Ghost House Notes

Red brick mansion hidden behind rampant shrubs. Drive passes through a tunnel of leaves - spider webs in face. Walking dogs behind house I always wondered if an eccentric was living there looking out at me from tattered drapes. There was.

Today walking the dogs on road in front of house I met woman who's VW Beatle I had seen several times parked near edge of drive. She came down path between overgrown box woods.

Woman is Beverly. Looked younger then closer became older. Wrinkled - very thin - might have been sick. Next week 50th anniversary at Ashley Arms puts her about 67.

I asked about house. She told me. (I wonder if crazy people like woman and I reveal stuff to strangers - a hoping I suppose that retelling the facts would make them better.)

Her parents built house in 1939.  Last one to live there was early onset Alzheimer brother who shared house with homeless people, would not let Beverly in. Said he had stuff piled a foot high. One homeless man cut down shrubs in front - thought it looked better without them.

Brother gone (dead?). She had planned to fix up one room  - stay there. But building inspector would not let her use space heater - had to have central heat.

She has lived up and down SE coast.

Four family cats in back - she has put out food and shelter. Cats are frightened. I saw one. A yellow tabby. Looked at me and ran off. I expect that is why woman comes by - to feed, check on cats.

Back looks a little better. A lawn chair that has not been there before. Cat houses in sheltered places.

Same artificial flowers in windows. This where dogs and I thought we saw somebody.

Woman said I could walk with dogs on grounds, Offered to take me on tour

Moonpies and Burroughs

Ron's grand Moonpie madness. The other day he sent out hundreds of pictures from his lair in Hawaii . Most were shot the day of the Moonpie party in front on the patio of the Burroughs building near South Park. It was a million years ago. I hope I haven't violated some sort of copyright thing.

These are some of my favorites. I have left out a lot. But there is only so much time.


Guy in suit allowed it all. Guy in tie is John.


Key West - Random Pictures

Somewhere on Keys going to Key West.

Hemmingway's bathroom.

Six toe cat.


Hemmingway's study.

Waiting for Yankee Freedom III to take us to Dry Tortugas and Ft. Jefferson.

Freighter on horizon reveals curvature of Earth.

Looking out Ft. Jefferson gun port.

Gun on top of battlement.  
Key West rooster. Was told chickens originated with Haitian voodoo ceremonies.  

On Yankee Freedom. Mr. Bob exhibits cool keeping cap from blowing off.
Empty boat encountered about halfway Fort. Havana is not much further. Captain of our ship slowed down to take a look.
Bob and I tried out scenarios for 60ish woman in blue blouse. She was a recent widow figuring things out. She was a cougar pursuing the blonde crew member standing beside her. She was the object of his approaches (he gradually inched in toward her). . Her husband was waiting in the cabin. The last one was it.

Smiling fellow beside Bob does these things right. He took three weeks to get here from Augusta. We took two days to get here from Ft. Mill.
Fort Jefferson harbor. Floatplane  is only other way to get here.
Fort Jefferson. Started in 1846 to protect shipping through nearby channels. Never finished, was a prison in Civil War. Construction stopped in 1880's. Fort became a wildlife refuge in 1908, was declared a national monument in 1935.

Inside fort viewing gun rooms.

The place has a sort of stark beauty.

Five more steps back and I would have joined scuba divers 50 feet below.

Yankee Freedom.  Twin hull catamaran that goes about 30 knots. No water on island, ship served breakfast and lunch - and booze on way back. Dry Tortugas are ecologically pristine island - home to blue footed boobys and sea turtles. (The name "Tortugas" means turtle. "Dry" is because there is no fresh water.)
Stairs going to top of battlement.  Coming was pitch black.
Cruise ship coming in Key West where it will dump it's middle-age passengers for a day of frantic sight-seeing.
Going down interstates and toll roads through eastern Florida, past miles of tract houses both and I said we'd rather be in Harlan West Virginia. We returned through Florida and Georgia back country. I think this is Folkston Georgia.
Trains from North go merge through "Folkston Funnel" then spread out into Florida. We met a Canadian train buff who stopped to watch.
Bug under glass of defunct 93 octane pas pump in Wadley Georgia.
We had lunch in Leesburg Georgia at "Wolfy's" restaurant. People mostly old, retired - not cruise ship old but small town old.
Went by Steam Boat Annie's, Paw Paw's Deli and Fat Daddy's RV Park..
Passed a truck with NRA sticker exhorting followers to stand up and fight. Saw another sign asking people to join KKK. A MacDonald's somewhere was playing Littler Drummer Boy on sound system. Bob also heard it - verified in this respect at least I am not crazy.

Key West - Random Notes

Sun 3/2/14

(Left from Bob's house 7:00 AM)

As Bob says, you have to drive the BMW or it will drive you. Once it gets into a long axis rut it wants to stay there, bouncing around resisting efforts to be guided out. And you don't take your eye off the road because you will drift into the adjacent lane. But that is the price for quickness.

So far, driving the little convertible is the most interesting aspect of the trip. I95 through Florida is boring.  Long stretches of heavily travelled straight road made negotiating  traffic around Jacksonville fun. Florida, at least this strip five or ten miles from the ocean is boring geographically.

