Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lou, and the Restaurant Scam Story

                                                         Lou, and the Restaurant Scam Story
                                                                     Written 09/210/2016
                                                                          Howard Yasgar

      Back in 1963, I had dealt in Stamford Connecticut with a fellow named Lou. Lou was a really interesting character, his main business, at the time was selling used cars, but he never passed up a deal if he could make a few bucks on it.
      I was absolutely amazed at how Lou operated. When I first met him, he had a pay telephone on the wall in his office in Stamford, and when I went to use the telephone, I noticed a string hanging out of it. Lou said, “Make your call and put in the correct amount of change. When you hear the ding a ling of the coins being accepted, pull the string and all your money will come back. I tried it and it worked. Lou said a friend of his had the telephone key, and had showed him where to attach the string.
      The more I got to know Lou, the more I observed all the crazy things he was involved in. I always wondered how he ever learned to do all these slightly illegal things that he did. I knew he couldn’t have been born with that kind of innate knowledge, but I was embarrassed to come right out and ask him who had taught him all this stuff.
       One day we were driving from Tampa to Miami Florida, and Lou started reminiscing about his youth. He said that when he was 17 years old, he had a friend who was a photographer living in Miami. Lou said he would drive from Connecticut to Miami twice a year to visit his friend, but after a couple of years, he had to stop doing it. I asked Lou why, and he said that every time he visited his friend in Miami, his friend would take him to a different and very expensive restaurant. After they had eaten their fill, his friend would double over on the floor with pain, he loudly exclaimed that there was glass or something in the food. In just a moment the manager or the owners of the restaurant would help him into the inner office and lay him on a sofa. They were all very concerned about not calling an ambulance, after all what would all the customers think with this guy screaming about having glass in the food.
     After about 30 minutes, Lou’s friend would recover, to the relief of the restaurant staff, and Lou would help him walk out to their car, during all the commotion the bill for the meal was forgotten.
     That’s how I learned about one of Lou’s teachers.

The Suede Jacket and the Slot Machine Story

                                                        The Suede Jacket and the Slot Machine Story
                                                                   Written 08/26/2016 Unedited
                                                                                Howard Yasgar

