The BOOKCYCLE gives me the opportunity to meet some very interesting people. During my regular visits to downtown Lake Worth, to Lake Worth Beach & Pier and to the Saturday Green Market next to the Intracoastal, I hear languages from all over the world and meet people of all races and nationalities. The expression “You can’t judge a book by its cover” certainly applies to many of the people that I have met, and with whom I have had some unexpected conversations. On this page, I profile some of the interesting people that I have met on the BOOKCYCLE:
Rod Regan – the new proprietor of Brogues
Brogues on Lake Avenue in downtown Lake Worth has a new Kiwi-Aussie sparkle to its old Irish charms. On June 28, Rod Regan, wife Emily and daughter Tania took over the venerable Brogues-On-The-Avenue pub and restaurant at 621 Lake Avenue and, after a thorough cleaning and refurbishment from top to bottom, have reopened and renamed the downtown landmark Brogues Down Under. Rod is a native of Australia and New Zealand with a big Irish smile and Down Under charm. Emily previously operated the Bees Knees thrift shop on Lake Avenue. Daughter Tania is Brogues new “task-master”. The Regan family has lived here in South Florida for 21 years.
Rod spoke with me about the many improvements that he and his wife and daughter have made. The most important change is that Rod, Emily and Tania are on-site owner managers, personally greeting and serving customers. The most noticeable changes, in addition to the new name, are a sparkling clean appearance, new table cloths, an improved menu and 19 flat screen HD TVs. They hired a well-known and talented chef, Joseph Angelucci, winner of a 2010 People’s Choice Award. In addition to traditional Irish pub fare, Chef Angelucci prepares different nightly specials to please diners in the mood for international cuisine.
Entertainment is still a big part of Brogues appeal. In addition to the 19 large screen HD TVs for watching sporting events, from Tuesday through Saturday there is dinner music from 5:00 to 9:00 PM and live bands performing from 9:30 PM to 1:30 AM. For meetings, parties and special occasions, there is the large “Aussie Boomerang Bar” room, which can accommodate groups of 95 to 100 for table service, along with its own large bar. The outside dining area under the awning on Lake Avenue is a great place to sit, have a leisurely drink, lunch or dinner and enjoy the lively downtown street scene.
Rod says “This is a service business!” And that’s what the new Brogues delivers – good service, good food and drinks and good times! Their website provides directions, menus, a calendar of eventsand contact information. View Brogues at SouthFloridaDines.com.
Stuart Rooney has an Irish passion for Asia
Stuart Rooney combines a passion for Asian culture and art with an old Irish family business name at his shop in downtown Lake Worth. He is the proprietor of John A. Rooney Imports, located at 508 Lake Avenue. The shop’s name is an homage to the family business founded by his great grandfather in Dublin in 1845, “John A. Rooney – Engraver & Die Caster”. The Rooneys have documented their family roots in Dublin back to 1014 AD at the famous Battle of Clontarf, where the Irish decisively defeated the Vikings and ended their control of Dublin. Stuart has been a resident of West Palm Beach for 21 years, and worked as a controller at The Breakers Hotel and then as senior loan officer for a mortgage company until he decided to open his own business. The soft-spoken Rooney, with white hair, crystal blue eyes and precise Anglo-Irish accent, greets visitors to his shop from a front counter surrounded by an exotic mix of Asian merchandise.
“John A. Rooney Imports specializes in hand-picked and hand-crafted imports from around the world. Our selection of hand-carved and hand-painted furniture from India delights the senses and adds exotic and unique appeal to the comforts of home. Our sumptuous fabrics add color, richness, and texture. Clothing is loose, flowing, and cool for ease of wear and comfort. Our jewelry includes silver, bead, and semi-precious stonework from India as well as beautiful beadwork from Central America. Our housewares department includes numerous accessories to complement your dining and living areas. All items are hand-picked by me, Stuart Rooney, on buying trips around the globe. We take great pride in bringing you one-of-a-kind items at reasonable prices.” says his website.
Stuart’s passion for Asian culture and art began as a small child. “I was an army brat”, says Stuart. His father was a soldier, and took his Dutch wife and family along to exotic postings in India, Nepal, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Brunei. Stuart’s father served for decades in the famed Brigade of Gurkhas of the British Army. A childhood spent among the vivid colors and sights of Asia inspired Stuart to open his Asian import shop. He travels to the East three times per year to purchase goods for the shop, primarily from India and Malaysia.
