My First Car Reappears

Back in 1969, while I was living in a dorm at Emerson College (it would be unfair to Emerson to claim I was attending school), I bought a car. It cost $400, a big investment for me.

Today, I was pulling into the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts when I spied this 1960 oxidized green VW Beetle. That’s exactly what I owned!

OK – it wasn’t originally oxidized green, but that’s what it evolved to.

The 1960 Volkswagen was a tiny death trap with no safety features. There are no seat belts. The dashboard is metal. The gas tank is under the hood in the front, where the crumple zone is today. With thin tires, any wind pushed it back and forth across the road.

Its six volt positive electrical system (today’s cars are 12 volt negative) made getting parts a chore. It also had headlights with the power of birthday candles and a three speed manual transmission.

With no radiator (it was air cooled) the heating and defrosting systems were pretty close to worthless. Air conditioning… you rolled down the window – by hand.

I loved this car. You just have no idea. It was liberating.

I once got my VW to 62 mph, but that was on a long, flat, deserted stretch of Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Going up hills, it often had trouble sustaining 50 mph.

The owner of the car pictured below runs a garage restoring old VWs. I have seen him driving around in classic Beetles before, but never in my car.

The back story is, this particular car was owned by a woman who kept it in storage for thirty years.

It will be its old self soon. This guy knows what he’s doing.




Bad Weather In Florida Is Still Great

Last night on the news, meteorologists were raising the volume on this unseasonable cold Florida weather. “You’ll need a sweater,” one said. “The kids will want to wear coats to the bus stop,” added another.

It was in the 60s today. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It’s Florida. No complaints from me.

Our flight home is at 2:55 PM tomorrow. At 2:55 PM today we got our boarding passes. On Southwest, that’s how you get seated together.

It wasn’t until after the boarding passes that we considered leaving the house. Actually, before we left a friend of my parents came so I could explain how a photo book is made.

Here’s what I discovered. You can’t explain. It’s something organic which must be done to be learned. This isn’t to say she didn’t take copious notes. She did. But she’ll have to play around and ad lib to get anything going.

No matter what I said, it wasn’t going to be the whole story.

We left my parents’ condo and drove toward the beach. My parents are way out west, past Military Trail. The beach is straight down Boynton Beach Blvd to Federal Highway (aka Route 1) a quick jog to Ocean, and then over the Intracoastal draw bridge to Route A1A. We turned north toward Palm Beach.

I know this area well. I worked at 3000 South Ocean Blvd (A1A) in Palm Beach back in the late 60s/early 70s. It was a radio station located right on the beach. How stupid was I to leave that idyllic spot?

There’s been lots of new construction over the years, but much of what I remember is still here.

We drove up A1A past the very expensive, very little towns that fill the barrier islands along Florida’s East Coast. There were condos and houses – some immense monuments to conspicuous consumption.

I looked down at the rushing current as we drove over Boynton Inlet and onto Manalapan. For 35+ years I haven’t been able to not look at Boynton Inlet every single time I drove over it.

We turned right just past Lake Avenue, into the parking lot for Lake Worth’s municipal beach. This beach is actually an easement carved out of Palm Beach.

A few days of stiff breeze had whipped up the surf. That’s what I was expecting. It was my chance to take some surfer photos.

I found a place where a few other photographers had congregated and quickly developed a case of lens envy. That lens you see is a 400mm F4. It’s longer than my longest lens and captures a whole lot more light.

Most non-photographers are surprised to hear the lens is a few times more expensive than the camera it’s mounted on!

The laptop I’ve brought with me is pretty old and very slow. I’m hoping I posted the best surfing shots, but I’m really not sure. I definitely know they will be differently tweaked when I get home.

It was chilly on the beach. Helaine and my folks retreated to the car. I went down to the water line. Being there gave me a slightly different perspective and allowed my feet to go underwater at the tide continued to come in! Oops.

