Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gary Jonsen, Dock Master at Gilbert's Resort



"I grew up in Hernando Beach, Fl over on the west coast. I have been bouncing around on sailboats since I got out of the Military and was in Tampa. I served almost 10 years in the Air Force as a mechanic.

I was on a shadow boat for a delivery to Key West and I just never left. I found work, started working and spent 8 years there.

I went through Hurricane Wilma and lost my first boat. I went through Hurricane Ike on a boat. I raised 2 kids on a boat. My son graduated from Key West High and is now a welder in Texas and my daughter lives in Illinois. She likes it in the cold, I don't know why!

Living on a boat is the best decision I ever made. I like to move around a lot and I hate to pack and unpack all the time. On a boat, you just pull the anchor and you go!

In 2015, I am taking off and heading to Guatemala."

Jessie Yerger, Key West



"Things fell apart. I was a steel worker in Pennsylvania and when I turned 25 the plant closed. I was in the union and said if I am not making $25.00 an hour, I am not staying in Pennsylvania. I called my best friend, Andy, and said, 'Listen, I am moving to Key West.' Bam, I just made the decision. 'My girl sucks, my job sucks, time to get out of here'. Andy said 'Ok man, give me 2 weeks'.

Andy and I packed a little Honda Civic full of stuff; you couldn't fit another shoe in it. We drove to Key West, slept on the beach (cliché) the first night. After the first night we just started looking for jobs, and of course partied too much on Duval Street! We started to run out of money and found a trailer on Stock Island for $500.00/month, which now is insanely cheap. I went from being a steel worker to a waiter at Kelly's Caribbean Grill, which is hilarious.

That is how I got there in 2000, and I have been there ever since. At the time, Key West was the most beautiful place I had ever been. And the scene; the bars and stuff, there are boats and different places to live, you have choices. There are a lot of people down there like me.

I worked Teasers, a strip club for 10 years! I have lived on boats, just for the hell of it. Recently I started driving a flatbed truck. I turned 40 and had a mid-life crises, I left the bar scene! I figured I needed to do something else.

I am on a little vaca here in Key Largo, to get away from Key West for a bit!"

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Will Mulkeen and Brenden Ellis



Will Mulkeen and Brenden Ellis
Los Chicos Malos

Will - "We both graduated from Coral Shores in 2010. GO CANES! I went up to West Point and graduated in August 2014. Now I am at Fort Benning, GA doing my Basic Officer Leader Course.
I will be there until August training and then I will head up to Tenth Mountain Division."

Brenden - "I went to the University of South Florida, graduated in December of 2013, and now I am living in Ecuador with the Peace Corps. I am a community health volunteer in a small town. I am working with Dole Banana Company doing community health work. Things are just getting off the ground; we are starting a big nutrition program and a gardening program at a school. We just have to wait for after the rainy season! Right now I am working on developing healthy relationships with the high school students, gaining their trust so they see me as one of their peers."

Will - "The biggest thing I have learned since high school is connections. It isn't always about the grades, but it is about the hands you shake."

Brenden - "We have talked a lot about this. It is important to go the extra mile after high school and have a goal. Learn from your mistakes, you can't change the past."

HOK - "What is the biggest mistake you've made?"

Will - "I have made some pretty good mistakes, but I don't think I hurt myself by making any of them. Life has a weird way of working out. My #1 rule is not to worry about stuff too much; life has a way of working it all out. My mistakes have opened doors that would not have been there if I hadn't made the mistake."

Brenden - "They aren't necessarily mistakes, they are life experiences. Something minor can change your future. Freshman year in college I failed 2 classes in first semester. I knew what I did wrong, I was lazy. The following semester I took a full load and got straight A's. My mistake changed my mind set, I learned from it and I graduated a semester early!"

HOK - "What has been your most memorable life experience since you've graduated?"

Will - "Spring break was a pretty good one!" LOL "I don't know, I just like going out into the world and meeting so many incredible people who come from so many different backgrounds of life. In my life, in the military, people come together for so many different reasons but they are all working towards the same goal. It is great to see organization come together."

Brenden - "The college experience in general was awesome, a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. Internships I had; I had one in Peru. I like the traveling and getting to know the people...... all walks of life."

HOK - "What do you think is the most important thing your parents taught you?"

Will - "Never stop moving forward. Don't get complacent in life; always have something you're working toward. Have a goal. You can always do something to better your position."

Brenden - "Giving back, always. My mom is always giving back, regardless of how much money we have, she is always thinking about someone else. I am doing that now in the Peach Corp. My brothers are doing that too, all in different ways, but we all have the same mindset."

HOK - "Why did you choose to do this story together?"

