1967 – My well-to-do family up and moved us to N. Miami Beach, FL from Rocky Point, L.I., N.Y. I had just turned 10 years old.
That is actually how we had to address things back then. Like Long Island was some backwater somewhere. You know it was.
But Miami. Oh, Miami in 1967! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
We just fit each other so well.
And I was in 5th grade and my parents enrolled me in Visitation Elementary. I was born on the Feast of the Visitation.
And I met Michael there, a lifelong friend.
Michael and I were boyfriend – girlfriend for five years, until we both finished junior high. That was in 1972.
But the interim was so nice. First we took the bus to the mall at 163rd Street and to Haulover Beach.
Then, as soon as was legal back then, Michael got his permit, and we rode his moped everywhere.
To the beach in the east and to where I boarded my horse in the west.
I was just at home in both places.
Running along the beach at full tilt with Portuguese Man-of-Wars washed up everywhere or on top of my horse.
There’s a time just before the tourists arrive. If you get to the beach early enough in the morning, with a mask and a pair of sneakers you can retrieve the most incredible shells pretty far out. And the looks of the people lying on the beach as you emerge – priceless!
Michael and I weren’t together anymore – just good friends forever.
So much so that when I finally did meet my husband-to-be, we actually lived with Michael and his love Marlene for a bit before we found our own little place in Coconut Grove.
So here’s where the True Story starts.
Bill (that’s my love) and I were in the South Florida area for just a few more days awaiting Michael and Marlene’s Wedding Day. It’s 1978 now.
So, of course, we had to go to the Disco.
And what better place to go than to the Copa in Fort Lauderdale.
So, I have to backtrack a little bit.
When I met my husband in 1976, he had a 1971 Dodge Charger. Gold with a black top. A beauty. And that’s the car we drove to the Copa that night. (Yes, the Copa was a gay club but that didn’t stop us.)
So, with everything we owned except for the clothes that were at the dry cleaners for the wedding crammed into the Charger we ascended into the Copa for the evening.
So, here’s where things get interesting.
After the revelry, Bill and I discovered that his beauteous Charger had been stolen with all of our worldly possessions.
And the cop-on-the-scene was none other than my cousin, another Michael.
Michael and his siblings and I and my siblings had grown up right next door to each other on a very long stretch of 25A in Rocky Point.
This was the first time he met my husband coming out of a gay club in Fort Lauderdale.
Needless to say, my cousin the Fort Lauderdale cop gave me a well-deserved tongue lashing.
And Bill and I were devastated. We had just lost our car and everything we owned.
So, now what.
Well, of course we attended Michael and Marlene’s Wedding. And I must say we looked dashing in the only possessions we had left which had been at the dry cleaners.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting.
Back in the day we had something called driveaway cars. That was for people who didn’t want to drive their cars back up north after the winter.
BTW, Bill and I were trying to get to Fredonia, NY to finish college even though it seemed at the time as if someone was out to get us.
So we got one of these driveaway cars.
Oh man, it was one of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever had the pleasure to drive.
This was 1978 and this was a top-of-the-line white Mercedes sedan on its way to upstate New York.
Are You Still in Richmond, Little Girl?!
So, Bill and I are making our way up north and I’m driving.
We’re on 95N in Richmond, VA and we spy this truck headed south. This large piece of pressed wood comes flying out of the back of the truck and the wind catches it.
And then everything starts going in slow motion.
We’re both watching as this piece starts doing somersaults in the sky and ever so slowly and then BAM!
Hits our windshield and then proceeds to take the seats off of our two ten-speeds mounted behind us.
I look over and Bill’s chest is bleeding from the broken glass.
To this day he can’t understand how I managed to maintain control.
So we end up having to stay the night in Richmond, which was very nice BTW.
But the following morning as I’m trying to make arrangements with the owner’s insurance company, the gentleman hears my voice which hasn’t changed to this day and says with a very thick southern accent, “Are you still in Richmond, little girl?!”
The Moral of the Story
You know what, there isn’t one! I wish I could say that was the only time I saw Death approaching from above. But that story is for another day.
Truth really is stranger than fiction, don’t you find it?!
I’d love to hear your true story.
Why should we care about this seemingly ephemeral entertainer?
Because of what he preached: “You are a star,” he sang. “Everybody is one. You are a star. You only happen once.”