Monday, April 29, 2013

Bashaw kindergartener was a bead magnet

Tatum Fisher (right), with unidentified pal, was a bead magnet.
If there was a contest for who collected the most beads last Saturday night at the DeSoto Heritage Festival Parade, my money would be on Tatum Fisher.
My wife and all the other folks who enjoyed the parade from our vicinity of Manatee Avenue's 2100 block by Gateway Bank will vouch for it.
The Bashaw Elementary School kindergartener was a bead magnet.
Folks on every float would spot the little pig-tailed girl dancing and waving and smiling and beads of all colors and shapes and lengths flew her way.
Then there were the walkers accompanying the floats, who draped more beads around Tatum's neck like precious necklaces.
She got them from us, too.
People like yours truly, who aren't big on beads, were happy to give whatever descended our way to her, as well.
Tatum looked like she was wearing ropes of them at times, but not for long.
She'd take them off, hand them to a family member holding a bulging plastic bag, and go back to imploring the float folks for more.
Tatum wasn't the only one in our party who went home with their share of shiny swag.
So did Jacks. who didn't have to dance and wave and smile, but still ended up wearing a necklace of parade beads, too.
He's a 6-month-old lab mix puppy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Derringer, Cook among May 4 performers at MSA

Want to rock to Rick Derringer, Alabama’s Jeff Cook and some our town’s scholastic musicians? It happens May 4 at Manatee School for the Arts, where impressario Del Couch is relocating his Howling Dog recording studio as a teaching station for students at MSA and other high schools to learn about digital audio production.
The May 4 showcase will include musicians from MSA, Braden River High, Manatee High and King Middle’s Jake Castro band.
A pre-show party is 5:30 p.m. with the concert at 7 p.m.
Proceeds go toward the new computer music lab.
Call 941-545-4379 for ticket information.

Deborah Thomas was inducted into Delta Kappa Gamma Hall of Fame and Fay Murphy was installed as parliamentarian at the DKG Society International’s Mu state convention in Orlando.
They were among six women educators representing Manatee County’s Kappa chapter including Diana Buell, Leslye Mann, Phyllis Omilak and Judy Shostrom.
Thomas’s mother, Annie Lucy Williams, is the namesake for the Parrish elementary school.
Murphy is Kappa chapter president and was recently honored as a Woman of Achievement by the American Association of University Women’s Manatee chapter.
DKG promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education.

Wade Ingram and Skyler Bellows won the Ford/AAA student auto skills state competition and qualified for the 2013 national finals in Dearborn, Mich., Ford’s world headquarters.
Ingram, a Palmetto High senior, and Bellows, an MSA senior, are in dual enrollment at Manatee Technical Institute’s automotive services technology program.
Richard Falco is their proud MTI instructor.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

'This is going to my nephew in Afghanistan ...'

O ur nephew, Kevin Haddon, just started a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
As the Mannix tribal line goes, he is the oldest of my nine nephews.
Anyway, Sherri and I were figuring out what to put in a care package for our family's favorite soldier.
Thing is, by the time we get it to him, Kevin's tour of duty might be over.
God willing.
We packed a box last weekend with some healthy goodies and items we knew he'd enjoy.
Like some of my Hawaiian shirts.
Can't wait to see those snapshots.
Well, I brought the package to Bradenton's downtown post office Monday and the postal clerk said we could get a discount if I used a particular U.S. postal package.
So I brought one home and Sherri repacked the whole deal ready to mail.
Then I went to our local post office in Tallevast Wednesday morning to get Kevin's care package on the way.
The clerk was helpful as always.
Except for one problem.
I'd grabbed the wrong box from the Bradenton office.
Not only would there be no discount, but this one would cost more.
She gave me the correct box.
I sheepishly brought it home and when my wife saw it she needed no explanation.
Sherri sliced open the old box, emptied its contents and re-packed them into the new one.
Lovingly, thank you.
I will return to the post office again, the third time this week, and, hopefully, get our favorite soldier a care package containing a little bit of Americana.
It is the least we can do, right?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A heroic 6-year-old boy gone much too soon

