville at 7 in football. Syracuse 7-2 and a 21 point favorite.

Love it! We have not had even close to a decent team in 20 years. Hopefully, we are there.

Enjoy your day!



I am upset this morning. Venting time.

Pigs does not refer to the four legged kind. Rather, those two legged. Man.

Two items in this morning’s Key West Citizen tick me off. Both have to do with the constant gouging of Key West Citizens.

One article concerns Stock Island’s Sunset Marina. Slip fees are being raised $5 a foot. The fees were raised last year also.

Most live on a boat because it is cheaper than buying or renting a home. Significantly. However with slip prices shooting up as they are, such will eventually no longer be true.

The other concerns towing fees.

The City Commission wants to raise towing fees from private properties by 35 percent. Increase other items also. Like allowing towers to charge up to $135 an hour where extraordinary effort is required. Everything will be extraordinary!

People are forced to leave Key West. More and more each year. They cannot afford the cost of living. The cost of living is much like the hills and steps which confront me in Greece and Italy. Everything up, nothing down.

Salaries contribute to the problem. Most are low paid hourly jobs. As time progresses, it is inevitable that a shortage of available employees will occur. Then, salaries will go up.

Getting back to the towing situation, the City Commission should be ashamed the way it handles Key West’s parking problem. It takes space away and raises parking fees for the limited space available. People are forced to park where ever they can. Such results in towing.

My yesterday began with a doctor visit. Another kind. Doctoring almost an every week thing. Then to Publix for a few things.

I had to hurry home after Publix. I was scheduled to be interviewed for 15 minutes on KONK News by Don Riggs. I had moved the time up to 12:45. Just made it.

Don and I had an interesting discussion re the Holocaust and the survivor Helen Sperling.

The evening was the best! The VFW on Northern Boulevard for dinner.

A big sign sits in front of the VFW building. Public Invited. I decided to try it. Glad I did.

Food good. Prices reasonable. Company excellent. A different breed of Key Westers. Veterans. They openly enjoy themselves. A happy group. They did their time in the military. Most fought. They have earned the right.

Met Schmegly. Spelled correctly. Looks like a thin santa Claus. A magnificent beard.

Schmegly has spent thirty years working Mallory Square at Sunset. Initially making creatures for children out of ballons. He considers such work an art. Today, he plays a banjo or guitar and sings.

Schmegly also walks Duval later in the evening playing the banjo. He refers to himself as a troubadour.

He makes his living from tips.

Schmegly’s real name is Richard Sloat. I never did find out how he got Schmegly out of Sloat.

He looks like an old timer you would find at Schooner Wharf.

Lighted Boat Parade tonight. An experience. Watch it from Schooner Wharf.

Tomorrow, the Parade of Paws. In the morning. Starts at Higgs Dog Park. Santa Claus will be there. The dogs will parade.

Key West loves dogs. Not only do we have Dog Park, we also have a Dog Beach. One of the best beaches in town. Right next to Louie’s Backyard.

A Saudi Arabian Prince referred to Trump as a “disgrace to America.” The Prince should talk. The pot calling the kettle black.

Saudi Arabia has much to answer for. The largest number of beheadings a year. No competition world wide. They abuse women. Do not permit them to drive. If an adulteress, stoning the penalty. Or, let a family member kill her and not prosecute the family member.

Enjoy your day!


Helen Sperling died last week at the age of 95. She survived Buchenwald. A significant portion of her life thereafter was devoted to reminding others of what occurred during those World War II days.

Helen lived most of her free adult years in Utica, my home town. A close friend Sharon Smith knew her well. I did not. Sharon frequently spoke of her.

I met Helen only once at some gathering. We were introduced. It was a hello, how are you, and on our separate ways.

Helen’s story sad. Hard to believe, unless a person shared her death camp experiences.

Helen lived with her parents and brother in a small Polish town near Warsaw. Her father an architect. Her family middle class.

As a child, Helen was spoiled, pampered and imaginative. She was at home on vacation from college when the Germans marched in. Her first recollection is that of “boots…..the ugly, ugly black boots” the Nazis wore.

The Nazis stormed into her home. They emptied the drawers and closets. One sat in her father’s chair. He shoved his booth in her mother’s face. He then threw some of the family’s fine linens at her. The German yelled…..”Polish them!” Helen helped her mother.

That day was the beginning of six years of helplessness, humiliation and degradation.

