Friday, November 7, 2008

Captain Tony: A Living Legend Passes On

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News item: Anthony "Captain Tony" Tarracino, "Mayor Emeritus" of the city of Key West, charter boat captain, saloon owner and visionary character who brought world attention to Key West, died Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008, at the age of 92.

About two years ago I walked into an Office Depot store and was surprised to see Captain Tony standing at a copy machine, busily making copies of something. I asked him what he was up to.

“Just printing some pictures of my 90th birthday party last week. I’m glad I saw you. Here, take one.”

Like any successful politician, Tony acted like he knew you even if he didn’t. (I had met him many times, going back to the 70's, but then so had thousands and thousands of other people.) Tony had something more than the knack of remembering faces, though. He had the gift, when he talked to you, of making you think that you were the only other person in the world that mattered.

For all his fabled exploits--gun-runner, bar owner, fishing guide--with his rare ability he would have been a success at anything he tried. He could have sold refrigerators to Eskimos, if he’d wanted, and make them glad he did it. If we could somehow bottle that knack of his, and spread it around, the world would definitely be a better place (and a lot more fun.)

Much has been said and more will be said about Captain Tony. Tony himself would probably admit a lot of it is just “b.s.” The simple fact is, he was a really nice man, and he had a great time. We should all do so well, before moving on to that Great Dog Track in the sky.