Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Miami Beach Dog Track Story

                                                   The Miami Beach Dog Track Story
                                              A true story that no one believes
                                     Written 2010 rewritten 04/12/2016 unedited
                                                          Howard Yasgar 
      Over the years, I have told this true story to many people, but still no one believes me.
      Even I have found the story hard to believe myself, but I assure you it’s a true story.
      In 1963 my grandfather Ed Lazaroff, was living in a condominium located between 5th and 6th Street on Collins Avenue, on South Miami Beach. It was only because of my family visiting my grandparents that I became familiar with that area of South Miami Beach. My mother and father started coming to Miami Beach to visit my grandparents in the 1950’s and they always brought me along with them. Thus every year, coming to Miami had become like a ritual for me, we always stayed at the Corsair Hotel which was the very first hotel in the long line of art Deco hotels that were located on Ocean Drive. We stayed at the Corsair Hotel because it was the closest hotel to where my grandparents lived. The Corsair hotel unfortunately is long gone now, but I remember it very well. It had long hallways and louvered wood doors on all the rooms. I think a room was eight dollars a night and another dollar fifty if you wanted an oscillating fan on your dresser. You couldn’t beat the price and the back yard of the hotel was the beach and the ocean.
      Next to the Corsair Hotel, was a park that was absolutely loaded with coconut palms, and in the middle of the park there was a bandstand. The bandstand had a big dance floor, a stage and lots of fold up chairs for people to just sit. They played live music there several nights a week, and the dancing was free.  My grandfather said the music and dancing was the main reason he had moved back to South Beach, he just loved to dance with all the ladies.
      After you walked by the band stand, there was a pathway leading to what was called the “South Beach Fishing Pier.” The fishing pier was a long concrete pier that extending several hundred yards out into the ocean, the pier had another smaller bandstand on it, as well as rest rooms. On the end of the pier was a roofed sitting area, where you could sit and watch all the people fishing. I remember seeing that some people fished there all night, and some people sat there watching them all night.
      To the left of the fishing pier was the public beach and then the Corsair Hotel’s beach. From there the Miami Beach ran north forever, all the way up the coast and behind all the big hotels. On the right side of the South Beach fishing pier it was mostly undeveloped land, and there was more free public beaches, if you looked real hard you could see huge gray boulders at the end. They were placed at the very south tip of Miami Beach to keep the beach from washing away.
     When I was there in the early 1960’s, there was still nothing built on the south end of Miami Beach it was just free public beach and undeveloped land.
      By 1963, my mother was happily leasing the small “Norman Hotel” on Miami Beach. The hotel was located on 6770 Collins Avenue. It was just a small place with only 24 rooms but it was located right across the street from the Deauville, the Carillon and the Sterling hotels. Below the Norman hotel was a public auction gallery, and in the evenings, people walking down Collins
Avenue would come in the open doors to the gallery and sit down, and they listened to the auctioneer selling everything from diamonds to frying pans.
      My mom said that she was having a grand time leasing and managing her little hotel, fortunately she said that she was  catching the overflow people from the big hotels across the street, as well as renting rooms to the various dealers that came to sell their wares at the auction gallery.   
      By November of 1963, I had just gotten married in Connecticut, and my wife and I came to
Miami so I could run an auto wrecking business for my good friend, Lou Gladstein. Lou and his wife had made a strong case for me to move to Florida. They gave me a 1959 Plymouth to use to make the trip and they said it would be just like a honeymoon for us. Besides that I would be helping them to run the wrecking yard business. So in December of 1963, my wife and I drove all the way down to Miami from New Haven Connecticut, and we stayed for a while at mom’s hotel.
     It wasn’t long before I found that my friend Lou’s former manager had embezzled so much money from the business that it would be impossible to make a go of it. So I suggested that the best move for Lou, was to close the place down, and he did, and that was when my wife and I decided to stay in Florida rather than return to Connecticut.   
      Eventually by 1965, my mom had given up managing the hotel, she said that she had never made a dime running it, but she had loved every minute she was there. Because my mom loved South Beach so much that she then rented an apartment at the Cadillac Hotel. At the time, when she did this, I was working at a company in Hialeah Florida. So my mother’s living on Miami Beach now gave my wife and I a good reason to drive to Miami Beach to see her whenever we could.
      I must mention that by 1965, South Miami Beach had started changing dramatically, there was a lot of new development going on. We thought it certainly was a very interesting for us to watch the changes on Miami Beach happening right before our very eyes. Tourism was in high gear, and companies like “Tower Air” were bringing in European tourists for four days and three nights for only $450.00 dollars a person, and that was including airfare from Europe. We would always see loads of European tourists standing on South Beach street corners. It was easy to identify them with their, shorts, pale white skin, light hair and multi colored camera straps.
     One day, as we were showing off Miami Beach to some newly visiting friends, and we noticed that all the former vacant land south of the Miami Beach fishing pier was now being developed. We assumed that there was going to be another big hotel built there. But to our surprise there was a sign that said there was going to be a South Beach dog track, complete with a parking garage.   
      Although we knew that there were several other dog tracks already in South Florida, we had never been to one, so now, as we watched the dog track construction on Miami Beach progress, we became determined to go there when it was completed.
      By late 1965, we now read that the new South Beach Dog Track had been completed and we were excited to go there to see it.
      When we got to South Beach we noticed that everything had changed, the coconut tree park, next to the Corsair Hotel now looked dark and menacing, it looked like it was dangerous to walk there, the Coconut palms were still there, but the bandstand appeared to be all boarded up, and the once beautiful concrete South Beach fishing pier was now just completely covered with graffiti.
     We parked in the new dog track parking garage, and just followed the crowd of people into the lighted entrance of the huge track.  Right in the middle of the entrance there was a podium set up with a fellow selling racing programs for fifty cents each, so I bought one.
      Inside the giant stadium, we sat down in an upper row of seats, where we had a perfect view of the entire race track, and right behind us was a row of what appeared to be ticket selling windows set up where you could place a bet.
      Once we were seated I opened the racing program to study it. It certainly was a mystery to me, as I had no idea of what I was looking at, and neither did my wife. The race program looked
To be too complicated, so we both studied it carefully. We could clearly see that there was going to be ten races that evening. We also saw that there were numbers that were corresponding to each dog that was going to be in each race. Then there was a lot of information regarding each dog. Well, I have to admit we didn’t understand any of it, so I looked behind us, to where the betting windows were. It was a Thursday evening, and there were not too many people placing bets, and there was no one at all standing at the first few windows, so I got up and walked over to the first betting window.
