Born in Greenwich Village, New York City, but raised, mostly, by my grandparents in Woodstock, a small town in the Catskill mountains. Midway through sophomore year at Hamilton College, an inner voice said, “Get out!” It seemed crazy, but I knew it was the right thing to do. A fraternity brother told me I'd have no trouble finding work on the shrimp boats in Key West.
A friend and I hitchhiked south. Near the New Jersey line we got a ride with another young guy, Pete. "Where you headed?"
"Me, too." He told us that he'd gotten up before dawn in a small Vermont town, thrown clothes and a baseball glove in the trunk, left a note on his girlfriend's porch, and taken off. We rocked on down the coast, listening to Brenda Lee, getting warmer each day.
I left my friends near Miami and went on to Key West. When I got there, I walked to the harbor and asked for a job on the first boat I found that had anyone on board. The captain said, “Shrimp season’s over, kid.” I think he felt sorry for me. He pointed to a rusty shrimper across the water. “He might take you.”
I picked up my bag and ran around to the other jetty, arriving just as the boat began to pull away. A man on deck was doing something with a cable. He wore a sweatshirt and had a two-day growth. “I’m looking for work,” I shouted over the engine.
“You a winch man?”
The winch occupied a large part of the deck, a complicated assembly of giant gears and levers. The strip of water below my feet widened. It was jump or forget it. I had a vision of winching the boat upside down in the Gulf. I shook my head and walked to the Southern Cross Hotel, a wooden building with white peeling paint and a sign declaring, The Southernmost Hotel in the United States.
I wrote it down in a notebook and have been writing ever since. Along the way I served in the Air Force, earned a degree in computer science from the University of Hawaii, married twice, and raised children. The adventures, the loves and betrayals, the teachers, the lessons---they are in my stories and poems, where, like all writers, I have tried to make of my deeper bio something worthwhile.
Loretta Miles Tollefson
on June 05, 2014 :
This is a great story about two idealistic young people trying to find themselves during the 60's. I especially liked it because they manage to keep their heads amongst the nonsense that was going on. Well written, good characterizations and positive outcome. This book deserves to be read.
(review of free book)