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Nephew of the Week: Bryan Heckard

This University of Tampa student is always busy with a big smile! When he’s not studying, you will find Bryan at Hamburger Mary’s in GaYBOR.dishing_1 copy


You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

One very hot summer day, we were going to our annual family reunion in Hastings, Nebraska. We landed in Omaha and rented a car from a big national car company. Carrie was driving and our Florida sister, Yvonne and our niece, Natalie, were also in the car. Driving down a long stretch of state road with cornfields lining the way, we were in the middle of nowhere. The temperatures all week had been in the 107-112 degree range and this day was no different. It was blistering hot! But we were on a mission to go to Lebanon, Kansas over the state line to visit the geographical center of the United States.

Suddenly we noticed a police car with lights flashing, traveling at a high speed in the rearview mirror. Carrie pulled over on this narrow two-lane road to let him pass. Surprisingly he stopped right behind our car. We all were shocked and bewildered! We hadn’t noticed even another car for over 20 miles on this road. The officer walked up to the car with his hand on his gun.

He shouted, “Get out of the car with your hands visible!” The next thing we knew Carrie was handcuffed. The officer looked at all of us with a squinted eye. Then the officer told us that this car had been reported stolen by the rental company. We laughed and showed him the rental papers. This mean Cornhusker cop was not amused and made Carrie sit in the back of his police cruiser for over two hours in the very hot 110-degree Nebraska sun. We just sat in the car. We thought it might be a Nebraska “Book ’em, Dano” experience. My darling sister wanted a bottled water that was in a cooler in the trunk. My niece thought and advised her mother otherwise!

He had to have the rental company verify the car was not indeed stolen. Not only was the car reported stolen from St. Louis, Missouri, but the vehicle we were driving had the wrong license tags on it. OMG!

He was nice enough to let us keep the supposedly stolen vehicle until we went back to the Omaha Airport in two days. And sure enough, they had a tow truck waiting to take the car away on our arrival.

When we got back to Tampa, we called the car rental company and told them what had happened. They just laughed and said, “This happens all the time.”

We have never used this big name car company again. NOT FUNNY! NOT FUNNY!

R.I.P. Helen Chavez

The always outspoken Helen Chavez passed away in Tampa this week at the age of 89.  Serving her community on the Tampa City Council from 1979 – 1987, she fought for women’s rights, Tampa historic preservation, and she was an early advocate of GLBT equality even though she was a Republican! She was famous for being a critic of ‘ shirtless men’ at the Buccaneer football games, calling the shirtless ‘primitive’.

She was also the owner of the popular, “Chavez at the Royal ” restaurant, which we had visited often on South Howard Avenue, and ‘Tea Room’ in Old Hyde Park, plus other Tampa restaurants.

She greeted you at the door with a large smile and was very welcoming. Helen will be missed.