Will - "Because I don't think I could tell my story without including Brenden in it. Most of our experiences here have been together, we are always intertwined. We have gone through the best and worst of times together, since 8th grade. I just have to send him a message and I have a friend right there, no matter how far away we are. It isn't hard to stay in contact with people you really want to stay in touch with."

Brenden - "The really memorable stuff we have done together!"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nyan Feder, Islamorada


"I am a Coral Shores 2013 graduate. I leave tomorrow for my second year at FSU. I have decided to go into Jazz studies. It is designed to get you well rounded. I want to do that because Jazz is the gateway to any genre of music, especially more popular music. I want to make music alot of people like.

I was born and raised in the keys! I am a conch! My favorite thing about the keys is it is a small town. Everyone has a hand in helping you grow. Everyone knows you, everyone wants the best for you. Everytime you do something cool, everyone knows about it. You don't get lost here. You never feel like a stranger here.

My most unfavorite part of growing up here is the lack of exposure to
diversity in culture, music. Because it is a small town, it is kind of
streamlined. It is what has been chosen to be brought down here. In a big city, you can experience something different every day.

My favorite memory is a collective collage of memories. When I was little I used to run around and hang out at all the shows. When I was really little, I would run around naked. I slowly started to get on stage with my dad, clothed, and ever since I was 6 or 7 I would start playing all these different festivals with my dad. From when I could play just a few chords to when i could play full songs."

His mom interjects in the background, "He has been on stage with his dad since he was 3!"

"I loved playing everywhere with my dad, and it developed into our own little show. I didn't do any of the 'keys kid' stuff. I think hanging out with my dad so much helped me stay out of trouble. My parents are my parents but they are also my friends.

I am just really glad I got the chance to grow up here. I think this is a really great town to grow up in."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kat, The Dockmaster


"In 2001 my husband and the love of my life and I were running a charter boat out of Daytona Beach. I usually went with him but, one day I didn't. The crew realized he was missing his body was found and identified by the tattoo of the hook with my name in it that went down his arm. I guess I will never know what happened, but, I know he died loving what he did.

I could not stay in Daytona Beach without him so I sort of crawled down here. I lucked up and rented a house on this Key and the caretaker of the property lived on a houseboat on the front of the property. I was frozen and when the money ran out I didn't know what to do. My friend in the houseboat, Rick Olson said move on the houseboat. He cleared out a room for me, emptied every other shelf and I moved in as friends in 2002. I still live there today.

The other miracle in my life was I found God. I couldn't have survived without Him. I look back now and realize He carried me all those months. I am a born again Christian and I witness to the men and women on this dock every chance I get. I feel so close to God on the waters of the Keys. It comforts me in a way nothing else can.

I am the dockmaster at Holiday Isle/Postcard. I wish Wild Bill was still around here. That crazy, wonderful Indian is back on the reservation in Oklahoma. Charlie Pritchard was out with a charter one day and a terrible, dark fog rolled in and you couldn't see your face in front of your hands. Charlie just killed his engine and decided to wait for the fog to lift. All at once he heard a boat obviously flying across the water and it seemed to be coming straight at him. He told his charter to hold on it didn't look good. About that time he heard the engines whine down and reverse hard and heard a voice shouting over the fog, "Where in the hell am I?" It was Wild Bill. That was Wild Bill. If you don't know where you are going or where you are, go there fast.

There are so many wonderful stories about my husband and I. One sticks out in my mind today because it always makes me laugh. We were on the boat spending the night. We had argued and I was still ticked off. Men being men, he wanted sex anyway. Well, I had bought these boxers for women at K-Mart that had little cartoon characters on them and the word NO splashed all over them. So, I put those on and snapped the waist band so he would look at them and I pointed to the No's all over them. I went to bed and he followed, mad or not. All of a sudden he started laughing and I asked him what was so damn funny. He said look at your boxers. In the dark they had light up YES all over them lol. We had some of the best sex of our lives.

I miss him but am so lucky to have loved and been loved by him. Now, I work around the fisherman that he always loved. Rick is my buddy. The Captains all watch out for me and I watch out for them.

It could be worse. And, I feel so close to God here in paradise. I am Kat, the dockmaster."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chef George Patti, Islamorada



"I started cooking in NY when I was 15 at my Dad's restaurants. I then went to culinary school in Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI. After living in D.C. and Charleston, S.C. for 15 years combined, I moved to Ft.Lauderdale to open a restaurant.

I had bad partners and it didn't work out. I moved down here 7 years ago and was a Chef at Snappers. One night I was having some beers at the OV and met Tom. Over beers, a lot of them, we formed the partnership we hold today. We started holding cooking classes and they grew from 5 or so people to 50 people on average. We taught pairing wine with food so by halfway through each class everyone was getting pretty boisterous. We had to add a microphone to our class to be heard.

