The inner landscape of Florida

Writing gives us a chance to explore. Since moving to Florida, that’s meant close encounters with alligators, beaches, police cars, rooftop bars, concert halls and wall-to-wall tourists with traffic to match. In six years, I’ve made it a mission to distill those encounters into a series of books.

As we head into fall, I thought it time to take stock of where I’ve been since washing up on the Gulf Coast. To abuse a lyric by the Grateful Dead, it hasn’t been a long trip, or an especially strange one. But it has resulted in a wealth of material that’s yielded two crime series, a standalone novel and two short additions to the roster of nonfiction works.

As Julie Andrews famously sang, here are a few of my favorite things.

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, my newest novel, Born Under a Bad Sign, follows two young people as they fight for their dreams, and their lives, in one of America’s most turbulent decades—the Sixties.

My first mystery series, set in a fictional version of Sarasota, Florida, features former police detective turned real estate agent CW McCoy and her struggles with clients and crime. The series consists of four titles, with (fingers crossed) a fifth on the way. Here’s a brief rundown:

Peak Season. Life at the beach can be murder. Forced to shoot a fellow police officer, CW McCoy surrenders her gun, her badge and her confidence to take refuge in Southwest Florida. But even in paradise, violence finds her like a divining rod.

Tourist in Paradise. When a gunman mistakes Candace McCoy for a wealthy visitor, the former detective faces her biggest challenge yet: Is the violence the start of a full-blown war on tourists? Or are the attacks a smokescreen for an even greater threat?

Curb Appeal. While showing a mansion on Florida’s tony Spanish Key, CW McCoy discovers the naked body of a rival real estate agent, a bra wrapped around her neck. As the deception and bodies mount, CW must uncover the truth about her friends, her lover and a serial killer bent on murdering fellow agents . . . before she becomes a victim herself.

Permanent Vacation. In the luxurious resort town of Spanish Point, sea levels are rising. So is the body count. Both threaten the real estate industry, and its agents. Including Candace McCoy.

My other crime series, the one set in Northeast Pennsylvania, features a defrocked journalist by the name of Brinker who becomes an agent for an assassin. Frequent trips back home provided new material but most of it comes from memories of my days working for the daily newspaper.

Mr. Mayhem. Sued by his publisher for libel, Brinker is reduced to promoting trolley tours of crime scenes. The tour business is dying. There aren’t enough murders to draw a crowd. A good serial killer would help.

Mr. Magic. Brinker has lost his magic. The ad agency’s CEO wants him to ace the competition. His former girlfriend wants him in detox. And as rival advertising executives disappear, an ambitious state trooper wants him in jail. If this keeps up, the PR whiz who turned a serial killer into a national brand may have to vanish himself.

Fans of science and true crime might enjoy the nonfiction works. In addition to Finding Woodstock, a collection of essays and photos about the impact of the 1960s on all of our lives , those books include The Spirit of Swiftwater, the story of vaccine pioneers in the 20th century (University of Scranton Press) and Riding with the Blues, a behind-the-scenes look at the Sarasota Police Department.

The books are available on every platform and in virtually every format. Check out the Amazon author page for details.

Emergency? Who You Gonna Call?

Payphones have gone the way of steam engines and spats. Concern about security has not. Colleges have responded by installing emergency call stations known for their blue lights. Adults old enough to remember rotary phones can use their landlines and lifelines.

Leave it to the Internet generation to develop an alternative.

Security apps for smartphones have become a booming business. They provide a wide range of functions, from receiving emergency notifications to connecting you with commercial monitoring teams through a subscription service. Apple’s App Store alone lists 98 apps in the emergency-alert category.

What’s your best bet if you want to use your smartphone as a mobile substitute for blue-light boxes? Here’s a short list of apps, some free, some not, starting with passive software and advancing toward interactive systems.

  • CodeRED Mobile Alert. Designed to keep you informed, this app taps into the national CodeRED Emergency Notification System to alter subscribers of public safety issues.
  • Emergency. The utility allows the direct dialing to four main emergency services (general, fire, police, medical).
  • SOS Panic Button. This app features a large panic button that, when pressed, will use the phone’s GPS tracking feature to notify friends and family of your location by telephone and email.
  • Bluelight. The app notifies your friends and family when you don’t arrive at your destination as planned.
  • SOS Response. This is for users who want their smartphones to act more like hardwired home alarm and blue-light systems. The app sends photos and GPS information to a monitoring team, who then alert responders.
  • MyForce. Another subscription-based service, this app sends reports to alarm monitors who, the developer says, will connect to 911 dispatchers “after an emergency is validated.”