     In 1993 my wife Katherine and I decided it was time to take a vacation.
     Because we lived in Miami, it was just a hop skip and a jump to fly to Nassau in the Bahamas. It was only a ¾ of an hour flight to get there. You took off from Miami International Airport, and the next thing you knew you were in Nassau.  Once we were in Nassau we would take a cab and go over a bridge to Paradise Island. Sometimes we would stop and go under the bridge, where the conch fisherman all set up shop.  They would cut up fresh raw conch, all mixed with chopped vegetables and hot scotch bonnet peppers they would then shake it all up with lime juice in a plastic bag. Sometimes we would just sit there on the sea wall with the cab driver and have a conch salad.
     On Paradise Island we would usually stay at the brand new Grand Hotel which was right next to the Paradise Island hotel and Casino.
     By 1993, we had made this trip many times and it seems that the trip always went the same way, Katherine would call the hotel and make reservations, and she would get a confirmation number. Then we would fly over to Nassau, take a cab to Paradise Island, and approach the hotel registration desk to register. Every time we did this, the Bahamian desk clerk would give us a funny look and say they had no record of our reservation, and that was even with our confirmation number. For some reason, it seems that this happened each time we went. The desk clerk would then say they had no rooms available, and that’s when Katherine went into action and asked for a manager. Most of the time the Bahamian manager was just as bad as the desk clerk, but no matter how bad they were, after Katherine was finished with them we always got a room and sometimes a free meal thrown in.
      Now, this happened every time we went to any of the Paradise Island Hotels, so after it happened to us one or two times, I started to let Katherine go to the check in desk without me. I would pick out a comfortable chair in the lobby and wait until all the yelling and screaming was over, and then I would go to the front desk to sign in.
      This year, when we decided to go to Nassau, I looked over my wardrobe only to find that I had outgrown my
Pants and sport jacket. So my wife Katherine dragged me to the mall to get new pants and a sport jacket.
      As I looked for a sport jacket, I saw that the store had lots of Suede jackets, and as I had never owned a Suede jacket before I had to try a few on. They were really nice and very soft, but the price was much higher than I expected to spend. If I recall correctly the jacket was around $285.00, and as I never spent more than $100.00 for a jacket, I started to take the Suede jacket off. My wife gave me the evil eye, and I knew what that meant, so I bought the Suede jacket.
     Now when Katherine and I go to Paradise Island we enjoy going to the casino and playing 21. We can sit and play for hours. When we tire of playing cards, we usually get up and walk around the casino and play a few different slot machines.
      It was about 10 in the evening and the casino was full of people, Katherine and I were walking around and playing the 25 cent slot machines. As we did this, I always keep my eye on where Katherine is so I know where I can find her. That evening I looked over and I saw she was playing a slot machine and the red and white lights on the top of the machine were blinking. I walked over, and saw that the tray in the slot machine was full of quarters. Katherine said, “This is a good slot machine, I can’t lose”.  Every time she put in 3 quarters, and pulled the handle more quarters poured into the tray, bells were ringing, and lights were flashing. We wondered, could it be luck or was the machine broken. Soon the quarters were just about overflowing the machines tray. I looked for cups to put the quarters in but there weren’t any near me. So I started scooping the quarters out and putting them in my jacket pockets. As fast as I scooped the quarters out, Katherine pulled the lever and more quarter came out. It was now pretty obvious to us that the slot machine was broken. By that time, I had no more room to put any more quarters in my pockets and that’s just as well as that’s when the slot machine floor boss saw the blinking lights and came over. He looked at the tray full of quarters, and he looked at Katherine’s innocent face. Then he politely said, “Madam, I believe this machine is broken”. The fellow put his key in the machine to stop the red and white blinking lights and then he reached into the coin tray. He pushed a small handful of quarters towards Katherine,
He then pushed about 80 percent of the quarters towards the left side of the tray obviously intending to keep them for the casino. I watched as Katherine, who had now found several big paper cups, bent over and scooped his big pile of coins into the cups, leaving him with only the hand full of quarters that he had intended for her. He was kind of shocked, but never said a word, as we walked to the cashier cage to turn in our quarters.
     I emptied out all the quarters from the pockets on my new suede jacket, I must have had close to $300.00. It
was then that we noticed my pockets in the jacket were still bulging and about one inch lower than they should have been. The weight of the quarters had stretched the suede jacket pockets, and completely ruined my jacket.
     Once back in Miami, I went to a tailor, and he tried every trick in the trade to fix the pockets. It cost me another $100.00 and now the jacket was not only stretched but crooked as well, and it went right into the garbage.     

The Doctor Gruber and the Shark Repellant Story

                                                     The Doctor Gruber and the Shark Repellant Story
                                                                     Written 08/24/2016 Unedited
                                                                                    Howard Yasgar

