The Morning After — Helios Remembered

She was 22, beautiful, and had already felt more of life’s hard knocks than she deserved.

He was two weeks old, and not exactly beautiful.  But she thought so.

Everyone told her it was no use, that he was too young, but she fed him with an eye-dropper every few hours for weeks.  She took a chance, and gave him a chance — and her love.  And he gave her his.

They both made it.

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The Great Sebring International Grand Prix d’Bicycle

The town where I grew up had one claim to fame. No, wait, there were two. Almost three.

First came the residency of an author rather well known in the early 1900’s. Rex Beach was the gentleman’s name, and he is probably best remembered as having produced The Spoilers, a book made into a movie in 1914, and remade 5 times after that, the last in the early 1940’s starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich. (I don’t remember having read it, but it must’ve been something!) Mr. Beach lived in Sebring, FL, during the last years of his life, dying in 1949. At one time the local lake was named after him, but he lost out to Ol’ Stonewall Jackson in the long run. (Lake Jackson works much better than Rex Beach Lake, in my opinion, although I’m sure Mr. Beach was much nicer to the local Indians than Gen. Jackson, so maybe he did deserve it more.)

The other claim was the Sebring International Grand Prix of Endurance which was, during its heyday in the fifties and sixties, one of the dozen or so automobile races that scored points for the World Driving Championship. During the two weeks preceding the race and for a day or so thereafter the town was transformed from a sleepy little central Florida citrus and ranching town into quite the mecca for international glitterati.

Needless to say, “The Race” captured the hearts and minds of small boys to a notable degree. And so it came to pass that, along about 1957 or so, Jeff and Lukey and the Fink brothers and I decided to hold the Great Sebring International Grand Prix d’Bicycle. Continue reading

The Hour ‘Twixt Day and Night

I was watching the sun set a while ago, and musing about that magical time of day that exists from the last rays until time for young ‘uns to go in for dinner — or “supper,” if you grew up in the South.

I don’t suppose kids today notice it all that much, what with soccer practice, computer games, and other distractions, but back in the days of black and white TV (two channels available if you were lucky and nothing but news in the early evening) us kids were almost invariably running around the neighborhood at twilight, for the last few minutes of fun with our friends before settling in with the family to eat and watch “Lucy,” or “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Continue reading

There are times when the wolves are silent,and only the moon howls

I spent my earliest years on a farm at the edge of the Florida Everglades. It was at the base of the central ridge, where the prairie country segues into the ’Glades as the elevation slopes imperceptibly toward sea level. Until I was about seven we had no electricity. Our lighting was kerosene lamps. We had a wonderful, cacophonous silence: no radios, no television, and only a few human voices.

For the grownups, evening recreation was getting together in the “canasta house” — a little screened-in building open to the humid breeze — and playing cards or just telling stories. For a small boy with no other kids to play with, it was sitting in the darkness on the screened porch, comic books exhausted, and listening to that silence. Continue reading

George

Sunday, December 2, 2001

I was a Freshman in college the first time I really took notice of the Beatles. A lot of things were happening in my life, and I was going through a stretch of musical snobbery that drew me more toward classical, jazz and other “real” music. December of ’62 was the Cuban missile crisis, and I was so caught up in the thrills and confusion of a college campus a thousand miles from home — and so self-centered — I barely noticed that! And the long hair: you have to remember that I grew up in a small Southern town. Long hair?

During Easter break of 1963 I took the then-current girlfriend to the Miami airport to pick up her father, whom I had never met. Continue reading

There’s More to Florida Than Rats, Rockets and Retirees

As many of you know (the three faithful non-family readers and the rest of you) I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life. I grew up in a small town on the Central Ridge back in the ’50’s and ’60’s, after spending my first 11 years on a farm at the edge of the Everglades. (OK, so it wasn’t part of the ’Glades geologically, but ecologically and most other ways there warn’t no Yankees gonna know th’ dif’ernce.)

It was a good place to grow up.   Continue reading

The Races

I grew up in Sebring, a small town in central Florida about 60 miles south of Orlando. Back in those days (the 50’s) there wasn’t a whole lot going on in that part of the world most of the time. But it had its moments.

For two weeks in March the town of Sebring hosted the Sebring 12-hour Grand Prix of Endurance.   Continue reading