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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 15

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I worked in a bank on Normandy Isle on Miami Beach, Dade Savings a small branch.  We were cross trained as teller’s/new accounts CD’s and other aspects of banking.  Just 7 staff total including one armed guard which did not help the day we were robbed at gunpoint. I hated the job but loved the interaction with customers and my co-workers.  We were like a little family. The benefits were good and George thought I could make a career of it when they offered to train me for manager. But soon realized this was not for me and so I started my own business buying close-out merchandise and selling it at flea markets.

I sold shoes, books and then Toys. I did well with the toy’s demonstrating and putting on quite a show at Gulfstream racetrack and Thunderbird swap meet. I drove a big van; up at 5 am and off to swap meets in the dark. I also burned to a crisp in the hot sun despite awnings; umbrellas and sun screen. My Lilly white skin could not take it, so I moved to indoor market in one of highest crime areas. Business was good but after my car was stolen, my purse then followed up with my house broken in too and a fire bomb was thrown into bathroom as armed robbers stormed in to jewelry booth next to me. I decided that this was probably not the place to be.

Oh what is a woman to do, here I am in the land of opportunity and I still don’t know what I want to do now that I was all grown up. Then a lady, in my neighborhood, asked if I could help  her out with shopping and driving her to doctors and before I knew it I had a nice group of elderly people and their families who did not live here all year round to help them with every day needs. So I had a little work and George was, as always working 2 jobs and taking care of me and all the bills.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 14

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part 14

We got married on Valentine’s Day February 14, 1981 on Miami Beach at a small bar in a hotel owned by a friend.  It was all decorated with hearts and flowers. The wedding ceremony was right there on the dance floor in the bar. A friend and co-worker of George’s who was a minister performed the ceremony and George’s son George junior was our best man.

We left the next day for Philadelphia where we spent 2 weeks meeting George’s family in Doylestown, Rhode Island and New Bedford. We went to Valley Forge and New York. I was made very welcome even though they were shocked to suddenly meet me the NEW WIFE.

When they did not even know George was divorced. His family wonderful people mostly Portuguese people who seemed to be so glad to see as they said George so happy for the first time in many years. I got to meet his brothers and their family. I was made to feel like I was welcome to his family even though I know they perhaps had their doubts about the marriage being able to succeed.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 13

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I had the best date ever with George, I talked a lot, he listened a lot, we ate I drank a lot.  George did not drink never drank in his life but he sure got me many doubles. I felt well taken care of, like I had a made a great friend, but not in a romantic way. We went out almost every day after that, he would drive me everywhere back and forth to work and spend many nights sitting with me in the bars on Miami Beach at night after we closed the restaurant.

Even though George did not drink or smoke and I did both, he seemed happy just to be with me. I did not feel this was a serious relationship at that point. I started to date other guy’s and tried to push George away. I did not see a future with him at that time, even though he was in love with me. Just the age difference, the end of his 28 year marriage, the 6 children and grandchildren oh and did I tell you his oldest daughter and I are the same age.

Nevertheless, I had grown to care for him but was dating other guy’s and trying to make a life for myself. George had helped me move out of my friend’s house and get my own apartment before I had stopped seeing him. He had driven me to and from work and just really helped me so much as I had nothing and no one and was so lost.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now Part 12

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part 12

I cannot go in to too many details of the next couple of months on the grounds that it may incriminate me and others who went out on a limb to help me stay here and work and make money to survive. But I can tell you I did get a job that was created especially for me as a hostess at the International House of Pancakes aka (I.H.O.P.) on Miami Beach.

There had never been a hostess before, but at that time Freddie Laker was flying the Brit’s in by the thousands for such a low price that every day working folks who had never traveled outside of Great Britain before were taking advantage of this deal. Coming here on package deal which brought them to the hotels such as the Carillon and included a bus trip 2 days Disney world. Most of them stayed in the hotel and walked across the street to our restaurant every night for dinner, went to Disney on the bus got severe sun burn and heat sickness and returned home, with the blisters and story to tell of their trip to the United States Of America.

The line outside our I.H.O.P. every night went down the street, I used to go up and down the line with glasses of cold water for everyone and sing and dance and have fun with my fellow countrymen as they waited in line or in the Queue, as we say. They were happy and appreciated me as someone from back home, able to make them feel welcome. Some of them actually lived one street away from my sisters and knew them .Anyway I made very little money and no tips, but I got free food and was eventually made night manager closing the place at night and partying in the bars across the street till morning.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 11

 

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part 11

I went in a hotel bar on Indian Creek Drive asking for work anything to make some money. When I met the pool and maintenance guy and told him my situation he offered to help me.  I could stay in a cabana and put out the sun beds at the pool.  I was also to give out and launder the towels.  He would feed me and hide me and keep me there till I got money from home.

I had to get out of that apartment with those guys. I went by my gut instincts about this guy.  So I let him come and get me and my stuff out of there that day. I move in to the cabana. He made a bed up with clean sheets, brought me a big meal and showed me the ropes of what I would be doing in the morning. He said good night and left.

