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Father Steve Braddock, CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, which gives down and out people another chance, and even more chances, forwarded this in reply to yesterday’s teaching children – Key West and beyond, and more N Roosevelt Blvd cartoons post at goodmorningkeywest.com:
“Jesus was homeless, born to an unwed mother and an unemployed father.”
Imagine what Key West’s Mayor Craig Cates and his police would do to that family, if they showed up in Key West today.
Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, retired, replied to yesterday’s teaching children – Key West and beyond, and more N Roosevelt Blvd cartoons post at goodmorningkeywest.com:
Sloan: full of fascinating material but it will take me (off
and on) all day and evening to digest. the best
thought provoking entity going concerning our
fair problems and quite humane, sensitive also.
Jerry told me a while back, that at one time or another he had treated every writer in Key West, and as far as he knew the only people who ever got mad at him were those who could not get an appointment to see him when they wanted to see him. His practice was full up, and he consulted (sounded to me like he ran) the challenged students program at May Sands School in Key West and was the School District’s psychiatrist on call. For decades Jerry was the only psychiatrist in Key West.
Early on, Jerry and his wife, Donna, fell in love with the ocean and the reef, through diving and fishing. Jerry became well versed in ocean and reef biology. Thus developed a second aspect of his calling to serve, heal.
Jerry and I met via Sandy Downs, with whom Jerry had conversed about the current attempt to widen the channel and bring in more and even bigger cruise ships than this one tearing up the bottom of Key West’s harbor.
Sandy told me to contact Jerry, I did, and it went from there, rooted in his and my mutual deep concern about cruise ships and the havoc they wreak in the sea and on the reef.
Eventually, I went to Jerry’s home and met him and Donna, and mostly Jerry and I talked maybe an hour and a half about many things. As I recall, that’s how he ended up on my email hit list and sometimes commenting on what pops out of me on a given day.
Peggy Butler, who lived many years in Key West, replied to yesterday’s teaching children – Key West and beyond, and more N Roosevelt Blvd cartoons post:
Your post today was intriguing in several ways. I won’t pretend to understand what’s going on with the work on the boulevard there, when every day here in Palm Beach County, we have 24 hour road work going on. There is never idleness on the work sites that I’ve observed and even though the road repair or new additions to the roads or ramps take several months, the work does get done satisfactorily, and there are always alternative ways to travel on the highways during this work, and it usually involves two-way traffic, even if each way is one lane.
Your looking at the “cute cottage” and finding it lacking did not come as a surprise to me. After I was notified that my little duplex studio on Petronia, across from Peter Anderson’s office, was selling and I had to find another place to live, I was continuously disappointed in the apartments and cottages that were never as advertised. The place I finally settled on had two good features – many windows and a large bathroom (also with ample windows)! It was the upstairs of an old house on Watson, the bedroom was open to the living room and the enclosed stairway slanted, and even ‘gave’ a little on a couple of steps. Had I not been desperate to stay on the island, I never would have moved to such a place. After one of my several oral surgeries to reconstruct my upper jaw from the bone loss, I was walking down those stairs with my laundry basket and ‘slid’ down the last few steps. I landed on my knees and arms, and my surgery was not jeopardized, fortunately. From then on, I did all my laundry in the bathtub. The landlord was great at Jerry-rigging, refusing to buy new parts for anything that needed fixing. After the nice lady moved out of the apartment downstairs, which was a nice place, he was asking way to much for me to move into it. As it was I was paying nearly $1200 for the upstairs. Instead of leaving the downstairs apartment as it was, he started chopping it up into two or three smaller units, and it ruined the whole place. I can just imagine what he was asking for each of them.
I’m afraid that people like us who are not wealthy will all be barred from the island eventually. I can see the day when workers in the bars and hotels will be housed off-island and bussed into work every day, so that only the wealthy will be residents. Hemingway predicted this the year I was born, in 1937. Perhaps this is still unrealistic, but it seems to be heading that way more every day. I never wanted to leave the island, but continuing to pay such an outrageous amount of my income for sub-standard housing became something I was no longer willing to do. The same with several of my good friends who also gave up on trying to live decently in Key West. All of us have much better lives now, as far as the quality of our living is concerned. And, of course, I have the wonderful advantage of having my daughters and granddaughters nearby, and get to take care of my toddler great-granddaughter frequently, which is one of my greatest joys in life.
Do those of us who left miss the artistic influence of the island? Certainly! I still have membership in the Key West Writers Guild and still maintain friendships with other writers and artists there, and I don’t see that changing. However, I do miss the day to day activities that were available to me, when I could afford them. That was getting more difficult by the month, however. I miss very much triking around the island and having people call out my name in greeting. Key West is very much a small town and it doesn’t seem to matter how much money you have, as far as having good friends is concerned. All my friends knew I was not wealthy, but if they enjoyed my company, and vice-versa, that didn’t matter. Most of us were writers and/or activists, so it was a natural thing that we all got together as often as possible at one meeting or fundraiser or another.
Is there life after Key West? Again, the answer to that is certainly! However, I find myself dragging my heels as far as trying to find that same kind of life here in West Palm. I’ve done a little volunteering for the homeless and worked with a few political activists on important matters, but that has been the extent of my reaching out to find that new life. I’m planning to audit some creative writing classes/workshops in the near future and organizing a small writers group here, so maybe I’ll connect with the artistic side of the county soon, but for now, I just find myself missing it on the island of Key West.
