I was 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 said. He told us that he'd gotten up before dawn in a small Vermont town, thrown some 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.