Kate and Rebecca`s 40-Year Reunion


Kate and Rebecca`s 40-Year Reunion
Kate and Rebecca’s 40-Year Reunion
By Allen Morris, April 9, 2012
Kate and her brother Ted attended London Central High boarding school in England in the early
1970s. While there she met Rebecca and the two 14-year olds soon became inseparable best
friends. Then in 1972 when they were 15, Rebecca’s dad was transferred and she was sent to a
boarding school in Switzerland. After that, Kate and Rebecca lost touch with each other.
In 2011, Rebecca saw Ted’s information on the London Central High website and asked him to
give Kate her contact information. They began communicating by phone and e-mail. Rebecca,
who joined my e-mail group last November, teaches junior high English and History in
Sacramento, California, is divorced and has a 16 year old daughter, Alatna.
Reader’s left to right: Alatna, Rebecca and Kate
It wasn’t long before Kate and Rebecca began discussing a reunion to meet after 40 years
without seeing each other. Alatna is a Harry Potter fan and wanted to see the Harry Potter
attraction at Universal Studios. So Rebecca and Alatna came to Orlando last Monday (April 2,
2012) and went to Universal. Kate met them at their hotel Wednesday afternoon and brought
them to stay with us. Rebecca had only been to Florida once, when she was a child, and Alatna
had only been through the Miami airport. Both wanted to experience Florida beyond the theme
On Thursday we went out in the Gulf of Mexico with Dan Santangelo, a close friend,
professional colleague and member of my e-mail group, and his wife Janice, on their boat.
Dinner was at an ocean-side seafood restaurant in St. Petersburg. On Friday, Kate took them to
tour Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, where they fed the fish and wildlife, observed
numerous types of birds, wandered through the extensive gardens and heard a carillon bell
concert. A late lunch at Chalet Suzanne followed, after which they toured the soup cannery,
bought some soup, and fed turtles in Chalet Suzanne’s lake. I spent the morning and afternoon
in meetings at WG Roe (I officially start as vice-president of sales and marketing for Blue Lake
Citrus Products, their juice company, on April 16) and navigating the unusually heavy traffic to
get Florida stone crab claws from Lombardi’s Seafood market in Orlando. These stone crab
claws, a Florida specialty that Rebecca and Alatna had never seen, were our feast for Friday
night. There were more than we could eat so we removed the meat and put it in a zip lock bag
for them to take on ice in a flexible cooler on the plane.
Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens, a national historic landmark, was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge
in 1929 as a gift from Edward Bok, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. It consists of 250 acres of
ferns, palms, shady oaks, pines, azaleas, magnolias, camellias, wax myrtle, Asiatic jasmine,
philodendron, papyrus, spider lilies, fruit shrubs and wetland plants alongside its ponds. The site
is a refuge for 126 species of birds, and home to wild turkeys, deer, alligators, turtles, and species
native to the Florida ridge such as the scrub jay, gopher tortoise, and eastern indigo snake.
Sitting on the highest point on the Florida ridge, the Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the
gardens. A 60-bell carillon is set within the 205-foot tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that
was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. The tower was built south of a reflection pool that
allows the water to reflect its full image. It is surrounded by a 15-foot moat built of marble
mined in Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone from Daytona Beach. Inside the bell
chamber is a playing room that houses a keyboard that is used for playing the carillon bells.
Concerts are given twice daily from the 60-bell carillon set.
Chalet Suzanne
Opened in 1931 north of Lake Wales, Chalet Suzanne is a 100-acre estate with an award-winning
gourmet restaurant (Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence, Golden Spoon Awards), 26-room
country inn (Uncle Ben’s 10 best Country Inns in America, Sun Sentinel’s Florida Inn of the
Century) and private lake. Also part of Chalet Suzanne is the wine dungeon, a wine and cheese
tasting room, a ceramic studio, an autograph garden consisting of a wall of ceramic tiles
autographed by Chalet Suzanne guests, a gift boutique, a Florida museum, and a soup cannery.
