Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

truman in key west

In April of 1945, Vice President Harry Truman got a new office.
FDR was dead and Truman took to the Oval office as the 33rd President of the United States.
He was 61 years old.

Now, whether Truman as President was good, bad or indifferent isn't the point here. The point is the reality he stepped into.

Shut out of FDR's inner circle, Truman was minding his own business, doing the very little there is for a Vice President to do, when out of the blue he gets the call. President Roosevelt is dead and you're the man. At his swearing in Eleanor Roosevelt told him, "you're the one in trouble now Harry."

And it was true. . .
Two wars; one not quite wrapped up, another with no end in sight and a contentious congress. (sounds familiar doesn't it?)
He's also got a British prima donna and a Russian gangster nipping at his heels and then, there's a huge atom-splitting secret project he's got to get his head around.

The man really stepped into a steaming heap of it.
But it's his job and he steps up to the plate and handles it all the best he can.
(which is all any of us can do)

Anyway, by November of 1946 the wars are over, the bomb's been dropped, the dust has settled, it's getting cold in D.C.
and Truman is exhausted.
Remember, he's a 62 year old man at that point and, 66 years ago, (when this all happened) 62 was an older guy.
His doctor recommended that he "take a vacation in a warm climate" and Harry did. Where did he take it?

Key West.

The navy accommodated him in the house on their base that had been the naval command center during World War II. Today that house is an attraction called the
Truman Little White House.

Now if you gave it any thought and weren't a political pundit trying to put negative spin on the President's leaving town, you'd realize that any sitting President's vacation is a working vacation. That's the nature of that job. The President is
always working.

When Truman came back to Key West for his 2nd visit in 1947, he knew that wherever the President was, so came the White House. With newer technology, he could direct the government from anywhere. But in Key West, he could go fishing, play golf and lounge in the sun too.

Truman visited our fair city every year of his Presidency from November to December and from February to March. Returning to Washington in January, presumably,
for the State-of-the-Union.

Judging from these old pictures, it looks like he had himself
a hell of a time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

earth day

"It seems to me, that if the government really wanted to incentivize "green living", they might adjust an individual citizen's income tax rate, commensurate with the size of that individual's annual carbon foot print.
We all might step just a little bit lighter"

Arthur Winstanley

New Year's Day
Martin Luther King Day
Groundhog Day
President's Day
St. Patrick's Day
Mother's Day
Armed Forces Day
Memorial Day
Flag Day
Father's Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Thanksgiving Day
Pearl Harbor Day
Christmas Day

Earth Day
every day

Saturday, April 21, 2012

wet weather

Key West is gray and raining on this Saturday morning.
There's a light 5 knot wind with gusts to 10 and low, rolling thunder on the horizon that spooks Max the cat. It feels like about 70 degrees.
I like it; a great day for Clam Chowder and a salad for lunch.

So with nowhere to go and not much to do (last night's lovely guest has already gone home) I'll take time to write a bit.
I've got Sgt Pepper's playing on the i-Tunes and I'll take some time to let my mind go wandering.
("where it will go-oh, where it will go-oh. . .")


Well Spike (my now very large cactus plant) has been at it again; flowering.
I always say I love when he does that and always take time to sit out on the porch to admire him doing his thing.
Spike started out as a single cactus lobe I pinched from a small wild cactus plant I saw the first time I went to Ft. Zac,
12 years ago.
(I know your not supposed to do that in a state park but, what the hell)
I potted the single lobe and since, he's grown into the big boy he is today.

I'm gonna use yesterday's pictures of him to thread together whatever comes up while I write on this rainy day.

Tax Time

So that was tax time.
I don't do my own taxes, Louise, my CPA, takes care of it for me. All the same, every year I spend a day or two looking over the last year's financials and making a copious list of
proposed deductions.
(I work as an independent contractor).
It makes Louise's life easier (and I'm all for that) and it gives me a clear picture in one frame of how the year's business trend went.
(blah, blah, blah. . .)

