Hello Friends and Family,

Florida, 1971, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Once winter puts its icy grip on Minnesota, it is a good time to escape for warmer climes. A lucky break for me was that my family had moved to the Fort Lauderdale area when I was in the middle of high school — my dad's employer relocated the whole company there and offered us a company-paid move. Ah, the South Florida sun quickly warmed up my limbs, heretofore frozen to the bone.

When we moved south, my dad jumped headlong into maintaining a tropical paradise on their small lot. The cool thing is that you can plan tiny starter plants and they grow year-round and become big before you know it. This was one of my favorites, a Christmas palm — so named because it produces clusters of bright red fruits that adorn these trees in late fall and winter, giving the plants the appearance of being decorated for the holidays.

This semi-tropical climate even allows the amateur farmer to grow bananas. Ripe bananas right off your own tree are superb. Unfortunately, some years later, the transformer in the utility pole above this tree burst, dropping hot oil all over the banana tree. Not only did it kill the tree but it also ruined the spot so not much would grow there afterward.

This interesting plant is called "Crown of Thorns", referring to the biblical crown made of thorns worn by Jesus in the crucifixion story.

At night, a single candle illuminates each window. My mom insisted that each bulb provide an orange glow. It seemed like the light bulb manufacturers wanted a windfall profit by discontinuing orange bulbs trying to get consumers to switch en masse to yellow or white bulbs. Each Christmas season, we would have to shop all over town to find the right color bulbs hidden on back shelves or in stuffed drawers — my mom would not let it be any other way.

Besides being an up-and-coming gardener, my dad was pretty handy around the house. This was the front-door decoration he made which became one of the staples of the holiday season each year.

And here is the lady of the house, my mom putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree. She was very picky about putting on the strands of tinsel one piece at a time. (Sorry that the lighting gave the slide film such challenges.)

And here was the finished result — complete with lots of gifts under the tree.

Here we see Mom and Dad enjoying having all their offspring in town to share the joy of the holidays.

This is Connie, my oldest sister (two years younger than me) with her new bundle of joy for the holidays — the first grandchild. Interesting how time flies and plays with your memories. Baby Todd is almost fifty, sporting a beard streaked with gray, and proud to claim a flock of grown kids of his own.

And here we see my middle sister together with her brand new husband, a Navy guy. Danny and Janie now live in Georgia (you'll recall my LAHP issues from their home and surrounding area).

Last for today is my baby sister holding baby Todd. I was fourteen when she was born — so in my mind, she will always be my baby sister.

So many memories — to be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com