Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / Aging /
@ K. since 1990
Home page since 1995, I’ve told a ton; so it’s just a crime how many important stories I still haven’t told. Like this one:
1989 I land in Sebring, essentially homeless, never had a paying career, essentially unemployable. I’d just been kicked out of my winter home: another story that must be told. I’d just collected $700 or so from a client in Fort Lauderdale. I camped through the Easter weekend at Highlands Hammock State Park, loved it, got work done. So I found a trailer park that took me and my popup trailer on a monthly basis. The landlord sympathized with the unpublished writer, declined to collect rent after the first month. I helped out here and there and was told that my rent-free status was good till his season began: around September. So I got a LOT of writing done that spring and summer. What happened next is its own yet untold story.
But on to the Wredes. I stopped by the park and volunteered to clean up their Little Charlie Bowlegs Creek for them. It had so much trash in it it looked like the Sargasso Sea. The boss didn’t cooperate exactly, but he did hire me to do the public interpretations for the Park the coming season. He wanted me full time. I don’t have full time for anything but my writing. We compromised at full time for one season: October to April. He bent over backwards: and got me minimum wage! Pete. Captain Peter Anderson.
After my yet untold snafu at my first Sebring park, I moved to Sebring Gardens: $60 a month for me and my pop up. Come April 1990, I had no income, little cash left.
One day giving a tram tour I noticed someone interacting in too damn friendly a way with some deer at the edge of the orange grove. I announced to my group that feeding deer was strictly a bad idea: not allowed by the park. In the distance a woman was holding her hand out to a trembling deer.
That was Karen Wrede. Wrede’s Wildlife rehabilitates injured wildlife, including deer. Karen it turned out was trying to shoo one of her deer into the woods: to be free.
Karen went to the ranger station and complained that I had said she was feeding the deer.
Not true: I said it looked like she may have been: and that that was illegal.
It was typical of the park to have told me nothing. It was typical of Karen Wrede to display her charity in public: where it could easily be misinterpreted.
I had done only right. Nevertheless, I visited the Wredes to “apologize.” I fell in love with what they were doing. Therefore, I loved them.
And here I was, a broke writer, homeless, still putting myself in a hole to teach ecology.
When I was fired from Colby College, illegally, in 1969, it could have been because I was among those who’d stood in silence on the Chapel steps in what was understood to be a protest against US involvement in Vietnam. Hell, more than half the English department was fired that year: presumably for that reason: eleven out of twenty-one of us. Or, I could have been illegally fired for having taught ecology to my freshman: as part of the English class: rhetoric, writing … Who knows? Nothing was ever clear.
I got a deal with a state park at Bowling Green. I’d open up their interpretive center and hang around for a few hours every day; they’d give me a free camp site. Trouble is: came moving day I had no way to move my trailer. My pop up was falling apart, and I’d spent my cash on an old Coachmen travel trailer: 26′. Bowling Green said they had no way to move me.
David Wrede had a truck. He said he’d moved me. Hell, I already promised the Wredes to help them find some grant money. But arriving at Sebring Gardens, David Wrede proved incapable of moving me to Bowling Green. I was stuck. Rent was due at Sebring Gardens that I couldn’t pay. David Wrede wound up moving me to Wrede’s Wildlife. Parked me on his compound. Said I was welcome to stay there “forever.”
Don’t ask me why he was able to move me the one place and not the other: it had something to do with not finding the right hitch ball at first.
Situation Normal: All Fucked Up
There are lots of details to add. I may add them. I have a trunk full of Wrede-related notes. But I’ll just cut to the chase: or to the chase plus a couple of details.
By that time I had met Catherine Kaltner, become her friend, and she mine. Staying at the Wredes was neat: for the time being. My car had died and I’d picked up a Suzuki motorcycle for transportation. That in itself elides a couple of stories: time for them later. But I stayed at the Wrede’s, had my fill of gorgeous violent weather, and evenings I’d Suzuki over to Catherine’s: some times come back the same night, sometimes the next day. I was falling in love with Catherine: not quite as fast as she fell in love with me.
