It is New Year’s Eve day and I am sitting on my lanai in Stuart, Florida watching the pelicans dive for fish just a few yards off my beach. The temperature is 72°f today and will be 79°f tomorrow. The trip to Stuart was somewhat circuitous. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with JP, Rachel and Eleanor in Lake Villa, Illinois and celebrated Eleanor’s first birthday.
On the day after Thanksgiving we drove to Pennsylvania so I could officiate my cousin Scott’s wedding the next day. We visited Scott and his wife Selena for a few days and then drove to Framingham, Massachusetts to visit Alison and Oscar and celebrate Jackson’s first birthday. We stayed through Christmas and Alison’s birthday on December 26.
Our plan was to start driving to Florida on December 27. Sadly, my aunt Anna passed away on Christmas Eve. We visited Anna when we were in Pennsylvania for the wedding. She was in the hospital but had recovered and was quite lucid. We spent some time reminiscing about our experiences together. Her son Scott made the funeral arrangements. Complicating trying to organize the funeral was the fact that the funeral parlor owner had a stroke and ended up in the hospital on Christmas day. Scott was concerned that the funeral parlor had not responded to his requests for updates. Eventually an assistant took over and the services were lovely. We delayed our departure to Florida by a day to attend. We spent the night at the Washington House Hotel which is where Scott and Selena’s wedding had been performed. My brother Bruce and his friend Bones also attended.
The Simons boys – John, Scott, Bruce and Bill (aka Bones)
It was a rainy day for the funeral but it was not snowing or bitter cold. We departed after the luncheon reception at 1:00 pm and headed to Fayetteville, NC. It continued to rain for several hours but once we reached Maryland it cleared up. The traffic was horrendous with delays every few miles. Interstate 95 is not a friendly highway. We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville, NC at 11:00 pm. Fayetteville is also the home of the Fort Bragg army base. Listening to NPR radio the next day we learned that the first Army execution since 1961 was scheduled to take place soon at Fort Bragg. The serial killer was enlisted in the army at the time he committed his crimes.
We were on the road (interstate 95) by 9:00 am. The GPS promised we would arrive in Stuart at 6:30 pm after driving 634 miles. The five or six traffic accidents that delayed us that day told another tale. The day was sunny and bright and road conditions were perfect. However, these southern drivers managed to create multiple car pile ups about every 50 miles of our journey. These traffic delays along with a few pit stops for gas and food set our actual arrival at 8:15 pm. We passed one overturned car still on its roof. We wondered how that can happen on a sunny day with moderate traffic. Then we noticed all of the motor homes were towing cars on trailers behind them. The winter migration was in full gear as we observed dozens of motor homes along the way. We caught up to one motor home pulling an empty trailer. Where was the car? Why pull an empty car trailer? Could the overturned car we saw have fallen off the trailer being pulled by that motor home? We will never know.
Upon arrival in Stuart we stopped at the Fresh Market grocery store to pick up some essentials such as milk, bread and corn muffins. That will hold us over until we can shop again the next day.
We opened up the condo and everything was fine. I turned on the water valve and plugged in the hot water heater. Next I opened the hurricane shutters on the Lanai and our bedroom window. The remainder could wait until the next day. Our only crisis was that the cable TV was not functioning. Thirty minutes on hold with Comcast/Xfinity and we finally solved the problem. We are in business with everything functional. We turned on the ice maker in the refrigerator and will dump the first batch. We bought ice at the Fresh Market so we are all set.
On Saturday Priscilla struck pay dirt at her favorite resale shop. We had visited it in October and bought a few white wicker pieces. They had a nice bedroom set but we did not have time to get it delivered before we departed for Chicago. Our first day back in Stuart we visited the resale shop. They had a queen bedroom set with shell engravings and shell handles – Deal! – and we will take the grandfather clock as well. It will all be delivered on Thursday. I have four days to paint the bedroom before the delivery. Is Home Depot open on New Year’s Day?
It is New Years Eve. There is no wind and the St Lucie River is flat calm. It is good night to ride on the hook. Although now that we are CLODs ( cruisers living on dirt ) that is no longer and issue. Our lanai faces due north. Our view across the one mile wide section of the St Lucie river is the estate of the former singer and entertainer Frances Langford. The estate is being transformed into a resort with a marina. We have been watching the construction since we first visited Stuart in February 2015. The marina appears to be completed and lots of earth moving equipment is rearranging the landscape on the hill.
Julia Frances Langford (April 4, 1913 – July 11, 2005) was an American singer and entertainer who was popular during the Golden Age of Radio and also made film appearances over two decades.
With her film debut in Every Night at Eight (1935) the diminutive five-foot-one-inch star introduced what became her signature song: “I’m in the Mood for Love”. She then began appearing frequently in films such as Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) with James Cagney, in which (portraying Nora Bayes) she performed the popular song “Over There”. In his memoir, Don’t Shoot! It’s Only Me!, Bob Hope recalled how Frances Langford got the biggest laugh he had ever heard. At a U.S.O. show in the South Pacific, Langford stood up on a stage to sing before a huge crowd of G.I.’s. When Langford sang the first line of her signature song, “I’m in the Mood for Love,” a soldier in the audience stood up and shouted, “You’ve come to the right place, honey!”
Bob Hope shaking hands with General George Patton. Frances Langford on the right.
Happy New Year