      At the window, I asked the fellow standing there, can you tell me how to read this racing program, as I don’t understand it. Fortunately there was no one waiting to place a bet, and I was the only person standing there at the window. So the ticket seller, a young man about thirty years old appeared to be a friendly enough guy, and he took my program and tried explaining everything to me. First he said that I should just look at the bottom of each page. That was where the professional handicappers already picked who they thought was going to win each race.  He said all you have to do was bet on the dogs that the handicapper’s already picked. OK, that appeared to be easy enough to do. It appeared that these handicappers told you which dogs they thought would win, place or show. I thought that was pretty simple, so I went back to my seat and told my wife all about all my new found knowledge regarding the dog track betting procedure.
      So, now that we were fully educated regarding dog racing, it was time for the first race, and I saw that the three handicappers had all picked dog number three. So I went back up to the ticket seller in the first window and I played one dollar on dog number three to show. Well, the ticket seller was right, and the system worked perfectly, our dog number three came in, and I went back up and collected my winnings, which was a total of one dollar and thirty cents. I had made a thirty cent profit.
      On race number two, we did the same thing, we looked at who the handicapper’s picked and I bet one dollar and this time we won one dollar fifty cents, making a fifty cent profit. We were amazed at how easy winning at dog racing was, we had already won eighty cents.
      But then I got to thinking, if we bought two hot dogs, and two beers, the cost of the food was going to be way more than we had won, so I looked around, there still were not a lot of people at the track, so I got up and walked back up to the same ticket seller at the first window, but this time I had to wait to talk to him, he was engaged in what was obviously an important whispering conversation with someone that had just walked in from a side door that was to the left, behind his window.
      After a few seconds he saw me looking at him and finally came over to me. I told him that betting on a dog to show was fun, but we didn’t win much money. He agreed, and said that to make more money we had to play more money to win, not to show. He then pointed to dog number seven on the program and said for me to play him to win the next race, which happened to be race number three. I saw that two of the handicappers had also picked dog number seven.
     I did exactly what he said, and then I went to sit with my wife and watch the race. While sitting there I told my wife everything the ticket seller had said, about how we could  win more money. My wife looked at me very skeptically, and she said “Why would a ticket seller tell me who was going to win.” But you know how wives are, they always think like that.
     We watched the race, and dog number seven won, and our winnings was five dollars. Boy I was really excited now as we had played three races and won all three of them. So, just like before when it was time for the fourth race, I again walked up to the teller window. This time he smiled broadly, when I gave him my winning ticket to cash, he paid me my five dollars.
     I showed him my program for race number five and he told me again what dog to play. I did exactly as he said, and this time we won twelve dollars. It appeared that winning at dog racing was going to be an easy thing to do, all I had to do was ask the ticket seller who to play, he would tell me, and we would win, it was as simple as that.
       So when race number six was coming up, I again walked up to the window and asked the ticket seller what dog to play. He looked around to see if anyone was looking or listening to us and he said that I was to take two dollars from my previous winnings, and place it in a wooden brochure rack that was attached to the wall about three feet to the left of his window “Just look, the rack is about three feet to your left of where you are standing.” He said, so I looked to my left and saw the rack he was talking about. He then said, I was to take out one of the papers from the rack and fold it in half with my two dollars inside it, and then replace it back in the rack.
    Well, I didn’t like this one bit, I didn’t know if he was serious or joking, and I certainly didn’t like giving any of my meager winnings away, but I relented and did exactly as he said. He watched me and again he told me what number dog to play in race number six.
     I went back to my seat and told my wife all about what was going on, she also didn’t know what to make of it, and neither did I. So we just sat there and watched, as the sixth race went off.
Again, as usual we won, but this time we had won twenty four dollars.
     Now I was getting really nervous, the ticket seller said I had to put six dollars of my winnings money in the brochure rack. That’s when I started to get real concerned, I wondered if someone was watching or photographing me. Were we possibly on “Candid Camera”.  I wondered if what I was doing, was illegal. My mind was running wild with all sorts of thoughts, perhaps it was some kind of a sting set up, and my wife and I were going to be arrested. But anyway, I did what he said, and put the six dollars in the wooden rack. But this time I had to ask the guy how the hell he knew who was going to win all the time. He simply said it was the dog handlers that told him everything, and they were all getting a share of my winnings. As I talked with him, I saw my wife was watching me. That’s when the ticket seller gave me the winning dog number for race number seven.
     By the time the seventh race went off, I was really sweating. I knew whatever was going on had to be illegal. When the race was over we had won thirty six dollars, my wife and I couldn’t believe it. We could either become rich doing this, or I could possibly go to jail.
     Both my wife and I were so nervous, that we got up, and walked over to a different ticket seller window and I cashed in our thirty six dollar winning ticket, then we both walked out of the South Beach dog track as fast as we could, and we never went back.  
     For several years I wondered how that ticket seller did what he did, and how did he really know who was going to win? Whenever I told the story to anyone, they said I was crazy, they said no one could possibly have the information as to which dogs will win each race. I agreed but it happened to me, and that’s when another strange thing happened. We were living in Hialeah at the time, and we had a neighbor up the street that said he was a bologna salesman. One day he asked me if I would go with him to Flagler Dog Track with him, he told me that he and his wife, were semi- professional dog race gamblers. His wife was ill so he wanted to know if I would go to the Flagler dog track with him. He said that if I went with him he would show me how to bet, so I agreed to go with him.
     On the way to the track, I told him the story of my experience at the South Beach Dog Track and like everyone else, he said my experience of winning there was impossible to have ever happened, so I just shut up and didn’t say any more. My neighbor said that the only way to win at dog racing was by studying each dog’s history, their weight, their medications, etc. He said he would show me how it was done.
     We arrived at the Flagler Dog Track, and I was very surprised to find it was very crowded, there were so many people it was hard for us to find good seats. Finally when we found seats, I tried my best to place all my bets by looking to see which dogs seemed the liveliest. And I also looked at the program to see who the handicappers picked just like I had done at the South Beach dog track. Well, I won only one race out of the first four. My neighbor, said I was doing everything wrong, but I could see he was irritated as he hadn’t won anything.