Eventually we opened Taster's and learned a lot there. From there we opened MEAT. Tom and I were talking in the office and we knew we wanted to do something different since everyone did seafood. We wanted to smoke and create our own meat dishes. Tom looked up at the ceiling and we had a label up there from a vendor with the word meat in all caps: MEAT. Our acronym was born from there.

Now we have Salt Fusion and it is kind of Taster's on steroids. We have a beautiful room upstairs for private parties of up to 100.

We wanted to open a place where people want to dress up and have a sophisticated yet fun and casual dinner in the Keys.

For all of our locals we have specials on Sunday evening for our Service Industry friends, including complimentary hors d' oeuvres from our chef.

Come down and see us, you want be disappointed. Tom and I would like to thank all of you for your continued support as we develop our culinary dreams."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jack Enslow ~UPDATE~

~Jack Update~



"Last week we went to the Social Security Office in Key West and got him in the system for SSI Aged assistance and signed him up for Medicare. Jack is at my house now waiting for a call from Social Security with a few more questions.

November 24 we are taking Jack to the VA Lab at the Clinic in Key Largo for his blood work, Then December 8 he has an appointment with the Doctor so we can get him on some vitamins and see what else we need to do.

We are still waiting to hear from benefits he will receive from the VA. So far, he's a shoo in for $721 from SSI. And, we have applied for food stamps for him.

Applying for his free cell phone next week.

He needs some dental work done after that and we are working on that. He also needs glasses, working on that. Right now he's wearing a pair of my over the counter reading glasses which help.

Overall he has adjusted well and he's enjoying living inside. He's feeding the cats 2-3 times a week still and rides up to the shopping center on his pride and joy, the blue electric tricycle you see him riding on the bike path along Overseas Highway."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jack Enslow ~UPDATE~


HOK: "Jack has been 'home' for a month now. I spent the afternoon with him yesterday. He talked to me for over an hour about what it meant to him coming inside after 18 years living outside." 

He just kept saying, "Sleeping now without coons and cats and noise you just don't know how bad it was. When it rained last week all week, I was dry. When I wake up I can cook hot food. I can keep my food fresh in the refrigerator. When I'm so tired after feeding all the cats, I remember I can go home where it's dry and peaceful and quiet. And, I always tried to stay clean, now I take hot showers whenever I want, you just can't imagine. I don't have to throw away dirty clothes, I wash them and keep them and wear them again. I've pretty much learned how to work all the things in my home. I was pretty worried that I wouldn't be able to do all that. I was kind of afraid about riding my trike all the way to the shopping center. I was worried about living so close to other people here in the park, but, they are all so nice and quiet and peaceful. I love it here."

He told me about his wonderful childhood. His father owned a big electronics factory in Ohio. He told me his father was an electronic genius and they had beautiful homes and cars and all the rest. He said those were very good years.

Like most of us, there are holes in Jack's life. There are happy times he loves to talk about, there are black times he just won't re-visit. I can so relate to that.

He picked up again when they first moved to Florida and his Dad opened up a TV and Radio repair shop. He said they lived in a very nice Airstream trailer in the beginning. He smiled again as he told these stories. But, then the smiled faded and he grew quiet.

He joined the Marines and served 6 years during this time. He is proud of his service. He says those were good years.

Then he skipped to when his Dad opened an Antique and Junk shop. He said they really had beautiful things until the banks and 'big boys' got in the business and shoved the little man out.

He grew quiet and thoughtful again. He picked back up when his Dad got so ill and finally died. Then his mom died.

At this point in the conversation it grew tough for him. The years blurred. The memories blurred. And, then life brought Jack to us. We are all better for it. I know I am.

He wanted me to tell all of you this: "Tell everybody how much I appreciate all they have done. I just don't have words to tell you what it means to me. I can't even explain how I feel every time I get home and come inside. I still don't understand why all of you did this for me. People come up to me all the time up at the shopping center and they are so happy for me. I still don't know why. I just know this I will not have to die outside under that bridge now. I don't have to worry about the animals eating me before anyone knows I am gone. I just want you to do one thing for me. When, I die cremate me and sprinkle my ashes under that bridge. It was awful living under there, but, if I hadn't I wouldn't be here now. It was shelter. My cats loved me. As bad as it was, it was home. Thank you so much for giving me a better one. Thank you."

Jack’s Journey:

First story:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841183./1430267070553429/?type=3&theater

Second Story:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841183./1430956170484519/?type=3&theater

Third Story:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841183./1432438987002904/?type=3&theater

Fourth Story: First time he visited his new home. Not moved in yet.