As I was getting ready to leave, I saw a cluster of birds hovering right at the shore. A man in a t-short was holding his hand out, a piece of bread between his fingers. The birds were thrilled to fight the wind and get the bread.

As long as we were down by the beach, we headed to the Banana Boat for dinner. It’s a seafood place right on the Intracoastal Waterway.

My seafood pasta was perfect.

Drawing Bad Weather Like A Magnet

When you think of South Florida, you think of warmth and sunshine. But I’m here.

We were woken up by a loud downpour sometime in the middle of the night. It’s sunny now, but I’m not sure how long that will last. I do know the current warmth is short lived.







I know it says “rural” interior South Florida, but that’s somewhat misleading. Where does rural begin?

When I lived here, back in the late 60s/early 70s, the world ended at Military Trail, a few miles from the coast. Now civilization is much farther west. The land under this condo was surely swamp a few decades ago.

Bottom line – we come to Florida and the warmth leaves. There’s a joke here somewhere.

What Have I Learned in Florida?

I leave here in a little over 12 hours. Over the course of my flight north, I will lose anywhere from 40&#176 to 60&#176!

The five days I spent with my folks has been wonderful. I spent more time with my dad, nearly every waking hour, but lots of time with my mom too. As sappy as this sounds, every second was a treat. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity.

Tonight, in conversation, my mom told me there were times when I was growing up, when we didn’t speak. I don’t remember that at all. Maybe I blotted it out. Those days are certainly gone.

My mom and dad have a great marriage. They are excellent companions and good friends. And, for the most part, they are friends with each others friends. That’s a bonus in any relationship.

I’ve said in the past that living here in Florida has been life extension for them. I’m sticking with that. It could also be argued, it’s the happiest time of their lives. Even more than happy, they are content.

They have their health… though it’s tough to say both parents are in excellent health when my dad has been through a bypass operation, both carotid arteries have been cleaned, he’s suffered the loss of one eye and now failing hearing. My mom’s a cancer survivor. Still, there doesn’t seem to be anything they want to do that they don’t do because of physical restraints.

My dad and I have talked about his being 78. It’s an age he never planned for – never imagined living to. He doesn’t feel like 78, but what should 78 feel like? Both my folks are older than any family member before them. Neither seems old.

Even Steffie has commented on their relative youth, compared to their friends specifically and their contemporaries in general. This is a major compliment coming from someone who does not throw out compliments easily.

The area in Florida where they live is Utopia for seniors. Today, my mom went to ceramics class. She has started painting again – something she hadn’t done seriously for decades. My dad has easy access to golf and high speed access on the computer. Their condo complex has social events and shows on a regular basis. John Davidson is coming in a few weeks. They’ll be going to a cousin’s condo to see Elaine Boozler.

In this part of Palm Beach County, seniors rule. They are mainstream. They are catered to. They are the goose that lays the golden egg – and you think twice before screwing with the goose.

They are surrounded by friends. The group of friends they’ve had for the past 50+ years – a group that was scattered across the New York City Metropolitan Area – is now here… and in the same town! And they have made Florida friends here in the condo complex.

My dad is a computer guru here. I had always kidded him about that. Friday, a man approached my dad in the condo clubhouse and thanked him for earlier advice. He was proud of his accomplishment, and vindicated, all at once.

Tonight, at dinner, someone talked about a development named “Journey’s End.” No one in Florida wants to think about the journey’s end. I don’t blame them. Yet it surrounds them.

My mom attended a memorial ceremony a few days ago. “I didn’t know he had done so much,” she said. The sound of sirens is often heard along Military Trail or nearby Boynton Beach Boulevard. Their coterie of friends is smaller than it once was. Most have, so far, dodged serious ailments.

Helaine and I talk often about dumping winter and moving here, where it’s always warm. After five days here – five days of beautiful weather while Connecticut suffered through cold temperatures of historic proportion – I am more enticed by the idea than ever. It’s still too early in our lives, but our day will come.

We should be as happy – as content – as my parents.