     When it was time for the fifth race, I was standing in the long line with all the other people, I was waiting to place my bet, the line was slow, and I was becoming concerned that I would not reach the ticket seller before the next race had already started. I had picked a three dog combo,
number three, number five and number seven, and just as my turn came up to place my bet, I saw someone pass right behind the ticket seller and I heard her whisper the numbers two, four and five into the ticket seller’s ear, so I immediately changed my bet to two, four and five. When I went back to my seat, I told my neighbor what had just happened. He looked at me like I was a lunatic, he said that he had never heard of such a ridiculous thing in his whole life.
    When the race was over the winners were number two, number four and number five, exactly as I had played them, and I had won thirty five dollars. I saw that my neighbor had lost again, but he never said another word to me. After I collected my winnings, he did say he wanted to go home.
    Over the next several years, I have told this story to many people, but no one believes it.
    The dog track at South Beach is no longer there, nor is the bandstand or the South Beach fishing pier, they are all gone. The bandstand has been replaced by a restaurant, and the Corsair Hotel also no longer exists, it was torn down a few years ago.
       Every word of “The Miami Beach Dog Track Story” is true, and exactly as it happened in 1965, and my wife was a witness. Do you believe it? I only write true stories.


The Executive Bay Club Story

                                                The Executive Bay Club Story
                          Written Oct 2, 2011, and rewritten 04/13/2016 unedited
                                                             Howard Yasgar

      This short story was written to record the history of a Condominium townhouse no T6, located at the Executive Bay Club at Islamorada in the Florida Keys.
      Besides from the history aspect there were several humorous incidences that I have written about, although they were not humorous at the time they happened. The story also touches on a delicate subject regarding some very illegal activities practiced by a very unscrupulous real estate company that we had the misfortune of using in the Florida Keys.
     Everything that happened took place once we purchased Unit T6 at the Executive Bay Club located at mile marker 87.5 on the Overseas Highway. The actual address of Executive Bay Club is 87200 Overseas Highway, and unit T6 is a lovely two bedroom one and a half bath townhouse Condo with a spiral staircase that leads to the second floor.
     Our involvement began in 1984, but the original 200 unit development had been started sometimes back in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s, and they went bankrupt, much like most condo projects do in the Keys. The bankruptcy left all the units unfinished, with the steel spiral staircases all piled up on the next door lot, all being exposed to the weather for several years. Eventually the project was taken over by another developer and completed. The new developer changed the design of the units, slightly and instead of a second floor rear balcony, the master bedroom was enlarged, almost making it big enough to play basketball in. The original spiral staircases were salvaged, sandblasted, painted and then installed and they looked pretty good.
      In 1983, Unit T6 was purchased by a friend of ours named Joel Friedman. Joel was a business acquaintance of ours as well as a friend. Joel had told us he was dabbling in buying and selling real estate, and because I had very little real estate experience myself, I enjoyed listening to Joel tell me about the various real estate deals and the projects he was involved in. So somewhere along the line Joel mentioned something about his purchasing a two bedroom, 1-1/2 bath townhouse condo unit at Executive Bay Club in the Keys. He said he was upgrading the unit with nicer tile on the first floor and he was having the exposed beam ceilings on the second floor painted antique gray, and also his wife Marla had ordered a coconut palm tree to be planted in front of the unit.
     In 1984, my partner Don and I were told by our accountant that we needed to develop some business tax shelters. He suggested that we should buy some real estate that we could use for the business. He said real estate could also be used as an investment and when it was used by our business we could deduct some of it as a business expense.
     We gave it some thought and it sounded like it could be a smart move, especially if we could buy a property that we could both enjoy, and we could use it to entertain our customers. Thus we discussed it with the only person that we knew at the time who was involved in real estate, it was our friend and customer Joel Friedman.
     We told Joel that we were interested in possibly buying a business related vacation home somewhere, but we had not as yet decided what or where to buy, we wanted a place where we could entertain our out of town customers when they came to Miami, and did he have any ideas.
     I mentioned to Joel that I personally was interested in the Florida Key's, because I liked the tropical laid back atmosphere there, and I also liked to go boating and the Florida Keys was considered the fishing capital of the world. But my partner Don, who didn’t boat or fish preferred Marco Island on the West Coast of the state, he liked Marco Island as he thought it was more sophisticated.
     Shortly after our speaking to him, Joel came over to see us, and he said that he had a bit of a problem, but his problem could help us. Joel said he had purchased two new Condo units in a high rise building being built in downtown Miami. He had purchased the units at cheap pre construction prices. That meant the units had not been built yet, but he had put a hefty deposit down for the two units, one unit had an ocean view and the other was a corner unit with a partial ocean view, he said both were outstanding units. However, about a week ago he had been notified that the developer had gone bankrupt and the building was in foreclosure. Then he said, he was again notified that the entire project had been purchased by the prestigious “Miami Jockey Club”, and the value of his two units had now doubled. However they informed him that if he wanted to keep the two units he was going to have to deal with the Jockey Club, and come up with a lot more money, and he needed to do it right now. So Joel said he was in the process of liquidating some other properties that he owned, including the townhouse condo he owned at Executive Bay Club in the Keys. So Joel proposed to us, that we buy his unit at Executive Bay Club in the Florida Keys. He said we could buy it at his cost. I assumed that meant what he had paid for it. After all, we would be doing him a favor, he needed money fast and we would be helping him out. My partner Don, and I, both thought that as Joel was a fairly good friend, and he wouldn't take advantage of us. Turns out we were a little naïve in that respect. But as we were ready to invest our money anyway, so we told Joel that it sounded like a good idea.
     As it happens, Joel's real estate Attorney was Roy Lustig, who was our attorney as well, so we told Joel to have the Roy draw up the papers and we would purchase the unit from him, Joel said his cost was $87,000.00.
     We found out later that Joel had paid $64,000.00 for the unit, and even with the upgrades he had done, his costs were nowhere near the $87,000.00 he charged us. Anyway, for us it was still a good investment for our company, so we went through with the purchase of the unit at Executive Bay Club anyway.
      For us, it was all very exciting as we had never even seen what the place looked like, so after the closing, Don and I drove down to the Keys to see what we had bought. When we saw it, we felt it was a perfect place to bring our customers.
     The location of unit T6 was right in the center of the Executive Bay complex with parking in front, and extra parking spaces available across the way. It was just a short walk of a few hundred yards down to the beautiful swimming pool and club house. There was even a nice man-made beach and roped in area for salt water swimming and there was a beautiful long T shaped wooden dock used for tying up the residents boats, as well as for fishing.