       In the 1990’s I had a company called API Marine, we sold remanufactured marine alternators and starter.
 We had representatives and distributors selling our products throughout the entire United States.  
       I had a very dear friend named Richard, Richard knew the marine industry inside and out, and at one time or another Richard had worked at and done just about everything in the marine industry.
       Richard had a very good friend, named Dr. Sonny Gruber, You can usually see Dr. Gruber on television, as he is the world’s ultimate authority on Lemon Sharks. Dr. Gruber runs a shark institute on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. He is a professor at the University of Miami, and students and scientists from all over the world come to Dr. Gruber’s shark instate to learn about sharks.  So, whenever there is a Florida television program about sharks, they usually interview Dr. Gruber in Bimini.
      Running the shark institute is quite a task, and requires a lot of work, as everything they need, has to come over by boat from Miami. My friend Richard, always made time to help Dr. Gruber, he did it by finding him inexpensive boats to ferry supplies from Miami. Richard usually went along on many of the supply trips with Dr. Gruber. So that’s how I met Dr. Sonny Gruber, it was when Richard brought him over to meet me.
      One day Richard tells me the following story. He said that Dr. Gruber, early in his career, like most all professors do, he was always seeking government grants. Dr. Gruber said the government had many subjects that they were interested in doing research on, and all the professors have access to the list. If they see something they are interested in they can write up a proposal, and if it is accepted, the government will give them a financial grant to do the research.
      Dr.  Gruber saw that the government was looking to solve a problem, sharks were attacking the sonar array that is towed behind all our military submarines.
      Dr. Gruber knew that there was a fish living in the Red Sea, called the Moses Soul Fish, and sharks just won’t eat them. Dr. Gruber felt that the fish has some kind of natural anti-shark chemical in it, so he suggested that he be given a grant to study what the chemical was. The government must have liked his idea as he received a grant to move to Israel with his family for two years and study the Moses Soul fish in the Red Sea.  After the two years, Dr. Gruber had indeed extracted the shark repelling chemical and synthesized it. All the information was given to the government and Dr. Gruber never heard any more about it.
     One evening many years later, Dr. Gruber and Richard were sitting on the beach in Bimini, and Sonny Gruber told Richard the story.    
     Richard became excited, he said that everyone in the marine industry wanted a shark repellant, so he asked Dr. Gruber to contact the Navy to find out what happened to the anti-shark chemical Gruber had synthesized.
     Dr. Gruber received a reply, that because the chemical had to pass through the sharks gills to be effective, the
Navy couldn’t use it and Dr. Gruber could do whatever he wanted with it.  Richard was ecstatic, he wanted to set up a company right away to market the shark repellant, and that’s when I came into the picture.
      Richard came to me, and he was very excited, he said everyone wanted a shark repellant and he had the exclusive rights to market Dr. Gruber’s shark repelling chemical. Richard said that with the API Marine distribution network we could market the shark repellant to every marine dealer and dive shop in the United States. Richard was sure it was going to be a financial success. He said everyone had been looking for a shark repellant ever since WWII, when pilots that crashed In the Pacific were attacked by sharks before they could be rescued.                  
      I asked Richard how Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant worked, and Richard said the chemical needed to pass through the sharks gills, it irritated the sharks gills, so it would immediately swim away.
      I gave it some thought, it all sounded too impractical to me, how would someone ever squirt the chemical in a shark’s mouth so it would pass over its gills.  Richard said that was no problem as he unfolded a set of detailed drawings of a compressed air gun that could shoot the repellant underwater. I could see Richard had put a lot of time and hard work into designing the shark repellant gun. The drawings were highly technical and all done in color. The repellant was in a cartridge and placed in the gun, and a small compressed gas cylinder was also inserted. The gun could be used several times before the compressed air cartridge needed to be replaced.  I couldn’t believe that Richard actually thought someone would or could shoot this thing into a shark’s mouth.
     Richard was very excited, he said we could sell the repellant and gun to the life raft manufacturers they could put one in with each raft.  I said, how could people sitting in a life raft ever use it, as it needed to be shot into the shark’s mouth. Richard said we could put a set of underwater goggles in with each kit, and he was serious.
     I tried to calm Richard down, I said, Richard, I think Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant is worthless, no one would have the nerve to get in the water with sharks to squirt it in their mouths.
     I think Richard was starting to realize that what I was saying was true, so he said, well, we can sell it to Dive shops. Scuba divers are in the water anyway and they would have no problem squirting the chemical in a shark’s mouth. Well I had to agree with Richard on that point, so I made a phone call to one of our sales representatives that also called on dive shops, and I introduced him to Richard. Richard asked if the salesman could sell the shark repellant to dive shops.
     The salesman said, “NO Way”, He said scuba divers love sharks, that’s why they dive in the first place, they want to attract sharks, not scare them away.
      Several months later I read that someone had invented a shark repellant that you wore like a belt, and it slowly dissolved in the water and chased the sharks away. That invention sounded a little more practical, Richard must have read about it also, as he never mentioned Dr. Gruber’s shark repellant to me again.