A word of caution about the technology. Anyone can use a blue-light emergency call button or home-alarm system. Only those who can afford a smartphone and the monthly fee can access some of these subscription services. And what happens if your phone can’t find a signal?


In search of the perfect orange, part 4

Left a good hotel (the Inn on the Lake) in an average town (Sebring) and drove not to Orlando as planned but to Mt. Dora, an hour north of the city. Drove past the small park we saw five years ago when we left the kids at Disney. Ate at the same restaurant near the lake and the railroad tracks, Pisces Rising—nice but a bit pricey. The town is quaint but overrun with hundreds of thousands of people during several festivals each year, according to a very nice woman at the local chamber of commerce.

We said we live in a resort area and complimented her on the sign hanging on the door: “We treat our visitors like family.”

She laughed. “But we treat our family like crap.”

“That part of the sign must have fallen off.”

Instead of touring the town, we headed to the post office. We have to carry heavy client training manuals home and decided that we’ll never get them on the airplane without hocking the rental car. So we’ll mail them. The guy at the post office was very friendly. Then we drove around Lake Dora and through Eustis (a tad too commercial) around Lake Eustis and north on CR 452 past Lake Yale (an OK place but few trees for that all-important shade in summer). Then west to Leesburg and Lake Griffin and Lake Harris and finally south to the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive. Dinner at Thai Thani, a chain that didn’t feel like a franchise, its interior dark and ornamental, the food spicy, the service attentive.

Tuesday, Jan. 11. The Rosen is a tall, wide hotel that aspires to elegance and succeeds in most ways. The public spaces are vast and tastefully decorated, the rooms small but comfortable. Some guests complained there were no refrigerators or microwaves in the rooms but we didn’t miss them. The hotel charges extra for everything—parking, Internet and use of the spa—but does a good job with housekeeping and food service.

Breakfast in the Café Gauguin was hot and fresh, a buffet with everything from oatmeal to eggs to fruit, although the orange juice wasn’t as good at the liquid gold in Sebring. We sat through a sales meeting in the afternoon for our client Aqua Glass, then joined a group dinner (14 of us) at the Everglades Restaurant in the Rosen. Very elegant, with three wait staff and pictures drawn on plates in edible gel. Big, rich, expensive meal but a nice way to kickoff the show, in the company of some very interesting and considerate people.

Sunset on Lake Eustis

Sunset on Lake Eustis

In search of the perfect orange, part 3

Breakfast at the Cabot Lodge (named for former UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge?) south of Gainesville was about the same at the Holiday Inn near Ocala only we sat near an open fireplace. And the orange juice is getting better, although nothing to write home about. (Is blogging a form of writing home?)

Driving south on Route 27 from Gainesville to Sebring we took a right on Lake Minneola Road because the name sounded nice and headed into the small town of Clermont. In the historic downtown we found clean, quiet streets for a Saturday, mile temperatures (long-sleeved shirt weather, maybe close to 60). Stopped at Liz’s Ice Cream & Deli for lunch with a table of about 10 senior citizens and Liz behind the counter making sandwiches. Very, very friendly people. Two were Kiwanians and one a Rotarian, in their 60s and 70s and maybe early 80s. They talked about sex and getting drunk the previous night. Must be the Florida heat.

We drove around the south shore of Lake Minneola and were impressed with the public spaces—beach and pavilion, walking and bike paths and what looked like an amphitheater under construction. Big lake with some chop from the wind but it wasn’t undergoing eutrophication as so many of the shallow lakes in this part of central Florida.

After lunch we drove to Sebring and checked into the Inn on the Lake, a beautiful three-story hotel in the Spanish style across the highway from Lake Jackson, with a view of Little Lake Jackson from the room. There was a pool for lounging and groups of friendly, talkative people. Golfers we guessed from the tournament sign-in sheet in the lobby. Most in their 60s, a few younger, a few older. They sat in the back of the lobby by the fireplace and talked about getting laid. What’s with this generation?