    Once we purchased the unit, my fiancée Katherine was anxious to get to furnish and use the place. So on a Saturday afternoon we packed our bags in Miami and drove the 72 miles down U.S. 1 to Executive Bay Club. It was Katherine’s first time ever seeing the place.
     Now at the time, Katherine and I had a dog at home, he was a 35 pound, well mannered, Schnauzer-Poodle mix, named Sammy. Thus, when we arrived at Executive Bay Club, we met our new neighbors, who just happened to sit on the condominium board of directors. So we asked him if pets were allowed on the property, and he said yes, he was sure the charter of Executive Bay allowed both cats and dogs. So we planned on bringing our little Sammy with us the next time we came.
     The first few weekends we went, we hadn’t as yet ordered a bed or any furniture, so we brought sheets and blankets and planned on sleeping on the carpeted bedroom floor. On Sunday morning we awoke in the upstairs bedroom to hear the front door unlocking downstairs. Then we heard voices and we really got concerned. So I quickly pulled on my pants and went down the spiral stairs, and there I met Mr. Kay the property manager, he was with two people that looked like tourists in tow. “Who are you”, Mr. Kay said, I’m the owner I said, and with that, he apologized and left with the people. Several months later we heard that Mr. Kay had been fired for renting out units that were owned by people living out of town. Appears that he was renting several units without the owner’s permission. What his intentions were in entering our unit we will never know.
    Over the next few months Katherine and I had a lot of fun furnishing the condo, we bought a waterbed and dresser for the master bedroom from Waterbed City in Miami. At the time waterbeds were supposed to be the “In thing” to buy. But I don’t think we ever got a good night’s rest on it. Getting the furniture up to the second floor was quite a trick, the railing on the front balcony of the guest bedroom opened up and the furniture was handed up from the ground onto the small balcony, then into the glass sliding doors and down the hall to the master bedroom. Luckily there was a group of young, and husky tourists around to help us. Then for the guest room we found a discontinued round bed in Miami and bought it. We always got a good night’s sleep on that bed.
     Setting up the condo was all a new adventure for us, I was driving a yellow 1978 Corvette so it  really must have looked strange when we drove up with furniture items sticking out from the roof,  It was fun, and I don’t know how we ever got some of the items into that Corvette.
     Each Unit at Executive Bay Club had a four foot wide by 8 foot tall window above the front entrance door. Most of the condo residents put up something nautical on display in the window, but not us. We had bought a four foot tall gorilla eating a banana, so I built a wood swing for him hanging from the ceiling, and sat him on it, and with a little push he would swing back and forth.
     One evening at about eleven, there was a knock on the door. When I opened it, there stood the Executive Bay security guard. He asked, “Do you have a dog on the premises,” Our doggie Sammy was standing there right next to me, so I said yes I do, and he sternly replied, “You will all have to leave here immediately with the dog.”  I said, are you crazy, dogs are allowed here. “Not any more he said, the rules have been changed and you must leave immediately. I contemplated all my options, then I slammed the door shut in his face. But his message was clear, so the next morning we left for Miami with our dog Sammy. The next time we returned to Executive Bay, as we passed by the security
Guard’s office, I noticed a note hanging on the guard’s office wall. WATCH OUT, YELLOW CORVETTE UNIT T6 HAS DOG, we were now infamous.
     That afternoon I mentioned to a next door neighbor that we should both attend a board meeting of the condo association being held that day, and we should propose that they change the doggie rule. The neighbor agreed, he said he had two Doberman Pinchers he wanted to bring down. That’s all I needed was two Doberman’s barking next door to us, so I didn’t go to the board meeting. Instead I went to the hardware store and bought a sign “Beware of Dog”, and I put it in our window. That sign gave me great satisfaction.  
     Unfortunately, my partner Don, and his wife Linda never took a liking to the Executive Bay Club, or to the Keys, he still preferred Marco Island, where he continued to go. So in 1991 we decided that we should sell the unit, and use the proceeds in our business.
     In November of 1991 we contacted a local well known husband and wife real estate team in the keys, and we listed the house for sale at $97.000.00, which was just below the market value. We also placed an ad in a local newspaper to sell the furniture separately, we were hoping we could sell the furniture before selling the house. Within a week we were contacted by the real estate agent with a low ball offer of $50,000.00 for the unit, and we informed them that we were not interested. I suspected that it might be the real estate agent themselves making the offer. Then at the time we informed them that we were running an ad in the local papers, to sell the furniture. After my conversation with the real estate agent, I had a bad feeling, something funny was going on, I thought that the agent was pushing too hard for us to sell the unit for too little money. In December of 1991, we closed our company down for our usual two weeks Christmas vacation, just as we did every year. Katherine and I always used this opportunity to travel overseas, to see some of our suppliers. When we returned on Jan 2nd, there was a letter from the real estate agents waiting for us. The letter stated that as we had not replied to their offer made over the Christmas holidays, and consequently they had lost the sale for the unit, and they intended to sue us for $3,600.00 as a lost sales commission. We had never heard of such a crazy thing before, as we had clearly told the real estate agents that the offer was too low and we wouldn’t consider it. We had also told them we were going to be overseas for two weeks in December. So I called them up to remind them of that previous conversations. They replied that nothing was written on paper, and they intended to sue. I had no idea as to what to say as I had never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. I then received confirmation from them by mail, that they were bringing a law suit. With the letter in my hand, I then proceeded to get the phone number for the “Board of Professional Regulation” that’s the Florida office that is supposed to oversee and protect people from crooked real estate agents. I thought they would handle this problem for us easily. Eventually I reached a secretary, and she said that said I couldn’t speak to the politically appointed head of the agency. I suspected the head of the office probably was never there. The secretary was very pleasant and she said, I should put my complaint in writing, and send it to them. They would do a thorough investigation immediately, so I sent them all the information, along with copies of all the letters, and I waited 30 days. Then as I heard nothing from the agency, I called them again, and the secretary said that a thorough investigation had been done and the real estate agents were within their rights. I asked how an investigation could have been done as I had never been contacted by an investigator or anyone. She didn’t answer me, and I then realized that the “Board of Professional Regulation” was just a joke. No investigation had ever been done, and I was just making a fool out of myself talking to her.   