Steve Sundberg – author of Street Logic
Recently, at Kreusler Park, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Sundberg, the author of Street Logic, a novel about the real-life challenges of the homeless on the streets of Boston: “Axel Hazzard’s beat is the street. He works with the outcasts, who stake out their spots on sidewalks, in alleys, under bridges, for reasons only they know. As they hold on to what little dignity remains for them, Hazzard struggles to accept their free will, the daily risks they take, and his own limitations. Closely observed, emotionally charged, Street Logic tells a story of homelessness in America, through the eyes of a traveled and street-smart outreach worker.”
Steve Sundberg grew up in Newark, Ohio. He graduated from Emory University in 1982. He has been a psychiatric ward attendant, a counselor with emotionally disturbed children and teenagers, and the manager of a crisis stabilization center for mentally ill adults. He worked at the Pine Street Inn Homeless Shelter in Boston as a counselor from 1986-1990, and as a street outreach worker from 2000-2005. Street Logic is based on those experiences.
You can order copies of Street Logic on-line at: http://www.bookstandpublishing.com/book_details/STREET_LOGIC
Visit Steve’s Street Logic website at: http://www.streetlogic.org
Gladys Helena Beltran Posada – artist and poet
When Gladys, a middle-age Latin American lady with two small children, approached me at the Lake Worth Pier, I assumed that she would ask me in broken English if I had any books in Spanish, which I didn’t, and that she would then walk away disappointed. Instead, she asked to browse the book bin, and selected a great hardcover cookbook “Meals That Heal”. She asked incredulously “This book is only $1.00?” When I replied “Yes…All the books are $1.00”, she gave me a big smile, and a dollar, and took the book. Then we talked about natural organic foods and their health benefits, and then about spirituality and freedom.
I gave her my BOOKCYCLE card, and told her to check out this website. Then Gladys gave me her card, which is a beautiful signed original watercolor on the front, with her email and websites addresses on the back. I was duly impressed, and asked her if she is an artist. Gladys modestly demured that she is only “trying to be an artist and poet” and is exploring her spirituality. When I got home and visited her websites, I was stunned.
Gladys Helena Beltran Posada is an exceptionally talented and accomplished woman. A native of Colombia, she has a BFA from the University of Antioquia at Medellin, and won a McKnight Fellowship in Visual Art in 2006. Gladys came to the USA in 1993 with her children. It took her several years to learn the language and to feel at home, but now, she says, “the process of growing old and the hope of growing in the spirit through my work is taking place here.” But she misses her sisters, her parents, their faces, how they change over time, their jokes and laughter: “The absence of our loved ones is a temporal death. It is horrible when you can’t hug them.” But there is freedom even in this sorrow. “As a painter it is liberating not to be with some members of my family that love me I know, but cannot understand why I have to paint. Being away I do not have to explain over and over why I have to paint–because I have to paint if I want to breathe in peace. That I have to paint because I do love to exist.” Gladys uses the pseudonym “Libertad”, which means “Freedom”.
Gladys’ artist profile page at:
Gladys’ website of her paintings and poetry:
The “Regulars” at the Downtown Lake Worth Cultural Plaza
The Downtown Cultural Plaza next to City Hall Annex is a favorite hangout for Lake Worth’s “street people”. Dense shade, provided by big Banyan trees along Lucerne Ave, and lots of places to sit and hang around provide a cool spot for the homeless and idle to congregate. The BOOKCYCLE has attracted their attention, and they occasionally ask me to stop. Some of their comments have been surprising:
One scruffy man asked me if I had any good books dealing with spirituality. The only “spiritual” book that I had in the book bin that day was the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”. When I pointed to that one, he frowned and shouted “That’s nothing but fear-based theology!” He then proceeded to recite a long list of “good” spiritual books and authors that I haven’t read, or even heard of.
A red-nosed man sitting on a bench asked to browse the book bin. “I’d like a book to read, but don’t have a dollar. When I get a dollar, I spend it on alcohol. Reading a book would probably keep me out of trouble.” I let him take a book to read. I hope that he didn’t sell it for a dollar drink.
A smart-ass downtown regular introduced himself as an IRS agent and asked if I was declaring all the income from the BOOKCYCLE. I replied that the BOOKCYCLE is definitely a not-for-profit effort.