The exchange is an innocent one, and as Tony Yaniz celebrates with the community his big 6-O; the Key West Weekly wants to share with you one of his acts of kindness, and perhaps turn you on to your next read.
After arriving on the island I bumped into Tony (at Rotary of course) and he invited me to the Coconut Beach Resort nestled next to Louie’s Backyard. There we bonded over a love of softball, books, and the fact we both excitedly yell when we’re talking.
He promised to see me on the ball field and handed over a book signed by Captain Tony Tarracino.
“Here. Read this.”
I scooted off in the summer heat. Months later, well… more close to a year later, I opened the read.
Written by Brad Manard, a school superintendent in the heart of Iowa, I was immediately hooked by what a small island the country really is! Here at the edge of the United States, a Cuban-born man hands over a book, written by a man I used to volunteer with in Iowa, a book about a New Jersey born, gun smuggling, sea captain, womanizer.
The legend is Captain Tony – a womanizing Casanova who irresponsibly fathers 13 children with eight women.
A legend whom Manard shines a ray of light upon.
Readers are educated through Manard’s interviews with Captain Tony. The former Key West mayor, charter boat captain, and owner of Captain Tony’s Saloon, is an Italian man who simply has a gift to connect with people and make them feel good.
“It’s all about the people, Tony discloses, “The best way to reconnect with yourself is to connect with others.”
A mantra Tony’s always believed, because such is the way he grew up.
An Italian in a poor neighborhood, we didn’t have any money or anything special. We only had each other. It was the best time of my life, but I learned a lot too. I learned the way we treat people defines us.
Manard, drawn into the life of the legend and the music of Jimmy Buffet, emerges from his interaction with Tarracino, possessing mo compassion he had been missing amidst the rows of Iowa corn and unending barrages of school children under his supervision. A seemingly resigned administrator in the conservative Midwest, Manard is dealt a heavy lesson perhaps many of us wish we had uncovered much earlier in life: showing compassion for others and connecting with those in our lives will provide a rich life money could never buy.
The interviews, conducted at the Greene Street saloon, Tony’s home on Key Haven, at El Siboney’s over plantains, and on the second story porch at Rick’s Upstairs, also unleash exciting elements of Key West History lived by the gun smuggling Captain, who arrived in Key West after a bet with the New Jersey mob went awry.
In the middle of the night, long after the bars had closed, and the streets had emptied, somebody’d deliver the guns. Crates of guns and ammunition dropped off in the dead of night. That’s when they’d drop off whatever it was I was to deliver to Cuba in support of Castro’s revolution. I’d hide it under the stage in the bar until I was ready to take it over.
Through the adventures and tales of Captain Tony, the stories and life lessons about compassion will re-energize and instill values in readers anywhere; a guide to living, working, and the interpersonal relationships each of us has the ability to create.
There is a jewel in every person, but sometimes it is hard to find. I believe in people… and I believe in their right to live a simple and innocent life…Why not try to help them have that?
Life Lessons of a Legend is back on the shelf at Tony Yaniz’s office at the Coconut Beach Resort, or pick up a copy at your neighborhood bookstore or library.
Author Brad Manard. Captain Tony is a man of history, a man whose story is important to know, and a man who offers many exceptional qualities as well as many flamboyant characteristics.