Lamontea Taylor was a typical 6-year-old boy from what we've read and heard and seen in photos.
A good kid.
A killer smile.
A popular Samoset Elementary School student.
Today his grieving family calls him a hero.
Before succumbing to the strong currents Saturday that rip through Longboat Pass, young Lamontea pushed his 5-year-old half-sister, Natallie Porter, to safety and was not to be seen again until authorities recovered his body 10 a.m. Monday.
That Lamontea is gone is a tragedy.
Six-years-old? A life snuffed out long before it even began.
Accidents happen, but this one was eminently preventable.
Where was the adult supervision, especially given the potential hazards swimming in an area notorious for potentially dangerous conditions?
An area clearly marked with warning signs.
The Bradenton Beach Police Report said several family members were gathered in the tree line and the children swimming were being watched by "older family members," according to the family.
They were, in fact, 15 and 16 years old, the police report said.
While teens can be quite responsible, they are not adults.
Adults with the awareness to realize the unfolding predicament and get the kids out of the water forthwith.
Thankfully, another adult, Isaac Espinoza, a stranger enjoying the beach with friends, came to Natallie's rescue.
He completed the last heroic act of 6-year-old Lamontea Taylor's life.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marathon tragedy gives us pause before parade

There weren’t any chairs tied yet to the fences along Manatee Avenue West or the railings on the Manatee Avenue Bridge.
Those will start popping up by Wednesday.
Nor was there any savory smoke from all the parade parties that will be going on full blast outside the banks, insurance companies, law firms, doctors offices, realtors and hair salons.
I could smell the barbecue already.
I could also see the merry mob outside Smitty’s and Shake Pit as the parade turns east, greeted raucously by thousands of revelers crowding the sidewalks flanking Manatee Avenue West, most of them imploring:
But all was peaceful on Manatee Avenue West, even with traffic, a week before the annual DeSoto Heritage Parade.
May it remain so this coming Saturday.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

LRHS grad on disabled list with Class-A ballclub

Lakewood Ranch High School grad Mike Ohlman is on the disabled list with the Frederick (Md.) Keys, Baltimore’s High-A Carolina League ballclub.
According to Keys’ officials and game accounts, the 22-year-old catcher suffered a dislocated right shoulder while dodging an errant pitch during a sixth-inning at-bat against Lynchburg last Monday.
It’s the same shoulder Mike hurt and rehabbed after the March auto accident that derailed the start of his 2012 season.
Mike was hitting .182 through nine games.

Braden River High School senior Demi-Shay Watchorn signs a scholarship Friday with Mercer University’s sand volleyball program, which debuted as an official collegiate sport last year.
Born in England, Demi-Shay is a dual-citizen and sister Brooke is a BRHS freshman and Pirate volleyballer, too.
Looks like mom Kimberly will be making plenty of road trips to Macon, Ga., where the Mercer Bears compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Senior Airman Kristopher Tice deploys in May to Osan Air Base in South Korea, one of two major USAF installations there, along with Kunsan Air Base. He is a 2009 Palmetto High School grad.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bradenton folks share lineage of noble Floridano

Ever heard of Francisco Xavier Sanchez?
Probably not.
But you should know who he was and what he represented, especially for a family of his descendants.
They include Bradenton folks, who number 10 generations, some of whom visited his gravemarker last weekend at the Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine, America's oldest city.
Born in Spanish East Florida, Sanchez (1738-1807) was one of the state's most successful planters whose career endured turbulent times under the flags of Spain and England.
Sanchez is the only known Patriot born in Spanish East Florida who served in that territory, which Spain ceded to the U.S. in 1821.
Among his descendants are: Rick Sheffield, an eighth great grandson,  his son, Travis, a ninth great grandson, Asaph Graham, another ninth great grandson, and Anthony Quandt, a 10th great grandson.
There were other Americans who benefited by this noble Floridano.
When Spain joined the colonies against England in 1779, the British imprisoned Spaniards and colonials in the St. Augustine fortress Castillo de San Marcos during the Revolution. It was called Fort St. Mark under British rule.
Sanchez provided prisoners with clothing and food.
Among them?
Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton and Edward Rutledge --- all signees of the Declaration of Independence.
Francisco Xavier Sanchez died destitute, but his legacy lives on as an ancestor for the Sons of the American Revolution, Bradenton folks included.

