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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

Thank You And Good Wishes

This column is devoted to current events in their historical context, but you know that I can get personal, too.  This is one of those times.  My emotional self wants to put some things in print about the memorial for my late husband that my daughter and I held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.  I was especially heartened by the strength of family, as almost two dozen kinfolks came from out of state.  All but one were younger than I, and I felt complimented by this attention from young people. 


The only exception was my Georgia brother-in-law who will be 90 in November.  He was an Army pilot, flying both planes and helicopters on dangerous assignments in Vietnam and elsewhere.  His son, also now a retired Army major, did an excellent job as master of ceremonies, and other family members spoke, sang, greeted guests, and helped in other ways.  They all enjoyed their time in Tampa:  a niece from Texas waxed particularly enthusiastic about the Columbia, and a nephew from Alabama told everyone about the Plant Museum.


Locally, I want to thank Kathy Betancourt, who did a wonderful job of summarizing Hubby's roles with United Faculty of Florida and with the University of South Florida.  As the lobbyist for the Classroom Teachers Association and later for USF, Kathy worked with Hubby for decades, and she combined her political astuteness with her great sense of humor to make a delightful eulogy.  It brought back memories of the days when the legislature passed Florida's first collective bargaining bill, as well as our fight for the Equal Rights Amendment.


Our mutual friend Jan Roberts couldn't be there, but she sent a video that focused on Hubby's adventurous spirit.  They both loved sailing and did a regatta to Key West on Jan's boat; Hubby also joined the crew of a three-mast, ten-sail schooner and sailed from Miami to Norfolk.  Jan is past 80, but she currently is out in her hybrid vehicle interviewing people across the nation about creative community projects.  She reminisced about Hubby's similar wanderings, especially his coast-to-coast trip in one of his sports cars.  His self-imposed rules were that he would use no four-lane highways nor maps.  He ended up going from Los Angeles to Tampa by way of Illinois, where he found a two-lane bridge over the Mississippi.  To head south without using a four-lane road, he drove atop the river's levee.


I also want to thank Bob Welker, a professor in the College of Business who spoke for the United Faculty of Florida and is USF's longest-time donor.  Bob also is a lawyer, and when Hubby was president of UFF, Bob provided him with lots of legal advice.  Plant City's Ed Dees is a retired ironworker who represented the Central Labor Council, and his Southern accent proved very popular.  A friend in Birmingham who watched on U-Tube (you can, too) called to say how much she enjoyed Ed – even though I think she is a Republican, and Ed ended his speech with "God bless the Democratic Party!"


Speaking of good Democrats, I was thrilled that retired prosecutor and federal Judge EJ Salcines attended, despite having to use a cane these days.  EJ mentored hundreds of Tampa lawyers, and we share an interest in Florida history.  Lu Dovi came despite her 98 years of age; I plan to write more about her soon, when a historical marker will be dedicated to her great-great grandparents.  Former Congressman Jim Davis also honored us with his presence and volunteered kind words about Hubby.  Jim was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2008, and Florida would be a better place had he won.  Finally, thanks to Mickey Castor for writing in this space last week.  It was a great relief not to have to think about a deadline when I had a bunch of out-of-town visitors, and I really appreciate that -- and so many of you!




         The younger of my two brothers-in-law sang the closing song at Hubby's memorial, "Let There Be Peace on Earth."  The lyrics begin with a commitment that "peace begin with me" and that our "eternal guide" should be to "live in peace and harmony."  It was perfect for a man whose last book was titled "World Peace and the Human Family."  In thinking about it later, I realized that I only became aware of this hymn fairly recently.  Instead, the popular ones of my youth were "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."  A point worth pondering.


         Brothers-in-law.  I've mentioned two.  One is Hubby's brother, and the other is my late sister's husband.  A third version that I did not use, but which is valid, is the spouse of your spouse's sibling.  English has thousands of duplicate words, so why do we limit ourselves to these less-than-clear ones?  Is it because of a reluctance think about relationships?  Do other languages have more words for in-laws?  If you know, please let me know.


         Also sort of speaking-of-which, I've been asked if I am kin to the new chairman of the USF Board of Trustees, Will Weatherford.  The answer is no.  I think we may have met back in the eighties, when he would have been a child.  With help from my mother-in-law, the Weatherford Family Association organized a reunion in the Smoky Mountains.  It was primarily to honor Willis Weatherford, a white Southerner who led efforts to improve race relations in the early twentieth century, long before the "woke" culture.  He also was a founder of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, which remains one of very few where students can pay their tuition by working for the school.  Unlike Will and his brother, FSU star Drew Weatherford, Willis did not promote football.


         And that reminds me that Dr. Susan Turner recently hosted a retirement party for her husband, Dr. John Belohlavek of the USF Department of History.  He arrived in the early 1970s, about the same time as Hubby and I did, and the university's aims then were quite different from what they have become.  Almost immediately upon greeting me at the party, John said that his specialty – America in the mid-nineteenth century – would not be replaced, nor would the position long held by Dr. Ray Arsenault on the St. Pete campus.  Ray is internationally famous for his work on the civil rights movement and especially the Freedom Riders, but apparently it's more important to fund a football stadium. 


Btw, you can buy their books on Amazon.  My favorite of John's is "Patriots, Prostitutes, and Spies," which uncovers the important roles of women on both sides of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.  Ray's official title is "the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History" – and if you don't know who John Hope Franklin was, please look him up.  To me, it is nearly criminal that these two men, who brought international distinction to USF, will not be replaced.  Bread and circuses, anyone?




·      By eating there recently, I discovered that the Columbia Restaurant is donating 5% of their receipts during September to local non-profits, and you can choose where you want your money to go by checking off a box.  I chose Bay Area Legal Services, which was founded by the late Judge Don Castor to provide legal services for the many people who cannot afford a seat at the table of justice.  Dine and give!

·      According to a recent report from the Treasury Department, the top 1% of Americans have failed to pay more than $160 billion in annual taxes during recent years.  And yet the IRS spent money on employees who twice audited Hubby and me.  I'm still paying off a bill that I never agreed was owed, but it became such a pain that I decided to acquiesce.

·      Australia recently relaxed its strict COVID lockdown to allow delivery of six beers and one bottle of wine per household per day.  That's Australia, the equivalent of our Wild West in the nineteenth century.  It's not Austria, which a strict monarchy then and later was filled with fervent Nazis.  And then there's Asturias, home to many Tampans of Spanish descendant.  Are we teaching such geography and history?  I fear that whether or not kids learn these things is left more and more to chance.

·      You can deposit a check – real money, even lots of it – by phone without concerns about fraud, but many states still insist that you stand in line to cast a vote.




·      "Fed Officials' Trading Creates an Outcry" – Using the present tense, this headline doesn't offer a clue to the fact that these guys on the Dallas board of the Federal Reserve were appointed by Republican Donald Trump.

·      "Editor Trump Pardoned is Charged With Spying on Wife" – Trump nominated this guy to the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities because of his credentials as the editor of a rightwing paper and a speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani. He wasn't confirmed when vetting revealed maltreatment of his wife.  My question is why this headline now?  Why not prior to last year's election?

·      Not a headline, but deep down in a too-complex story about financial regulation comes this quote from expert Saule Omarova:  "Banks and investors make all the decisions.  The public is consulted only when something goes wrong."  A native of Kazakhstan, Ms. Omarova added, "We suddenly become the janitor.  We're never allowed to sit at the table when decisions are made."


doris@dweatherford .com

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