    I contacted our real estate attorney Roy Lustig and turned all the information over to him. The hearing was to be in front of a judge in Islamorada Florida, and Roy had to drive for an hour and a half just to get to the Keys court house to represent us. Once he was at the Keys courthouse, Roy called me on the phone to say that neither the Judge, nor the opposing attorney, had ever shown up, so Roy asked me how long I wanted him to wait as he was charging us by the hour. So I told him to wait two hours more and if no one showed up, he should return to Miami. About an hour later, Roy called to say that the opposing attorney had eventually shown up and said that the judge had already ruled against us. Roy told me that he asked the opposing attorney how they could pull such a sham. The attorneys reply was, you would do the same to me if this were Miami.
     We then learned that the Judge was a Democratic appointee, and the head of the “Board of Professional Regulation” was also a Democratic appointee, and the real estate agents were active with the Democratic Party in Islamorada, and that pretty much said it all.
      We ended up paying the $3600.00 real estate commission, plus our attorney fees. But
The whole situation didn’t sit well with me, I wondered how the real estate agents could be so crooked. So every afternoon, when I had a little free time, I called a different real estate agent in the Keys, trying to find out if what happened to us was common in the Keys. After three or four calls I reached a women real estate agent in Key Largo, and before I even finished asking my question to her, she said she knew all about it. She said the real estate company I had used, did this all the time. They specialized in selling property for out of state people, and they probably sued every one of them. They had a real scam going on. Once they had a listing, they made cheap offers for the properties, and when they were refused they sued the owners for lost commissions. the property owners knew it was cheaper for them to settle rather than fly all the way back to the Keys, hire an attorney and go to court. It appears the real estate agents had quite a scam going.
     We didn’t end up selling the condominium, and because my partner Don and his wife rarely used it, my wife Katherine purchased my partner Don’s share.
      Katherine and I continued using the Condo every weekend to go fishing. We owned a 23 foot Mako center console fishing boat that we stored at the local Purdue Dean Marina. Every weekend we would load up our car with our fishing gear, then we would call the marina and they would put our boat in the water, by the time we stopped at the Marlin gas station for sandwiches, our boat would be ready for us to load up and go fishing.
     Around 1995 the rumor was circulation that Pete Perdue was selling the Marina property and we would no longer be able to keep our boat there. That’s when we decided we needed a house on a canal, where we could keep our boat up on davits. So we started driving up and down every street in the Key Largo, and Islamorada area looking to buy a house on a canal. But after several months of looking, we found all the houses were highly overpriced, and most were in real bad shape, needing lots of repairs. We were ready to give up, as we felt we would never find a decent canal home.
    One day we were shown a new house, by Bill and Betty Hammer, two very nice agents. The home was about 80 percent completed and was on a canal. The builder was a fellow that owned a bar in Miami, and he must have run into financial problems. We made a lower than asking price offer and it was accepted. The seller wasn’t too happy about selling it, but that’s how we bought the house located on 385 South Coconut Palm Blvd in Plantation Key Colony. The house was on a canal that led out to the Gulf of Mexico and it was right next to Tavernier Creek which would take us out to the Ocean if we wanted.
      So when we purchased the home in plantation Key Colony we put the condo at Executive Bay in the hands of a rental agency, and they always found yearly tenants for us. When the rental agency eventually closed, Katherine started using a real estate women who came highly recommended. The normal procedure was the agent would find a potential tenant and advise us. If we approved of them, they would then submit an application to the condo association for their approval.   
      In 2004, our unit at Executive bay was unoccupied, which gave us the opportunity to paint and clean up the place, so one afternoon Katherine and I came to the unit with all the supplies to  finish cleaning it up. We had had just painted the walls and installed new plastic levolors on the front and rear glass sliding doors.
      So we were kind of surprised to find a U-Haul trailer parked in front of unit T6, with people unloading furniture into the town house. As I stood there, a tall lanky fellow with a very dark complexion came around the U-Haul with his hand outstretched, so I asked him who he was. He said his name was Mohammed and he was with the U.S. Olympic swimming team. Katherine and I were sort of taken by surprise as we hadn’t been contacted by the real estate agent nor had we authorized anyone to occupy the unit.
      Katherine immediately contacted the real estate agent and she apologized and said that it was sort of an emergency. It appears that the U.S, Olympic swimming team, were going to be training in the regulation sized Olympic swimming pool at our local “Founders Park” in Islamorada. So, all the members of the swimming team, and their families, came to Islamorada only to find out there were no rooms available for them to stay. The money for the rent was supposedly being supplied to Mohammed by the U.S. Olympic Commission. But we never really knew where Mohammed was getting the money for the rent. It appeared that everyone in Islamorada was so excited to have the Olympic swimmers in their presence, that all normal procedures were simply forgotten.
     The real estate agent assured us that everything was in order and she would get the proper approval papers from the Condo association.
     We didn’t like it a bit, but it was the U.S. Olympic swimming team, and we felt we should help out. So we didn’t push the issue to check this guy Mohammed out. Mohammed, told us he was Arabic, and from Detroit. He then introduced us to his pretty blond American wife and their young baby.  
     Everything went well for a couple of months, then the first problem appeared. When the maintenance people patched a concrete walk-way in front of the town house.     Mohammed wrote lots of Arabic words into the wet concrete. When we saw what they had done, we were very disturbed, and so was the manager of Executive Bay Club. The next problem was that the rent stopped coming in, that’s when Katherine and I went to the condo. The unit was abandoned, the lights were not working, and there was lots of junky furniture left everywhere.  Most of the freshly painted walls had wax crayon scribbling on them, and there were round holes in the new levolors we had just installed. The electricity had been shut off for over a month, while Mohammed and his family were still living there. It appeared Mohammed and his wife had just suddenly left town without telling anyone. Katherine called their residence in Detroit to find out about getting our plastic access cards back, and when she spoke to Mohammed’s wife, Katherine asked her why they had let their child write on all the walls, and why they had made holes in the levolors. Katherine said that was no way to treat someone’s property. Mohammed’s wife said that Katherine’s questions were derogatory, however she did return the plastic access card and we never heard anything about them again. I still don’t know how anyone can puncture round holes in thick plastic levolors. To this day, I have tried to make round holes in levolors and unable to do it. Where had I heard the story of Arab Nomads folding up their tents and stealing off into the night?
     As of this writing in 2016, Unit T6 at Executive Bay Club is rented.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Milford Auto Wrecking Story

                                                  The Milford Auto Wrecking Story                                 
                                               A true story about the stolen car business
                                       Written 7/2012 and rewritten 04/16/2016 unedited
                                                               Howard Yasgar
      This story took place between the years 1959 to 1960, while I was attending New Haven College.
