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Vic Lives On…Forever

vicStrange things happen.

My first husband was a man named Vic Latham and he lived in Key West. He was a huge, legendary kind of man who takes up too much space in the room. He drank, ate, snorted and smoked more than five men on a full moon night.  If they made a movie about Vic they would have to dig up Cecil D Demille to direct the damn thing. That’s how big he was.

He was more than twenty years  older than I and I was his fifth wife. (I was young and didn’t  think four previous wives was a bad sign for a marriage.) vic and I had two “first meetings”.

The second introduction occurred when my brother, Granger was getting ready to go to prison.   I had to take care of some shady business in the Florida Keys, for him while he was away.  I was in college at the time, semi innocent and dedicated, no, devoted, to my brother Granger.  He introduced me to Vic, who was one of the owners of a famous late night bar called the Full Moon Saloon (aka The Full Spoon Saloon). He asked  Vic to ‘keep an eye on me” while he was behind bars.

Vic fell in love with me. Hard.  I fell in love with Key West, the famous people who hung out at his house, the appearance of money and a rambunctious wildness, I fell in love with his charm, his stories and being completely adored.

After Vic and I had been dating for six months or so I suddenly remembered a picture, from a vacation my mom, dad and I took when I was a very little girl.  I called my mom and asked her to dig up the artifact. And she did. And it was so spooky I was nearly speechless for an hour.

My mother, father and I had visited Key West when I was eight years old. We ate lunch at a elegant bistro  called Louies’ Backyard. It was a beautiful old house on the ocean.  In the picture I’m wearing a blue Holly Hobbit smock shirt and eating steak tartar. My daddy is next to me with a bloody mary and smoking a cigarette.  The manager of Louies’ Backyard is standing between us staring directly at the camera with black eyes and a black goatee  He’s very tall, handsome and dangerous looking. And he’s the only one looking at the camera. It was Vic. He’d taken care of us that afternoon and he posed when my mother asked to take our picture.

For years Vic joked my father would have shot him right there had he known what would happen years later.

Obviously Vic and I were meant to be together. Fate was busy orchestrating our meeting and marriage because Jack and Mary were born, two of the most inexplicably magical, talented and extraordinary people on the planet. They are so much like Vic and so much like me. And they will change the world.

Vic died yesterday, Easter. But he lives on.

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22 Responses to “Vic Lives On…Forever”

  1. April 2nd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Pascal HARVEY says:

    Dear Diana,
    We do not know each others but through Facebook and common friends I have been able to read your words and your so touching story. I am living in Paris, FRANCE and often travel to the Keys and the Miami area. You are blessed to live ther and have two great children. Keep this wonderful memories alive.
    Pascal

  2. April 2nd, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Murray says:

    I’ve been trying to recreate Vic’s fish
    sandwich for the last 30 years. Unsuccessfully.
    Great legacy. I never left the Full Moon Saloon
    quite the same person. Xox

  3. April 3rd, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Joseph Karcavich M.D. says:

    Let me introduce myself.I am a physician and cared for Vic for many years. My staff, myself and those who came in contact with Vic knew him as a “character”. From the first time you would meet Vic you knew he was a special person.He and I would talk briefly about his “early years” and I encouraged him, as I do a lot of my patients, to write a book. Each time I would see him I would ask how he was coming, and he would reply “working on it” At his last visit to the hospital I met up with one of his friends, and he informed me that Vic had completed about 20 pages of his “book”. His friend and I both agreed that this would probably barely cover the introduction.

    My wife and I enjoyed reading the stories you put on Facebook and the thought occurred to me that while Vic is no longer able to write his book,if each person whose life Vic touched wrote memories and stories about Vic, it could be made into a book entitled simply “Vic”. For those who knew him in his latter years it would enable them to connect with those who knew him in his early years. We both know that it would make fascinating reading, and would be a attribute that Vic would appreciate.Be sure to include his photo.Everyone goes “wow” when they see what he looked like years ago…joe

  4. April 3rd, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    diana hampo says:

    Wow, I have so many stories and we were only married da few years. but we were always friends. I think that’s a wonderful idea. I’ll see what the kids think. Thank you so much for taking care of Vic. He loved you and told me how great you were all the time. You are the reason people go into medicine and we’ll be expecting a story form you. Please thank you staff for me and for Vics children. They made a difference in his life.

  5. April 4th, 2013 at 3:53 am

    Jerry L Reed says:

    I met Vic in the early 80’s as I had returned to Key West to work on WKIZ radio. A friend Phil Clark was known to hang at the Full Moon and he introduced me to Vic. We became close friends and remained in touch up to days before he passed. I have so many stories of his wildness, kindness and greatness to tell here but will be happy to try and put some of them in writing and see that you get them. It will take some time as I am close to his age and my memory is tainted a bit

  6. April 4th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Baby Bob says:

    Here is to you Vic, and thanks for my first job in Key West.
    Baby Bob

  7. April 5th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    diana hampo says:

    Bobby, we’ll be having a memorial in Key West in June. I’ll keep you posted.

  8. April 4th, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Baby Bob says:

    I was twenty one years old unworldly and fascinated with Key West. I had found my home. I believe there is magic in Key West and magic led me to Vic Latham.
    “Your only 21 years old have you had any experience tending bar?” Vic asked.
    ” Well I used to tend the home bar.”, I responded.
    “OK kid I will give you a chance.” That is how I started tending bar in the cistern at Louie’s Back Yard.
    It did not take long for Mrs Francise Bevis to send back a martini saying it was too dry. Thinking quick I added a splash of sweet vermouth and sent it back.
    Wasn’t long till Vic filled the cistern, grabbed a shaker glass and made a new drink saying to me, “I thought you said you had experience!; I did not lie my dad used to drink Schlitz and I used to pop the tops for him.” I blurted. Continuing, I shout, as Vic lumbered out, ” Don”t pay me for the first week and I will learn.” After an agonizing amount of time Vic returned tossing an Old Mister Boston recipe book saying, ” Learn fast.”
    Thanks Vic
    BB

  9. April 5th, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Molly deWit Howell says:

    I am so very sorry to hear of Vic’s passing. I knew him back in the 70s when he was at the Chart Room and at Louie’s. I was so happy to find him on FB a year or so ago, especially since he actually remembered me from so long ago even though I was just one of the local patrons. He was such an amazing person — larger than life, and one of the iconic figures from the days of the old Key West. RIP my friend — you touched so many lives and will live forever in all our hearts. Molly Mullet

  10. April 6th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    that hippie from mississippi says:

    Vic and the crew–Buddy, Sid, John H. and Susan–at the Full Moon made me feel welcome when I was a new “kid” in town. A particularly outstanding memory is a New Years Eve party there back in about 1979ish–a blast. He was all the things legendary barkeeps are made of, and I’m thankful that our paths crossed.