Bess, Michael, Carol

Maybe this page should go under the Sorrows section of The Farklempt Page. We had planning for some to make a Florida trip to see Warren Bargad, my college roommate, who has been afflicted for a few years now with some variant of Alzheimer's Disease. We finally picked this weekend a couple of months ago. Two weeks ago, Arlene, his wife, called to say that things had deteriorated rapidly, and that Warren had been hospitalized. Just a month before, when we had planned the trip, we had spoken on the phone, and he had been happy to talk to me. "You...come....see...visit," he said. Everyone else is falling apart, too. Elaine was hospitalized this week with chest pain and had an angioplasty and stent. She and Marty had canceled their trip to Florida this weekend because of her impending back surgery. This week, Joel was found to have a couple of discs that will need surgery so that he doesn't walk like I do. So he and Nancy canceled their trip to Florida. Vivie is having chemo. Leon is waiting for some radium seeds this summer. But, on the bright side, Evelyn's knee surgery went very well, as did Alan's prostate reaming. Duffy's on her BP pills and in the gym, and Larry's carotids are clear. And Carol and I have resolved to diet so that we can help each other up the stairs. My post-polio syndrome advances slowly. I'm not sure I'll be back on my bike in the spring. Carol's knees hurt, probably from her cholesterol-lowering drugs. But she's working and producing more than ever, and so am I. And for some strange reason, my voice is improving, and I am enjoying singing (Handel's Israel in Egypt this spring and Vaughn Williams' Sea Symphony this summer at the BCF with Robert Page).

So we took the 7:00 AM Southwest flight on Friday, waking up at 5:00 AM. We barely made it. The security has changed as of January 1, with government running everything. They check all the bags, and the line through security was 300 people long. We arrived at the gate with one minute to spare. The flights were good (through Tampa), although the stewardess from Tampa did not have time to give us a drink and was rude in the process. Nevertheless, Farklempt was in a forgiving mood, and there will be no letter this time. We picked up a new Buick at Alamo (using the two free days from the Farklempt letter about the last rental in November) that had never been driven before. Nothing to complain about here, either. We drove down to our hotel, the Days Inn on Biscayne Boulevard just south of North Miami Beach, in Sunny Isles. It's right on the ocean, and we had an oceanfront room, with a panorama of a gorgeous beach. All for $48.00/night! All right, there's a bit of a smell. All right, it's a bit seedy. All right, it's a little scary walking through the corridors at night. All right, the guy in the front office screams incessantly on the phone about how he needs kosher meat. There's a pool and free parking. Whaddaywant for $48/night?


We joined Bess at her apartment, and had some wine. She looks good and is managing quite well with the help of three aides: Melissa, Joy, and Michelle. Melissa is a gem, but her husband is still recovering from his fall off the roof, and the other two...well, they show up.

We caught the early-bird special, $13.95, including a glass of wine with the ad from the paper at Chef Orsino in North Miami Beach, the restaurant we discovered when we came down at Thanksgiving. The food is surprisingly good: choices of three good soups, a cold salad with excellent dressing, veal francaise, veal scallopine, and tilapia, good apple pie for dessert, and coffee. We found out that the family that owns and staffs the place is Moroccan Jewish, and they are very nice people.

When we returned to the hotel, it turned out to be the coldest night in the history of Florida--somewhere in the 30's where we were. Unfortunately, heat is not included in the $48/night rate. Windows that close tightly are not, either. But there is a hairdryer in the bathroom, which we ran all night, and we got extra blankets from the "concierge," and slept in our clothes. What a night!

We awoke to sunshine and 40 degrees. We drove out to Sage's for some excellent lox, kippered salmon, and bialys. We struck up a conversation with the counterman, who was a transplant from New York, who had done all the sign lettering at Barney Greengrass. When he worked at the counter there and spoke Yiddish, the women would ask him his name. He told them his name was Daniel. Indeed, his name was Daniel O'Connor (bright red hair). The women pressed on, asking him his Hebrew name, so Gary (Gedalia), the owner, told him to say his name was Ezra.

We enjoyed breakfast at Bess's apartment and set out for Gainesville.

 On to Gainesville