Writing Challenge: day 30

US Naval Station Key West, Florida circa 1950

US Naval Station
Key West, Florida
circa 1950

Today was mostly a ditto of yesterday as part of day 5 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge. I worked on the map of the Naval Station and did some research on the house my parents lived in, 2405 Staples Avenue. Not sure if it is still there or not. Street view only shows a bunch of vegetation. The house is step back from the road. The real estate websites general descriptions fit for it but they say it was built in 1958 and one of them said it was a single story. I’m doubting the accuracy though. The satellite view wasn’t any help either. My guess is that it is still there. I had trouble focusing today but at least I did something to move in the right direction.

Writing Challenge: day 29

US Naval Station Key West, Florida circa 1950

US Naval Station
Key West, Florida
circa 1950

Today I spent my time working on printing enlarged maps as part of day 5 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge. I got them printed out 13″ x 19″ and added a little color for the water and cleaned up some of the writing on the Naval Station map. I also expanded some of the streets and want to included more of the streets. I still need to talk to my Dad and place all the pertinent places in his story. I’m kind of excited with the idea of getting myself oriented to Key West and my Dad’s life there in the 50’s. I’ll share the map when I get it finished.

Key West, Florida circa 1950

Key West, Florida
circa 1950

Writing Challenge: day 28

US Naval Station Key West, Florida circa 1950

US Naval Station
Key West, Florida
circa 1950

Continuing on with day 5 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge. As I read Lynn’s assignment for day 5, I realized once again how much I still don’t know about my Dad’s experience in Key West. Lynn suggests picking a primary scene in my story and after creating a list of details from the scene, create a detailed drawing of the setting. I can see why this is a great exercise. How can you write in specifics about something unless you can really see it at least in your mind’s eye. Details is what makes things come alive and be interesting to the reader.

I don’t have a good grasp on any of the scenes in this story. I made a list of possible scenes in the story:

  • mess hall
  • barracks
  • exercise field
  • locker room
  • swimming pool
  • class room
  • office
  • equipment room
  • boats
  • beach
  • demolition island
  • dock
  • ascent tank
  • diving bell
  • front of the school

A few of these I have photos of which help but I feel like I really need to understand the layout of the base and of Key West. I did some more research and stumbled upon a booklet called “The United States navy and the City of Key West, Florida” published by the Navy in about 1950. There is no date in the booklet but it talks about dates in 1949 and Truman is still President. Plus along with the digitized copy of the booklet was a letter written in 1953 which mentions that the booklet might be out of date. It has two maps, one of Key West and one of the Base. While the details could be better, I’m hoping with my Dad’s help, I’ll be able to orient myself and use these maps as references as I write.

I really want to get writing at least one story. I’m thinking of fleshing out the mile run story since I have some of my Dad’s own words about the story. Having a map of Key West will help me figure out a probable route that they ran. The booklet also list a bunch of stores and their addresses. I’m thinking that I can plug those into the map as well. Onward I go. At a snail’s pace maybe, but onward anyway.

Key West, Florida circa 1950

Key West, Florida
circa 1950

Writing Challenge: day 27

pool at the Underwater Swimmer School circa 1954

pool at the Underwater Swimmer School circa 1954

On my second day of day 5 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge, I moved on to the next two areas to find details in your stories’ setting. They are senses and dress. For an exercise I decided to pick a scene and list things I imagined would be there. I picked the first day the students get into the swimming pool. Here is what I wrote:

2 – Senses

Sights: clear blue sky, bright sun, flat horizon, water on the cement deck, slightly nervous men, calm water of the empty pool, low single story building with high square windows the wide flat trim and a deep overhanging roof with thin metal polls supporting it painted in white, two shaped metal bars where the ladder to get into the pool is, surrounding buildings; three-story building with uniform windows, a large grass area with huge banks of lights, shade area made by a simple roof with thick white post along one side of the pool, some benches.

Sounds: honking cars, gurgle of the pool drains, nervous shuffling of a few feet, deep authoritative voice of the instructor, thud of equipment bumping against body parts, the splash as the first student steps off into the pool in full gear.

Smells: chlorine, wet cement, nervous sweat, salt on the breeze

Taste: salty sweat, chemical clean on the mouth piece

Feel: the rough surface of the cement deck on bare feet, the solid weight of the air tanks, the feel of the regulator in your mouth, anticipation of what temperature the water will be, butterflies in the pit of your stomach

3 – Dress

Basic swimming trunks of khaki fabric with clinching belt-like contraption in the front to adjust the fit. One instructors wearing simple hat with a bill in the front. Air tanks, face mask, hoses and mouthpiece with regulator, stiff rubber flippers

Writing Challenge: day 26

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Moving on to day 5 of the Armchair Genealogist‘s writing challenge! Today’s focus on the details of the setting for the story. There always seems to be more research to do. This is an ongoing learning experience. Lynn list 9 areas of opportunity to add setting details. The first one is history. This includes world, regional and local events. As I reviewed some of my earlier historical data, I noticed that Roger Bannister’s sub-four minute mile was in 1954. I wonder if there is a connection between that and the story I shared last week of some of my Dad’s coworkers and running a mile course.

Finding local Key West history for 1954 to 1957 has been more challenging but I’m gradually adding to my knowledge and understanding. It is good to have a string on days completing my challenge goals behind me again. Onward, I go. I may be slow but I am moving. I can see that Day 5 is going to take me a while to get through.