Monday, April 15, 2013

An iconic piece of Americana bloodied ... again

An explosion behind the crowd near the finish line.
Boston police poised over a prone runner.
National Guardsmen ripping out a storm fence to reach the injured.
Weeping, dazed runners.
Sidewalks smeared with blood.
Images of the Boston Marathon tragedy.
Images that conjure past images of terrorism's ugly handiwork in America.
Images that make us say, dear God, not again.
That it should happen at this iconic event is not only horrific but profane.
I've never run the Boston Marathon or ever attended it.
But it's something that's always on our national consciousness.
It's Patriots Day, a celebration of the American Revolution.
A celebration of us.
I've known numerous acquaintances over the years who have run this historic race.
None ever came close to winning it, but that's not the point.
They experienced it, a piece of Americana.
A piece of Americana that was bloodied by Monday's bombings.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Firing range hazardous to neighbors' health?

Lynn Carlsen is a former neighbor and mother of two, whose husband, Steve, owns a pair of Belgian Shorthaired Pointers I was crazy about when I lived in Wares Creek.
Their family owns a 1,000-acre ranch in Myakka City they’d invite me to visit, an offer I’ve yet to take up.
Unfortunately, they do not feel completely safe on its boundaries during weekend getaways there.
The fear of stray bullets from a nearby shooting range is why.
Not to mention the unnerving noise of semi-automatic gunfire.
That anxiety has been a growing issue shared by neighbors of the Myakka Education and Training Center/Rocky Creek Ranch, which has been operating for more than a year without a Manatee County permit.
It reared its head last week when the gun camp owners — Chris Baden and Ray and Sara Baden — sought a special permit for operation of the outdoor firing range against the vocal objections of rightfully concerned residents.
Lynn Carlsen isn’t some anti-gun zealot.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

National anthem home run for M's home opener

Deborah Bender may have finished as runnerup in the recent 2013 Bright Stars Senior Idol competition, sponsored by Bright House Networks at Ruth Eckerd Hall. But the Ellenton resident hit a home run at McKechnie Field last Friday, singing our national anthem for the Bradenton Marauders home opener.
The M’s open a weekend  homestand against the St. Lucie Mets and Friday night's first pitch is 6:30 p.m.

A benefit for 6-year-old Onicka Patterson, who has endured a difficult recovery from a December car accident, is 8 a.m. Saturday at Manatee Learning Academy, 6210 17th Ave. W., Bradenton. Call 941-794-5838.

Yolanda and Josh McCoy named their first bundle of love, Tristanlea.

Jerry Neff will receive the  Good Scout Award April 17 from the Manatee District of the Boy Scouts of America’s Southwest Florida Council. The community leader was in banking 49 years and in the National Guard and Army Reserve for 39 years, retiring as a brigadier general. The event is 6:30 p.m. at Camp Flying Eagle, 16009 Upper Manatee River Road, Bradenton.Call Henry Miller at 941-301-8272.

The first Mitchell Shreves Golf Tournament is April 19 at IMG Academies Golf & Country Club, 4350 El Conquistador Parkway, Bradenton. The State College of Florida sophomore suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a car accident last December and is undergoing intensive rehab.
Call Olivia Smith at 941-795-1242 or Rhonda Strawn at 941-928-3172.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Autistic's new iPad will be gift of a stranger

One call was from a major league ballclub's front office guy who lives on Anna Maria Island.
Another, from a detective at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Then there was one from a man who is among Bradenton's most generous people with his money and his spirit.
They all wanted to help Paul Schultz get another iPad.
But their offers came with a definite caveat:
"Keep my name out of it."
Such was the response of folks around our town to the plight of the 22-year-old non-verbal autistic, whose accessorized iPad was stolen from his mom's truck.
Schultz has not spoken since he was 3 and used the device to help him communicate.
That's why the theft, bad enough as it was, touched so many people.
They called.
They emailed.
They went on Facebook.
Yet most of them made it evident they wanted to remain anonymous.
"Keep my name out of it."
Paul Schultz will get a new iPad, thanks to the generosity of a community that takes care of its own.
Chances are good his family will never know the benefactor.
That's a beautiful thing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mouseketeer's passing takes away icon of our youth