Eichel Blumenstock and the Missing Car Story

                                           Eichel Blumenstock and the Missing Car Story
                                                               Written 09/10/2016
                                                                   Howard Yasgar

    In early 1963, I was a junior partner in a used car lot on West Main Street in Stamford Connecticut.
    My partner was a fellow named Abe Zion. Abe was one of the best entrepreneurs I had ever met.
    Every month we would drive into a different major new car company lot in White Plains New York, and Abe would buy their entire back row of trade-in cars, he would pay $50.00 for each car, running or not. My job was getting them running, getting them running and get them all back to our lot in Stamford Connecticut. Once the cars were in Stamford we would run daily specials, selling them from $99.00 to $299.00.
    Abe, had a dear friend that went everywhere that Abe went, his name was Eichel Blumenstock, Eichel, was about 86 years old. Eichel was short, with thinning blond hair and he wore his pants pulled up to his chest. In his youth Eichel’s family were the Michelin tire distributors for all of Germany.  When the Nazi’s arrested him, Eichel bribed a guard and fled to Palestine where he met Abe. Now in 1963, Abe and Eichel were both in America and they were inseparable.
     Eichel, was a very earnest, religious and honest person, so we left him at the used car lot, to sell the cars.  
     After several months, I sat down to do the books, and reconcile the bank account. I immediately noticed that 10 or 12 cars were missing, so I told Abe that we were missing the cars.
     Abe went to Eichel who was sitting pensively in a chair with his hands folded in his lap.  He sternly said, “Eichel, where are the cars, I am told that 12 cars are missing”. “Yes Abe, Eichel said, they are on the highway.”
     Now Eichel Blumenstock was a devout Jew, and he lived in an apartment in the Bronx in New York. So every Friday night Eichel would take a car off the lot in Stamford and drive it home.  However a pious Jew cannot drive on Friday after sundown. So if Eichel got stuck in traffic, he would simply take the license plate off the car and put it in his jacket pocket, and he would then abandon the car. He would walk home to the Bronx even If it took him all night.
     So much for our used car business.      

Doctor Gruber and the Dockta Facockta Story

                                                   Doctor Gruber and the Dockta Facockta Story
                                                                       Written 09/06/2016                                    
                                                                           Howard Yasgar

      Dr. Samuel Gruber is a South Florida shark Biologist, He is a professor at the University of Miami’s Rosentiel School for Marine and atmospheric science, and he holds a MS and PH D in marine science. Doctor Gruber is the founder of the Bimini Biologic Field Station Foundation. At the Bimini Field Station, Doctors, professors and shark biology students from all over the world come to study sharks with him. In 2008 Dr. Gruber appeared on the History Channels documentary series about sharks. When it comes to Lemon Sharks, Dr. Gruber is the world’s foremost authority.
      My Wife and I had the good fortune to meet and become friends with Dr. Sonny Gruber, it happened because we were friends with Richard Schneider.
      Richard Schneider was in the Marine and boating business, and whenever he had free time he would assist Dr. Gruber in provisioning the Bimini Shark Institute. All the provisions had to be transported 50 miles from Miami to Bimini by boat. So Richard, as a good friend, would always help Dr. Gruber whenever he could, by making the trip back and forth to Bimini. On many occasions they arrived late in the afternoon so Richard would stay overnight at the institute.
      Richard told me that he always enjoyed staying at the institute. He said there was only one thing he didn’t like. Every evening when they all sat down for supper, Dr. Gruber would make the introductions so everyone at the institute knew who was sitting at the table. Most all of the visitors were Professors or biologists that held Doctorate degrees.  So Dr. Gruber would introduce each as Doctor. As he went around the table, the visitors who were from all over the world, were each introduced as Doctor So and So, Gruber  did that because they all held doctorate degrees. That was until he got to Richard, who he would introduce only as “My friend Richard Schneider”.  Richard lamented that he felt insignificant in the presence of so many highly educated people with Doctorate degrees, and he had no degree.
      I had remembered watching the Sid Caesar show on television many years ago where Sid Caesar, had made believe he was speaking German and introduced himself in a skit  as “Dockta Facockta”, In Yiddish Facockta means something that is pretty crappy.           
      I suggested to Richard that he tell Dr. Gruber, that the next time he was making introductions at the shark institute, he should introduce Richard as Dockta Facockta, but I don’t think Richard liked my idea too much.
      Several months later, one summer evening Richard was delivering a racing boat from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. My wife Katherine and I and Doctor Gruber were waiting for Richard to arrive at the marina. We were all going to Tarks seafood restaurant once Richard arrived. It was pretty dark and we were afraid Richard had gotten lost, so Doctor Gruber called Richard on his cell phone. I took the phone and I said Dockta Facockta where are you?
      Doctor Gruber’s eyed got big, and he said, who is Dockta Facockta? I said that’s the name I gave to Richard
So you can introduce him at the Shark Institute. Doctor Gruber was silent for a moment, then he said. “No Way, I want to be Dockta Facockta.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Simple Hinge Replacement Story


