The Block Island Times

Sunny Florida

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | Feb 09, 2013
Photo by: Diane Rapp The rolling shanty, AIA, Fla.

In September '75, I left the ferry parking lot in the my rolling shanty and pointed south without  having a clue of where I was going. I remember my friend and shipmate Grant Parker, just shaking his head as the rolling shanty, a.k.a. "The Green Van" left the dock. The rig made it to Daytona, barely, and got me back 9 months later. Whew, what a winter that was in "Sunny Florida." At that time as far as I was concerned, Daytona was the like the Wild West; bikers, wanderers, motorheads, wild women, sketchy pilots and sailors resided there, as did I, on-the-cusp of vagrancy.

The rolling shanty was the most bizarre rig that cruised the beach of Daytona. I'd park this eyesore in a hotel parking at night, then drive down toward the Ponce De leon Inlet, find a good surf break, and paddle out; whattacountry huh!? One day a guy paddled over to me, and we talked about how wild it was to surf so near dolphins/porpoises. (please note that in Florida, some people actually argue about the name of this mammal) Ed was a good surfer from Maui and Huntington Beach via South Jersey. He and his wife had a great van and were probably two of the most normal people I hung with that winter.

Well, this wacky winter passed thank god, and I pointed the rolling shanty north; I had a gig on the ferry back in Point Judith. I needed to start this thing with a screwdriver heading back to Rhode Island.(More details about the screwdriver, in my book The Monkey's Fist) That May, I pulled into the ferry parking lot, parked the overheated van, and hopped on the Manitou to begin work. I sold the rolling shanty for twenty-six dollars a week later. A surfer/sailor friend Peter Maack, paid me with cash in a sock. A former student recently asked, "You drove that along the coast with that addition on it, that's so rad!" I said, "Yup, then when on to teach the youth of America." Whattacountry!

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