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841180./1435583700021766/?type=3&theater

Fifth Story:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841178./1437943673119102/?type=3&theater

Sixth story: Jack’s Tricycle:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/pb.1388508628062607.-2207520000.1414841176./1442491589330977/?type=3&theater

Home:

https://www.facebook.com/1388508628062607/photos/a.1388514888061981.1073741828.1388508628062607/1444377362475733/?type=1&theater

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jack Enslow ~Update~


HOK final update for a while on ~Jack Raymond Enslow, Jr. ~ Born 8/31/1940, Chicago, Illinois, Marine, Shopkeeper, Machinist, Fisherman, Feeder of Feral Cats~

"As most of you know Jack moved in his RV Friday afternoon. He was so happy the first three days and reveled in taking hot showers. He told me that was his favorite part.

Sunday afternoon he rode his bike down to the shopping center to feed his beloved cats. I was at Dillons watching football when he arrived. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon I think.

He was showing everyone his tricycle, tooting the horn and laughing and talking like I had never seen him do.

Late in the afternoon he was still there. Yesterday morning he was still there. When I went to lunch at Dillons, he was still there. I sat and talked to him for a while and he was hot and tired and said he had slept there. I didn't ask him why, I just listened.

As I was leaving, he asked me if I could do something for him and I said, yes, of course.

He said, " I got some more of my things out from under the bridge and I wonder if you could drive me home to take all of it, so after I feed the cats in the back, I can just ride home and not have to haul all of those bags."

I pulled the car up and he loaded his things. He asked me to drive slow. He asked me where that lime place was that was his landmark to cross the highway and head home and it dawned on me. He didn't know how to go home or at least wasn't absolutely sure how to get there. That's why he had been on the bench for over 24 hours.

I carefully pointed out all the landmarks for his turn home and we unloaded his things and I took him back to the bench.

He talked all the way back again. He said that if he got more organized maybe he could actually have a life and do things besides feed cats. We talked about all the possibilities. Simple things like finishing up feeding the cats in the daylight hours so he could go home and sleep and eat. We talked about the upcoming Caring for Cats venture and how they could work with him on cat feeders and other things to lighten his load and shorten the amount of hours and locations it took him to feed the cats. He said that'd be good, really good.

He asked me if I would have time to go over some of the gadgets in the RV tomorrow. Twenty years ago when he went outside there were only simple knobs on things and now everything is digital.

It hit me all at once why he had resisted this move even though he wanted it. He did want to get out from under the bridge, but, he was afraid he could not succeed inside. It was fear of the unknown. He was afraid that he couldn't operate the things in the RV. He was afraid of traffic and the tricycle. He was afraid he couldn't do it.

I would have felt the very same way under the circumstances. For the first time I really thought about how it would be to live outside without electricity, or plumbing, or TV, or radios or anything for almost twenty years and suddenly move in a place that had all those things.

I finally got it and was so ashamed for having gotten frustrated with him.

So, I will hang with him until everything becomes natural and normal to him living inside.

I was coming home from a business meeting last night about 6:30 and there he was whizzing north on the bike path. He was passing Snappers. I went to the Key lime gift place, pulled off and waited for him.

When he saw me standing there, his face lit up. He asked me, "Are you waiting for me?"

HOK: "Yes, I am. Follow me. And we made our way across US 1, to his home."

HOK: " I sat in the chair and talked with him while he locked up the bike and secured things outside."

Jack: "Well, ok, I'm going in now to shower and all, and have a cup of coffee and something to eat. No more cats today."

HOK: "I remembered how it all started on that bench all those weeks ago. I suddenly remembered what he said in the beginning."

Jack: those weeks ago: "I try to imagine what it will be like to go inside a home, lock the door, take a shower, sleep in a bed, and make a fresh cup of coffee. It'll be a game changer."

Jack: "I made it didn't I? It was easy and now here I am, home."

HOK: "I couldn't get words to come out, so I just hugged him and told him, I'll see you tomorrow."

Jack: "Sure thing, and thanks about, well thanks."

HOK: "I heard the lock click, the simple act he had longed for, as he went inside, and my heart soared for Jack Raymond Enslow as I drove away."


Friday, October 3, 2014

Jack - Update


HOK: "For all our new friends on HOK, you can read the beginning of Jack's story further down the page in his own words, on September 7th. The story begins Jack Raymond Enslow.

Norman and I just went by to check on him and he's secured his bike for the night, and he said he couldn't wait to go inside and take a hot shower, have some supper, watch a movie and go to bed.

He kept saying over and over, this is a game changer.

God bless and keep Jack in his new home tonight. Rest well Jack, you've earned it."