                                                        The Simple Hinge Replacement Story
                                                       Written 7/18/2016 Revised 8/20-2016                     
                                                                           Howard Yasgar

      In September of 2001, when we purchased a property located on 160 Palo de Oro Drive in Venetian Shores in Islamorada, the house, as well as the property it was on, had been neglected by the owners for several years, so we purchased it with the intentions of doing a complete renovation.  
      The home that was on 160 Palo de Oro drive was built back in 1967, by a local contractor named Gene Rhodus, the owner and designer of the home was a Mr. Wittman, who was a retired engineer from Wisconsin. Mr. Wittman had sold his wood burning stove business to Sears Roebuck and then he had gone on to teach engineering at the University of Chicago and then in Japan.
      When Mr. Wittman, returned to the states from Japan, he purchased a building lot in a new development in Islamorada called Venetian Shores.
      Once Wittman owned a corner lot, he set about designing a house, and while doing so, he incorporated a lot of features into the homes design that were considered pretty revolutionary in the Keys back in 1967.
     The front of the property and the house faced the Snake Creek water way, which is a major thoroughfare for boats traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, so when Mr. Wittman designed his seawall, it was totally his design, a design that had never been seen in the Keys before. It was, a two level concrete seawall that ran all along the 150 feet of property frontage facing Snake Creek. He designed the seawall with two levels. The lower level he called the fishing deck and the upper level of the seawall he called the promenade deck, the upper deck even had a shuffle ball court painted on to it.  
     Directly in front of the house, facing Snake Creek, Wittman designed and built right into the seawall, a 20 feet wide boat slip, and that is where he installed two hand crank davits to lift his small boat out of the water.  His boat slip was a masterpiece of design, it went all the way under the second floor patio of the house he designed, a feature that the building code would never allow today.  Mr. Wittman then designed a 4 feet wide concrete walking bridge that crossed over the top of the boat slip. The bridge constructed over the boat slip had been designed by Mr. Wittman, but it had a beautiful butterfly staircase on both sides. The butterfly stairs were a unique design invented and patented by the building contractor Gene Rhodus.
      Underneath the concrete bridge, on each side, Wittman had designed storage lockers. The built in lockers were 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep and four feet high. Each locker had two ¼ inch thick plywood doors. The doors closed and locked together with a simple household sliding bolt type lock. It was Wittman’s intention to use the lockers for the storage of boat and fishing related items like extra anchor ropes, safety gear and the storage of plastic ice coolers.   
     By the time we purchased the property in 2001, the plywood doors on the lockers were already warped and deteriorating. The sliding bolt lock still worked with a little jiggling, but the salt water had taken its toll on the plywood, and because plain old steel every day household hinges had been used, and now everything was falling apart.    
      It was around the summer of 2010, when my wife Katherine and I attended an art show at a local high school where several local Keys companies had booths set up displaying items they manufactured.
     What caught our attention was a vendor making outdoor Adirondack chairs and tables out of a material called TREX, which is a white, manmade composite plastic lumber. Not only was he making outdoor chairs and furniture but he was also embossing in them pictures of palm trees or fish.  The vendor said that he could make anything we wanted out of TREX, so I asked him if he could make new doors for our storage lockers, he said yes.
      The vendor eventually came by the house and measured each locker. He said that he would fabricate two door frames one for each locker, each frame was to have two TREX doors mounted in in it, and he said he would supply a finished molding to go around the exterior to be installed once I mounted the doors and the frames into the lockers. We told him to emboss green colored palm trees on the doors, just like we had seen on other items he had on display in his booth, he said that was no problem.
     About three weeks later, the vendor showed up with the doors mounted in the frames. He said that they were ready for me to install, but I immediately saw that the green palm tree design we requested was missing. When I brought it to his attention that we had ordered it with green palm trees cut in to the doors, the fellow said that it would be an additional $150.00 for each set of doors.