The family was first sent to a ghetto. Then to prison camps or death. Her parents were sent to their deaths. Helen was transferred to Ravensbruck, a transition camp. The last stop before a death camp. She was subjected to manual labor. The purpose of the labor was to break the prisoners’ spirits. Her time there she describes as demeaning. She lived in squalor, hunger and fear.

Helen says, “You did not realize who your friend was and who was your enemy.” She had a close girl friend before the Nazis arrived. Her closest girl friend. It was her girl friend’s birthday. Helen escaped from the ghetto for a short time. Her purpose to wish her girl friend a Happy Birthday. Her girl friend was a gentile.

She telephoned her girl friend. Helen was received with all kinds of racial slurs. At that moment, Helen says “…..something dreadful happened to my soul.”

Helen was transferred to Buchenwald. A death camp.

She has memories of the cattle cars and sorting. The sorting involving a German officer telling her when she arrived at Buchenwald which of two lines she was to get into. One you lived, the other you died.

Helen was selected for the live line. She was young and strong. She was able to avoid the death part of Buchenwald for that reason. She was directed to the work phase of Buchenwald.

She was made to work in a munitions factory. She and other prisoners produced artillery shells.  When the guards were not looking, they did whatever to produce a defective shell. If caught, it meant death. Fortunately, Helen was not caught. She describes the destructive activity as revenge. It kept their spirits up.

Living quarters at Buchenwald were terrible. Filthy, cold, crowded. Food was limited. One piece of bread a day and whatever other slop was provided.

Each barracks/living quarters had a “block supervisor.” Also a prisoner. A trustee of sorts. The block supervisors had all kinds of privileges, including beating the other prisoners. Which was done frequently. In some instances to the same prisoner daily.

Helen’s block supervisor was a prostitute and murderer in her former life. She frequently stole Helen’s bread. The block supervisor did treat Helen good in one respect. Helen wrote poetry. She needed paper to write on. The block supervisor at great risk to herself would steal paper for Helen to write on.

Helen recalls the block supervisor thusly: “She still owes me the bread, but I owe her my humanity.”

Beatings by block supervisors and Nazi guards were constant. Helen owed her life to her fellow prisoners. On several occasions, she was beaten so badly that she was still bleeding at roll call time in the morning. Her fellow prisoners would hide her in the back row. In winter, red blood was obvious on white snow. Bleeding was not tolerated. The Germans would put such a bleeding Jew to death immediately. Then and there on the roll call field.

Helen says she constantly wondered while in Buchenwald why no one came to save her and the others.

Buchenwald was liberated in April 1945.

Helen was going nowhere. Except to a hospital. She was too sick. She was hospitalized for three years. When liberated, Helen was suffering from kidney cancer, pneumonia and malnutrition. She weighed sixty pounds. She also was infertile. No longer capable of bearing children.

At some point, her brother found her.

Helen immigrated to the United States. She met Leon. Leon was another Holocaust survivor. They married. Lived in different parts of the United States before settling in Utica. They adopted two children.

One day, Helen’s daughter came home from school crying. The other children had called her “…..a dirty Jew.”

Helen was incensed. She hurried to the school and confronted the principal. Helen insisted that she be given the right to speak to her daughter’s classmates the next day about anti-Semitism. She was given permission.

Not knowing exactly what to say, Helen decided to simply tell her story as told herein thus far. The impact on the class was astounding. She was invited to return every year thereafter to speak to the succeeding class.

The name calling and her first talk to a class took place sometime in the mid 1970s. Helen was not a public speaker. Her words made an impact, however.

Helen caught hold. Word spread. She was asked to speak everywhere. She gave the same talk three times a week for years. At colleges, universities, public and private high schools, police academies, monasteries, and churches. She gave these talks into her ninety’s. In central New York and through out the northeast.

It is seventy years since the end of World War II. Helen’s basic thrust was her concern that despite the lessons of the Holocaust, genocide has been ongoing. The story of the six million Jews has not taught man a lesson. The world stood by quietly while the Jews were being exterminated. Such conduct can never be permitted again. Speak up, yell!

Helen told her audiences that there was an Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shall Not Be a Bystander. No longer remain silent.

We talk about the genocides worldwide. Do we really do anything about them?

Some of Helen’s words I would like to share with you.