The college had just instituted the cooperative program that allowed students to work at their intended future careers in the afternoons while attending college classes in the mornings.
      Actually this story really started when I was just fifteen years old back in 1954. My best friend Richard Andrade and I had, discovered a junk yard in Milford Connecticut called Milford Auto Wrecking.  
     We had gone there to purchase a couple of used automobile engines to build hotrods, and of course, we were young and one of the owner named Tony cheated us, but after seeing the place, I never forgot what Milford Auto Wrecking was like. Because even back then, I had the idea in the back of my mind of someday opening my own auto wrecking business, so what I had remembered seeing at Milford Auto Wrecking, had always remained with me.
     Once I started attending the cooperative program at New Haven College, I began thinking about where I wanted to work in the afternoons, and since the Milford Auto Wrecking yard was located fairly close by, I felt that it was worth a trip for me to go and ask them for a part time job. The wrecking yard was located just off Route 1 in Milford Connecticut. It was actually located on a dusty side street called South Washington Street. South Washington Street sort of ran parallel to U.S. 1 the entire street was only about a quarter mile long.  
     It was on that dusty South Washington Street where Milford Auto Wrecking ran their business. They had bought all the old farm property along the entire Street and they were also utilizing all of the old farm house’s that were on it. I thought that when I first saw it back in 1954, Milford Auto Wrecking appeared to be a very well run operation, besides from their organized method of storing the hundreds of old cars for their spare parts, they were actually rebuilding some of the parts. It appeared that they were covering all bases, as they even had a place to install used engines, and they had a used car lot as well.   
     I found that Milford Auto Wrecking was so well organized, they even, employed a full time mechanic named Layton. Layton had his own special area they called the engine changing area, where he had an “A frame” with a winch on it, it was set up to remove and replace engines. Layton who later became my friend, was a Korean War veteran, who still wore his brown military pants and walked around talking to himself. He told me that he did two engine swaps every week and Milford Auto Wrecking charged the customers $225.00 labor for each engine Layton changed. In return Layton said the company let him keep $50.00 cash for each job he did, and he and his wife lived rent free in one of the houses on South Washington Street.    
     When Milford Auto Wrecking was finished selling the parts off a junked car, the car would be sent to the car cutting field, an area located at the far end of South Washington Street. That’s where the company had their car scrapping operation going on. The cars were tipped over, onto their side and its body was cut from the chassis. The cars bodies were eventually flattened and sold and the chassis was cut up into three foot pieces and sold for scrap iron.
     I had always wanted to learn more about how they did what they did, so that was the reason I drove to Milford Auto Wrecking that day to apply for a job. I knew that all car wrecking yards like them, always needed people who knew how to use a metal cutting torch, and I knew how to use a cutting torch pretty good, thus I thought getting a job there would be easy.
    Well, I spoke to one of the two owners who was named Tony, he was the same guy that had cheated Richard and I several years before. Not only didn’t Tony want to hire me, but he wouldn’t even talk to me. However, luck was with me. As I stood there in their office, Tony was just firing some poor Puerto Rican guy because he had asked him for a ten cents raise. I guess you could say that it was my good fortune, as the Puerto Rican was also their steel cutting torch man, and I got his job.  
    The way Milford Auto wrecking was set up, they were using perhaps ten acres of land located behind all those old farm houses on South Washington Street, and they also utilized each of the houses to do something. So, as you turned onto South Washington Street, the first place on your left, was a two story wooden house where Layton the mechanic and his wife were living. Right next to that house, but in the rear, was an old wooden two car garage which had now been converted into a starter and generator rebuilding shop. The area in front of the shop, was where Layton’s work area was located, and where he did the engine swapping.
     To the right of Layton’s work area was about a forty foot area with racks holding used car doors and windows, and then there was a small one bedroom house that was used as the Milford Auto Wrecking’s official office. When you got to that office, you had to step  around various used parts laying on the ground and you walked up three wooden steps, opened the door, and then you were standing inside the official junk yard office which was once some farmers  living room.
     Inside, to the left and right were office desks, the left desk was where Tony’s younger junior partner Lenny sat. Lenny was pretty bright and energetic guy, he was always on the phone, buying or selling something. Then on the right side of the office, sat a young blond girl, who was probably Lenny’s secret girlfriend, she was answering their phone which rang endlessly.
     In the rear of the room, was an open door way that led to a bathroom and what was formerly the only bedroom in the house, but was now Tony’s office.
     Tony who was the older, partner, was the original owner of the wrecking yard, so having an inside rear office must have made him feel like he was the boss, but most people knew that it was Lenny who was really running everything.
     After the office, there was an area that was loaded with used cars, most looked like horribly dented, New York yellow taxi cabs that Milford Wrecking had for sale. Then came the next house along South Washington Road, it was now the radiator rebuilding shop. In that small house an employee worked all day testing radiators. If they didn’t leak, he took them outside and painted them black, and they were sold as one hundred percent rebuilt radiators. The second to the last house on South Washington was the employee locker room, it had metal lockers, wood benches and a big sink with soap to wash up with. Then after that there was the last and final house on South Washington Road, it was small two story wooden farm house with a porch all along its left side. Inside, the house, it was full of some government surplus electronic stuff Lenny had bought at a government sale. Now the stuff was just sitting there filling up the building, and no one knowing what to do with it. Behind all these former farm houses were about ten acres of used junk cars, they were all stacked up neatly three high, waiting for their parts to be sold.
     Wherever you were at the Wrecking yard, you could always hear several cars running around with no mufflers on them, listening to those cars made it sound like you were at the stock car races. The cars had no doors, or trunk lids either, and they had cutting torches set up in them and lots of assorted junk yard tools. Those noisy cars belonged to the parts pickers, they, were guys that removed the parts off the junk cars when they were sold.
     I was quickly to become friends with the number one parts picker, his name was Midget, and he really was a midget. He was about twenty eight years old but looked to be about fifteen. He was about four feet tall, with wavy black hair and a handsome boyish face. He wore a long sleeve greasy oversized plaid shirt, blue jeans and steel toe work shoes. On his black leather belt he carried the keys to all the junk yard buildings and a torch lighter. Midget and I became friends right away, and if you didn’t see the aging wrinkles on the sides of his mouth, you would think he was just a kid. I noticed that Midget sat on top of two stiff cushions in his junk yard car, he did that just to be able to see out the windshield. Midget was very good at what he did, and he was well respected, and trusted, and over time he taught me lots of tricks on how to remove used car parts really fast. He even taught me how to kick out a car’s rear window without breaking it.
