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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #301  (Vol. 6, No. 52)  This edition is for the week of December 26--31, 2005.

The History of Miami International Airport -- Part Three
 by William Moriaty
Also see This issue's La Fla supplemental piece
"Brokeback Mountain"
 by Mike Smith
Walking The Fine Line...
 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott
Wow, 2005 Really Did Exist!...Finally Getting Their Due....A Thought For 2006
 by Vinnie Blesi
The Top 20 Albums of 2005
 by Terence Nuzum
One New Life
 by Mark Terry
The Beginning and the End: Ups and Downs From The Year 2005 .... Gaming .... Politics
 by Joshua Montgomery
The Top 10 Things That Pissed Me Off In 2005
 by Nick King
Bush: The Spy....Happy New Year
 by Matt Drinnenberg
The Year That Was....Thank You....Passing On....Coach Dungy....Good Stuff....On Deck....Say What?
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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William Moriaty's Florida
More tales from "La Floridiana" await you in "William Moriaty's Florida"! For more information simply click the book cover above!

2005: A Retrospective
A Tree Planter and Author Looks at Fifty


I can't believe I made it!

One day I woke up and I was fifty...

When I was a much younger man I did not believe that I would live past my middle twenties. I am not sure why I entertained such a morbid pattern of thinking - - I never wrestled with suicidal bouts, I never indulged in illegal or obsessive use of recreational drugs and I never participated in illicit, wild or orgiastic sex with multiple partners or barnyard animals.

Maybe I was scared of dying of boredom, who knows...

Anyway, as this precious gift of life can be so unpredictable, I, the one who thought I would be pushing up daisies by age 24, had managed to outlive my only two siblings - - a half brother, Preston Patton Pender II, who passed away at age 33 in 1973, and my sister Merry Moor Winnett, who passed away in 1994 at age 42.

When my biological clock turned over from 20 to 30 in 1985, I relished and looked forward to what I could accomplish in my third decade of life on the planet, if it was, for that matter, God's will for me to do so. I had founded the Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc. and survived a 13-foot fall while visiting best friend Denis Lebrun while visiting him at his home in Barton, Vermont almost two years earlier. I had at thirty years of age an almost euphoric enthusiasm for my future and thought there was nothing that could stop me from expressing my true worth or freely volunteering my God given talents,

Fifty was another matter...

It dawns on you that your biological clock doesn't have as many ticks left on it as it did at thirty.

It also dawns on you that if you survive, you are only fifteen years away from being 65 years old and on the way to possible retirement from the work force.

It also dawns on you that you start spending more time looking back at the past than looking forward into the future.

It dawns on you that you are mid way to being a Century old!

But above all else as the door closed on my fourth decade on this glorious earth, it occurred to me that fifty was a dawn into a whole new era. An era of spending my remaining years being the absolute best I can be. An era where wisdom will supercede lost youth. An era of unparallel personal and professional accomplishments and fulfillment fueled by experience and imagination.

It also dawns on me that every day that I am alive, I am setting a new longevity record in my Lamb's Book of Life. Based on this alone, I greet each day with unbridled joy and expectation of good. I strive to end my day by having taken the time to demonstrate my love to others and give people a reason to feel good about themselves.

I have always viewed 1984, my last year as a twenty-something, to have been my best year.

I decide in the closing months of 2004 that the year to come had to be my best ever as a thanks to God for getting me there.

2005, that fiftieth year of my life may well have uncrowned that magical year where the President was Ronald Reagan, and Chalk's seaplanes and colorful flamingos at the Hialeah race track greeted television sets each Friday night on "Miami Vice".

2005 Monthly Milestones
January: On the 19th of that month, T.R.E.E. Inc. was awarded its first major grant. A matching 50/50 $10,000.00 Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant was awarded the organization I helped to found in 1983 by the Florida Division of Forestry. This grant helped usher in many additional tree planting projects and new opportunities statewide for T.R.E.E. Inc. of which I am eternally grateful.

It's cold outside, but don't Orion and the Pleiades look gorgeous?

February: Work resumes on my first book, "William Moriaty's Florida". The original script was submitted to the Library of Congress's Copyright Office in October of 2004. Now it was time to get with author/graphic artist Lisa Clardy of F-Bod Studios and get down to the bidness of actually creating the book!

On the 24th, 50 years and 9 months after my conception in Cuba and 50 years after my birth at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida, I become eligible for AARP benefits.

March: Book, book, book...

April: On the 30th of that month I attended "Charlie Carlson's "Weird Florida" Unleashed Book Release Party" (see PCR's #264 and #267) in Sanford and met some of the most fascinating and wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to know. There was of course "Florida's Man in Black" Charlie Carlson, author of "Weird Florida" (available on the Spook Hunters web site), and this dashing and dignified gentleman named Harry Wise (more on Misters Carlson and Wise later in this story). A test copy of my book was furnished to Lisa Clardy by on demand printer Cafe Press at this time. I held up the copy for Charlie to review and he replied that maybe we should consider getting together again. We did...