By day I labored to do the Wrede’s books for them: not easy. Everything was oral; but then records would be found: records all unorganized. I had my Toshiba laptop, a data base, word processing. I was equipped to do their accounts, ill-suited as I am for such work.
I soon learned that what the Wrede’s said about their finances did not match the facts.
They couldn’t be told
What they needed to be told.
I was submitting proposals for them with a number of corporations. I’d gotten WalMart to donate all sorts of extras. Walmart volunteered their parking lot for the Wredes to set up a fund raiding campaign. The Wredes couldn’t be bothered.
The Wredes ran everything as an open house. David came and went. He had his messenger business: delivered drugs for a pharmacy. Karen ran her telephone answering service right out in the dining room, everyone walking in and out. Anyone could say anything to a Wrede just by walking up and saying it. The manners were Southern. That is to say, who ever came last could take the first turn to speak.
But what I had to say to the Wredes couldn’t be said in public: shouldn’t be said.
It was simple: your books don’t match your statements. You say “you” have paid for everything. In fact, public donations match or exceed your expenditures. I cannot submit a serious application for support to any foundation, to any corporation, until your stories match the facts.
Furthermore, any number of practices here are dangerous. Chasing a pig the other day while carrying a crowbar, David just threw the crowbar behind him, without looking. It bounced off my thigh. Yes, you have liability insurance for a million dollars, but if your insurance company saw how you behaved, they’d cancel you.
Furthermore, David Wrede uses wildlife volunteers to farm his pigs for him for his private table. Not all the labor goes to the wildlife. More than half goes to the Wrede’s “farm.”
(One thing was unquestionably true, and should have been properly publicized: all expenditures of money as well as time, effort, interest had originally come from the Wredes and from no one but the Wredes. The charity was theirs. But in time the public’s contributions had caught up with and actually slightly passed the Wrede’s own financial input. That too should have been acknowledged. Indeed, if I remember right, one guy had given them $5,000 worth of cages. That shouldn’t go unmentioned (though new cages were needed).)
These were not things to be discussed at the dining room table with family, friends, and neighbors walking in and out. I need a private meeting: pk, the Wrede fund-raiser, David Wrede, and Karen Wrede. That’s all. Give me fifteen minutes, and I’m done.
I asked David for such a meeting. After all, it was his name on the charter.
Days slipped by. Weeks.
Finally, I demanded a private meeting. The arranged time came. David came to my trailer. OK, are we ready to meet with Karen?
And David threw me out. Move. By gone by the morning.
Because they already knew it
But didn’t want to know it.
Wrede’s Wildlife had trustees. To this day not one of them knows my report.
Dangerous, duplicitous practices. False book-keeping.
First I believed it was naivete. Now I see that it was deliberate.
For all I know the Wredes are still saving injured wildlife. Great. But they’re doing it in their own illegal, immoral way.
However I also now know that their behavior is of a piece with a great deal around Florida. The plain truth cannot be told. No one is listening. No one cares.
No society will permit an independent intelligence to identify it to itself.
The US as a whole is no different. No society is: or ever has been.
PS When I first discussed fund raising with Karen Wrede she agreed that 10% was the standard fund raiser’s fee and that 10% was fair. Just as he was throwing me out though David Wrede insisted that I was a “volunteer”. David Wrede, the lawyer. IQ 60.
He can personally abridge standing agreements, arbitrarily.
David Wrede (looked and) acted like a fool. But he was the boss.
I was a volunteer, meaning unpaid: in some of my activitites; but not in my role as fundraiser. There my commission came due once money arrived, not before, but in the meantime they were in my debt.
PPS This file has begun an interlocked series of important, yet untold stories: my 1988-89 winter in the Everglades, my stay at Highland Wheels Estates, my move to Sebring Gardens, my stint as interpreter for the park … If I live, I’ll get to them. They are all of a piece: utterly illustrative of homeostatic society not mapping itself truthfully: Christians as … well, Christians.
Keywords Wrede’s Wildlife, Sebring, Florida, David Wrede, Karen Wrede
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