     Well we were in the Florida Keys, and my wife and I were already used to dealing with vendors, that do not do what they say they said they would do. As we had already paid him for the doors and frames, we reluctantly told him we would pay the extra money to have the four palm trees embossed into the doors.
      We paid him the extra money, and he did emboss the green palm trees. He delivered them and I installed both sets of doors onto the storage lockers. In the next few months, the vendor came by a couple of times in his own boat, to admire the locker doors.
      Around the year 2013, we had started using the lockers to store the extra tile left over from our renovation of the house. One day when I went to open one of the locker doors it seemed to be very stiff, I found that it was because the hinges inside were completely rusted. It appeared that the vendor had used regular indoor iron cabinet hinges, not salt water resistant or stainless steel, which he should have been used when something is exposed to a salt water marine environment.   
      I removed one of the rusty hinges off the locker door, it was not easy as the screws were so rusty.  My wife and I then went to Home Depot to look for salt water resistant replacement hinges. After wasting a lot of time at Home Depot, it was off to Lowe’s, and then it was stopping at all the local hardware stores in the keys.  It see0ms that everyone had similar style hinges but they were not exactly the same, and none would work properly. We found there was not even one hardware store that had any style of stainless hinge that we could convert to use.
      Several weeks went by and my wife Katherine started searching the internet, and that project, became a nightmare, as no one that she could find, had a similar hinge. Now there were tons of hinges available on the internet, but none of the hinges looked the same as what we needed. After we made several attempts looking on
Amazon, and Ebay, we were starting to get depressed. It appeared that the brand of hinge that we needed was discontinued and no longer being made.
      We debated as to what to do next, because several internet companies said that we should send them our rusty sample, but we were hesitant to lose our sample. The remaining seven hinges were all so rusty it was not easy to remove them from the locker doors, and if I removed any more hinges, I was afraid the doors would start to fall off while we were waiting to hear from the internet companies.
       We were extremely hesitant to call the original fellow that built the doors for us, because of the bad experience we already had with him in the past regarding the embossing of the palm trees. I decided to just go out and buy a completely different style of stainless hinge and I would eliminate the style of hinge that was on the door.  I then went out and I bought several different styles of stainless hinges hoping that I could convert them to work. Incredible as it seems I learned that not all hinges work the same, and none of the stainless hinges I bought would work on our locker doors.
     Finally, after a year had passed, and I had spent quite a bit of money trying every style hinge available that might work.
     After much debate, we reluctantly called up the fellow that had originally made the doors for us. He said yes he would get us hinges. We waited several months, and we called him several times to remind him, but eventually a year went by with no hinges from him.
     One day in the fall of 2016, we attended an art show at a local church, and the outdoor furniture vendor’s wife was working their booth. We told her that we had been waiting for over a year, for her husband to call us with the replacement hinges and she said that she would look into it immediately. We were so sure that she would be a more responsible person but there was no such luck, neither she nor her husband ever called us.
      After another 3 months, my wife decided to make one last try, and she called the vendor up. He said that he had the stainless steel hinges waiting for us. He said they cost him $70.00, and we could pick them up anytime, so we said we would go to his shop and get them that very day.
     Once we were at his shop, the vendor changed the whole hinge story. He now said that the original style of hinge was now a discontinued item. That was not what he had said to my wife on the phone, he had intimated that what he had was the original hinge in stainless steel. Now, he was saying that the one he had was similar to the original, and he said that it would bolt up almost the same as the original. Then he said that all we had to do was slightly alter the doorframe.
