Gavel Gamut

By Jim Redwine


By the time Peg’s mom got tired of living by herself in Florida Peg was over the legal age, 55, so Mary gave us her small condo in a retirement community in Royal Palm Beach. As with many gift horses, this one had issues. Issue number one was most of the residents were planning more endings than beginnings.

Whereas, in southern Indiana there are numerous births, weddings (this chronology is now often correct), graduations and sundry events such as street fests and craft fairs around which an occasional funeral occurs, in Florida the sequence and frequency are reversed.

Clues to the demographics of our Florida neighborhood may be found in the federal tax code like by-laws which govern all aspects of the residents’ behavior. No dogs, no bare feet, no noise after ten o’clock p.m., no “loud’ music, no pickup trucks, no bar-b-que grills, no one under 55, etc., etc., etc. And everyone going to or from the pool must wear a cover-up. This last one I heartily agree with; with the age and condition of those of us shuffling about the pool, the EPA might otherwise intervene. At 71, I include your humble servant.

Peg and I get to Florida about three weeks per year. We spend most of our time there just as you do if you have a cabin at the lake or any other “recreational” property. That is, we clean and fix, repair and sweat, replace and throw away. Every now and then we will take a break from our vacation and eat lunch at one of the numerous Cuban, Italian, Mexican, Indian or Oriental restaurants. There are no Ozzie and Harriet Americans living, or at least eating or driving, in Royal Palm Beach. I now know how the American Indians felt in the Nineteenth Century. Of course, Peg and I frequent these “foreign” restaurants because the food is so good. Perhaps if English or German food were any good there would be some of those places to eat.

Actually we rarely venture out of our complex as there are more cars on Florida roads than there used to be in Detroit. A trip to the hardware store, of which we have to make several, is an adventure in collision avoidance. And whereas folks in southern Indiana or southern Illinois or northwestern Kentucky for that matter will excuse or tolerate almost any driving faux pas, Floridians believe a loud and blaring horn is always in vogue. One reason Floridians constantly ride their horns is almost everyone is hard of hearing. Or maybe that’s the reason they are.

So, Peg and I spend most of our break times sitting on our porch, what Floridians grandly call lanais, and watch our neighbors push their walkers or wheelchairs along the way to the “clubhouse” where the only events involve aluminum foil encased take-home leftovers and endless stories about medical procedures.

This morning after we had finished putting up two new smoke alarms, as required by the by-laws, we were gazing across the street at the roof of the clubhouse and engaging in a sense of superiority over the aged and almost stationary parade of shufflers. Then I felt something peering back at us. By the way, I wanted to tell you about the Mt. Everest size mountain created by all the trash that has no were else to go as there are laws against dumping it in the ocean. They simply pile it higher and higher covering each new layer with sand. In other words a perfect storm of habitat for critters.

These mountains of trash bring in varmints of all kinds. The one nearest to us is an aviary for vultures, which frequently take forays into the retirement villages surrounding the dump. It turned out what was looking at me from the clubhouse roof as I arrogated myself over my elderly neighbors were four vultures. They appeared to be discussing something as they stared my way.

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