Ah, spring time warmth. On the night before I went to the book signing I see booster rockets separating high in the heavens and Leo is on the rise.

May: "William Moriaty's Florida" is officially completed!

I received an e-mail that on the T.R.E.E. Inc. mail box from a Ms. Emily Panos with Esurance who was interested in having her company donate funds to what would amount to being T.R.E.E. Inc.'s largest single monetary contribution in its 22-year history. Her inquiry would inevitably end up being the catalyst for one of T.R.E.E. Inc.'s most successful projects, the "Esurance St. Pete Beach Tree-Athalon", held later this year on September 24th.

On the 23rd of that month, I finally met the man and the legend who was in large part the creator and is in all part the entrepreneur of my favorite dining experience Maison et Jardin in Altamonte Springs, Mr. Bill Beuret (see PCR # 271).

June: One of the most memorable days of my life was a result of an event on the 24th called "The Sanford Summit" (see PCR's # 275 and 277) where I had one of the most wonderful times of my life.

Lisa Clardy and I, along with Brendan McWilliams and Anna Everhart first met that afternoon with University of Central Florida film professor Thomas Begley, and were absolutely blown away by his home and his incredible personality. Regrettably, life long magician Harry Wise could not attend.

Once at the Blue Dahlia restaurant, where this all started, I was reunited with my fellow kindred Cracker and Man in Black, Charlie Carlson. I also had the good fortune to meet yet another fellow kindred Cracker spirit in his wife Dot, who is in her own right as much the celebrity as her husband. Dot is leading a courageous fight to preserve Florida's precious natural heritage wherever and whenever possible. Another gift was meeting superbly talented horror writer Owl Goingback, as well as Central Florida's medium supreme, Susan Thompson. Also in attendance were PCR writers Drew Reiber and Peter Card as well as Orlando residents Lisa Clardy, Brendan McWilliams and Anna Everhart.

July: The July 4th weekend saw me visiting my brother-in-law Tommy Winnett up at his residence south of Lexington, North Carolina along the shores of High Rock Lake. 2004 marked the 30th anniversary of how long I had been blessed to know this wonderful man who married my sister thirty years ago. After a sunset jog in his adjacent neighborhood, I was treated to an incredible sky show of fast and furious storm clouds in the eastern distance that had incredible lightning strikes, The clouds were reflecting pink and orange by the setting sun and as it got darker, little pinpoint lights of stars rose above the dying hurricane. While we're on the subject of hurricanes, my return flight from Greensboro landed in one at Tampa International Airport. In a small Embraer commuter jet of Delta's, all of us clapped when the pilot landed us safely back onto Runway 18R.

On the 22nd I participated in the 3.3 mile Tampa Races.com's Picnic Island Adventure Run. On what seemed like the hottest day of the year I survived the heat, mud, muck and water in what I look back on as my best effort. Not bad for fifty, that's me in the photo.

Cygnus the Swan makes a spectacular debut and Scorpius proudly adorns the southern skies.

August: Saturday the 13th marked PCR publisher Nolan Canova's fiftieth year on the planet. In order to celebrate, Nolan had a birthday bash at the Best Western Inn on Westshore Boulevard in Tampa. Read more about this gala gathering from the World of Nolan in PCR #282's article, "The Weekend that Was".

Welcome to the club Nolan!

September: September 2005 was both the busiest and most fulfilling month of my life. It started out with a touch of magic on Labor Day Weekend when I attended the very first planetarium show of the school season at the St. Petersburg College planetarium on Friday the 2nd. (see PCR # 287).

This was followed by the next day's visit by me and my wife, Karen Cashon, to Sanford, Florida in order to visit magician Harry Wise (Florida's Mister Magic and Wise the Wizard) and his neighbor Tom Begley. This visit was also meant to be a second "Sanford Summit", but due to gasoline shortages brought on by Hurricane Katrina, many invitees did not attend. Poor PCR writer Drew Reiber ended up having dinner all by his lonesome at the Blue Dahlia that evening in anticipation of the second Summit.

Harry Wise and I revisited the enchanted woods, streams and backwaters of Seminole and Volusia Counties where he spent his youth, and continues to prove his worth as a master fisherman. I am convinced that when this wondrous spirit I was with pulls off his final vanishing act, he will be transformed into a unicorn, invisible to the eyes of mere mortals, that will roam and frolic the majestic forests and waterways where he and his family spent many wonderful hours and saved many wonderful memories. You will only know the unicorn is nearby when the cicadas trumpet its presence. Meanwhile, Karen had her own enchanted conversations with fellow Irish descendent Professor Thomas Begley, a nobleman of sorts whose heart and spirit are rooted in the Emerald Isle.


I also had the good fortune that month to meet musician and artist Josh Sullivan and his girlfriend Jen Thompson. I was so taken aback by Jen's gregarious, enthusiastic and ambitious personality, that I enlisted her to be T.R.E.E. Inc.'s first public relations director.