Drove through an industrial area for dinner at the Blue Crab, a cross between a restaurant and clam shack, a place for seniors, blue-collar retirees and (finally) locals. It’s owned by a couple of bikers. The waitresses looked lean and nicotine burned. Ours was named Mel. Before she took our order she introduced herself as Big Bird and said that her boss, Bill, calls her Turkey Buzzard. She leaned toward us and in a conspiratorial whisper said, “I told him, ‘You call me that because I eat a lot of shit around here, so it must be true.’” Then she reared back quickly as if she’d given offense. Not at all. If she wants to burn her ears she should hike up the road and watch the old folks strut their nine irons.

Sunday, Jan. 9. Finally we have reached the summit: at the Inn on the Lake the orange juice is excellent, fresh-squeezed, the waitress said, by a local company. After breakfast we drove south to the small town of Lake Placid to see if lived up to its name. It did, maybe a bit too much. In Sebring the business district consisted of a couple of stores and a consignment shop on a rotary. Here there isn’t even a business district. And once outside town things got thin rather quickly. Around the lake some homes backed onto water but they were crushed together, on busy highways and fully exposed to the sun. Not much fun in August.

Lunch at the Tower View Restaurant in Lake Placid—second time we stumbled onto one of the more popular restaurants for locals. Then north to the Sebring International Raceway, home of the 12-hour Grand Prix, where we spent half an hour watching small noisy cars race around a very long track.

Back home to have a drink by the pool, dinner at the hotel restaurant and a wild evening doing laundry. Tomorrow the real world beckons as we head to Orlando to cover the International Builders Show at the Orange County Convention Center.

Sebring Intl Raceway 448

In search of the perfect orange, part 2

It’s Wednesday and time for lunch with members of the Ocala Metro Rotary Club. About 25 Rotarians, a favorable mix of young and old, gathered in the back of the Marion County United Way Building, a blue stucco affair with dark blue pillars in a nicely shaded area. These people are fast as well as friendly. The entire meeting lasted half an hour, from the call to order through lunch, the recitation of the Four Way Test and the Pledge of Allegiance. Met the perfect host and greeter, a real estate agent by the name of Trish Kilgore, who said there isn’t much property on a lake near Ocala where motorboats are not allowed. She suggested we should consider a place on a river. We thought about that in New Bern when we visited the provincial capital of North Carolina last year but ruled it out for the moment.

Spent the afternoon in the Appleton Museum browsing the collections of European art and Florida paintings. “Reflections: Paintings of Florida, 1865-1965” included work by household names such as Wyeth and Tiffany but my favorites were the broad impressionistic works of Anthony Thieme (1888-1954), the Dutch-born painter who moved to Massachusetts. The exhibit contained three of his works: The Loquat Tree, Evening Light on the Suwannee River and Aviles Street Garden, all done around 1940.

It was ten of five, close to closing. The sky opened, the rain came down as if it meant someone harm. A museum guard loaned me an umbrella to run to the car and bring it in front of the building, and away we went to find an authentic place to eat, the kind of place the locals favor. Of course we can’t always deliver on that culinary mission and wound up at a barbecue joint called Sonny’s. (Didn’t realize the corrugated metal place was a franchise until we saw another one in Gainesville.)

Thursday, Jan. 6. After a late breakfast at the hotel we left Ocala for a drive through historic Micanopy. The buildings look worn and in need of reinforcement and paint. In this case the term historical means neglected. But it’s a quiet little town with dogs in baby carriages and friendly servers in the local sandwich shop. At the Coffee N Cream a half dozen men played cards at a table on the sidewalk, a dog at their feet, while we ate egg salad and chicken salad and sipped water and coffee (saving the juice for the AM) on the porch of the café and warmed ourselves in the sun. In early January. A treat in itself.

After that we headed north to the outskirts of Gainesville, home of the University of Florida Gators, and checked into a Cabot Lodge near I-75. Different vibe than in Ocala—more crowds, more traffic, with a card in the room warning guests to lock their doors and hide their cash and valuables. Sounds like Dallas.

Dinner at Amelia’s, just behind the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville. I called the restaurant to see if they had any red sauce without certain ingredients and Chef Andy himself returned my call. None of the bad stuff, he said, and they make all of their sauces by hand. So we dined on eggplant parmesan and angel hair with marinara. Beautiful. Chef Andy, dressed in a double-breasted black smock and pajama pants, stopped by our table to introduce himself and see how everything was. Very nice, and within a few feet of the theater.

