Good ‘ol Jimmy Hartford

I was watching the Connecticut news the other night and there was a story about Hartford. All of a sudden, the name Jimmy Hartford popped into my head. Jimmy Hartford was a made up name my friend Ernesto used years ago. Not for himself, but for a fake friend.

What I mean is, in the 1980s, my friend Ernesto and I used to run along the back of South Beach hotels. It wasn’t even called South Beach at the time and the hotels were mostly derelict. There weren’t many tourists, and many hotels at the time were occupied by older people. This is long before gentrification of the area.

So we used to run along the back of the hotels in the sand and then randomly jump in hotel pools. There were no barriers or security or anything and usually there was no one in the pools except for us. We just hopped a short wall, or just walked in off the beach which was not blocked in any way. When we were confronted, Ernesto would say we were there visiting our friend Jimmy Hartford, and he would make up a room number – Jimmy Hartford in room 301 or room 510 or whatever.

Many times, there was no such room number and most times we were thrown out.

It’s amazing that hearing the word Hartford brought back that memory from so long ago. These days I can barely remember friends and family members’ names at times and I remembered that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1980s these days. They were perfect. Everything about them – the clothing, the music, the movies, the whole environment – the whole decade.

When we die, I often think that we could time travel and go back to any time period we choose. I would choose to live from Jan 1, 1980 to Dec. 31, 1989, and then do it all over again.

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It’s all about the color

This is one of those cartoons that kept bothering me. It wasn’t hitting the mark, I kept looking at it and after it was published, I changed one color and that made all the difference.

If you look at both images above (slide from one image to the other), you can see that they are two lifeguards and it makes it funnier, because you can imagine the one guy asking his buddy, “What happened, where have you been?”

The blue bathing suit guy originally was just a nosey guy walking up the beach or pool area – someone for the lifeguard to explain his situation to. But I think it works better with the guy being another lifeguard and friend.

And all it took was changing the swimming trunks to red from blue and adding a whistle!

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Nobody on the road; nobody on the beach

I’ve taken up running and walking again – a combination of the two.

For so many years I did this daily, I was very active. For most of my life I was at one beach or another on a daily basis. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I remember at one point I would meet my friend jak about 4:30 pm and we would run the boardwalk on Miami Beach – almost daily – and then we would hit happy hour and hang out at one of the few dive bars in Miami Beach at the time – this was before it was “South Beach.”

I went to Key Biscayne a lot too, where it was mostly empty weekdays, and I wrote once about what it was like hanging out on Miami Beach at an abandoned area by the St. Moritz Hotel. And I would go to neighborhood beaches where just the neighbors would since they were not in touristy areas.

Oddly enough, I had a friend in town recently, visiting from New York. We overlapped at one point and I went to New York while he was still here in Miami. Since I wasn’t here to take him, he took an Uber to one of the neighborhood beaches. I told him, “You must be the only person ever to take an Uber or cab to this beach, it’s just a local beach, a neighborhood thing. He said, “I know, the Uber driver found it very odd when he saw where he was taking me.”

Anyway, most weekdays the beaches were empty, as they are now, especially now that school has started.

For many years I printed school newspapers as well as other school-related stuff and needless to say, there was no business all summer. No money would come in and I would have to budget for that. So every year, on the first day of school, I would go to the beach to celebrate the start of the new school year which for me was the start up of business for the year. And being the first day of school, no one was there, and I mean no one. I had miles of beach all to myself.

I ran, I swam, I got lunch and I did it all alone, it was my special day.

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On (and off) stage

Today’s cartoon reminds of a scene I used to see almost daily, some years ago.

I used to run on the boardwalk on Miami Beach, almost daily. And there was a hotel pool area that sort of looked like a cruise deck. I don’t know if it was deliberate, but the pool was set up where there were cabanas behind it, built into the wall. When I looked at it, it almost looked like a stage. Like a fake cruise ship set up on a stage.

I used to run by, sometimes walk, and stop there, and look at the layout and picture the Carol Burnett Show for some reason. I would imagine it was a set on the stage, set up as a cruise deck.

And for some reason, I guess when I drew this, it reminded me of that in a way, where you don’t see the whole ship, just this small section.

Back then, too, I used to stop back behind the Roney Hotel as I was on the boardwalk, and the way it was shaped, reminded me of a stadium. It is a sort of horseshoe shape face out to the ocean, so if you stood below, on the boardwalk, it was like looking up at stadium seating, and I was on first base or on stage or whatever. You can see it here, the boardwalk which can’t be seen would be at the bottom of the picture and looking up from below at the “U” shape, looked like stadium seating.

Vivid imagination I have. But almost daily I would look at these two scenes and imagine the one where I was looking u at the audience and the other, where I was the audience, looking at the Carol Burnett Show. Weird.

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Things are getting back to normal; unfortunately

I’ve been seeing a lot of trash in the ocean and bay lately. Not too long ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, I had written about how the planet was healing itself and nature was reclaiming itself. The water and air were so clean. Now it seems to be getting back to normal, although I don’t remember seeing so much trash in the water as I do now.

What I mean is, I live on the bay, so daily I look out at the water and for all these years I really didn’t see anything floating around in the water. Now I do on a daily basis. It’s trash – paper and plastic. I’m not sure why there is more these days than in days past, but it’s out there.

The cartoon above is not really funny, it’s sad, it’s a commentary on how our wildlife is being treated.

Ironically, I’m not seeing as many people out in the water as during the pandemic. Back then, there were people in boats, paddle boarding, kayaking and I used to see one couple floating around on a large inner tube for hours – on a daily basis. They would lazily go from one end of our little inlet to the other. And with all of these “quiet,” “gentle” forms of water activities, there was no pollution or trash. Now that we’re back to motors and boat tours, ships and tourists and the lot, it’s showing.

I got the cartoon idea below, which ran at the beginning of the pandemic, by what I would see daily – lots of water sports activities.

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Vintage history

I came across this picture online. It’s Coney Island, one day in 1906. It’s crazy, seeing all these people crammed in together at the beach, and so many of them in black suits.

My favorite part is these little guys at the left, if you look to the left of the guys walking, there is a smaller guy digging in the sand. He’s very intent on doing what he’s doing. Does he have to go back to a labor shop the next day, was he a newsboy working 6 days a week selling newspapers? Kids didn’t have it easy back then, but these three looked happy on this day.

I wonder what the two kids that are walking are talking about? They seem deep in conversation.

The one guy at the very bottom, where his head is partly cut off looks like a time traveler – but I always see some sort of time traveler in old pictures, that probably aren’t. I guess it’s his haircut that looks very modern.

I colorized this image below. Makes you feel like you’re almost there, doesn’t it? If you click oh the two large images above and below, they will open much larger.

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