Jack - UPDATE


Jack's custom bike being custom fitted by Bob and the great guys at Islamorada Carts. And they are delivering it to Jack's RV Park in a few minutes so he can practice in there before traveling down the side of the road. He's sleeping in the RV tonight. He's so excited.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jack - UPDATE


OK, UPDATE ON JACK SEPTEMBER 28.

*********and note to all of you who have so generously donated Money, goods and services, We will not let the generosity of so many go for naught. We will ask for input from those who donated, if he still refuses to move in the RV after he gets the tricycle, if that day comes, as to how to proceed. Thank you.********

REGARDING THE PSYCHOLOGIST. Jack will notgo to a psychologist. I have not visited him 100 times. It has taken a 100 times to locate him maybe 10 times. ***
I just saw Jack at Winn Dixie, I gave him the bike lock, RV key, all on a lanyard, the contact information at the Cart place that he goes by every day to pick up his bike when ready. I've done all that is humanly possible.

And, one more thing, we have a builder willing to build and install feeder stations in the mangroves away from the highway, too high for raccoons to get on...stainless steel poles, and pvc on the rest, and watering stations. All concerns Jack had that we offered a solution to.

He knows the cats are not going to be captured and killed when he leaves the bridge. Many of the cats he feeds don't even live under there. He feeds cats behind the shopping center and in several locations on the way to the bridge.

But, today, this is his concern, not the trike, now that he has been handed the key, on a lanyard with a 15' stainless steel cable, and told where the bike will be for him to pick up, not the RV which he has a key to, not the distance, no, today it is the cats getting trapped and killed, which is not going to happen.

___________________________________________________

I have made at least 100 trips to Winn Dixie/Dillons over the past 6 weeks trying to find Jack. I have kept him apprised of every single step taken to ensure his safety and shelter in his new home.

This morning, I just left him a letter in a zip lock bag nailed to his box stack in the cart by Dillons.

I told him where he could pick up the Bike, when it's ready it's on his route. Bob at Islamorada Golf Carts, near Payfair, that Jack goes by on every feeding, graciously agreed to assemble it and teach Jack how to ride it. And, as you know Casey Highland , at no charge, was willing to install all the LED lights. THE BIKE WAS SHIPPED OVER A WEEK AGO VIA TRUCK AND IS BEING DELIVERED TO ISLAMORADA GOLF CARTS . JACK CAN HAVE IT WHEN IT GETS THERE, PROBABLY MONDAY OR TUESDAY. I WILL POST ON THE PAGE WHEN THIS OCCURS.

Islamorada Carts
90280 Overseas Hwy at MM 90Tavernier, FL 33070
(305) 852-4201

THE RV, $2800 HAS BEEN PAID FOR IN FULL OVER TWO WEEKS AND SET UP AND READY TO GO FOR THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME.

On Monday, September 15, 2014 7:08 AM, "omegastores@comcast.net" <omegastores@comcast.net> wrote:

Dear Rhonda :

This email is to confirm that we have received your order for our electric tricycle.

Your Order Number: 1409153004CET
Product: $1,394.50 Electric Tricycle
PowerBooster: $289.50
Extended warranty: $75.00
Cover: $68.50
Tax: $116.04
Shipping: $0.00
Total: $1,943.54

I still believe that in giving him the bike prior to him having done one single thing he has promised to do over the past month is an exercize in futility. I pray I am wrong and that he will not just take the bike and never move in the RV and end up right back where he started when the bike is destroyed under the bridge.AND THE DOT WILL NO LONGER LET HIM LIVE THERE SOON AS THEY KNOW HE HAS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE.

He had promised, once I took him to the set up RV, rent paid, utilities paid and on, RV stocked with every conceivable thing he could need, that he would start training the cats gradually over the next 2 weeks to eat and be fed elsewhere. HE HAS MADE NO EFFORT TO DO THIS.

I have shown him all the household goods and clothing that so many of you have generously donated to him, every time I picked them up at Bill's Liquor and tried to get him to go with me to put away in his RV. HE REFUSED EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I TOOK HIM THERE ONCE, HE STAYED TEN MINUTES AND HAS REFUSED TO GO BACK.

I gave him a copy of the Give Forward fundraiser where I showed him and left him a copy of the unbelievably generous donations of over $5,000 by so many of you to purchase the RV, and the Tricycle.

He had promised to work with Caring for Cats to get the cats neutered and re-located. HE REFUSES NOW TO DO THIS.

He promised, again, per the above paragraph, to go through all the bags of trash and possessions under the bridge and get to the outside so the garbage men could pick up and he would be left with just what he wanted to take to the RV, and I agreed to help him sanitize those contents before actually putting in the RV. HE HAS MADE NO EFFORT TO DO THIS.

