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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Under the Chinaberry Tree

This Week On
The Sound of Texas

Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
Wednesday, April 10
Suzanne Theis Houston Car Parade
Thursday, April 11
Dorinda Millan Pecos Museum
Friday, April 12
Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
Complete Schedule for April

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by Tumbleweed Smith

The white sand on Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida is like powder. It is always cool, even on the hottest days. When we were there in mid-March about a million people were on the beach. I don’t know how much fun they were having. The wind was howling at about 60 miles an hour. A combination of blowing sand and sea spray cast a fog over the area and the Gulf water was cold. We stayed about five minutes. We saw license plates from just about every state in the union. I can hear the occupants saying, “We paid good money to get to a Florida beach for spring break and by gosh we’re gonna enjoy it. Period.”

This was our first trip to Sarasota and we were impressed. We went there to visit some new friends we met on a cruise to Russia last year. They love Sarasota and showed us around. The city is tremendously upscale and will soon have a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and a Neiman-Marcus department store. It already has a Ritz Carlton and a Four Seasons. Several people who own second or third homes there fly in on their private jets and bring their personal chefs with them. Sarasota, with 30 golf courses, has as many wealthy residents as West Palm Beach and the number is growing. Financial experts say the area between Naples and Tampa (with Sarasota roughly in the middle) is the sixth or seventh wealthiest corridor in the US.

When our friends picked us up at the Tampa airport we went immediately to the Dali Museum in nearby St. Petersburg, which was exhibiting some of Salvador Dali’s work in film. He was fiercely interested in using his painting techniques in movies. He collaborated with Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and others. His three-minute dream sequence in Hitchcock’s Spellbound was one of several Dali works being screened at the museum. The name of the exhibit was DALI AND FILM and the price of admission included a DALIWOOD t-shirt. We wore them and have the photos to prove it.

The house where we stayed had a lanai, a Hawaiian word for porch or balcony. Nearly every house we saw had one of these attached to it. It literally is a room with the walls and roof made of fine mesh screen. It is braced with slender steel girders, all painted white. It is a fabulous addition that makes a lot of sense. You can walk directly into the lanai from the house, whose sliding glass doors remain open during the day to take advantage of the breeze. We never used the air conditioner.

Sarasota is the home of John and Mabel Ringling, the circus couple. The Ringling estate has the Ringling mansion, theater and circus museum as well as the Ringling’s dazzling collection of fine art. I couldn’t believe that such a fortune could be made during a time when a ticket to a traveling tent circus cost a quarter.

We had a blast in Sarasota. You never know how the folks you meet on cruises are going to be when you meet them on their home territory. But Les and Marilyn are the same aboard ship or on land. We feel like we’ve known them for a long time and want to see them some more; in fact we plan to go to Israel with them next year.

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