Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paradise Lost

The following was submitted by our good friend and best man to our wedding.  I wanted to leave it here as another reason why we retired early and left Florida.  I hope our friend, Joe, finds his Paradise and am extremely thankful that he has been our friend for these many years.

The year was 1973, when I made a trip to Orlando, Florida to visit relatives. I was somewhat unwilling to travel, being one who feels the need to be in the thick of my normal surroundings, but after arriving, I found a very welcoming city, where people would say "Good morning!", and mean it. Add to that, the climate and tropical beauty of the surrounding country made the trip one of destiny. I returned to Indianapolis, a city I detested from the start, looked around me and decided there was really nothing there for me, so the following week, I gave notice at my job and sold everything except what would fit into my 1973 Mercury Capri, including, (for some strange reason) the ironing board, which stuck out through the sun roof. I didn't iron, but it would soon serve as a great substitute for a coffee table, and in its raised position, a dining table. I arrived in Orlando on June 9, 1973, and the party started. I thought I had died and gone to heaven for sure, and best of all, there was a bar on every corner! Almost immediately I began a job with a major general contractor, where also one of the greatest friendships of my life began. Thirty-six years, three wives, and countless beers later, we're still friends. Yes, this was my Paradise Period. Orlando was my adopted home, with all the trimmings.

Fast forward to 1984. Gone were the days when we never locked our doors, and the keys stayed in the car in the driveway. Ah, yes, the invasion of the yuppie era, and the work-a-holic, snatch and grab, materialistic gluttony that ensued. Not to mention the advent of the computer age, during which machines were to reduce the work week to thirty hours, and we would have all the extra time on our hands to enjoy life. What a joke! The work week increased to 60 - 80 hours, since all these computers need to be maintained and while we used to be slaves to assimilating information, we now were slaves to the vast amount of information itself. And guess what??? Half of it wasn't even correct! Ah, progress!
Then there was Disney. OOOh, that evil empire. Ever hear of the play "The Mouse that Roared"? This was the rat that devoured. It devoured a peaceful, prosperous, enjoyable way of life in a beautifully well-balanced community and created a monument to greed and corruption, and the crime and burgeoning cost of living that comes with it. Add to that, the over-crowding, moral bankruptcy, and culture clash and you have mass stress of epic proportions. Orlando has gone from Life Magazine's Model American City of 1958 to being named by the Gallup Poll as one of the ten angriest cities in the country.

I'm retiring soon, and I'm moving back to the rural country of Kentucky where I was born. Where people still say good morning and mean it.

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