Vol. 11 No. 36 - June 15, 2011
Rum for Fathers' Day
Try one of these rum selections to make
Father's Day special.
The political bosses of Chicago and the south side of Boston are legendary.
My dad ran the south end of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He did it with rum and cash and nylons.
Three months before election day dad got to appoint five ladies who were paid with government money to be the electoral officials in each four-block poll. The ladies were picked for their loyalty – and because they had a lot of relatives.
Dad picked a lady whose husband voted the way she told him too – and so did her parents and her two kids. For $300 for each electoral job Dad got the whole family - six votes a family.
Mrs Reilly always got the head enumerator job – $300, six votes. Mrs Kelly got the assistant enumerator job – $300, six more votes.
In the four-block ward dad got to pick a house where the voting was held. Three hundred dollars went to the owner, Mrs Sullivan – six more votes.
Each ward had a polling clerk, Mrs O'Flaherty, and an assistant polling clerk, Mrs O'Donell. They handed out the ballots and supervised the counting. Two jobs, $600 – 12 more votes.
Before anyone voted, dad was up 30 votes in every four-block poll. There were 50 polls in the ward – 1500 votes.
And then the fun started.
Every man that voted for dad's guy got a pint of rum, and every lady got a pair of nylons. By the age of eight I was down in the basement helping the boys filling up bags with rum and nylons.
On election day, the house was a circus of people, telephones and rum bottles. Taxis were parked all over the front lawn.
Each taxi driver was a captain of a team of ringers. Each ringer voted five times.
Remember Mrs Reilly that was the enumerator? She went door to door to poll the houses and find out who could vote and who had died. But in dad's south end, nobody ever died.
The ladies made sure that dead guys stayed on the electoral rolls and that dad had a list of all the dead guys.
The day before election day the taxi-driving captains each went out and got five ringers from the Catholic Shelter, promised them rum and cash and got them cleaned up to vote.
On election day the captain went into the voting station first.
He would identify himself as a dead guy and get a ballot from Mrs O'Flaherty. But he would pocket the ballot rather than drop into the box. He then went back to his cab, marked the ballot, gave it to one of the ringers and told him, "You are Joe Smith and you live on 21 Maple Street."
The ringer would go into the polling station, identify himself as Joe Smith to Mrs O'Flaherty, get a clean ballot and go to the booth where he then dropped in the pre-marked ballot. He pocketed the clean one and brought it out to the captain. The captain marked it and gave it to the next ringer.
I asked my dad, "How come you pre-mark the ballots?"
He replied matter-of-factly, "Well you know, you can't trust the ba****ds."
My old man ran the south end with rum. Get your old man a really great bottle for father's day. The best are Flora de Cana, Matusalem or Pyrat. They are sipping rums and are too noble for mixing.
If you have to mix, try an old Nova Scotian tradition – "neat and sweet." Add a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of lime and just sip.
Ask your dad to toast my old man.
Hands Across the Sand
A year ago, oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil well, but already, the roaring riptide of outraged public opinion seems to have turned into a mild undercurrent.
Last June, about 400 people attended the Hands Across the Sand event at Manatee County Public Beach, along with people at similar events in all 50 states and 42 other countries.
But Sarah Moore, who is trying to organize the local 2011 Hands Across the Sand event in Siesta Key on June 25, has been discouraged by officials who say the political climate has changed, and offshore drilling is not as unpopular as it was a year ago.
Moore said she plans to approach local officials about having the event at Manatee beach again.
If she succeeds, it will be the third time people have joined hands there to draw a line in the sand against drilling.
On Feb. 13, 2010, before the oil spill began on April 20, the first Hands Across the Sand event was held, drawing about 180 people in 47-degree weather at Manatee beach, most wearing black to represent oil.
They were protesting a proposal by the Florida House of Representatives to lift the ban on nearshore drilling off Florida, a proposal that was narrowly defeated.
Two months later, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, and the event founded by Dave Rauschkolb, a surfer and restaurateur from Seaside, Fla., became international.
"This movement is about supporting the advancement of clean energy sources that will sustain our planet," he said. "We are joining hands to say 'no' to offshore oil drilling and 'yes' to clean energy. We are joining hands to implore our leaders to end our dependence on oil and coal and embrace a clean energy future for a sustainable planet."
The nearest confirmed Hands Across the Sand event at press time will be at Upham Beach in Pinellas County on Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. If you can't make it, you can sign a petition to ban oil drilling at www.sosbs.org.
World Sea Turtle Day
World Sea Turtle Day on June 16 is the birthday of Archie Carr, a biologist who founded the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, now the Sea Turtle Conservancy, in 1959, and ran it until his death in 1987.
A professor at the University of Florida, he also has named for him the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica and, closer to home, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach.
There is no official local event planned, but to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day, do not hug a turtle. Instead, call Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch at 778-5638 and join a turtle tour to check out their nesting sites on local Gulf beaches.
International Surfing Day
Speaking of Melbourne Beach, a great Florida surf spot, International Surfing Day on June 20 seems to be flying under the radar of local surfers.
Maybe it's because it's on a Monday, although surfers are not typically shy about calling in sick when it comes to surf. The closest event, sponsored by Surfrider Foundation at the Surf Shack in St. Petersburg Beach, has been moved to the previous weekend, all day on Saturday, June 18.
While we're not likely to get lucky enough to have waves on Monday, it's not too late to throw together an impromptu paddleout at your favorite surf spot.
But if you're planning on being anywhere else in the world other than here that day, check out www.intlsurfingday.com for scheduled events.