So, many of you on here seems to think he just needs the electric tricycle and then all will be good.

So, he will have the trike. We hope and pray you are all right.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jack Enslow ~UPDATE~


Jack Update. Noon 9/23/2014

******* With regard to the bike. We are not giving him a $2000 bike to live under an unsafe, filthy bridge. And the electric bike he wanted so badly would be destroyed in a week if dragged down to the bridge every day. If we give him the bike at Winn Dixie, while still living under the bridge, we fear he will take it straight to the bridge and it will be destroyed in no time.. The DOT will not allow him to live under the bridge much longer as he now has a viable, real alternative that was set up to Jack's specific desires. If you could see the filthy, excrement filled place he lives you would want him out as well.

Many of you suggested trapping the cats and taking to the RV park. Would your neighbors want 100 feral cats dumped in their neighborhood?

This is a complex matter. If/ when Jack is ready to go home he knows how to get in touch with me.

*********** If that does not occur in a reasonable amount of time there are plenty of people who would appreciate that lovely place to live.********

"I have tried everything to get him to go and live in his RV. For a week and a half he has one excuse or another. He says a cat has scabies and he has to constantly monitor, or it's been raining and he's behind on his feedings, or it's the weekend and there are people around the bridge that hate cats.

I rode all up and down the road the past two days from 4 in the morning until 11 at night trying to get him out of this weather.

I finally saw him this morning at Winn Dixie and he won't go home today either. Now, the excuse is he's behind feeding the cats. I offered to transport him to do this and then take him home. He refused. I offered to come get him at 6 tonight anywhere he said and he refused that. I offered to bring him back anytime he wants to come back from the RV. He said that wouldn't work.

He says he's waiting on the tricycle even though I live 100 yards from him and have offered to bring him to Winn Dixie any time of the day or night. The tricycle was custom built, is paid for, is built and is on the way.

His neighbor Robin has a car and has offered the same until the tricycle gets here. History tells me even when the trike arrives later this week, there will be another excuse.

I don't know what to do other than begin to look for someone else who would live in and appreciate the RV. We have worked tirelessly to purchase it, have it delivered to the site, have it set up, painted the inside, stocked it with all of your generous gifts.

I got him to go there one time for 10 minutes, He will not go back no matter what I offer him in the way of getting back to Winn Dixie, etc.

What are your thoughts, especially those of you who have so generously given to his fund. I'm heartsick and have just worried about Jack until I am about worried out.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack Update


JACK UPDATE

We are moving Jack in Monday afternoon. He needed a little time to gather his things, get ahead feeding his beloved cats. We hope his bike will be here by the end of the week, it's ordered. In the meantime we have a group who will make sure he is able to feed his cats.

It's a big transition for him and we'd appreciate all your prayers. He's going to be so well situated. The laundry room is even adjacent to his RV site.

We are continuing to take donations at Bill's Liquors/ Tavernier Town Center: Size large sweat pants and sweatshirts are needed, if anyone has any reflective gear that'd be great for night feeding, size large. And food. His freezer is up and running and fridge. Cereal, canned fruits, canned meats, canned soups would be great! Crackers, cookies.

It will be a few weeks before his VA benefits kick in and it took all of the very generous donations to buy the RV and the Bike.

We have left the GiveForward site up for one more week if it is easier for any of you who wish to help to just donate money and we will take Jack grocery shopping and clothes shopping and get the rest of the things he needs.

Thank you all so much again. Jack is beyond thankful.

https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/95l5/jack-s-house

1. The trailer was $2800
2. The bike with the extra power booster, warranty and lithium batter upgrade and baskets, horn, lights was $2100 + tax.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bill Beaver - Marathon


“I am homeless. I don’t smoke, drink, or take dope, nothing negative whatsoever. I have a pretty good reputation and everyone here knows me and the cops leave me alone.

In Ft. Lauderdale I was making $32.60/hr. Excellent money. I was operating heavy equipment. I wasn’t happy cause I had to work with drug and dope addicts. It was a bad situation. I asked a cop if I had the chance to go to jail being around all this stuff, even though I didn’t do any of it and he told me there was always that chance, so I quit, came down to my favorite place in the Keys and ended up being homeless. I don’t regret the decision. I went for happiness over money. It was worth it.

You have to go for the positive, never the negative. I had to teach myself that, it doesn’t just come to you. Growing up, everything around me was negative. I went hitch hiking in Canada by myself once, and I met my maker. Imagine that, in the middle of the wilderness in Canada I met my maker!