Helen started each of her talks with “Hello, my name is Helen Sperling. I am a Jew and a survivor of the Holocaust.”

Regarding those who stand by and do nothing as genocides occur: “…..a mistake. You cannot be a bystander. A bystander is someone who helps the evil.”

“There is no closure for a survivor. I tell the stories of what happened because they help me to survive.”

“Ninety nine percent of survival was sheer luck.”

Regarding survival: “A little bit of it was hanging on to dignity. Once you lost that, you didn’t have a chance.”

At the end of one Helen’s talks, a student asked whether she could forgive the Nazis. Helen’s answer: “The issue is not whether we can forgive the Nazis, the issue is whether we learned the lesson – genocide continues to occur in our world…..we have not learned our lesson.”

Helen challenges students to “Go and save the world!”

“I still don’t believe it happened.”

The memory “never stops hurting.”

“The days are mine, but the nights still belong to Hitler.”

Regarding hope and dignity: “You can live without food for a long time and without drink or anything. But you cannot live without hope and without dignity…..the Germans were trying all the time to take it away from us.”

“We do not have the right to be silent. The Eleventh Commandment is Thou Shall Not Be A Bystander.”

Rest in peace Helen Sperling. The first true peace since that day the Germans entered your home.


The Jewish celebration Hanukkah begins at sunset today. It lasts till monday December 14. It is a Festival of Lights.

My blog today is not about Hanukkah. Though I wish all a Happy Hanukkah! Especially, my Jewish friends.

I spent many hours yesterday researching this week’s KONK Life column. It was about Teddy Roosevelt and an executive order of his that exasperated many world wide.

I woke this morning to learn that Helen Sperling had died. Unknown to most. A Buchenwald survivor. A woman who dedicated her adult life to telling her story and reminding us not to forget what happened.

Helen’s story is hard to hear. Dark. Overrides the Roosevelt story. I am shelving Roosevelt for another day. This week’s column will be Helen’s story. Titled Thou Shall Not Stand By.

Changing columns means a long day ahead for me. I am late with today’s blog because I have already spent four hours researching the new column. There are several more. Then the actual writing.

Helen’s story would be appropriate any time. However with the Jewish holidays upon us, it has a special meaning.

Georgetown beat Syracuse yesterday 79-72. The game was not as close as the score might indicate. At one point in the second half, Syracuse was behind 20 plus points.

Syracuse played lousy. Simply stated. Could not make threes nor control the boards. Georgetown pierced the zone defense at will. Their big man hurt us badly. I keep saying, we need a big man! Some one screwed up in the recruiting process.

The team was not with it. A major problem was hesitation. The team failed to take threes when they had the shot. The threes they took did not drop. They moved slowly around the court. Always seemed a step behind. There were moments when a Syracuse player would stand still holding the ball, not certain what to do with it.

The Syracuse team yesterday was not the same one I watched beat two ranked teams in the Bahamas two weeks ago.

Boeheim not being there not a factor.

I who love small town parades decided to skip Key West’s Christmas Parade last night. I was not in the mood. Instead, I had dinner at Tavern ‘n Town.

Met Larry and Linda. Enjoyed their company tremendously.

Most importantly, Larry and Linda were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Congrats to them! They live in Fort Myers. Came to Key West for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary.

Linda is originally from the Buffalo area. She and I are New York neighbors of a sort. About 175 miles separating Buffalo and Utica. Larry is from Youngstown.

The two did cocktail hour at Alonzo’s before Tavern ‘n Town. They stopped at Tavern ‘n Town for dessert. Key Lime pie. They were interested in experiencing every aspect of Key West.

The San Bernardino shootings have raised many thoughts, questions, solutions, etc. One is that people would be safer if permitted to carry concealed weapons. Such would discourage the bad guys.

Someone wrote a comment today. His thought was precisely what I have set forth. Carry concealed weapons.

Jerry Falwell’s son Jerry Falwell Jr. is now President of Liberty University. He claims carrying would prevent  San Bernardinos. His justification was not directly to save lives. It was that “…..we could end those Muslims.”

I do not agree with gun carrying, concealed or otherwise. Ultimately, society would be as in the Old West. The Muslim situation on the other hand I find troublesome. Islamic radicals are a danger to us, to our way of life.

President Obama is speaking tonight to the issue. I hope he hits a home run. People are discouraged about his handling of ISIS. Empty words will not help.

Enjoy your Sunday!