Pine Nuts: A short history of the discovery of America |

Pine Nuts: A short history of the discovery of America

McAvoy Layne

The first European to see America, so far as we know, was a Norseman named Barney, somewhere around A.D. 986.

Barney was wading ashore, holding his shoes, when he encountered some Native Americans who were not in a good humor that particular morning, and they gave Barney the bum’s rush. So he absquatulated (cut stick) in his dinghy, and rowed like crazy for home, anywhere but America.

Word got around about the Native American dearth of hospitality, so it would be 500 years before another European would venture a look, and that European would be Chris Columbus, who, though gifted as a lobbyist at home, was ham-fisted at sea. When the winds dropped off and the rum ran out, with no land in sight, his crew decided to keelhaul Captain Chris, but Chris managed to hornswoggle them into staying the course, and they actually did catch a brief glimpse of America before landing in the New World, Cuba.

Then along came Ponce de Leon, who upon capturing Puerto Rico without firing a shot, heard word of a large Island north of Cuba that contained a fountain of youth, today’s Florida. Well, that was just the place Ponce was looking for, as he was contemplating retirement. Ponce was advised by a travel agent that most old people like him retired to Tampa, and their parents mostly relocated to St. Pete. So Ponce de Leon went to Florida to find the fountain of youth, or make a reservation at a retirement home, whichever came first.

Thus, Ponce de Leon became the first European to actually set foot in America. There is a Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Pete today to commemorate that occasion. And those lucky few who did actually discover the fountain of youth, well, yes, they are alive and well in Key Largo. The captain of our bowling team told me this, and if anybody else had told me I would not have believed them.

We no longer celebrate Columbus Day in this country, but rightly celebrate our indigenous population of Native Americans on the second Monday in October, as it should be. However, I do firmly believe we should show a modicum of respect for Ponce de Leon and name a national holiday for him. I might like to suggest the way we should celebrate Ponce de Leon Day is for everybody over the age of seventy to rule for the entire day, and everybody under the age of 70 to heap compliments upon their elders.

Also those over the age of 70 will drink free on Ponce de Leon Day, for we really can’t do enough to honor the first European to set foot in what is now known as the United States of America. I shall move on this proposal myself tomorrow afternoon at five o’clock …

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