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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
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Otto: Memorial Day is time for many memories

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I remember a lot of things today. There is my father, buried at Arlington and my wife?s father, buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. Unfortunately there are other names there I know, soldiers who died in other wars around the world.

Reader Richard Broye sent over a number of facts about today, including the first Memorial Day back when it was called Decoration Day on May 30, 1868, and set aside to honor the Civil War dead. One of the reasons that day was chosen was because of all the flowers that would be in bloom.

It was after World War I that the day was expanded to include American military members from all wars.

Thanks to the members of the 6th Security Forces Squadron at MacDill for inviting me out to their digs the other day to judge a chili contest and take a look at how they operate.

I have to say they operate with a great deal more professionalism than in my days with the 50th Security Police Squadron. Of course that was back when we used muskets and didn?t fire until we saw the whites of their eyes, but the more than 400 men and women of the 6th squadron are impressive.

They provide security for more than 15,000 civilian and military personnel working high-priority operations as well as a marine patrol unit and a K-9 unit of about a dozen dogs.

Their chili needs a little work. I mean it was OK, but, well, there was a K-9 unit I used to be familiar with at a missile site in the German forests. They, along with their dogs, would sneak into the site?s engine room on winter nights where there was a never-ending pot of chili hanging from a steam pipe. It was so explosive it?s a wonder the missile site didn?t blow up.

Jack Nichols called to talk about the proposed ferry service around Tampa Bay. I met him years ago when he was an instructor helping prisoners get their GEDs at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. The money dried up for that program.

These days Nichols is known as ?The Glove Man?? in Brandon and spends his days refurbishing and repairing baseball gloves.

But he recalled taking the ferry from Piney Point to St. Petersburg back in the 1930s. Piney Point is now the site of Port Manatee.

?The ferry was really more of a barge. We would take it to St. Pete and wander around for the day and go back. Once in awhile my dad would put the Model A on the ferry and we would drive it over to Tampa.??

It was called the Bee Line Ferry and ran from 1926 to 1954. You could load your car on for $1.50 or just ride it yourself for a quarter. The end of the line for the Bee Line came with the opening of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Finally an email zipped in from David Mechanik, who is on his honeymoon in Italy with new wife, Maricela. I?m not sure that if I was in Italy on a honeymoon I would bother contacting the likes of me, but he noted that I had mentioned his wedding and that former Mayor Dick Greco had done the officiating. He also saw where I went on to describe the affair and the ?Marimba band.??

?It was a ?Mariachi band?? he corrected me, ?to honor my wife?s Mexican heritage.?? I?m thinking Dave better get back to his honeymoon or risk becoming a one-man band.

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