Tuesday, 1/24/12 - Nancy Perri is the mother of my "wonderful 2nd cousins" that live in New Jersey. I met her for the first time at daughter Nancy & Howard's house at a party they threw and knew our paths must cross again. That evening at the party, I learned that her and her husband Steve live in the winter time in Fort Meyers, FL and spend the summers in their home up near Asbury Park, NJ. So when I discovered we would be in the Fort Meyer area (Puenta Gorda is only 10 miles or so North) I contacted her and we made plans to get together for lunch today.
We set the girlfriend, GPS with their address (g.f. has stopped "drinking" & seems to be doing much better finding destinations) and set off this morning with a 11 am arrival time. Fort Meyers is a great old town and we found ourselves driving by the Ford/Edison Estates again. When we arrived we discovered it was a beautiful gated community and after speaking to the "fence post lady" the gate magically opened. Of course that's when the problem started.....how do we find you Nancy & Steve? But after a few phone calls to Nancy she was waiting outside and flagged us down.
They have lived in this community for 20 some years and in 3 different residences. It is a beautiful golf and tennis community with winding lakes everywhere. They are on the second floor and have a lovely 2 bedroom 2 bath with 2 screened in porches - one in the front and one in the back. The one in the front get fabulous afternoon sun and I could see me laying on the chaise lounge all afternoon. Nancy many years ago owned a Seashell Shop in NJ (remember my new obsession with seashells) and the house is filled with them. Steve made this beautiful, very large, square coffee table that has sand in the bottom with a wonderful display of shells, covered with a heavy piece of glass. OMG it was amazing. They even moved the glass back so we could actually take the shells out and of course Nancy knows the name of each and every one. Shells were decorated everywhere, then she pulled out plastic bins of MORE shells.....I was in heaven. She even very generously gave me a plastic bag with some shells to take home.
Her husband Steve, just celebrated his 90th birthday last Wednesday and he was something else. First off we discovered that during World War II, he was in the Army and went to Fight Engineers & Air Mechanics school and completed a gunnery course. Now his job was flying in the B-17 Flying Fortress on the Delta Rebel 2 - as "the ball turret." This was a tight little "glass bubble" on the bottom of the plane and Steve maned the gun. Now to qualify for this position (why would you) you have to be small - Steve was 5'6" - 138 lbs. it was so small you worn NO parachute and NO jacket and temperature could get to be -30 degrees at 20,000ft. He had to wear thin electric overalls while in there. He said, "he wanted to fly and from the first moment, he loved it!" He was official credited with 4 hits but he claims 7. He received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and a Distinguished Flying Cross. Actually, he has those and several other metals in a frame and many wonderful pictures of his time in the service plus the incredible welcome home he received from his home town. I even got to try on his fabulous bombers jacket. Will was completely enthralled with all his stories and the copy of Yankee Wings, a magazine of the Yankee Air Force that did a wonderful article on Steve. Of course my favorite war picture of Steve was him standing with Clark Gable and his crew as C.G. flew with them while making war films that were latter used in movies.
Nancy & Steve then took us to their favorite seafood restaurant for lunch - Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grill. A great restaurant located right on the water and they gave us a table inside right on the water. Of course I am taking pictures of everything - a pelican lands on a post...I got the picture. The restaurant was huge, both upstairs & downstairs plus seating outside on both. Will ordered his favorite again...grouper sandwich (which he loved) I had a specialty fish of the house which was grilled and baked with a crust on it....need I say it was delicious. Steve had a plate of muscles - which we had never tasted so of course Will & I tried them & they also were delicious. Nancy ordered for an appetizer -Beachbread - which was a toasted french bread, with 3 cheeses and chopped tomatoes on top..unbelievably good. We had a wonderful time and words can't express how much we enjoyed ourselves today and THANK YOU to Nancy & Steve for treating us to lunch and sharing their afternoon with us. We had a wonderful time and oh if I could only go "shelling" with Nancy before I leave....I would be in heaven. Much love to you both and thank you again!
We headed home in late afternoon traffic both talking about what a wonderful day it had been and marvelling about their lives and the stories they shared with us. Another great day on this amazing year long trip. Much love to all our family and friends.