The highlight of the trip: two seats in the front row at the Hipp for the preview of End Days. Wonderful storyline, passionate acting. Directed by Lauren Caldwell, the play is funny, dramatic and touching, one of the first attempts I’ve seen that deals with the aftermath of 9/11. (I posed a review on this blog at the time called “It’s the end of the world and we like it.”)

Friday, Jan. 7. We’re sitting in Starbuck’s in downtown Gainesville using the free Wi-Fi network. We spent the morning at Palm Point Park at Lake Newnan, walking under live oaks shrouded with Spanish moss that looked like the shredded remnants of ghosts. After driving through the University of Florida campus and peeking into the bookstore with its lines of students buying and selling texts, we had a late lunch at Harry’s (a Louisiana gumbo kind of place that didn’t feel like a franchise) and wound up outside the Hippodrome Theatre again. We’re seeing the indie film “Nowhere Boy” about John Lennon’s teen years.

The film was bit slow but rich in detail about Lennon’s conflicted relationship with his mother, Julia, and the woman who raised him, his Aunt Mimi. And then, as the house lights went up, three old timers with acoustic guitars strolled in and led the audience in a sing-along of Beatles’ songs written by Lennon, including some challenging ones like “I am the Walrus” and “Day in the Life” and one that pushed the bounds of irony, “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” Nearly everyone in the theater sang along with the first six or seven. I couldn’t remember the words to “Happiness” but the woman in front of us with the sculpted gray hair knew the lyrics.

“How do you guys know all the words?” one of the musicians asked, a little disingenuously I thought but in good fun. He was a bearded guy who might have played with the Four Freshman or Peter, Paul and Mary, or he could have opened for Jesus.

“Because we’re OLD,” shouted one of the men in the audience and we all laughed, knowing this was more of a call-and-response since nearly everyone in the theater was a baby boomer. But not old. Young baby boomers. The trailing edge. Not a one of us breaking into the chorus of “When I’m 64.”

Hippodrome at night 448jpg

In search of the perfect orange, part 1

Two days after New Year’s we flew from Allentown, Pa., to Orlando International for a tour of Central Florida’s lake district and a search for real orange juice. I carried a mangled nest of electronic devices and cords for coverage of the International Builders Show the following week. My wife had packed a half-dozen books and manuals so she could rewrite her school district’s curriculum while I worked the trade show.

One of our suitcases weighed 57 lbs., 7 lbs. over the limit. I’m not saying whose suitcase. The airline people wanted to charge us $49 in addition to the $20 fee per checked bag. We carried the books on board the plane. The flight took off at 5:43 p.m. and landed about two hours later. We got in earlier than expected but still later than we’re used to flying. Nearly another hour to take the shuttle to ground transportation, retrieve the luggage and rent the car (present your pink rental sheet to the guy in the booth on the way out). Then a nearly two-hour drive north on great black highways through low-lying country to Silver Springs, just east of Ocala.

Tuesday, Jan. 4. Explore the Ocala National Forest. Drive east on Route 314 looking for 314A and lakes but they’re harder to find than you’d think, and all of the land surrounding them is privately owned and virtually inaccessible. Drove past great stands of pine, their trunks blacked from controlled burns. Past trailers and junk yards and small houses—quite a contrast to Lido Key and St. Armand’s Circle, our destination last year. Spanish moss hung like scarves from live oak trees, palms cracking, dry leaves scudding across the pavement.

We drove down sand-covered roads with dust billowing, clouds wispy, the sun warm on our backs as we walked a pier on Lake Kerr and watched the powerboats bob at the makeshift marina next door, dogs howling in the background, a trio of orange trees dropping fat fruit on a green lawn.

We pulled off Highway 19 for lunch at the Square Meal, a small restaurant near the office for the Ocala National Forest. The Square Meal looks like a local hangout, sandwiched between a real estate office and a Laundromat. Big red Coke sign on the wall next to a rack of fish hooks. Many of the men and two girls were dressed in camo jackets and caps. Several women ordered the special—fried pork loin with white gravy. Pay at the counter on the way out, cash only.

