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It’s been oppressively hot lately and it’s only going to get worse. That’s how we know…IT’S HURRICANE SEASON!!! As a child we loved hurricanes. It meant a hotel stay and much less adult supervision. It never, ever occurred to us that we could lose our homes and our safe, sheltered lives. No. It was party time! When I look back now on those days I have to laugh. My parents would have us doing things like rolling up the Persian rugs and stacking them on the dining room table. Like that’s going to do a lot???? We lived on the water and the southern wall running the length of the house was all windows! I don’t know if any of my compatriots had shutters but I know we didn’t!! Mama would hide the silver and all but bury it in the back yard!! Mind you, she’s from Puerto Rico. Did she really think Hurricane Sherman would be coming through??!! We scurried about busily packing our necessities. As little girls we packed the essentials…scizzors, paper dolls, coloring books, favorite baby doll and a couple of books. As teens we packed a little differently. Latest fashions from Dad’s store, “The Tack Room” and ALL the make up we owned. Sometime in the still afternoon dad’s father, Grampa, would call. The afternoon before a hurricane hits is always creepy-still. Maybe because you know how the violent the winds and waters are going to get. Grampa lived a few islands away and would predictably call having a complete hissy fit. “Goddamnit, Jack. I need some help over here. I still have to go out for supplies. Where’s Tom?? Dad’s fine, long fingers would sweep over his already balding head and in a weary voice answer, “Listen, give him a few more minutes here and I’ll send him over.” Grampa always answered the same way, “Right-o”. I was lucky. Grampa, for some unknown reason, liked me. Otherwise he could be mean. Really mean. But he liked me and, face facts, it was all about me!! Tommy would drive his jeep over to Grampa’s and in his teasing, playful way say, “GRAMPA!! Hey!! What’s going on?” Grampa would just glower. “Dammit, let’s go. There’s no time!!” And Tommy would always reply, “Sure, Grampa. Where ya wanna go? Grocery store? Hardware store?” “Crown, goddamnit!! We need to get to Crown’s!” Uh. That’s Crown Liquor. Crown Liquor Store. And off they’d go to get provisions! Rum. Good rum. That’s all Grampa needed. No mixers, no ice, no nothing. Rum from the British Virgin Islands. Greater and Lesser Antilles – rum. Leeward and Windward Islands, more rum. Four or five cases later Tommy carried all the booze in and stacked it outside of Grampa’s bar closet. He would have stored it inside except the bar was packed with rum from all his travels. Pamela and I often wistfully long for the contents of that ever so magical bar. Row after row of bottles lined up neatly on self after shelf. The labels on those bottles were just magnificent! Some were rustic but beautiful in their simplicity. Others were opulent with lavish swirlies and curlicues. But they’re gone now. Pamela and I agree that Dad probably threw them out. I shudder to think. Anyway, Tommy would head back home after finishing his most important chore where we would be waiting. The house was closed and ready for the big storm. We were leaving for the safety of our hurricane shelter. Everyone we knew went to the same shelter. The Riverside Hotel. We laugh now because the Riverside is not only just a mile and half down the road from our houses but it sits directly across the street from the water!!! Well, we FELT safe! After unloading the car I’d sneak whatever alcohol I thought wouldn’t be missed and head out to see who was already there. I’d run into everybody’s parents and try as quickly as possible to wiggle away after the obligatory chit-chat. “Hi, Mrs. Doddridge. Hi, Mr. Doddridge. Just fine, thank you. And you? Yes, ma’am, they’re here. I think Daddy’s getting their drinks and then they’ll be right down. Good to see y’all, too!”, “they” being my parents. It was a HUGE hurricane party!! Cynthia would take off to find her friends. Finding Andrea we’d pool our purloined booze and settle in with our friends. It was wonderful!! Kids ran all over the place and grownups smiled and waved, catching up with each other during this spontaneous treat. One day later everyone would pack up, collect their children and make the mile and half journey back home. And a fun time was had by all!

Dad and Grampa. Hard to believe, but that land behind them is Sunrise Key!

This is a great recipe for Rum Punch. I use it through the year and always Christmas morning. It guarantees that all will get along! Feel free to change the juices to your liking. The original recipe calls for just pineapple juice but I like pineapple-mango mix. An empty plastic water jug is perfect so if you think you’re going to be making this try to remember to keep the top. Make it a day ahead of when it will be served so it has plenty of time to chill. Respect it…it WILL knock you on your ass!!

Classic Rum Punch

yield: 1 gallon

  • 1 clean, empty, plastic jug with top
  • 1 liter dark rum, more if you like
  • 1-2 cups good bourbon, I like Wild Turkey or Maker’s Mark
  • 1 46 ounce can pineapple mango juice
  • 1 15 ounce bottle Whiskey Sour mix
  • 2 ounces grenadine
  • orange juice topper, one of those single serving bottles is perfect
  1. Combine all ingredients in jug.
  2. Making sure lid is on tightly, shake well to combine.
  3. Chill overnight in refrigerator.
  4. Right before serving shake jug well.
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