Friday, February 2, 2018

Those Were the Days


  I was planning on doing a blog post about taxes. I have a picture of all the papers and files and envelopes scattered all over the table, with a calculator and yellow legal pad, but I thought- how entertaining would that be? No doubt it would be a nice challenge to see how I could make it interesting, and maybe before the month is out, I'll do a post on that, just not today. I was looking through some photographs the other day, and ran across this one. It's a picture of my wife Jan. She's standing on the White Street Pier down in Key West, back around 1973 or so. It looks like she's using a fiberglass rod with a Zebco 33 reel. Not exactly made for saltwater, which is what we were surrounded by. Even the golf course pond was saltwater. I caught a twelve pound tarpon in it on a live shrimp. I was fishing with my division petty officer, who was considered a golf pro, so they let us fish in it. Jan and I spent many an evening fishing off the pier. I don't believe we ever caught too much, a few small Grunts or the occasional Needlefish. There was a hole in the corner of the pier that a Morray Eel had decided to make his home. I spent more than a few hours trying to catch him. Lord knows what I would have done if I did. He probably would have latched on to me and I'd be missing some limb or another. We had a green Ford Pinto back then, the only new car we've ever owned. Actually,Jan bought it before we were married. Gas was about 29 cents a gallon at the time which was good, because we couldn't have afforded to buy any otherwise. Our entertainment was to go fishing almost every night. If it was payday we might splurge and buy ourselves a soft serve ice cream cone. We were living in an old Conch house that was divided into four apartments. An old lady by the name of Mrs. Segal owned it, and we rented it for $82.50 a month. It had a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room, which was painted brilliant chartreuse with tan trim. When Jan first saw the apartment she started crying. I felt  terrible, but what could I do? I think part of it was because she was so far away from her family and part of it was moving into an old house that hippies had occupied previously. I guess there must have been a couch in there, though I don't recall. What I do remember is that there was an old wooden desk that had been painted white, and green I believe, and it was full of termites. Every morning when we came into the living room there was a neat little pile of sawdust by one of the legs. We'd sweep it up and by morning there would be a fresh pile. At night we'd watch shows on cable that the last tenants had installed. We never paid for it, and when a cable guy came down from Miami and asked Jan if it was hooked up she lied and said no, and he left. We used to lay in bed and  shut off the lights and could see the termites from the head board flying in front of the TV. We could hear them munching too. It was bothersome, but it wasn't our furniture, and there weren't too many other places to rent that we could afford so we put up with it. We ended up painting the kitchen yellow, and the living room a mint green, and added some sheet rock to the bathroom walls to keep the breeze from passing through the cracks. It could feel chilly when we were wet from the bath. The bathroom itself was an add on. Originally it had been part of a porch that ran the entire perimeter of the upstairs. The floor was slanted so that rain wouldn't settle on it.When you were in the tub, one side had eight or ten inches of water, and the other had two. We had a resident gecko that hung around the kitchen; a cute little green thing, kind of like the one from the Geico commercial.  Sometimes I'd see him climbing the screen or walking down the wall. I was always afraid our Siamese cat, Fred, would get it, but to the best of my knowledge, that never happened. Across the street was the Kleen Wash Laundry. It runs in my mind it was all open with just a roof covering everything, no walls that I recall. There was a pay phone under the awning and every Sunday night Jan would call her mom. One night some creep was walking around trying to expose himself to Jan while she was on the phone. She just kept walking in a circle and he followed her hoping she'd get a peek. I must have been on watch down at the ship, or out to sea, I don't recall. Isn't it funny the memories that a picture can stir up? I guess that's why we take pictures, so that some day forty some years later you can run across it and remember the way it used to be. I hope that the memories you have of days gone by are pleasant, and that the memories you're making now will be as well.

4 comments:

  1. I loved seeing this pic - I've always thought my sister was (and is!) so pretty. I enjoy hearing your stories of when you and Jan were first married and living in Key West. I was too young to know what you guys were up to those days. Thanks for sharing - much more interesting than taxes! :)

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  2. Hi Jill, obviously I agree with you. It was a fun time. The primary drawback, aside from having no money, was her health. Fortunately medicine has come a long way since then. Thanks for writing gal.

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  3. Love the story and especially the last line. I have been delinquent in reading your posts on regular basis lately (too busy making new memories lol), but I am glad I caught this one. Memories create our soul and they are always fun to replay. Thanks for all the good writes, Tom! Hope you and Jan are well and enjoying life to its fullest. Terry

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  4. Hi Terry- thanks for commenting. It's good to be busy, especially if you're doing something you love. Take care.

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