Dinner was ordinary but good at the Outback franchise near our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express in Silver Springs, a new, clean and friendly place with complimentary breakfast. The only complaint: for the heart of the citrus industry, the orange juice was surprisingly bad, tasteless and watery. Florida supplies 40% of the world’s orange juice. Let’s hope they don’t get this stuff.

Lunch at the Square Meal

Lunch at the Square Meal

D is for dream

I picked up a collection of short stories Ray Bradbury wrote in the 1940s and 1950s, R is for Rocket, created before the dawn of the space age. An ancient paperback, its pages as brown as parchment . . . a book I’d read in high school, dreaming of the day humans would fill the vast emptiness among the stars. I haven’t read science fiction in years because the older I grow the more trite it seems, its stories filled with brave commanders of vast armies of hollow ships and mindless machines.

r_is_for_rocketAnd then I read the title story, about a 15-year-old boy and his best friend who watch the rockets blast off on their way to the moon and long for a life neither thinks he’ll ever see. And I knew at once why I’d enjoyed Bradbury as a kid: he writes with heart. He captures what people feel but can’t seem to describe, even to themselves. He writes about a boy who wants the rocket to knock the stars out of orbit and wants to be there when it does, who feels the kick of liftoff in his chest and abandonment in his soul.

“It gripped me in such a way I knew the special sickness of longing and envy and grief for lack of accomplishment,” he thinks as other men trace his dreams like the imaginary lines that form our constellations. Bradbury writes about an old man who understands the heart of a prehistoric creature called out of the depths by a fog horn on a lighthouse. About a father who can only send one family member on a trip to Mars and instead gives all of his children the gift of imagination.

As Bradbury did.

Nashville Cats

Part 5 of the Tennessee Chronicles

Friday, January 15

Up at 4:30 a.m., in the lobby at 5:30, in the car at 5:45, at Nashville International Airport at 6, board at 7, take off at 7:30. Breakfast at the Noshville Delicatessen. We sit on silver stools at a red Formica counter, a sign on the tiled wall of the kitchen reading “Today, everyone will smile, up-sale and excel!!!” We inhale the coffee.

Diner stoolsThe plane takes a slow bow and squats on the runway. As we taxi, the sun burns over the control tower, the tarmac wet from a hard frost. With a roar we sail above the glittering homes, the sinuous river, the rows of trees like box hedges surround a homestead.

As we head toward Philadelphia, the mountains turn white, the ridges like the spines of prehistoric elephants, ancient gray and wrinkled. The hills give way to potholes of ice in patchwork fields. As always when returning to Philadelphia I notice how gray it looks, the sky a scowl, the roads and buildings a smear of ash. It’s like flying back in time, or recalling a troubling dream. Below, the tanks of the oil refineries resemble handcuffs.

The flaps rise to expose hoses and nozzles and we land with a clunk and a shutter. The lights come on and the air conditioning goes off. I drag the carryon from the overhead and transfer the modern world to my pockets—cell phone, Blackberry, car keys. Down the aisle, through the jet way, down to ground transportation for the van ride to off-site parking and the two-hour drive home. More time, more coffee, more miles. Later we’ll receive an email from Karen, thanking us for making the trip one of her more enjoyable ones and listing her favorite lines from the trip. “Anything that’s breaded and served with cocktail sauce has to be good” makes it to number four.

For now, I think about the good people of Adamsville who welcomed us with a graciousness I haven’t seen in years. And the pleasure of sharing the vagaries of travel with the Fab Five. They are a decent lot.

The Adamsville family

Part 4 of the Tennessee Chronicles

Thursday, January 14

The first thing you notice about the factory is its location. Plunked down in the middle of a field, surrounded by farms and ranches, hemmed in by concrete and a few other industries, the plant consists of a two-story brick office attached to what looks like a metal factory.

The woman at the front desk is friendly and efficient, and a ringer for Courtney Cox. Upstairs in the showroom, a consultant briefs us on new initiatives that will change the business. His name is Andy and he knows more about chemistry and marketing than all of us combined. After the meeting we tour the plant—1.3 million sq. ft. under one roof. Wearing safety glasses and earplugs, we watch as green shower enclosures bob on L-shaped hooks that sweep through the factory on a overhead conveyor. A woman dressed in white pushes one into a booth and sprays it expertly with a white substance called gelcoat. Two men heat a sheet of acrylic and create a tub on a thermoforming machine. A man drills holes in a shower enclosure and installs a grab bar. Others brace the enclosures with wood and box them. The units sit row upon row in the warehouse, marching toward a door on the far wall.