I hang out at the tree behind the store here and I meet a lot of people. I don’t know why I am meeting them, you wouldn’t believe it. I thought it would be a bunch of drunks and dope addicts but it hasn’t been that way whatsoever. I meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world actually.

My life’s dream is to go to Oregon. I am from Pennsylvania. I want to go see the Oregon State Beavers play, because my last name is Beaver. That makes sense, right? “ He laughed. “ I always wanted to go over there, so I am sitting here in my dream and I am thinking how am I going to get to Oregon from here? I am thinking do I bike, do I hitch hike? Do I get a job then go in my pickup truck? I had it made before. I would work for 10 months and travel for 2.

I don’t have to be in this position. I could go back to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami and work, but I love it down here. It’s your choice how you want to live your life.

The biggest lesson I have learned is everything positive, nothing negative. Usually, whatever happens, there is something you can get out of it. What you do is take the good out of whatever happens and you forget the rest. The only thing that matters is the positive.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jack Raymond Enslow, Jr.



~Jack Raymond Enslow, Jr. ~ Born 8/31/1940, Chicago, Illinois, Marine, Shopkeeper, Machinist, Fisherman, Feeder of Feral Cats~

Note: I went to find Jack yesterday and remind him about our appointment with the VA Monday at 3:30 and how a program they had would pay his lot rent.

I sat with Jack over 2 hours yesterday explaining how his life was about to change with the little trailer and a bike with a cart, that so many of you have so generously contributed to. I asked him how it all started. I asked him how he ended up under the Tavernier Bridge for 18 years.

(With a little more help from you, the Humans of the Keys, Jack can leave the bridge this week.
https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/95l5/jack-s-house )

As his story unfolded, the Jack we see today slipped away, and in his place was a young Marine, honorably discharged, following his dream to be a commercial fisherman...in the Florida Keys. This is Jack's story in his own words.

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" I don't have any family left, but after the Marine Corp, my Dad was still alive and I helped in with his business on the coast in South Florida. He and my mother had left Chicago and opened a kind of junk business. We had a store front and everything. I also worked on boats during this time and did some fishing.

My Dad died and the business dried up and then my Mom was gone. There was no money. My Dad had brought me to the Florida Keys for the first time 59 years ago. I never forgot all the fish houses and commercial boats that were everywhere back then.

Then I was back down here to ride on the Spiegel Grove when I was still a Marine and things were heating up in Russia and the President formed this huge flotilla of Navy vessels to let Kruschev know we would fight if necessary. Navy vessels are used to transport Marines and I was one of those Marines. It was then that I received my first back injury, slipping off a ladder on the Spiegel Grove. But, I just lived with the pain and went on. The Spiegel Grove as you probably know is the largest vessel ever sank on purpose to form a reef. It is sunk right down here.

Anyway, when everything went bad, I decided to walk and hitch to Key West and see if I could get a start up boat and be a commercial fisherman. I thought I could work for a boat. I got down there and soon realized that most of the fish houses were gone and condos and hotels and bars were about all that was down there. Stock Island still had a ton of lobster boats and such but they were owned by Cubans and I couldn't get hired on or anything. I was shocked that the fish houses were gone so I couldn't get a boat from one of them and start fishing. That had been my plan.

So, I walked to Marathon and found a couple of fish houses but with no money and no contacts down here I still couldn't get anyone to front me on a start up boat and start fishing for a fish house.

I had been down here about 10 days by this time and I was just sleeping where I could and eating what I could find. I didn't think it would last long and I would be fishing.

Finally I walked up here. Again, I looked for fish houses and boats and again there was nothing for me. So, I was just really disappointed and a little scared and I started figuring out a way to get back up the East Coast where I came from. I planned to leave the next day.

I was sitting on the Keys Taxi bench in front of this shopping center. There weren't any benches around the shopping center at that time. Ted's Taxi bench was in front of CVS that was Eckerds back then. That was 18 years ago.

I sat on that bench all night and watched cats, some with little tiny kittens, foraging all around the shopping center for whatever they could find to eat. I got up and started going through the dumpsters and trash cans to find what I could for them and I fed them. I still remember how they all gathered around me that night, with their eyes shining in the darkness, looking up at me, so thankful. I had been pretty much alone for days and now I wasn't.

I don't remember why I didn't just start walking north the next day. I just remember that a day or two later these two ladies came out of the restaurant at the shopping center one night and I was sitting in the parking lot and the cats had gathered around me and one of the ladies said, "Oh, look at all those cats and kittens. They look hungry, we should get them some food. I told them if they would give me $5.00 I would go buy the food and feed them. And, that's how it all began.

