Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 11 – getting acquainted

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Looking Back: 11 – getting acquainted

     If you can imagine a fairy tale castle, writ small and transposed from the Bavarian alps to the palmetto strewn plains of South Dade—that's what the T's home seemed like to me. It was, actually, only a 4-bedroom ranch with a couple of bathrooms set and secluded in a palm treed driveway and landscaped with other tropical plants and shrubbery. And—the cherry on the sundae—a private pool right off the living room. It was as though I had done my time in purgatory and gone, at last, to heaven. It was Florida living, close to the ground (no cellar) and open to the sky. People lived half in half out of doors the climate was so genial. Well, it wasn't completely “open to the sky”, Florida has humongous mosquitoes, the pool was screened. (Just so you don't think I had gone completely batty.)

       Those very friendly people, the T family, that we had met at a roadside drive-in in the Keys, turned out to be the real McCoy. They had been sincere when they gave us their address and phone number and invited us to visit their home in Kendall. On a weekend pass, not too long after we had met Mom and the four kids, we hopped in my '55 Ford and headed up to Miami. We thought better of just appearing on their doorstep in case they had had a change of heart. Mr. T had not been at the drive-in and we thought that maybe he, having attractive young daughters of a certain age, might not be so enthralled with the idea of having three sailors in his home—given the image we believed many people had of sailors. When we got to Kendall and before driving up to their address we called them from a phone booth along the highway.

       There had been no need to worry, they sounded delighted to hear from us and that we were calling from a nearby phone booth. Of course, we didn't say that we had come especially to see them, but that we had a weekend pass and decided to come to Miami and check out the beaches and since we were already in the area thought we'd drop in and say hello, blah, blah, blah.... That gave them the opportunity to back out of the invitation and us to save face. But, no, they insisted that we come to their house. We did so, as I said before, “with bells on.”

       The house sat on a couple acres of land, as we soon discovered, and it was like nothing any of us had experienced before being all northerners. Our houses up north were closed in with cellars and central heating or cast-iron stoves. But this was tropical living. We were ushered into the house and immediately saw that you could just step out of the living room into the screened in swimming pool—don't forget the mosquitoes. The whole living room wall was made of sliding doors that could be pulled aside to leave the whole side of the house open to the pool. It gave the feeling of living out of doors, yet sheltered from the elements—the ultimate evolution of the cave.

        Mr. T was at home this time and he turned out to be a terrific guy and host. He was an airline pilot with Pan American Grace Airways. His regular runs were between Lima, Peru and Miami International Airport. Drinks were mixed and poured and we all relaxed and got acquainted. Finally, someone asked if we had brought our swimming trunks and would we like to use the pool. We had and we would like very much indeed, thank you so much for asking. (I suppose they couldn't have missed the fact that we kept glancing at the pool and oohing and aahing about how great it was to have a pool right outside your living room.) There was a cabana on one end of the pool and we were invited to change into our swimming trunks...and would we like to stay for dinner?   

      “Oh, no, no, we couldn't possibly put to you to so much trouble, thanks anyway. And we do have to get back to Key West.”
      “Right away?”
      “Well, er, no, not right away, necessarily, but.....”
      “That settles it, you're staying for dinner.”
      “Well, if you insist, we'd love to.”
      “Are you hungry?”
      “Are you kidding, we're starving!”
      “Good! We'll do a barbeque. Have another drink, jump in the pool....

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

I can see that meeting these nice generous of spirit, people, was a salve…


Noilly Prattle said...

chicken soup for the soul ;-)