Back upstairs, we break for lunch, then do our day’s major act of kindness—creating Valentine’s Day packets for the relatives of employees who are serving overseas. As I pick the name of a serviceman, I realize how much the people who work here care for their fellow workers, and their families. Such, I hope, are the benefits of living in a small town.

Tour and packages done, we exchange hugs—another pleasant surprise—and pile into the car for the ride back to Nashville: Route 22 north to Interstate-40 and a straight shot to our next destination, the Gaylord Opryland, Garth Brooks singing “Standing Outside the Fire” as the miles fly by. “So what else would you be doing?” Carlene asks and we realize she’s right: we’d be pushing paper, staring at computers, deleting email. Chances are we wouldn’t be doing acts of kindness, or experiencing them on a factory floor.

Gaylord Opyrland atriumThe Gaylord Opryland is quite a contrast to the surrounding countryside. It is a mammoth structure, a hotel and convention center with 2,100 rooms, four indoor gardens, nine restaurants for dinner, coffee shops, sports bars and shops. There are four indoor gardens: Cascades, the Garden Conservatory, Magnolia and Delta. Each consists of an atrium the size of several footfall fields, surrounded by guest rooms and topped by a glass ceiling. Each has a different theme. Cascades features fountains, palms, poinsettias and a gazebo-like bar that overlooks a waterfall.

Tonight we’re headed for hot wings at Jack Daniels and Volare for steak and chops. After dinner we walk through the gardens, 4.5 acres of tropical lush under glass complete with a river and rental boats. It reminds me of the Wynn in Vegas, without the casino, or the Mark Twain riverboat ride at Disneyworld. It’s a long way from the factory, an impression that isn’t lost on us.

Tomorrow: Nashville cats.

The long and winding road

Part 3 of the Tennessee Chronicles

Carlene loads the van with a crate of sandwiches she got at a Jersey deli and a bag of muffins the size of hubcaps. With Dinny at the wheel, the Fab Five sweeps out of the city on I-40 and when the GPS device says to turn, we head south on two-lane Route 13, a highway that rides the bare back of the ridge, with two-foot shoulders and no guardrail, reminiscent of the Skyline Drive and the Smoky Mountains. With a hand on the door Carlene, who has made this trip once before, peers into the ravine, then at the endless stands of birch. “This looks familiar,” she says, all irony intended.

An hour into the trip we stop at a store that looks like a movie-front, painted in barn red with a sign that reads “Cigarettes sold at state minimum.” We pile out of the car, eager to stretch. Inside the store we find a barrel of pickles (no tongs, Dinny notes), pigs ears, a cooler of beer and two very polite older women behind the counter. We buy a diet Sun-Drop soda for Annette and walk back across the nearly deserted gravel lot to the car. “What else would you be doing?” Carlene asks, the first of many times during the trip.

Winding roadBack on the road she turns in the front seat and reads aloud an article in AARP Bulletin about a man who travels college campuses challenging students to do a million acts of kindness in their lifetimes. That equates to 50 acts of kindness a day for 55 years. We look at each other and wonder aloud if any of us will live long enough to hit the mark. But we’re game.

We drive for another hour without seeing homes or people, passing a lone car and a dog wandering up the road, then enter a small town in Harden County. All of the homes have carports or porches that don’t extend all the way across their fronts. After two-and-a-half hours on the road we cross Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee River and turn left toward the town of Savannah, less than four miles from the Mississippi border. After a quick check-in we pile back into the car and head to a small restaurant on the main street for dinner with the crew from the factory.

The restaurant is fashionably dark, a converted clothing store with alternating black and white walls decorated with pop art. We are greeted warmly by Lisa and three others from the company. They are tolerating our tardiness and brash northern accents well. We order and settle down to shop talk. The appetizer comes—breaded crawfish tails. We pause for a moment of awed silence. Then Karen says, “Anything that’s breaded and served with cocktail sauce has to be good,” and everyone digs in.

Tomorrow: the Adamsville family.