Louis Roney: A bag of truffles

Turtles converge on Roney's land.

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  • | 10:17 a.m. February 27, 2013
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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• Upon rising, my b.w.’s morning ritual is to look out the bedroom window at a log on our lakeside and report to me the number of avian and turtle visitors we are enjoying at that given moment. This number can vary from zero to quite a swarm, for reasons not always clear to us human observers. One day recently there were 15 turtles up sunning themselves! And the biggest days for birds have included white and grey herons, egrets, and many, many Anhingas (a.k.a. snakebirds) drying their wings. Winter Park was well known in my boyhood as a bird sanctuary. I don’t know if that term still applies, although we do know several strange birds that come occasionally as guests to our house. 

• I remember a Georgia uncle of mine who gave me a .410 shotgun for my 14th birthday. I got good enough to locate a covey of quail, and once brought home four of them that I cleaned for an evening meal. But, my innate dislike of killing ended my exceedingly short career as a hunter. Nine years later it was my fortune to spend several years in the Navy in the South Pacific as a gunnery officer on an American destroyer escort where we were both the hunters and the hunted. 

• It is always disarmingly sad for me to see kids throwing away their teen years as though they were times of little value. I was deadly serious during my teens, with my sights already determinedly set on a scholarship to a great college, and a meaningful life thereafter. The teen years are a time when a person either stands still or begins to climb the stairway to the stars. There were no TV or video games in those days, and I was more interested in the published doings of Albert Einstein than I was in following Blondie and Dagwood. As my father was on the faculty of Rollins, Aquatic Director Fleet Peeples put a Rollins canoe at my disposal whenever I wished, and I spent much of my young life on lakes Virginia, Mizell, Osceola and Maitland, usually a casting rod nearby. Winter Park from the water is a different town, and a town worth knowing. One’s teenage years are alas, once past, lost forever. Many years later my Harvard classmate Sloan Wilson, famous author of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” and his wife Betty, whom I found to my surprise to be our Winter Park neighbors, took my b.w. and I on wonderful boat rides on our five Winter Park lakes. Remembering Winter Park as it was when I was 10 years old, and now seeing it in my 90s is an Einsteinian experience in time as a fourth dimension — nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed! It’s like standing on the foot of a moving escalator. The world has rushed by, and I am still here trying to figure out what its all about! 

• “We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” — Thomas Jefferson. It’s truly scary that the most brilliant thinkers of our nation so seldom are in decision-making positions to better our national lives. Brilliant economist Thomas Sowell says, “The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, but a reflection on us. When people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy them, and only in the short run.”

Harvard’42—Distinguished Prof, Em.—UCF 2004 Fla. Alliance for the Arts award (Assisted by beautiful wife Joy Roney)