Chalet Suzanne’s 13 gourmet soups are available in stores nation-wide and its Soup Romaine
was selected by NASA for two of the Apollo moon missions. For those who wish to arrive by
private plane, the property has a 2,313 foot airstrip that also provides skydiving rides. Listed in
the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Chalet Suzanne has been featured in the New
Yorker, Vogue, Life, Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, Forbes
and Time.
Aerial view with Chalet Suzanne complex and airstrip above its lake
Celebrity guests from the early years included Duncan Hines, the cake mix company founder, J.
L. Kraft, the cheese manufacturer from Chicago, and Esther Williams, the famous swimmer and
movie star. More recently, famous guests have included Willard Scott from NBC's Today Show,
Dick Clark, Johnny Carson, Pat Robertson, Don Johnson, Robert Redford, Michael Landon, Doc
Severinson, Dinah Shore, Burt Reynolds, Ed McMahon, Paul Harvey, Bruce Jenner, Astronaut
Col. Jim Irwin, Jim Stafford, Rosemary Clooney, Ruth Buzzi, Lewis Grizzard, The Lettermen,
and President Mobuto of Zaire.
When Carl Hinshaw died of pneumonia in 1931, Bertha, his determined and gutsy widow
decided to make a living for her family on their land doing what she knew best, making people
feel at home. Thus, in 1931 was born Suzanne’s Chalet, named after her only daughter. Chalet
Suzanne is an historic example of one determined young widow’s struggle to survive the
challenges of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, alone except for her two young children. It is
the story of the Hinshaw family, now into their fifth generation, that was raised on this now
internationally recognized property, and grew to become a part of its heritage. It’s a family and a
place that has survived fires, hurricanes, floods and temptations to sell out to high-priced real
estate markets and developers. It’s a bit of old Florida hidden away from the hustle of today’s
hectic world. I have been coming to Chalet Suzanne since 1987 and Kate and I celebrated our
second anniversary there in 1993. It was the restaurant I chose in my novel, Florida Gold, where
Jack Thomas, the main character, proposed to Carolyn (pages 227--229).
Dan and Janice welcome us aboard the Lazy Daze
Two best friends reunited after 40 years. The two hit it off again right away, both
embracing the same values and again best friends, although separated by a continent.
Dan navigating from the flying bridge, above the cabin
Kate gets a lesson in navigating the Lazy Daze
Heading into the Gulf
In the Gulf
Getting some sun as we are headed in on the inter-coastal waterway
Entryway garden
Feeding the turtles in Chalet Suzanne’s lake
Large, jumbo and colossal Florida stone crab claws next to cell phone
First stone crab claw out of the pot
Second crab claw out of the pot. Eight more pounds to go. What a feast!
Rebecca told me she loves grapefruit but had only eaten California’s, which aren’t as juicy and
sweet as Florida grapefruit because of California’s dry climate. So on Saturday morning I
bought some reds from Lang’s, a gift fruit shipper I know, and fixed two for her to try, one for
juice (plugging the stem end for hand squeezing) and part of another to eat. She loved them.
After a leisurely lunch at Bahama Breeze in Orlando, we took them to catch their plane back to
California. We gave them the remainder of the mesh bags of red grapefruit I bought to take with
them on the plane along with the cooler of stone crab. Rebecca called us on Sunday to say they
had arrived safely and told us she and Alatna were having Florida Stone Crab cakes and Florida
grapefruit for breakfast Sunday morning and loving it.
Plans are already being made for a second get together. This time it will be an airboat ride on the
Kissimmee River to see alligators and bald eagles, another excursion on the Lazy Daze if we are
able to schedule it with Dan, shooting pistols and shotguns at the Lakeland Rifle and Pistol Club,
and Kobe Beef Brisket and Chicken wings on the smoker. Can’t wait!