I’m sorry you’re giving up on finding quality housing on the island, Sloan, but I can sure understand why. There comes a point when, as much as you love the place, you’re just not willing to pay for next to nothing. All of us who left got to that point when we gave up our lives in Key West. I’m particularly sorry that you’re so close to giving up on living anywhere on this earth. You’re still a relatively young man and despite your health problems, you seem to continue to reach out to others and enjoy some degree of socialization on the island with a few close friends. You still contribute to the issues that continue to plague Key West, such as the problem of the sluggish boulevard work, the homeless and the dredging of the channel for larger cruiseships that will, without question, be detrimental to the harbor and the reefs.
You still care, Sloan. And as long as you still care for anything other than yourself, it is my feeling that you have much more to contribute to humanity.
Take care of yourself, Sloan.
I wrote back:
Hi, Peggy – the way I see it, the angels want me to move to Key West, they help me find a place to stay. I’ll be 71 in October. My sun has run a long, interesting and often rough and bizarre course. As if I lived lots of lives in one life, and perhaps I have another life to go, or two. I’m looking at something I have not thought about for some time. Seriously far out. Might cover it tomorrow. Nothing to do with Key West politics, or Key West, on the face of it; but my sense is Key West, and the Keys, perhaps because of their diversity, ethnic and otherwise, are serving as a proxy for USA, and perhaps for more than that. Something seems to be in play beyond what human eyes see, and how Key West and the Keys go might have far reaching influence on how the bigger saga goes. I’m being deliberately somewhat mysterious right now, but not entirely mysterious.
I gave up trying to fit into Key West’s art, writers, poetry circles. And into any of its other circles. I didn’t even fit into homeless circles – homeless people viewed me as an anomaly in much the same way mainstream people do. Doesn’t seem I fit into anything anymore, and it’s been that way a while. A road seldom traveled, although I imagine it might have been interesting having a meal with Shams, who was Rumi’s teacher; and perhaps with Rumi. My sense from what I’ve read, Shams might have been more inclined to be seen breaking bread with an infidel. There is a place which is beyond religion, I have been there many times and so have lots of people. It’s a wonder to me religion has held on for so long, but then, it’s important to many people.
I have not always been poor, and I could get a phone call tomorrow and be sitting on a pile again. But until that happens, I’m running pretty tight financially. I will light somewhere, I will continue to stir the pot; it’s what the angels trained me to do and a part of me takes perverse pleasure while another part of me wishes for something really different. I sometimes imagine I would really like writing novels and making a decent living at it; and teaching poetry and English – it would be different. But that’s not what the angels trained me to do, and I imagine they intend to keep me working in ways that blend with their perspective, which tends not to be my preference but I have learned to go with their flow, since resistance has proven to be futile.
I agree, the cost of living space in Key West is too high and eventually maybe it will be only for rich people and their servants. I’m going to miss these woods where I live, looking out my open French doors at all that greenery, community with Miss Kitty and Mother Nature and her creatures. Electrical storms are fabulous here. Wonderful cloud formations. Mostly quiet. I never lock my door. It’s remote, though. Never lived this way before. Maybe my soul needed to experience that, too.
front entrance to my place on Little Torch Key
I think it was in 1998 that I started calling Christianity, Capitalanity. Maybe
that was a forerunner of my eventual descent into politics. Now, after seven races for local office in Key West and the Florida Keys, with some online holding forth on political situations on the US mainland and beyond the US, I can’t say the political work wasn’t interesting at times, but I never did like politics, and still don’t.
Now, I wonder if that is coming to a close? Am I going back into the psycho-spiritual healing work I did before the political work? Or is it something else, maybe a blend of the old work and the political work? I really don’t know.
For twenty years I have felt something huge is going on, something like Orson Scott Card’s super novel, Ender’s Game. The other day at Regal Cinema, I saw a preview of “Ender’s Game”, the movie, coming out this November.
Without knowing what really was happening, Ender and a bunch of other juvenile virtual games experts were trained in super advance virtual war games they were told was some sort of contest, but in reality, the war games were for real and Ender and his teammates were defending Earth from an alien invasion.
Kids were chosen to defend Earth, because they were more agile than adults, and more fearless. Ender and his squadron were not told what was really at stake, because the planetary leaders feared knowledge of that might cause Ender and his troops not to go for the kill, which was obliteration of the aliens’ home planet. The aliens were a hive insect race, the only independent thinking came from their queen. Obliteration of their home world unhinged the aliens. Earth was saved.
After learning what had really happened, Ender went into deep remorse. In sequel novels, he spent many years with the hive queen searching for a new world for her and her species, which finally came about.
Because of its One Human Family creed, maybe Key West is being used in a similar end-game way? As the hive goes in Key West, USA goes, humanity goes?
Maybe the future of humanity depends on people becoming more like angels, which they were before they became people.
The difference between the homeless man Jesus and the people around him was, Jesus knew children still remembered who they were,
but grownups had forgotten. Jesus tried to protect children from grownups, and tried to help grownups remember who they were. He told grownups, only by becoming like a young child could they enter the kingdom of God.
I’ve still got a ways to go, but I think this pic below is a pretty good road map for both children and adults.