However there were a couple of things,

Somewhere in the vicinity of Melbourne we saw a little hill. Maybe 100 feet tall and the size of several football fields. It was covered is rich green grass.  Not a bad place for a restaurant. But then we noticed the odor and the birds. It was a garbage dump. The old people, the transplanted Yankees, the motorcyclists, the people driving $200,000 motorhomes, the tanned golfers generate a lot of garbage.

And there were the memories.  During a bad time in my life in the late 50's I lived in West Palm Beach. Bob's company had offices in smaller towns across South Florida. He visited once a month.

I don't know about Bob but I spent a lot of time contemplating lost people and lost scenes. Taking a side trip down mythical highway 1, which, 50+ years ago was only North South road - passing pastel stucco houses - smelling fish and old perfume, I saw ghosts.

And there was the pickup with a Confederate flag parked in front of the Red Lobster.

We did about 650 miles ending up in a Hampton in Port St Lucie. Tomorrow 250 or so miles and the Keys.  Then things will be different. But still - discomfort has its place.

Mon 3/3/14.

Arrived late 3/3. Hot. Staying at Abury Court. Lots of people, difficult to cross narrow streets. Happy or at least boisterous people. Afternoon spent looking for me a lightweight long sleeve shirt and suntan lotion. Despite being given directions by sweet smelling man on bicycle could not find suitable shirt – settled for suntan lotion.    

Place seems a combination of Charleston and Oracoke.
Chicken and six toe cats are free roaming protected animals. Chickens started as Haitian voodoo sacrifices. Saw several. Roosters crowing. Saw one six toe (did not count) cat – called Hemmingway cats. I asked cat if he is writing these days.

Tues 3/4/14

Second day went to Dry Tortugas and Ft Jefferson. Took about 2 ½ hours on 150+ passenger catamaran. Could have gone to Havana in same time.
Saw freighter on horizon – only superstructure showing. Can understand how this lead to discovery of earth’s curvature.

Fort Jefferson has bleak sort of beauty and elegance. Entropy doing it in.  So many pictures taken sucking essence from subjects. They will disappear.
Spiral rock steps go middle and upper levels. Steep. From above, stairwells like black pits. In some places could not see steps and had to blindly put feet down while feeling along wall.

Passengers mostly middle age or better. Cruise ship goers. Nice enough in morning then not so great during dark teatime. My fault not theirs. PS – Bob’s car got ticket for being parked against traffic. We went to office. I perceived girl as loud and rude – I had a bit of a fit.
At dinner tonight aging gay couple sat behind us. They were having trouble picking out food. One was dressed in macho cowboy outfit. Could be described as tall drunk homosexual cowboy. It was not midnight.

We talked with two people – both adventurers – both pleasant. Man from South Carolina – visits parks and hikes. Had taken three weeks to get to Key West – while we too two days. Girl wants to be PhD in study of ancient human bones. Was camping two nights at fort. She is also travelling – with her little terrier. Her mother is Jewish which qualifies girl for free trip to Israel before her 26th birthday. She is 25. We told her she must go.
Wed 3/5/14

Got up early, sat on little balcony and drank coffee. Dark. Strolled around block. Saw man smoking, walking little dog. We agreed this was a good time of day. Air was like velvet.

Breakfast pastries at funky little bent wooden bakery. Everybody everywhere is pleasant.

As we were eating lunch at place on harbor, huge cruise harbor dumped an army on browsing people. They seemed busy, intent to absorb the most in the time allowed.
Visited Hemmingway house and Truman’s second white house.

Left Key West about 2:00 PM.

Driving past edge of Miami - past mile after mile of the same houses  both Bob and I agreed that we would rather be in Harlan Kentucky.

Applying suntan lotion, I covered my arm in greasy white goo.

Stayed at Hilton in Miramar near Ft Lauderdale.

We ate at nearby Jason's both of us agreed we are not part of this world. I might be going bad. I seemed to bother kids at Jason's (but did OK with other people so maybe I am OK)

I am becoming a little concerned that my clothes are beginning to smell

Thur 3/6/14 
North of Fort Lauderdale we turned inward to middle part of state. Going back we will stay off interstates. It is a different world - has an Appalachia feel.  Functional little cross road towns. Failed businesses falling on side of road.

In Leesburg we ate lunch at Wolfy's. A meat and potatoes place. People were old - not decorously old like old people in Key West, but country old - retired truck driver and waitress old. Some had been brought from the home by a young woman. (But they seemed happy enough.) Bob wondered if old man looking at menu had been here everyday for a long time and could not remember from one day to the next that he had the same thing everyday. A senile Sisyphus. Leaving we saw one of the waitresses negotiating the busy highway - probably walking home. She had pretty pulled up hair but her face was weathered.

Later we stopped at a McDonald's for a pee and coffee. Waiting in line I heard Little Drummer Boy over sound system. Thinking I might be crazy I asked Bob if he heard it too. He did - although that does not preclude the crazy part.

We saw a roadside sign offering medical services for "Smoker's Only Heart Disease".

I was beginning to drive Bob crazy with my ongoing concession of all his points and insistence that none of it made any difference - that it all came down to treatment of people at bottom. For the sake of tranquility I quit.