I've had odd jobs off and on in the early days, but, feeding the cats took so much time, I didn't have time to get a job to feed myself. I never went to the VA because I didn't think they would help me. I had food stamps a time or two, but, again, I didn't have time to mess with that because it took all my time to feed the cats. It's really big job. People don't understand. You have to have different groups of cats at different places at different times or the coons would destroy everything.

At first I slept in the ditch at night, right across the highway there. It always had a little water under it and if I slept under the water some, the mosquitoes weren't quite so bad. But, one night, I heard the mosquito plane overhead and it sounded like semi trucks were about to run over me in the ditch. I didn't know it was a plane at the time. The next day I moved under the bridge. 18 years ago.

I remember people would bring their kids to the parking lot at night to catch a kitten for them. The cats have always been here. Back then the mangroves were still full of water so the raccoons didn't attack me and the cats like they do now. They had plenty of food in the mangroves, shrimp, fish, lobster and such.

I know a lot of people think I'm crazy to live under a bridge and feed all those cats. I know they think I'm a bum. I'm not a bum, I work over 100 hours a week feeding close to 100 cats. It's a huge job, a huge commitment. Most people my age couldn't do it. I have to haul all that food and water and it's heavy.

I have to barricade myself off under the bridge to sleep for a few hours. If I don't the coons take everything from me. When I feed the cats I have to give them something off to the side to the raccoons so the cats can eat or the coons would run them off and eat it all..

It's hot under the bridge and noisy and once and for all, NO, I do not like living there. It's just the only place I had. I'd cook under there some time like spaghetti or something, but, I had to eat it right away or it would go bad, plus the smells would drive the raccoons crazy.

I try to imagine how it will be to walk in that trailer at night and lock the door and cook supper and take a shower. I try to imagine sleeping in a real bed with air conditioning and waking up and making a cup of coffee and cooking breakfast before I go to start feeding the cats and all. When I get to my trailer, I'll be done with the cats and all. When I get to the bridge at night, I still have to work a couple of hours just to make it safe to sleep. If I don't bundle everything up and mask the smell and barricade myself off, the raccoons will be all over everything and me while I sleep.

The last couple of nights I have dreamed about it, locking that door, no cats, no raccoons, a bed, safe and all.

As bad as it's been, it's all been worth it. Those cats are always so happy to see me. They are so hungry and when I feed them, they look at me with such happiness. And, no matter how tired I am or how hot it is, it is all worth it. It's all been worth it.

I don't expect you or anyone to really understand, but, it's all worth it. They are God's creatures, just like you and me.

I'll see you tomorrow at 3 to go the VA. Nobody knows how much I thank all you people for everything you are doing."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Misty & Max, Key West


I’m Misty and this is my dog Max, and he is wearing my Rose Colored Sunglasses. For the past 20 some odd years, I have been telling anyone who would listen that I was moving to Key West when I turned 50. I am 49, and we arrived in the Keys July 1st. 

I love to travel, but when I discovered the Keys, this is the only place I wanted to come. I have been coming here as often as I could get here for the past 24 years, so I already feel like I am a fresh water conch. The salt water already runs through my veins.

The unique and wonderful people that call the Keys their home are the best of the best. They don’t want or need you to conform to their way of thinking, they don’t care what your wearing, they don’t care what your driving, they just want you to have fun with your family and friends, listen to some good music, and enjoy fabulous food and cold drinks.

There is no place on earth that makes me feel like I do here. Looking out across the water, I just wish that my camera could actually capture the breathtaking colors of blue, green, and turquoise mosaic, it is truly amazing to behold. There is no doubt in my mind that this place is magic. If anyone had a doubt, they would only need to wait until sunsets, when the vanilla clouds put on their own colorful show.

I have spent my life promoting peace and understanding. None of us every have an easy life, and no one individual is better that the person sitting next to them. So I wear my Rose Colored Sunglasses and see beyond the obvious. I believe that each of us deserves the best that life has to offer. I believe that everyone should follow his or her dreams. Dreams do come true, and I am living proof.

Nothing is perfect though, and while I had a job when I arrived, I no longer do. So I am going to do what it takes, and figure out how to make this all work. I am a photographer, a videographer, a philosopher, a righter of wrongs, a social media guru and a general media expert who can do a multitude of additional jobs. I am not going to give up. I know if I put myself out there, I will find a way to stay right here in paradise. Me and the dog are home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jack, "The Cat Man"


Eighteen years ago I was eating out of a dumpster and so were the cats. I started feeding them. If I die they die, so I just keep on going. I have to move out from under the bridge soon so I need a boat to live on and a boat to drive, nothing fancy. I just need to keep feeding the cats. The cats depend on me. People donate the food so it's the least I can do. The cats don't judge me.