Like it’s older sister goodmorningfloridakeys.com and even older brother goodmorningkeywest.com, new ravings, moanings, cheerings (rare), soundings, etc. have their own voice at this here Birmingham site. You can see if there is anything new by clicking on this link, Today’s Vulcanite.
Although I mostly have lived in either Key West or up US 1 a little ways on Little Torch Key since late 2000, I was born and raised in Birmingham. In my youth, I was called “Bash” from the first four letters of my last name. Some old friends and family members still call me Bash. Some people know my family as the Golden Flake Bashinskys. The company was acquired from a Birmingham family by my grandfather Leo Bashinsky and his brother-in-law Cyrus Case just after World War II. My father was made a junior partner and smallish stockholder.
His brother, Leo Bashinsky, who would become a Birmingham pediatrian of note, also was a smallish stockholder but never worked in the business. When some years passed and my father, for whom I am named, bought the company from his father and Cyrus Case, he also bought his brother’s stock interest. After that, the company really grew. Today, though, it is shrinking.
Starting at age 14, I worked summers at Golden Flake. Didn’t care for it, but my father said it was good for me, and sometimes he said he was building the business for me. Never felt good hearing that. He often told me he wished he had gone to law school, because knowledge of the law is so important to businees. So, after graduating from Vanderbilt, not knowing what I wanted to do yet, I enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Law.
I had heard plenty of stories about Alabama law students flunking out, and the first day of class, the professor told us to look to our left and to our right, at the students who would not still be around for graduation, if we were not among them. Properly scared shitless, I applied myself like I’d never applied myself before, and I suppose I did okay, maybe top twenty percent. Might have done better if I hadn’t spent so much time playing golf, fishing, hunting and drinking beer, and sneaking off to the Keys during Christmas and spring breaks. But then, maybe doing all of that kept me from going insane and flunking out.
After graduating from law school in early 1968, having taken summer courses to graduate sooner, I spent three solid months reviewing my old class notes and the text books, having heard the same gloom and doom about the Alabama Bar Exam that I’d heard about how tough law school would be. Although I would do okay on the bar exam, I didn’t know that yet and still was mixed up about what to do, not entirley undue to my infant son having died of crib death at the beginning of my last semester in law school. Then, I seemingly miraculously landed a job clerking for United States District Judge Clarence W. Allgood in Birmingham, whose law clerk had resigned mid-way into his clerkship and had gone into the practice of law with his father. Clerking for a US District Judge was a golden opportunity for any law graduate.
Besides being a distinguished jurist, Judge Allgood was a wonderful and wise man. Although he tried to help me get my rudder straightened out, my confusion continued, and when my time with him was up, by default, against Judge Allgood’s advice, against many people’s advice, I went to work for Golden Flake. I lasted four years and nearly killed me and my father. Then, at what then was a huge leap of faith for me, I went into the private practice of law with a small firm in Birmingham. That was 1973.
I practiced twelve years, and during that time I handled a lot of different kinds of cases. Later, I came to describe my practice as “threshold law,” whatever crossed over the threshold I tried to handle. The practice of law took on a meaning to me and some of my clients perhaps not divined by my law school professors. Practice, as in practicing on clients. I had my share of goofs and sometimes I did pretty good. Birmingham lawyers didn’t like trying cases against me because I was bull-headed, didn’t like to settle and was prone to try cases involving little money on principle, which put opposing counsel in court working for peanuts compared to what working in their law office rewarded; or they worked for even less than peanuts, not feeling okay about charging their clients for having the misfortune of being sued by me for one of my clients.
In 1977, my law alma mater started up a Masters in Tax Law program, taught twice a week in Birmingham, a part-time program for practicing lawyers. I was in the first class and finished in the allotted two years with one-third or so of the surviving original lawyer students. I had hoped the tax masters would perk up my law practice, but what it perked up was my interest in getting out of the practice of law – short version of longer story.
As I matriculated toward that worthy, or unworthy, goal depending on individual perspective, it came upon me to write a book for people buying homes, based on my having closed quite a few residential transactions, including mortgages, during the first few years I was in practice. Thus was hatched Home Buyers: Lambs to the Slaughter? in 1982, as I recall. Self-published, it later was picked up by Menasha Ridge Press of North Carolina. Menasha took it to Simon & Shuster, which assigned it to its newly-aquired Prentice-Hall Division, which turned out to be the kiss of death to my dream of becoming rich and famous by my own labor. Famous, or infamous, depending on individual point of view, the book made me for a while, but not rich. Ditto for its younger sister, Selling Your Home $weet Home, and my swan song to the practice of law, Kill All the Lawyers? – A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers.
I’m not promoting those heretical (if you are a Realtor or lawyer) books, as they are out of print for years. In all, I wrote about twenty books of different sizes, tones, including non-fiction reports of my and other people’s experiences with matters not exactly of this world, novels of similar ilk, and poetry from beyond as well. How that came about perhaps is a story for another time. Suffice to say, it definitely was, and is, the road less traveled by and turned me every which a way but loose, still in progress. For example, I dreamt of starting this website for two weeks before I understood the dreams were about starting this website, is all I will say right now about where my life went after I quit practicing on law clients in late 1985. I was already drifting that direction since about 1982, but warp-jumped in 1987.
Again, that’s all you will get now about that space trip right now, although the last novel, Heavy Wait: A Strange Tale, gives some perspective. It is the only Sloan book still “in print” – through a print-to-order publisher, PublishAmerica.com. Sometimes I see Amazon carries a few copies in America and the UK. Not recommended for Christians, New Agians or Atheists, which probably rules out most people in the Birmingham area. Perhaps explains why it sold so well that I received an $11 royalty check, finally, last year, which I push-pinned onto the kitchen wall in my trailer in the woods on Little Torch Key.