September ended on a happy note on the 24th with the planting of the Esurance St. Pete Beach Tree-Athalon where 40 8'-10' tall native Florida trees where planted at six public parks in this Gulf coast beach community. Esurance had donated $3,000.00 to T.R.E.E. Inc. for the planting, and Morelli Landscaping, Inc. chipped in ten additional trees to the cause. The Blue Parrott restaurant kicked in free lunches for the planting's volunteers. Many thanks go to Ms. Tami Nicholas and her crew with the City of St. Pete Beach Parks and Recreation Department as well as Ms. Kristin Brewe and Ms. Emily Panos with Esurance for making this wonderful planting possible!

October: This month was yet another busy and fulfilling one like the month before it. With summer temperatures still lingering, I fought rain and high humidity to transport Tulip Poplar trees from my back yard in Plant City to be used over in the Orlando area on the 7th. The morning started out in a foggy darkness at the City of Orlando's tree nursery and wrapped up with a planting at George Touhy Park in Sanford. The planting was dedicated to Sanford native sons Charlie Carlson and Harry Wise and resident Professor Tom Begley (the latter of two who live across the street from the park). When I pulled onto Franklin Street in Plant City late that same night after visiting Nolan and Josh and Jen, I saw my beloved constellation Orion for the first time this fall! Winter was on its way!

Possibly the highest honor paid to me was the request by Denis Lebrun's son, Devin, to officiate his wedding to Linnea Spears. As a result, I flew out to San Diego, California, my furthest trip ever, and found myself falling in love with that area (my jealous mistress, the State of Florida, was seething over that!). I conducted the ceremony at the Sunset Cliffs Park on Friday the 14th. While in Dan Diego, I visited Balboa Park, crossed the Coronado Bridge and daily jogged the trail at Spanish Mission Park next to San Diego Bay and Lindberg Field. In my flights to and from this southernmost major city in California, I saw the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam (almost), Las Vegas, the American southwest deserts, and Albuquerque. On my final night in San Diego I drive down to Mexico, and walked Balboa Park alone at 4:00 A.M. with Orion burning bright in the eastern sky while an orange moon was setting over the buildings of downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

November: Whew, I could really use a rest by now, but November was pretty active too!

On Friday the 11th, Karen and I again visited our dear friends Harry Wise and Tom Begley over in Sanford. This was yet another adventure into magic as Harry's almost life long friend Lynn Ashe (known on stage as "Lynn Strange") paid Harry a visit after reading a nine page article about Florida's Mister Magic in a trade publication.

On Tuesday the 22nd, Karen and I took off for our fall vacation, first to see kin in Tennessee, then to rest and relax in Key West (see PCR #298). On Sunday the 27th, we stopped on the way to Miami long enough to see "Miami Mike" Hiscano. On Monday the 28th we headed toward our beloved Florida Keys where we saw our first Key Deer and a Green Iguana crossing the main road at No Name Key. Finally we arrived at Marerro's Guest Mansion for a week of fun and frivolity in America's Southernmost City, Key West.

December: As the year has come to a close I have taken much time for the reflection on the experiences and blessings of this year as well as the years preceding it.

I have decided in the remaining months of 2005 to revitalize, rededicate and recommit myself to the pursuit of spiritual, personal and professional excellence.

I have decided that I need to slow down my pace and put more of my waking hours into the pursuit and understanding of the spiritual. What comes first is my faith in God, followed by the love and trust that I have for my wife, followed by my family, my house and immediate surroundings, followed by my friends and their well-being.

I am dedicated to cleaning out unwanted and useless clutter and baggage in both my mental and physical house. I have decided to look and feel as vital and attractive to my wife, myself, and to others as I did when my wife and I started dating over some twenty years ago.

I give thanks for the incredible friends that God has gifted me within this ceaseless, wondrous journey called life - - my wife Karen; my brother-in-law Tommy Winnett and his wife Betty Helen Longhi; my sister-in-law Gina Frontiero and her husband Chris and their two children; lifelong friends Denis Lebrun, Bob Scheible, John Blechschmidt, Cathy Kaffentzis, Beth Blechschmidt, Greg Van Stavern, Vinnie Blesi, Greg Howe, Ron and Sarah Melone and PCR publisher Nolan Canova; Susan Hughes; Lisa Clardy; Brendan McWilliams; Anna Everhart; Josh Sullivan and Jen Thompson; Liz Warner; Andrea Hefner; Lee Mackin; John Holland; Tom Begley Terence Nuzum; Joel and Kathy Wynkoop; Gustavo Perez; and all the members of my car club just to name a few. What incredible wealth, why I bill myself "the richest man alive!" (did I mention my 2002 Trans-Am, "The Night Stalker"?)

Looking Ahead to 2006
This will be the year that I dedicate more time to my family and friends and getting down to brass tacks on the marketing and selling of my book. To my continued quest to "clean house", to bless, heal and inspire all people and to live more happily and joyously (and thinner!). As a result I will be limiting the total number of columns to twelve over 2006.

For your own journey through 2006, I pray that you will have your best year ever. That you pray and pray often, seeking Divine Guidance and right action. That you experience all of the peace, harmony, well-being, enchantment, magic, love and prosperity that this life has to offer.

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.