Trying to decide whether or not to attend a neighborhood association meeting? Lake Pasadena Estates residents Abe Katz and Bob Miller are happy they decided to go.
For more than 34 years, the men have lived within blocks of each other but never found time to share their pasts. Katz and Miller met in 1942 on a bus for World War II army inductees. They were headed for Camp Blanding near Starke.
Miller became a communications officer. He was stationed in Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan. "We trained for invasion," Miller said.
Katz remained stateside as a military police officer. He became an instructor in how to use oxygen masks and served on a fighter base in Tacoma, Wash. He was later moved to Tonopah, Nev.
After the war, Miller became an architect. He and wife, Grace, have lived in Lake Pasadena Estates since 1951. Abe Katz opened his own grocery store, Katz Discount Foods. It was sold to the city and is now part of the parking lot for Tropicana Field. He and wife, Bunny, moved to the neighborhood in 1962.
Although over the years their children attended the same school and their wives were acquainted, the two men were too involved in their own businesses to establish a friendship. But the neighborhood association meetings have given them a regular reason to meet up.
"I see him more frequently," said Katz. "We reminisce quite a bit by getting together at these meetings."
Miller says the association is improving communication among residents.
"You know who they are," explained Miller. "But with this meeting, you meet them now and talk."
Miller has just completed a 50,000-word book about what it is routinely like to serve in the Army. He wrote it in the format of daily letters to his son. His experiences include mountain-climbing training and dealing with snow in Japan.
After all the work, however, he has been told by publishing sources that war diaries are out.
"Everyone that may be interested in something like this is old or dead," Miller said. So he is doing a rewrite that he hopes will attract children.