Florida City's Main Man

Hubert Albury is a fixture in South Miami-Dade's political scene. He also cooks a mean pigeon peas and rice.

Sometimes on those clamorous Saturday nights at the Elks club, Albury, savoring his Bacardi as usual, remembers the opportunities he squandered when he was young. He waxes sentimental about the men, women, and children no longer in his life. He visualizes the pink sand and turquoise water in the pristine reaches of north Eleuthera. He shakes his head and brings his palm down on the table every few minutes for emphasis while he's talking. "I'm living a life I don't like," he laments. It's just his way of wondering whether he should have returned to Lower Bogue, back where he really belongs.

George Gibson, who gave up drinking a number of years ago, nurses a cranberry juice and listens. There's not too much to say after almost 50 years of friendship. The island music pounds away. Albury's fishing buddies stop by the table. One presents him with a Cuban cigar. He half-stands to shake everyone's hands.

"I love people that mean well," Albury decides, settling back down. He fixes Gibson with a look of pure alcohol-enhanced appreciation. Albury regards Gibson as closer than a brother. "I wouldn't take nothing for George Gibson," he says. After a while he spots a woman he knows. He'll have to get up and dance.

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