     As we sat there, he was talking to me as if I were a professional carpenter or cabinetmaker.  He held two small pieces of TREX in his hand as well as the new hinge and he explained how easy it all was to do.
     Standing next to his office door, he had prepared 4 pieces of TREX boards that were 3-1/2 inches wide by 4 feet long by ½ inch thick. He said, all we needed to do, was to cut the TREX boards to length, and then install them in the doorframes. After that we could easily install the replacement hinges, he assured me that all l the screw holes in the doors would be the same, and our bill was going to be  only $115.00 for the eight hinges, the 4 pieces of TREX board and he screws.
     Well, as soon as we got home, I immediately removed one of the locker doors. He had said this was going to be a simple project so I thought we could get it all done quickly.
     The first thing I found was that TREX boards he gave us were too long, but luckily I had a professional carpenters cut off saw down in our utility room, so I set it up and cut the pieces of TREX the correct length.
      When I tried to fit the newly cut TREX Boards into the sided of the existing door frames, I found that they needed to be notched top and bottom in order to fit properly. Luckily, I just happened to have a carpenter’s casement saw to do the job, and I just happened to have a bench mounted vice in our utility room. I used the vice to hold the TREX boards while I was notching them.
      When we removed the other rusty hinges from the locker doors, we found that the new replacement hinges he had sold us were completely different from the original hinges, also all the screw holes were all in different locations. We debated, should we drive back to his shop in Key Largo and demand our money back.
     So much for the new hinges being an exact fit, they were completely different, but luckily, I happened to own a battery powered hand drill and a very large selection of drill bits, and also we had a big selection of the right size stainless screws to install the new hinge onto the four doors.  
     After re-drilling all the holes, I installed the hinges into one of the doors. Then we found that the one half inch thick piece of TREX board he gave us was much too thick to allow the hinge to work properly if we used them. Why the fellow said they would work, I will never know.
     There was no question about it, we felt that installing these hinges was obviously a project better suited for a professional carpenter with a lot of cabinet making experience, it certainly was not a project for amateurs like us.
     It now appeared to us that not even one thing that the hinge fellow had told us was true. We studied the
hinges over, and over, and we eventually determined that the long TREX board pieces he gave us might work if its 1/2 inch thickness could be milled down to  1/4 inch.  
      Fortunately, we just happened to have a professional carpenters Dewalt wood milling machine in our utility room, and we milled the TREX down to the correct 1/4 inch thickness. The white sawdust from our milling the plastic TREX boards completely filled our yard just as if it was snowing. What a mess, but luckily we had an industrial size shop vacuum at our disposal left over from when we did our renovations, and Katherine vacuumed up all the plastic shavings before a breeze came and blew the stuff over the entire neighborhood.
     We went to use the stainless screws that the hinge fellow had given us to mount the hinges to the TREX boards. It was then we found out they were all indented square drive screws. After turning our utility room upside down, we could not find a square drive bit to use to install the screws, but fortunately we did have a bench grinder in the utility room and I was able to utilize my machining skills to grind down a Philips head bit to fit the square drive screws. It was then that I noticed that the square drive screws he gave us were all too long to use. Fortunately, we had a large selection of our own stainless screws to use.
     We had now worked almost an entire Saturday on the project, used every carpenter’s tool in our possession, and we had only finished one set of locker doors. My knees were raw from kneeling inside the cement lockers to screw the hinges in place. On the following Sunday morning, we made our only trip the hardware store for more stainless screws. We then finally mounted the last two locker doors. It had only taken us a day and a half of labor, a wood milling machine, a cut off saw, an industrial vacuum, and every single carpenter’s tool we owned, to do the job.
     Katherine says that if we ever met the lying bastard who sold us the hinges, she would thank him, and tell him we easily installed the hinges in 30 minutes, and that they were a perfect fit.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Please Blow Your Nose Story

