Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frank & Noah Pauly, Marathon



(HOK: I met Frank at his home in Keys RV in Marathon. It was a breezy, sunny day, so we sat outside for the interview while his 5 year old son, Noah, used the water hose to rinse a big natural sponge.)

FRANK: “It takes stamina to live on an island. Between high rent, having seasonal income and the storm season, it takes backbone to live on a beach or an island. People arrive with the dream of lazing on the beach with no cares and discover that they have to contribute to the infrastructure of a small community. The burden is too much for a lot of the dreamers. I call them "turnstile" people. They might make it for a season, and then they bail.

I've lived in Marathon for 11 years. I was living in Tybee Island, Georgia and within one week, three strangers out of the blue, told me that I would do very well in the Florida Keys. I took it as a sign. After 6 months of researching and talking with friends, (many of whom had lived in the Keys before,) I moved.”

NOAH: "Daddy I'm washing my sponge."

FRANK: "You can step on it to ring it out.

Noah found the sponge at a construction site. The guy who lived there was a sponger. It’s in good shape but it was buried in dirt. I told him he had to clean it up before he can bring it in the house.

Marathon is a nice place to live. It's expensive to live here, but I've always lived in high dollar places. I'm a property caretaker. I like knowing a property and improving it. I had a housekeeping / property management company for 8 years; four years in Georgia and four here. I am looking for a place now where I can maintain and manage the property.

Hey Noah, that's probably enough water. Have you stepped on it?"

NOAH: "No."

FRANK: "Well you need to step on it and squish the water out."

NOAH: "But, I just want to see what the sponge can do; what it will hold."

FRANK: “I got out of housekeeping after the economic crash in '08. The cleaning chemicals were getting to me anyway. I work very hard to be able to enjoy my free time. I'm not trying to get rich. Keeping life simple allows us to be able to enjoy it.

Noah, the water is for cleaning the sponge not flooding the driveway. Turn the water off and get the dish soap."

(Noah is splashing in the puddles he has created with the water hose. A couple of minutes later the sponge is covered in a froth of dish soap.)

HOK:" He's a cutie. Do you have him full time?"

FRANK: “Half time. I had to fight tooth and nail to get that. Family Court was messed up. I feel like I was being discriminated against. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be subjected to the court system in order to be able to enjoy time with my child. It sucks. His mom and I agreed to make the world a better place by having a child together. I thought I was going to see him every day of his life. That all changed just before he was born. I went to all but one of the prenatal visits, the labor and C-section surgery. It was an incredible experience. He's a Conch; born in Key West.

We like to go swimming, fishing, visit the beach and local parks. Noah has friends all through this small town. I'm homeschooling him. He's excited about learning and growing by leaps and bounds. People say that he should go to public school to be socialized. He has plenty of friends. School should be for learning. I don't want a tax subsidized babysitter. I had a child to raise my child.

I like Marathon. It still has character from being a fishing community. The people are mostly down to earth. All of the Keys have their share of "colorful" characters. The classic problem is that people move someplace and homogenize it to feel safe in a familiar environment. Then they spend the next 10 years complaining about how it isn't the same.

I want to raise Noah in the keys. I think he will probably be a pilot among other things. He has a passion for aeronautics. It's all up to him. My job is to make him aware of the opportunities that are available to him and encourage him in his interests. I want him to be a simple man who has an honest and fulfilling life.”

NOAH: "Look daddy, I made a boat. Do you think I will it will float?"

(Noah shoves a coconut husk full of twigs in his dad's face, before setting it afloat in the driveway puddles.)

FRANK: "Yeah, son. I think your passengers are light enough.

I'm grateful that I was born again 33 years ago. It gives me a very different perspective than most people. I have an assurance that a lot of people don't have. I believe things a lot of people would rather mock than believe. I believe in miracles. I see prayer as a way of interacting with God's creation. I don't know that we change anything, but it allows us to participate in God's will. I don't like religions. They cause separation. We are all part of the same body with the same basic needs. We are here to help each other. I try to make things better with the talent that God has given me. Knowing God makes life better."

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