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Saturday, February 12, 2011


I teach art in a West Kendall elementary school. I often walk past a playground where young kids seem focused on screaming and chasing each other.
Having a few minutes to spare last week I entered the fenced-in area to visit. After the first rush of kids high-fived me a 5-year-old boy smiled and said, "Bet you can't catch me!".
Although I'll be turning 64 next week I thought, "Heck, he's barely three feet tall. I bet I could."

I often think I can do what I once did. For twenty years I played touch football with friends. It was the most fun I have ever had playing sports. It ebbed to a stop in my twenties when my football buddies moved away.
Since then, every time I see young men playing the game I have the urge to join them.

Fifteen years ago I was working in a North Dade middle school. When our eighth graders began playing football at a school picnic they let me join in. It was great to be fifteen again but on the third play something popped in my leg and I was on the injured list.
Three days later, good as new, I waited for the next game that never came. Most guys my age barely move but if they do, it's to play golf, tennis, or walk. Running out for a pass yelling, "Hit me!", is not on the menu.

But last week, I answered the boy in the playground with, "I bet I can!".
He smiled, ran off, and I followed.

There I was chasing this kid amongst a gaggle of other five-year-olds. He seemed very fast for his age and the lad could turn on a dime.
The supervising teacher (let's call her "Gail") must have thought I'd gone nuts. My mind told me I could easily catch the little rabbit but my body was not agreeing. As he darted and laughed Gail called out , "Mr. Terry!".

I ambled over to her totally winded and was advised, "Workman's compensation won't cover you when you fall. Playing is not part of our job". I thought about it for a moment, thanked her, and resumed the chase.

With one last burst of old man's speed I reached out and made the tag. The boy laughed and ran off to chase someone else.

It was bewildering that catching a kid could be so hard. No wonder some are kept on leashes. Still, I was proud of my accomplishment.
As I left the play area a fourth grader who had been watching said, "Congratulations Mr. T. Those five-year-olds are awfully fast".
I had to agree.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


On Saturday, February 5, King Mango took us on a tour of the Everglades.

Entertainment was provided by Little Ella on the didgeridoo.

Heading west on the Tamiami Trail we stopped to enjoy the Clyde Butcher Gallery.

Across the street a man and an alligator were trying to catch fish.

Everglades City was having its
annual seafood festival.
You could watch young children
getting knocked off a spinning, bouncing shark, but what we really liked was

the seafood.

There were tons of it as well as the resulting

garbage. It was everywhere.

Even though the bins were full, people kept placing their plates on top knowing they would tumble to the ground. Finally folks just began tossing their leftovers on the ground near the cans.

It happens every year. Its an Everglades City tradition.

It didn't take long tire of garbage piled too high and the music playing too loud.

We jumped on our bus and
headed south. We didn't stop until the road ended on Chocoluskee Island.

In the distance was an old, elevated building.

Its where Ted Smallwood sold everything anyone might have needed a hundred years ago.

They say it hasn't changed much.

I noticed that the machine I used to buy nickel Cokes from now sells them $1.50. It took young Quin a while to figure out how to use the bottle opener.

Ted's great-grandson showed us the elixirs used in days gone by. One from 1910 touted the benefits of cocaine ( one of the original ingredients of Coco-cola when a bottle cost two cents a hundred years ago).

Ted died a long time ago but a pretty good facsimile of him still holds court and, a flyswatter.

After telling Mr. Smallwood goodbye we headed home to Coconut Grove where we unloaded our ice chests, bicycles,
and tired bodies. Before he drove off we heard the king say,

"What fun we had in aces and spades.
Let's go back soon to the Everglades!"