    All of the land behind the houses on South Washington Street had once been farmland but that was long ago, now it was just rows of junk cars piled three high. All the parts cars had been neatly stacked, in an orderly manner using a forklift. They were placed so that the parts pickers could drive right up to a row and find the exact car they wanted, then they could stretch out their cutting torch hose and remove the parts they needed.
    Milford Auto wrecking employed Midget and two other parts pickers, and it became obvious that each one tried to make his parts picking car sound louder than the other guy’s.
    Now, at the very end of South Washington Street was a big open field it was where the older junk cars that had already been stripped of all their useful parts, were now lined up and waiting to be turned on their sides and be cut up for scrap. Milford Auto Wrecking employed two elderly black torch men, they worked all day in the big field, just cutting chassis off of the cars. They cut about six cars a day, and then they hauled the chassis to a big pile to be cut up into smaller pieces, and that was to be my first job at Milford Auto Wrecking. I was supposed to cut the car chassis into smaller pieces, using an oxygen and acetylene torch. That was the job Tony had hired me part time for, and my pay was to be a whopping eighty five cents an hour. On the very day I was hired. Midget offered to give me a ride in his noisy parts picking car, he wanted to show me the pile of iron chassis that I was going to work on.
     So every afternoon, I would drive to Milford Auto Wrecking and go to the locker room and change my clothes, and then I would climb on top of the pile of chassis, and start cutting them up. It was a fun job and I always tried to cut as many chassis up as I could. On some occasions, the fellows bringing the chassis to the pile would have had a drink or two and they accidently left gas tanks still attached to the chassis. My sparks from the cutting torch would go into the fuel tanks, and they would explode like a bomb. This happened to me several times a week, and whenever one exploded, it blew me about three feet into the air, everyone  in the area always came running to see if I was killed.
      One day I came to work and I was standing on top of the pile of Chassis, where I had a good view of the car cutting field, and all of a sudden I saw a lot of dust, as a car came speeding down South Washington Street heading for the cutting field. The car was coming real fast, and as it got closer, I saw it was an almost new Lincoln Continental. It quickly drove around and behind the cars that were ready to be cut apart. Then I heard the door slam and I saw that it was Lenny getting out of the car.
     Within minutes that late model 1958 Lincoln was on its side and being cut up. In a few minutes they brought me the chassis to cut into small pieces. I would say that it only took an hour, and the Lincoln was completely gone. I knew some kind of monkey business was going on, but when I asked anyone what had happened but no one wanted to talk about it.
     Eventually I found out that Lenny was driving a stolen Lincoln that had no registration papers, and he had gotten into some kind of minor accident, so instead of waiting for the police to investigate, he drove the car right to Milford Auto Wrecking and made it disappear.
     Midget confided in me one day, he said that no one at Milford Auto Wrecking had ever seen any one cut so much steel as I was. He said I was working way to fast, I was doing the job twice as fast as the last guy.
     Eventually, Tony, saw how fast I used a torch, so he promoted me, giving me a ten cents an hour pay raise, he told me that I was I was still to cut chassis but also I was to be in charge of the parts removal team. The parts removal team was another couple of older fellows that, using hand tools, unbolted any good used parts from all the engines laying on the ground in the cutting field. I had watched them so I knew exactly what they did, they removed transmissions, carburetors, water pumps, and clutches, all to be stored for resale.
    Within a day I revolutionized their entire operation, and I didn’t use any tools doing it, I just cut all the parts off with my cutting torch, and never once hurt any of the parts I removed. The two older parts men thought I was after their jobs, because I could do more in one day than the two of them did in a week, but I assured them I wasn’t there to take their job, and I taught them how to use the torch to do the job.
     While I was taking off parts, I noticed that the guys cutting the cars bodies, were not removing the copper heater cores located under the dashboards, and I knew they were worth money in copper scrap, so I mentioned it to Tony. Tony said, he knew all about it, but it was too dangerous taking heater cores out of the car bodies, as the torch men always caught the cars on fire. I told Tony that I could remove them all without ever having a car catch on fire, so Tony said if I could do that, he would split the money obtained from the copper scrap with me. I was so thrilled, that for the next few months, I removed all the heater cores and stacked them on the side porch of the last house on South Washington Street.
      Every month a scrap dealer would arrive at Milford Auto Wrecking and he would buy all their scrap copper. He was paying Lenny and Tony in cash, and they loved it, as they didn’t have to pay taxes on the money. So, I had the guy weigh up all the copper heater cores I had removed. He said I had $372.00 worth of copper. I couldn’t wait to run and tell Tony as he had said that we were partners in it.
      I ran all the way to the office, and when I told Tony about the money, he said “So what”. Then I said, we are supposed to be partners on it, you promised me half the money. “You are fired,” Tony said.
     That was quite a shock to me, I had never been fired from anywhere before. So I left the office and slowly walked down South Washington Street, I was going to the locker room to get in my clean clothes and go home.
     I saw the scrap copper man with his truck and scale, he was still parked there. He said, “What happened”, so I told him Tony wouldn’t give me the money he had promised. The scrap man said. “I knew he wouldn’t, so I kept this aside for you”, and then he handed me one hundred dollars”. It appears the scrap man was always cheating Lenny and Tony every month anyway, and he knew Tony would never split any money with me. He obviously felt sorry for me and gave me some of the money he was stealing.
     The following week I returned to Milford Auto Wrecking to get my final paycheck, and as I walked into the office another argument was going on. It seems Tony was verbally abusing another employee over money. The argument was with the guy that was running the starter and generator rebuilding shop, and as I stood there, Tony fired him too. Then Tony looked at me and asked me in a nasty tone of voice, asked what I wanted. I wanted my final check, but, then I looked at Lenny, and I said that as long as you need a manager for the starter generator rebuilding shop I want to apply for the job.
Tony said, “Get out of here.” But Lenny said, Tony you just fired a full time employee, and this kid wants to work part time, it will cost you less. Tony didn’t like it, but he couldn’t argue with Lenny and he said yes. So I left the office elated, I was the new starter and generator rebuilder.
     I immediately walked over to see Layton, the mechanic. Layton shook my hand in congratulations, and mumbled something to me, I was now officially in charge of the starter rebuilding shop, and Layton would teach me what I needed to know.