That’s right, the Golden Flake crown prince lives in a 30-year-old single-wide trailer on an acre of wild land next to a state wildlife refuge, which he calls Walden and is darn happy to have. You would be, too, if you had lived some of the places I lived after the world started turning the other way in early 1987. But and again, that’s not for telling now. Maybe it’s only for telling people who live in the Florida Keys, which are a bit strange to say the least. If I lived in Birmingham and carried on like I do in the Keys, I would be locked up for everyone elses’ own good at Bryce Hospital for the Mentally Insane, or whatever it became after it was moved from Tuscaloosa.
[Eventually, I was “nudged” to tell a bit about it, which you can read in the two ships passing, psychiatry and a mystic page on this website.]
The kind of writing I might get away with if I lived in Birmingham is the little book in the menu, A Few Remarkable People I Have Known, which I retrieved electronically from the publisher the same day this website went active. That little book might have snuck up on quite a few folks. Click on its title to see the whole thing. It begins with a tribute to Judge Allgood. Meanwhile …
Some people in Birmingham and Alabama got some sense of the Keys Sloan pen when I published online my sentiments on my brother Major going missing in March 2010, and his body then being found in Highland Golf Course pond beside Highland Avenue. I wrote several times on my websites that I was sensing Major had taken himself out, before the Jefferson County Coronor and Birmingham Police Department came to the same conclusion. I wrote that because the angels who boss me around told me that is what had happened and they told me to write it, even though I wanted to do anything but write it. Eventually, I was told by my Editorial Board to put up a comprehensive report, which I made into the Major Bashinsky – Legal Schnauzer v. Bash, Jefferson County Coroner and Birmingham Police Department page on this website.
I played Highland Golf Course a few times as a lad, although most all the golf I played back then was at the Birmingham County Club, from which I resigned in 1977, as I recall. Didn’t mean anything to me anymore. Still doesn’t mean anything to me. A tiny kingdom within The Tiny Kingdom where I grew up – Mt. Brook, which doesn’t mean anything to me anymore either, other than I love the bread made from freshly-ground wheat at Big Sky Bakery on the circle in Mt. Brook Village.
As for the game that once was written (Golf in the Kingdom) is an X-ray of the soul, I seldom play today. I never know what’s going to happen when I hit a shot. It might sometimes look like God hit it, usually, though, like a creative babboon’s handiwork. By six holes I feel like dialing 911 for the medevac helicopter. Serious decline for a fellow who played 36 holes a day during summers when he was a kid, carrying his own bag. Golf was my father’s game. He was good enough to be a touring pro if he had set his mind and will to it, but he went the business and investing route and excelled there. Today, golf is the one sport I took up, which I still enjoy watching on TV, especially the major tournaments. In real life, I play golf every day, in the sense of playing each shot as it lies, counting all of my strokes, etc. Not exactly golfing in the kingdom, more like golfing in the other place hoping some day to shoot a decent round.
I also still like watching the Crimson Tide, but sometimes I have to turn the TV off and come back later to see how it went. You don’t get over your father and Paul “Bear” Bryant being close friends, at least you don’t if you are me. Ramma jamma, yella hamma, give ‘em hell, Alabama!
The Bear Jesus
You can imagine I’m nice and polite in Keys sports bars when Alabama plays Florida. At least I don’t have to worry about getting rumbled by Auburn fans down here, although there are a couple of Plains immigrants I’ve been avoiding since the disaster second half in Tuscaloosa last year (2010). Hell, Alabama should have scored 35 points the first half. Snake-bit might describe that team that should have set records never to be achieved again. Pray, I suppose, no future Alabama star becomes a Rhodes Scholar candidate, a bit distracting perhaps. An Auburn U. grad who grew up in Alabama and has lived for decades in Key West says I graduated from Bryce U. I say he graduated from Cow U and worships a buzzard. We get along okay, considering.
Like was said to start this above, this new website is somewhat different. If it interests you, share it with other people. None of this website is copyrighted. The pages are user-friendly. You can copy anything you like and paste it somewhere else, but if you quote me out of context and I learn of it, you will get tarred-and-feathered in a daily roasting. I take no advertisements. I post only comments I decide to post. I answer all non-spam comments and emails, which sometimes makes recipients happier than other times. Often I publish what people send me. Sometimes, even, I publish their names.
“It’s a good shame you don’t contain a give money press button! I’d definitely give money for this fantastic web page! That i think in the meantime i’ll be satisfied with bookmarking together with putting an individual’s Feed that will my best Msn balance. That i appearance ahead that will recent messages and definitely will promote the web site utilizing my best Facebook or twitter team.”
To which I replied:
“Well, if you feel overwhelmed to give me money, my snail mail address is Sloan Bashinsky, 1031 Grand Street, Little Torch Key, Florida 33042. I would be pleased to accept cash (US preferred, but probably can make do with Canadian and Euros through local banker buddy), personal or corporate check, money orders (US Postal work best), Western Union wire transfer, and, if you are so inclined, I can provide bank wire transfer info. If you still are holding Confederate currency and want to get rid of it, I have some friends from one of my prior lives who’d love to have it, maybe even pay me something for it.”
Now that my mind’s on this topic, gold and silver, platinum, pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, saphires, and kindred precious might work pretty good, too.