Just off Kendall Drive, I used to stop by on my way home from work. While I knew Janet, I knew her brother, Mark, better.
The Reno kids (L-R) Mark, Janet, Maggy, and Robert
He usually camped out behind the Reno home, preferring a hut to a house. We'd sit around his campfire and share a few stories before I'd continue my drive back to the Grove.
Often he'd say, "Let's go in and tell Janny hello". We'd enter her long back porch where the former attorney general would spend most of her days.
These last few years, being in the final stages of Parkinson's disease, she could barely move or speak. Mark and I would continue, entertaining her with our yarns, jokes, or, a briefing on my latest adventures.
When cancer took Mark two years ago they gave him a wonderful going-away party. "Janny" smiled from her wheel chair, happy to be a part of it.
Janet and her mother in a Martin Luther King Day parade, 1989.
I went by less after that. Usually, it was to drop off one of my home-grown papayas which she enjoyed. Sometime I'd be invited in and spend a few minutes with Janet and her helper, along with visiting friends and family. She was always surrounded by people who loved her during those last, difficult years.
It was an honor to be invited into the Reno inner circle from time-to-time. I was incredible to have occasional quiet moments with this unassuming American hero. How many of them not only have their number in the telephone book but answer their phone as well?
Years ago I called that number. When she answered I asked her to be the grand marshal of the 2001 King Mango Strut. A few days later she agreed and asked for a ride. When we stopped by my home on Loquat Avenue she marveled, "I spent my early years here. I used to ride my tricycle down your street."
The Reno Family home in Coconut Grove in the early 40's.
What an honor it was to introduce her to the thousands attending that year's parade. She chose to walk in our procession stopping to shake the hands of many.
I created a patriotic poster for that year's event with Janet and the king leading the way.
Before she spoke to the student assembly she stopped by my art room.
If she ever said, "Donald Trump will never be elected President in my lifetime", she was right. If she were still with us and able to speak she'd reassure us that things are going to be okay.
She'd say something like, "There will always be challenges. I got through Waco, Elian, and all the other difficult times by staying positive, doing my best and doing what I thought was right.
Keep your chin up and continue to fight for truth, justice and equality".
I intend to do that and I hope you will too.
Thank you Janet Reno for being your wonderful, delightful, extraordinary self for so many years.
There will be an memorial service some time after Thanksgiving at the Kendall campus of Miami-Dade College.
Here is a link to other stories and obituaries written about Janet,
SO LONG LEONARD
Another day passes and I see another great person has left the room. I could ask, "What would Leonard Cohen Do?" but I suppose his response would be the poetic version of Janet's response.
He might just sing "Anthem". It's words include "Ring the bells that still can ring...There is a crack in everthing...that's how the light get in".
Here's a link to it,
GROVE MINI-PARK HAS PROBLEMS AGAIN
We have some amazing parks in Coconut Grove. It is also amazing how they get ripped up, fenced in, and stomped on by promoters and developers.
Last month a wrote about a small piece of public land at the east end of St. Gaudens Road. It's one of the few places that you can walk to and enjoy a breeze on Biscayne Bay.
In September a Key Biscayne developer, Isaac Perez, put up razor wire next to it to protect his empty 8-acres next to it.
It took two months of protests but the fence finally came down. The bad news is that Perez is at it again. He doubled the size of our little park on his own by putting grass sod on the road leading up to it.
St. Gaudens Road went another forty yards last week. Now there are soggy chunks of grass on top of it.
Here's where the grass begins to cover up the blacktop (everything's wet because of a water leak).
He has also planted areca palms that will, when grown, blot out what space people have to enjoy the space. It's an awful design with no regard for space, scale, variety, or sight-lines.
Newly planted half-tree with areca palms lining the wall behind it.
For years the street began at the metal barrier and headed west. Now its covered with soon-to-die grass and trees.
This mess should not have happened.
Did the City even know about it? Its parks department suppose to design, create, and maintain public parks. Mr. Perez, doing it on his own, might have meant well but...who places chunks of grass on asphalt expecting it to grow?
Come see the craziness yourself. The grass is gasping for life in the South Grove where St. Gaudens meets the bay.