This is the time of year when I remember so fondly a customer of mine, Roberta, who had much adversity in her life (a kidney transplant for one). The first time I met her was just after her transplant when she wasn't allowed to drive. She arrived at Needle Nicely in a taxi cab (in those days a real rarity in Vero Beach!) that she had wait for over an hour while she shopped. Over the years we got to know each other better and she was one of the people who showed up to help Needle Nicely settle into our new location after Hurricane Wanda relocated us so abruptly. I can still remember Roberta sorting through the hundreds of skeins of silk 'n ivory (that we had thrown in black trash bags to get them out of the water-soaked Royal Palm location). She managed it with a smile and a wise-crack.
We encouraged each other to gamble on the Triple Crown races. It was easy to do in the years when the jai alai facility south of Vero in Ft Pierce offered off-the-track betting. Though we were never comfortable entering or leaving the facility. In entering, we felt that everyone knew we had money to bet; when we came after the race, everyone knew we were winners, so we felt vulnerable when we walked quickly to our car. But the real fun was talking among ourselves about the horses and the betting combinations available.
One year the jai alai facility was closed, so we had to go north to the dog tracks in Melbourne. It was about a month after a bad forest fire in this area of Florida and as we drove up US#1 we could see burned trees on both sides of the highway. It gave you a creepy feeling about what might have happened if they hadn't succeeded in putting the fire out.
She would have had a field day betting on last week's Belmont, boxing the favorite with other horses to try to make a payday. Everybody knows you can't make money on betting the favorite straight up!
Really miss you, Roberta, but hope you watched the race from where you are.
I'm slowly making progress on my Clara Wells purse. Chug, chug!