     Over the next few months I learned the starter generator rebuilding business from Layton. Every day the two old parts men would come and unload on the floor, a big pile of starters and generators just removed from the junk car engines. I would take them all apart, wash and test everything, then I would reassemble them, and paint them black. The junk yard then sold every one of them to customers as rebuilt parts I was producing so many rebuilt units that it caught everyone’s attention, and that’s when Lenny came to see me. I was surprised that he had even noticed me, but he did. Lenny said, “You are doing better work and more work than any starter and generator shop managers we ever had before. But now I see that you have too much free time, and I need you to do me a favor”,  I was so excited that Lenny the hot shot boss had even noticed me, I anxiously listened to him. Lenny said, “I need you to haul some cars to a small wrecking yard that I own in Stamford, Connecticut, and there in Stamford, you can pick up another car to bring back here to Milford.  I was so excited, to me it was like getting a big promotion, I would now get to drive a Milford Auto Wrecking tow truck, called a wrecker, and I was hauling cars all the way up the Connecticut turnpike to Stamford, and best of all, I thought I was now Lenny’s friend.
      I had never driven a wrecker truck before, nor had I ever towed a car, but now every few days, I was hauling cars to the Stamford, Connecticut yard. It appeared that Lenny owned this small wrecking yard in Stamford and he was using it for storing cars that were going to other wrecking yards located in the Bronx in New York. Then in return, the auto wreckers in the Bronx would leave special cars destined for me to tow to Milford Auto Wrecking,
      Sometimes, if Lenny was in a rush situation, and he asked me to deliver a car directly to another auto wrecker in the Bronx, and I always did it, but usually I was just hauling cars back and forth to the small Stamford yard.
      The yard in Stamford was just off the West Street exit of the Connecticut turnpike, it was located on West Main Street, and the yards rear gate was accessible through Anne Street. I would drive to the Anne Street gate, to which Lenny had given me the key. I would then open the metal gate, drive in, then let the car down from Milford and I picked up a car waiting for me there. Sometimes Lenny told me what kind of car I was hauling back to Milford but sometimes there was just a note on the cars window.
      After a few trips to and from Stamford, I couldn’t help but notice that the cars were not damaged, and I didn’t know why they were all in a junk yard. So I started to consider the possibility that they might all be stolen cars. So on my next trip, I started to watch what happened to the car that I was towing back to Milford. I watched it as the front end including fenders and the hood of the car were removed quickly, and loaded on waiting trucks to be delivered to local customers on that very day. The customer was usually a local automotive body shop that needed the parts to fix a car they were working on. The engine and transmissions were then marked and carefully stored away where no one could easily see them. Then the rest of the car went to the big field at the end of the yard and was cut up quickly for junk metal, it was all very suspicious.
     One day when it was raining, I was in the starter and generator shop talking to my friend Midget. I asked him, if the cars I was hauling to and from Stamford were stolen cars. He cocked his head and looked at me like I was some kind of dummy. “Of course they were stolen,” he said.
      Midget told me that Lenny would take the orders from local body shops for expensive late model parts. He would also take orders for late model cars that the junk yards in the Bronx needed. Then every few weeks Midget was given a shopping list of all the cars that Lenny needed.
      Midget said that he and five Puerto Rican employees would drive into a big shopping mall parking lot. If the parts were needed for Connecticut they would steal cars from shopping malls in New York.
For any cars that were needed in New York they would only steal them from shopping malls in Connecticut.
      Midget said that once one of the cars on the list was found, he would use a special jimmy tool to open the cars door, and because he was so small, he would crawl under the dash board and hot wire the car, then one of the Puerto Ricans would jump in and drive the car back to Milford Connecticut.
      Midget said that he thought that teams from wrecking yards in New York were probably doing the same thing he was doing.
      Midget said, that the small yard in Stamford was where the stolen cars coming from auto wreckers in New York were swapped with the stolen cars he stole from Connecticut, and I was hauling them.
      After two years at New Haven College, I graduated with an Associate in Science Degree. I quit the job at Milford Auto Wrecking. But to this day I don’t know if I obtained a better education from New Haven College or from Milford Auto Wrecking.
      After several months, I heard from midget that something was up at Milford Auto Wrecking, and that Lenny was no longer using the small yard in Stamford Connecticut, so I went to Milford see Lenny and I asked if I could lease the Stamford yard. I felt it was my opportunity to get into the wrecking business. I had erroneously thought that after working for Lenny for two years we might be friends, and he would help me to start a business, well, I was dead wrong. Lenny said that for two hundred dollars a month in rent, I could rent the yard. But I would need to buy the license from him for twelve hundred and fifty dollars. So I leased the yard from him only to find out later that he didn’t own it, Lenny it turned out, was a real piece of work, he was a con man and about dishonest as they come, and eventually I had to leave the Stamford yard.
     In 2007, I was attending a High School reunion in New Haven Connecticut, and I was anxious to show my wife Katherine, where I first got my start in the rebuilding business, so we drove down the Boston Post Road to where the old Milford Auto Wrecking site used to be.
     Naturally everything in the area had changed, and the old Milford wrecking yard was long gone and so were most of the old houses that were on South Washington Street. The garage where the old starter and generator rebuilding shop was, was no longer there. But I was very surprised to see that the tiny Milford Auto Wrecking main office was still there, but now it appeared abandoned, falling apart and it now looked much smaller than I had remembered it. Someone had painted it a faded yellow color.
As we drove a little further down South Washington Street, there was large metal building on the left
It was standing where the old Milford Auto Wrecking locker room used to be, so I pulled our rental car up to the front door. I was hoping that inside, someone could tell me what had happened to Lenny, Tony and the old Milford Auto Wrecking Company.    
      As I entered, it was a large metal warehouse filled with used cars, and it was very cold. From a side office two men walked out, one had a brown aviator’s jacket on, his hands were in his pockets, it was Lenny and he looked exactly as I remembered him.
      I said, you are Lenny, “Yes, I am he replied.” I said, do you remember me? “No he said,” I was disappointed, so I said, I worked for you at Milford Auto Wrecking many years ago. Lenny smiled and he said defensively, “I'm in the used car business.”
      It was truly disturbing to me to hear the evasive and defensive tone in Lenny’s voice. Did Lenny think I was the Police?  Again I asked, “Lenny, are you sure you don’t remember me, I worked for you for several years?
      Lenny smiled at me again and said, “I'm 92 years old and I am only in the used car business.”
So I turned around and walked with Katherine out to our rental car, and we drove away. Good by Lenny and good by Milford Auto Wrecking.