Page 12

Recognition at The Blue Moon


ot all that long ago I was in Tampa at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club for a presentation by the president of US SAILING, Gary Jobson. Jobson travels some about the country, talking about sailing’s interesting past and the yachtsmen who peopled it and also about where sailing may be 30 years from now. I had some idle time during the cocktail hour, so I looked at the many pictures on the inside walls of the attractively decorated clubhouse. As many of us who sail know, the framed, matted pictures of commodores of yacht clubs are traditionally displayed within the clubhouses. However, I noticed that at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club there was a group photo of all the wives of the various commodores. There was disparity in ages among the group, and I am certain that some of the wives were not represented, as they had passed on. Still, it was nice to see. Several weeks back, when I was talking with Doobie at The Blue Moon Bar, I mentioned, simply in passing, the novelty of seeing a group picture of commodores’ wives displayed in Tampa. The Blue Moon is the local haunt of famous liveaboard, live-alone sailor Bubba Whartz. Doobie responded that women don’t often get the recognition they deserve. And then she said, “And I am going to do something about it.” I should have known from her response that I might have opened Pandora’s box, so to speak. Doobie, I have come to comprehend over the years, is not given to making statements she has no plans of backing up. The next time I came into The Blue Moon Bar, on what had formerly been a blank wall coated a grayish brown from tobacco smoke, I saw three framed pictures of women. I didn’t go over to look at them immediately; rather, I sat on a bar stool next to Bubba Whartz, who himself was having a cold one. Once I had gotten my suds from Doobie, I asked her, “What’s with the new pictures?” “That’s Doobie’s shrine to the eternal perfidy of men,” Bubba belched. Doobie was more refined in her explanation. “Those are the immediately verifiable beginnings of a wall of recognition to a group of women who served well in the


May 2011


yachting milieu but who never received the recognition they deserved. Their pictures have never graced the interior of the area’s yacht clubs, and they never will. So I decided to honor them right here, in The Blue Moon Bar.” “Who are they?” I asked. “Those women were at one time the mistresses of yacht club commodores while those commodores were in office,” explained Doobie. “You’re kidding,” I gasped. “Not in the least,” Doobie smiled. “Have a look.” I did as I was bid, taking my beer with me so that Bubba wouldn’t finish it while I was not watching. I looked at the first of the three pictures, which were all at the same level, in a row, and richly matted and framed. Doobie had installed track lighting in The Blue Moon Bar’s ceiling and the photos appeared nicely illuminated. The first picture I viewed was of an exotic dancer, I would assume. She was lying on her back on a stage of some sort with lots of money tucked into the elastic of the glittery waistband she had on. She was wearing a white unitard that fit her like a second skin, leaving little to imagine under that fabric. Even more dramatic was the fact that she had both of her feet, clad in white high-heeled shoes, locked behind her head. I have never met a woman who could do that kind of athletic stunt, but I have always wanted to. The framed photo had a cutout in the ivory-colored outer mat—there were several layers—and inside the cutout were just two words penned in by a calligrapher. One was Charlotte. The other was Tampa. I turned to Doobie, whom I could not see at the time but knew was behind the bar someplace and asked, “Why are there no last names here?” Though I still didn’t see her, I heard her say to Bubba, “What did he say?” “He said he wants another beer, and I’ll have one, too. Put it on his tab,” Bubba replied. I’ll tell you that it’s hard to stay a step ahead of a man who still sails a ferro-cement sloop he made himself and also a boat that serves as his home when it comes to paying for beers I do not drink. I know the meaning of playing catch-up ball. I tarried to look at the other two pictures. After Charlotte, the next one I viewed appeared as if it had come from the pages of an old Vanity Fair magazine. It was a sepia-toned photograph of an attractive young woman in a dress that may have been from the 1920s. The woman was standing on a hillside near the sea and the breeze from the ocean tossed the folds of her dress back against her body and blew her hair from her face. She was young, blonde and winsome. The same type of calligraphy identified her as Andrea. Then there was the location: St. Petersburg. The third photo differed from its predecessors in that the woman wore a uniform and a military-type cap. The identification brass she wore on her shirt collar had the joined letters of WVSC, all in capitals. I may be one of the few people alive who knows what that stood for; it was the