April 30, 1999

Do you remember Hurricane Andrew? How can anybody forget it? It was so devastating, with so much property damage. Without a doubt, this was the worse storm I have ever seen. I have stayed in my house for every storm dating from 1927, but Andrew was the worst! It sounded like three or four helicopters were flying over you. The noise was horrendous and it was so dark you couldn’t see two feet in front of you.

My wife and I and my blind cat “Chippie” went across the street with Shot and Pat Parro, who were alone and we weathered out the storm with them. I tried to cross the street at one time during the night and was unsuccessful. The wind was so strong that it took me off my street and my feet only touched the ground twice. I literally floated across the street. I know that the wind was over 250 mph. It took one-half of Casso’s roof on his fishery, made of steel, flying a block away, over the 25-foot floodwall, and then landed on top of Rock’s Lighthouse Inn.

For ever storm, Tarville Davis and myself would go all over Berwick to offer our help if anybody needed assistance.

I’ll never forget one of the storms that we had in the ’50s. The Southern Pacific Railroad sent about 20 boxcars to the Berwick area for evacuation purposes. Tarville and I would grab a hold of each person’s arm and leg and raise them into the boxcars.

I’ll never forget when Mrs. Oswald came to us, dressed “fit to kill,” in a beautiful yellow dress, with bright red sequins all over it and with a brand new yellow umbrella. She cam huffin’ and puffin’ up to me and asked me where the Pullman cars were for the people to board. I looked at her and said, “Follow me!” When I approached the box-car, I said, “Right here, Mrs. Oswald!” Tarville and I heaved her into the boxcar, and then Johnny Hughes boarded up the cars exactly like the Nazis did during World War II. What an experience for that lady! Johnny boarded up every door and when the train was pulling out, we could still see her through the cracks in the car, looking at us in complete dismay!

Another experience that I had in Sicily was at the Jolly Hotel in Palermo. My brother, “Baby,” Tarville and myself were staying there while we were in Palermo. We went out on the veranda where all of the big businessmen were sitting and smoking their long cigars, about a foot long, in their mouths, discussing their investments.

I told my brother, who always liked to talk, to be quiet and don’t strike up a conversation with those men. I also told Tarville to look mean and not to laugh as he always does because these men looked like they didn’t want to be bothered.

Furthermore, I told “Baby” and Tarville that if they should ask us where we were from, tell them “Chicago.” And sure enough, one of the men heard us speaking English and asked us where we were from.

He was a tall man with a flat nose and cauliflower ears. He looked mean as Joe Green, but Tarville responded right away “Ber–.” Well, that’s when I kicked him on the shin, and he responded again, “Ber-Chicago.” Just then three or four men came over to our table. They asked us if we knew Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. I immediately answered, “Yes, but not personally.”

They picked up our meal ticket and paid for everything. Just then I looked at Tarville, who was about to explode with laughter. You know when Tarville laughs, he turns red, and he would laugh so much that sometimes he would fall on the floor, still laughing. I told my brother, “Let’s get out of here, while the getting is good!” We then told the men that we were frequent visitors to the Jolly Hotel at least once a month and we were looking forward to seeing them again. Needless to say, that was the last time we went to the Jolly Hotel.

* The End *