I walked outside and sat at the water’s edge, the moon was huge and so bright against the black sky.  The breeze rustled through the palm trees, I thought this was the most beautiful place on earth.  I think it was in that moment that I fell in love with this place and could not imagine going back to England. That feeling did change when in the night I had my first experience with the dreaded palmetto bugs. I saw something crawling across the floor and I was in shock. I had never seen a bug so huge, so horrifying and then as I threw my shoe at it I could not believe my eyes as it started to FLY I mean it was Flying are you kidding me that is like the worst thing you can imagine in your worst nightmare .I know they say everything is bigger and better in America but this is ridiculous, get me on the first plane out of here I did not think I could live in Florida with these creatures.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 10

 

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part 10

I arrived on Miami Beach at the address on Harding Avenue at around 9 PM. I knocked on the door but no one was there, what could I do? I did not know anyone or anywhere else to go.  So I had the taxi take me to the Carrolton Hotel, which I knew was close by and wait in the lobby where I would be safe, till I could decide what to do.

 I was exhausted and scared as I walked in through the hotel entrance but tried to look and act like a tourist who was waiting for someone before booking in. I sat in the lobby for what seemed like an eternity, probably about an hour, with only about $30.00 left in my pocket.  I started to walk from the hotel back to the apartment. I knocked on the door still no answer I banged very hard as I became more desperate by the second and suddenly a light came on and the door opened.

He was friendly and welcoming and said he worked shifts as a waiter. He had just got home and gone to bed. He knew I was coming but no idea when I would arrive. I apologized for disturbing him. The flat was sparsely furnished he and roommate worked split shifts sharing apartment. He threw me a pillow and blanket said I could sleep on couch no problem. I lay on the couch fully clothed and stared at the ceiling all night.  In the morning the guys showered dressed and got read for their waiter jobs. I was told to make myself at home, they were not home much. They ate at work and often worked nights and split shifts so just I come and go as I please.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 9

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part 9

So we went to Disney world, we were typical British tourists walking, dehydrated, sun burned lobsters, dying from heat exhaustion on our quest to see Mickey mouse and the Magic Kingdom at any cost. Then we were unceremoniously thrown back on the bus and driven back to our hotel on Miami Beach. Where we had to get ready to pack and return to Jolly Old.  I did not want to go back, I decided in that moment, I could not leave this Paradise and return to England to my miserable life to the home I no longer shared with my husband.  I did not want to return to the depressing job, to my family’s endless craziness and to taking care of everyone.

My Mum threw a fit she was not getting on the plane without me. She could not fly home alone, she was terrified of the flight and anyway I had no money, no job, no papers, nowhere to live.  Was I crazy I had to go back?

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 8

 

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part 8

So we walked in to the Forge restaurant and it was lovely inside.  We were ushered to our table and my Mum ordered drinks. She started drinking and I was very nervous as she would behave badly when drinking and this was such a classy restaurant. I was afraid she would end up embarrassing us both or we might be escorted out. Needless to say, we did have a wonderful dinner till all of a sudden my mum got up to go the lady’s room.  She was gone for a long time and I started to think she was maybe at the bar. I was about to go get her when she came towards me almost dragging a gentlemen by the arm and talking very loud.  Everyone heard her saying she wanted him to meet her friend, meaning me (whom she never introduced as her daughter). He was a tall distinguished looking gentlemen nicely dressed and he looked to be somewhere in his late 40s.

I assumed mum was trying to pick him up for herself, so I put on a brave face and tried help rescue him from her clutches. I shook his hand as he introduced himself as Art.  I noticed he had lovely kind eyes and I felt sorry for his being dragged over to our table like this.  Apparently, she had spoken to him on her way to the powder room and told him a story of our coming on holiday. She also told some stuff about me and she wanted to introduce him to me. OH My God, I did not know what to say or where to look.  So we sat together and he ordered more wine and we talked and talked and talked.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 7

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Back in St Annes with my family so wonderful to be with my sisters and brothers working and staying at home with my mum and her new husband Stanley a retired income tax inspector and lifelong bachelor with no children my mum managed to snag him up and he yes he married her.

I was working different jobs I would like them for a while then get bored and move on to something else still did not know what I wanted to do when I grow up. Just to give you an idea in those years I was a Texaco girl pumping gas, a window dresser, retail jewelry,clothing,groceries store cashier. Office workshop stint at Premium Bonds filling all day.

Took as many ballroom classes and social dance as I could and tried to learn the guitar, during this time.Then I got a job working in a Council home for the elderly, and I loved it .Started out as a n attendant bathing feeding and general care of elderly bed patients and worked my way up in a shot time to assistant matron at age 22.

Met my first husband Jim Shenton tall dark handsome charming guy, who I fell madly in love with though he was 9 years my senior was previously married and had children.We bought a little house in Black pool and I got a job close to my house in a bigger nursing home for the blind. I loved my job and loved taking care of the elderly, I was strict with my staff and devoted to my resident’s, we had our own mortuary and in those day’s we let people die peacefully in our home not in the hospital whenever possible so we pretty much did everything we could for them to have dignity and peace in passing.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 6

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part 6

Now here I was in Hull and my dad coming and going on the fishing trawlers gone for weeks and home drunk and crazy for a week or 10 days then back to the ship. A life of hell I had a good job that I really liked as a cashier in the canteen of a government training center,but other than my job I had no life no friends of my own age, no music no dancing, and was trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with my dad.

Every time I wanted to leave he would threaten to commit suicide and I really thought he would do it and felt trapped I wanted to leave but was afraid he would die if I left. I could not date or have any friends he would scare them away and was destroying my spirit. I hit rock bottom and had a nervous breakdown.

I was 18 years old and woke up in a hospital my wrists bandaged up and in the bed next to me a very pretty young women was ranting and raving her screams pain and anguish of her life told for hours in the darkness of the night . I listened to her words and felt her pain and realized that I did not want to be her.

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