Quickly now, without any help from Google or ChatGPT, tell me what the following items have in common: Cassadaga, Fairy Walks, hematite and carnelian, Warsaw’s Flying University, a 1903 Nobel Prize, the Paris Pantheon, Tho-Radia beauty cream, and the Radium Girls.
Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t find the common denominator. It will all be explained in Jan Vaupel’s latest “memoir”.
If you live in Tampa Bay, you know about Krewes. But most of us see them only from a distance–bead throwing distance–during a parade. Long-time OLLI-USF member, Ray Ann Favata, has recently had a more personal Krewe experience. — Editors
On a recent Saturday night [January 7], something wonderful and surreal happened to my family. My son, Ramon, from the house of Favata, the grandson of one of the founders of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago, Joseph, from the house of Granda, and the son of Charter Member John Favata, became the 50th King of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago. My granddaughter, Demmi, from the House of Parrino, became his Queen. We were all part of this four-generation event.
I kept telling myself that this was a really big deal for a special group of people from a small place called Ybor in a little town on the Hillsborough River called Tampa.
It was Christmas vacation time in December of 1945. World War II had ended a few months earlier. I was three months shy of my 18th birthday, and at six foot one and 172 pounds, looked a little older. I had saved a hundred dollars and got my parents’ permission to accept Uncle Willie’s invitation to visit him in Hollywood Florida.
The train fare was sixty-five dollars, round trip. Mom packed me a lunch/dinner, a combination of five or six sandwiches and fruit. My twenty-four-hour train junket started at New York Pennsylvania Station.
You’ve flown with Neil Cosentino before here in OLLI Connects. Most recently on his flight into the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. But before that you crossed the Andes with him, shared a Christmas Eve flight in Spain, and accompanied him on his world record for the shortest flight between airports in a KC-135. (If you put his name into the Search box on this page, you can find all of the stories Neil’s written for us so far.)
Today’s story is different in that you are a vital part of it, not just a passenger. When you’ve finished reading it, scroll down to the Comment box, and tell us whether you think it’s merely clever fiction or whether the author has “told the truth”.
Divine intervention is usually a good thing. “Acts of God” often aren’t. Ask any insurance company. Or anyone who has just been told by their insurer that “we don’t cover that”.
We have two stories for you today, both dealing with disasters, though on very different scales, and both reminding us that there are things happening all around us that go beyond our understanding and control.
My job as a medical equipment sales representative took me to a new hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida. It was late August, and the moment I stepped off the plane I was met with the smothering effects of the humid heat and tropical vegetation. Before I had left home in Atlanta there had been a report of an impending hurricane in Florida, but no one had mentioned it, so I assumed it had moved on to another target, as hurricanes will do.
I planned to take advantage of the trip to southwestern Florida to visit my friend Amelia who had recently lost her husband. She and he had retired to this area to raise horses, and it had been ages since I had seen her. We planned to get in a good visit over the weekend before I returned to Atlanta on Sunday evening. Read more
On August 24, 1992, my Florida Civil Air Patrol (CAP) hurricane mission started with a midnight telephone call from Florida CAP headquarters. They needed a pilot as soon as possible to fly to Homestead. I took off solo around one a.m. from Vandenberg airport, now Tampa Executive Airport (VDF) and flew near the red lines direct from Tampa to Lantana Airport. Our trusty 310 Squadron Cessna 172 purred all the way – it was good karma – not one rough engine sound. That always seems to happen at night over that pitch black hole called the Everglades.
I arrived just before sunrise and after refueling, getting a cup of fresh coffee and a fast but very simple briefing, I took off at dawn for Homestead. Read more
Three years ago, Kay and I, along with our family luv “Emmy dog,” left Tampa with a new 4-wheel drive Jeep and hit the trail to the Rocky Mountains, settling in Loveland, Colorado. (Yes, there is a Loveland in the U.S.A.—actually two with Ohio the home of another.)
Excited about living on the “Front Range” in Northern Colorado, we were certain we had found our “forever home.” Alas, three years later, we purchased a small house in Sun City Center, Florida, where sun & fun gush galore. Of course, getting there on I-75 heading south from Tampa is a challenge with 90 mph bumper-to-bumper traffic that turns into “How slow can you go?” when you get off the Interstate.
So, what’s it like living in the fast lane in Sun City? That’s the tale I am going to share with you.
Recently I went with a few friends to hike and take photographs at Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland. It was a LONG drive there but well worth it. It is a very large park of more than 2,000 acres. We hiked four and a half miles and saw not even a quarter of the park. We took Marsh Rabbit Run (where we were stopped by a large alligator blocking the trail) and Alligator Alley which was my favorite. The large trees shading Alligator Alley are lovely. View more
You may be wondering why you received an OLLI Connects email for a story that isn’t yet available over this weekend. We have to chalk that up to an unfortunate misclick during the editing process for an upcoming piece. Please disregard that notice–for now– and enjoy this week’s two offerings focused on the splendid photos produced by the hiking and nature SIG members. And, check back with us in early June for the “Flying Tigers.”–Editor
For National Poetry Month, Tampa made a call to the city—send us your Tampa poems! The overwhelming response included more than 60 submissions celebrating pirates, the Lightning, Bucs and Rays, the old brick streets, the sights and smells of Ybor and the natural beauty of Tampa Bay. Among the winners were two OLLI poets, Cath Mason and Evelyn Romano, whose winning odes to Tampa are featured in today’s edition of OLLI Connects.