How many of us 60ish folks remembered our days of innocence when we heard the news?
Annette Funicello was dead.
Seventy? Nah. She'll always be 13 in our hearts and minds.
I can still see her when she burst onto the American stage with "The Mickey Mouse Club" in October 1955.
The short-sleeve turtle neck sweater.
The pleated skirt.
That curly brown hair and brown eyes.
That smile.
Those mouse ears.
I was 8.
Every afternoon after St. Gabriel School let out, we'd run home.
Me and my brother Jimmy.
We'd sit before our family's little black-and-white TV and watch that show religiously, two of the millions of American kids like us who made it a ritual.
It sounds goofy now, but we imagined being Mouseketeers, too.
I know I did.
Annette Funicello was my first crush before I knew what that was.
It faded when she went onto to do those "Beach Blanket Bingo" movies with Frankie Avalon, but who cares?
The Mickey Mouse Club was a staple of my boyhood.
So was Annette Funicello.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

State Attorney's ruling for couple right one

The quality of mercy is not strained.”
I don’t know whether Robert Jordan or his wife, Cathy, have ever read The Merchant of Venice, or any of Shakespeare’s timeless works for that matter.
Certainly not with all they’ve been going through for practically the past 30 years.
Yet the English bard’s words resonate for the 60ish Parrish couple today.
They took on real meaning after the State Attorney’s office announced last Tuesday it would not prosecute the husband for cultivating marijuana at the couple’s Parrish home.
A sensible decision.
A welcome one, too.
Happy. Excited. Grateful.
Robert Jordan was all those things when he found out.
Good for him.
Good for his wife.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Palmetto JROTC off to Louisville for Army nationals

Good luck to Palmetto High School’s JROTC drill team at Saturday’s Army National Drill Championships in Louisville. The squad members are Kenneth Ansbro, Monica Balli, Kevin Beach, Randy Beck, Lee Blair, Bethany Brogdon, Megan Carpenter, Alicia Delarosa, Nelson Doire, Joseph Eicher, Dustin Hall, Ersasto Hernandez, Taylor Holmes, Thai Holmes, Donald Preston, Daniel Preston, Daniel Price, Karelee Roca, Nina Skinner, Brandon Smith, James Vaught, Jessica Wood and Cory Zwycewicz. They’re coached by Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Hockley. Retired Lt. Col. Philip Pugh is the senior Army instructor.

Manatee High School’s Sugar’ Canes host a Cane Camper Clinic, 9 a.m. April 13 for third-through-eighth graders, who will perform at the May 18 Spring Show. Contact Mary Galati at 941-920-2433 or for information.

New Bradenton Marauder manager Frank Kremblas will have a built-in fan club among our town’s Ohio natives. Born in Carroll, southeast of Columbus, the 46-year-old played at Canal Winchester High School and was drafted by the Reds in 1989 and spent eight years in the Cincinnati organization.
Father Frank Sr. quarterbacked Ohio State to a share of the 1957 national championship under legendary Woody Hayes. Weather permitting, the M’s home opener with Fort Myers is Friday night at McKechnie Field. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. 
That wily ol’ stork is on final approach for Angela and Chris Babroski, who will name their first bundle of love, Michael. Due date is April 23.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

Monday, April 1, 2013

Old Yankee Stadium ticket poignant memento

The ticket stub was one of many I've kept over the years.
But it was the oldest.
The Orioles and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
It was 1967, my senior year at DePaul High School in Wayne, N.J.
A poignant memento for Opening Day 2013.
The final score of that game, O's 7-2, was written on the ticket stub, but that's not the number that grabs me from back in time.
It was a grandstand ticket.
The price?
Try $1.50.
What's funny, too, were the figures on the envelope.
On it are the old, old metropolitan phone numbers like CYpress 3-6000 on one side,
On the other, it says "Join the New York Yankees in the friendly skies of United."
For reservations, Call TN 7-3000.
That is going waaaaay back.
So are the names I wrote on  a piece of paper, listing friends and classmates who were going to the game with me and who wasn't.
Ted Martens, Mike Lacey, Chuck Kennedy and Jim Boyle were scratched off.
Pete Siegler, Bob Kruk and Dennis DeTitta were good to go.
Below their names were the other ticket price options:
Reserved/mezzanine: $2.50.
Box seats: $3.50.
Those were the days.