                                                             The Please Blow Your Nose Story
                                               This true story happened in the Dominican Republic
                                                                       Written 05/26/2016
                                                                            Howard Yasgar  

     In 1968 I had talked my good friend Miguel Marquez into traveling with me to the Dominican Republic to try and locate the Christopher Columbus colony of Isabella, I had a theory that I was trying to prove.
     My theory was that once I found the actual colony, I would be able to find locations of where some of his unruly colonists had buried the gold they had taken from the local Indians.  On this trip I had a 1776 map given to me by Dr. Marc Bulliet the archeologist in Haiti. So by using this detailed map, I was hoping to be able to prove my theory correct.
    We left Miami, flying to Santo Domingo the capitol of the Dominican Republic, once there we rented a car, and
I stopped by a grocery store and loaded up the trunk with canned food and soda. I knew that once we reached the north coast of the island there were few stores, so it would be better if we had food, just in case.
     In Santo Domingo we usually stayed at the Pan American Hotel. And in the morning we made the drive to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. In Santiago I had a favorite
Restaurant called “EL Garden de Eden”, it was on the right side of the road up on a hill. They made a pizza using
American cheese. It was so different that it became my favorite so I always stopped there.
     After our lunch we headed for a long ride over the Cordillera Mountains heading for the city of Puerto Plata
Which was on the islands North coast. 1968 was way before they paved the road over the mountains, so by the time we reached the North coast everything in the car was rattling and falling apart. Once we were in Puerto Plata we stayed in a big old wooden hotel that was overlooking the ocean. I had stayed there several times so the manager now treated us like we were regular customers.
     In the morning we headed for the colony of Isabella, and that’s where this story takes place.
     In the Isabella area there are really no stores to get something to eat, and that was the reason I had bought bread and different kinds of canned meats when we were in Santo Domingo.
      At lunch time Miguel and I thought about making a sandwich. The problem was, as foreigners we attracted a lot of attention from the locals who always gathered around us where ever we went. So eating in front of them was always embarrassing as they never had any of the kinds of food that we had. In the past I had watched as kids took our empty cans out of the trash, and ran their fingers in them just to taste what we ate. So Miguel and I decided to drive somewhere where there were no people watching us and we could eat in peace. We got in our car and I drove down a dirt road until we reached a river. The river was several hundred yards wide with a big dry area right in the middle. Miguel checked the river and said it was only about 6 inches deep and had a hard packed bottom, so I drove into the water and onto the dry area in the center of the river. As I looked around there wasn’t a person to be seen in any direction.
    I went into the car’s trunk and got a loaf of sliced bread and a can of spam. Then I got in the car on the passenger side, Miguel was in the driver’s seat, his back and head was resting against the window.  The car was air conditioned so all the windows were up. I tore open a brown paper bag and put it on the seat between us and I opened the can of spam and made two sandwiches. Miguel took one sandwich and took a big bite out of it, I did the same with mine. As I was looking at Miguel, a small round mulatto face appeared in the window next to Miguel’s face. He was a little boy who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, His two hands were tightly gripped on the outside window sill and his face was pressed into the window looking at us. And running out of his nose was the biggest green snot I had ever seen in my life, it ran from his nostril all the way to his mouth. Miguel saw me staring and turned his head to the left to look. When he saw the kid’s green snot which was about 6 inches from Miguel’s face but on the other side of the window, he choked up his piece of sandwich.  Then Miguel yelled in Spanish “go clean you face in the water” The little kid released his grip on the door and I saw him washing his face. Miguel got out of the car and gave the boy his sandwich, we had both had suddenly lost our appetite.