Anyway, this year was a new thing.
The entire process happened happily but I never laid eyes
on Louise.
In past years I'd sit with her in her office for an hour or so and we'd go over stuff. Then a week or so later I'd stop back at the office, sign on the line, write a check, pick-up my copies and they'd mail the return from their office.
This year was a little different . . .
While I did need to go to the office to drop off the initial paper work, Louise was with another client. I didn't interrupt, left the stuff with her secretary and beat feet.

Louise called the next day to confirm that she had the stuff and why don't I just e-mail my list of proposed deductions? I did.
A few days later her secretary called and said we were good to go. I paid Louise's fee with plastic over the phone, the return was filed electronically and they mailed me my copies.
I know none of this is strange magic or anything but this was a first and, if your interested in how stuff works,
it might make you say "hmmm. . ."

Urgent Care

Have you ever been to one of those "Urgent Care
Medical Centers"
You find them in places like strip-malls.
I hadn't until last week. It was my first time, for nothing major, and was in and out in well under and hour. In fact I spent more time in the waiting room than I did with
the doctor.
I hate waiting rooms and figure if there's a hell for me, (which I don't really believe there is) it would be a crowded waiting room with FoxNews on the TV, a rack of magazines about obstetrics and I'd be sitting between a woman with a crying baby and an old guy muttering to himself.

Anyway these places are literally assembly lines for
medical care.
You pay at the gate, see the doctor with the tired eyes, take care of your need and "next!". . .

I'll tell you, these don't get me as the places you'd want to be if you got really sick.
But the price is right so they draw the crowd.
Americans. . .
What will we think of next?

Conch Republic Days

Our annual "Conch Republic Days" (more about that in a later post) started yesterday and today I thought I'd start covering some of the events.

Among other things, today's scheduled includes "The Great Conch Republic Drag Race".
It's a foot race down Duval between dozens of drag queens pushing rolling queen size beds, each bed with a pajama wearing rider under the covers.
It's scheduled start is 1:00 this afternoon but it's 12:45 now and still raining like crazy. So I don't think they'll make it
in the wet weather today.
Maybe tomorrow.

Now where's that clam chowder?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

buddy's truck

Buddy Owens is a fixture in Key West;
An ol' bubba, and a friend.
He owns and operates "BO's FishWagon", a funky open air eatery on the corner of William and Caroline
here in Key West.

Designed to look like a ramshackle shack with old license plates, an outboard motor, ropes, buoys, hubcaps and hastily hand painted signs decorating the walls and this rusted out old pick-up truck outside on the William Street edge of the FishWagon's property.
(it used to have a naked lady mannequin sitting behind the wheel and waving out the window but she seems to have found another gig.)
The ashtrays are old tuna fish cans and the condiment holders; Corona six-pack cartons. . .

You get the idea.

Anyway, a few years ago, either the city or the cops or code enforcement told Buddy he had to move the rusted out old pick-up truck off William Street.

Well, move it Buddy did and for a good long time there was no rusted out old pick-up truck for the tourists to stand around taking pictures of each other sipping their margaritas.
(another Key West attraction bites the dust)

But then one day, as if by magic, the rusted out old pick-up truck was back on William Street, planted in it's old spot.
But sans the naked lady.

Could she have been the issue upsetting the sensibilities of our city fathers?
Or was it, as someone told me, it had to be moved because that rusted out old pick-up truck was illegally parked?

hmmm. . .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

the wreckers

This post hopefully compliments my last post "Mary" the salvage vessel.
(I seem to have wrecking and salvaging on the mind
this week)

Not far from where Mary is dry-docked, is "the Key West Historical Memorial Sculpture Garden".
(and isn't that a mouthful?)

It's a sculpture garden dedicated to people who have had the "greatest impact" on Key West.
It features 36 bronze busts depicting some of the men and women that made Key West a vibrant, colorful and important outpost of American culture and folklore.

I wrote about once before, in my post "Busted" a few years ago but this time I want to focus on these dudes.

This life size sculpture, "The Wreckers" is the centerpiece, more or less, of the sculpture garden.

I was on my way out of the newspaper office the other day, free from my comfortable desk and state-of the-art computer and took a few minutes to study the piece.

My thought was, for all our myths and romanticizing about wrecking and salvaging, just how tough that actual work must really have been. . .