Marcophiles: New downtown for Town Center? Whoa there, big fellas.

Article Highlights

  • “Dam’s Scams” is a new feature of Marcophiles column, in which Keith Dameron, vice president of Marco’s Iberiabank, offers tips to Islanders on how to recognize and avoid scams
  • Marco folks tell their experience and impressions of Frank Sinatra's visit to Marco
  • We may want a peachy keen new downtown, but we don’t need one right now.

Every community needs visionaries, from City Hall to the halls of Congress, from Town Center to Rockefeller Center. So, we like the fact that some of Marco’s leaders are thinking about the future of our “downtown.” We implore them, however, to take their time, no matter how exciting it might seem to create a mini Fifth Avenue South experience without going to Naples or a sort-of Worth Avenue atmosphere, minus the Alligator Alley feature.

We don’t mean this as a coal-in-the-stocking thing. We don’t. But we need New Year’s resolutions along with these days of gifts and glory. It is to remember the difference between wants and needs.

We may want a peachy keen new downtown, but we don’t need one right now. There may be some perceived urgency in terms of getting help paying for this Goliath of a plan, but spending other people’s dollars doesn’t mean we won’t spend our own, as well. And these days, spending anyone’s funds for a “want,” not a “need,” is foolish. We’ll talk more about this soon and invite your thoughts to share with other readers.

The day Sinatra got a haircut on Marco Island

A recent Marcophiles column telling Frank Sinatra stories by islanders Phyllis and Tony Gentile has sparked some other Marco folks to tell their experience with and impressions of Old Blue Eyes.

Well-known Marco hair care diva Maria Elena Pujol has a humdinger to share. “I cut (golfer and golf broadcaster) Ken Venturi’s hair for years and so I was not surprised when he phoned one day and asked if I could do him a favor and give a quick haircut to friend visiting from out of town.

“But surprised is not the word for it when his friend walked in and smiled. My knees almost buckled. All I could do was smile when the man put out his hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Frank Sinatra.’

“I was shaking as he said down and said he just needed a trim. But I went to work, snipping the hair around his ears and shaping the back. When he found out I was from Cuba, we talked about that. He had friends there and loved going there hoped to go back one day.

“He only needed a trim and didn’t have a lot of hair, but it probably was the longest haircut I’d ever done in my life. At one point he asked whether I would go to work for him, going on the road to cut his hair during concert tours and all that. I was floored and flattered, but told him that I had a baby girl at home and obviously couldn’t leave home. I would have loved to be in his entourage, but there was no way.

“When I finished his hair, he said he was sorry I couldn’t join him, then handed me a $50 bill. He smiled and left. That was the most money I ever got for trimming a man’s hair.

“I’ve cut other celebrities since then, including Kenny Rogers, David Bowie and Christy Brinkley and others, but never thought I’d cut the hair of Old Blue Eyes.”

Dam’s Scams, chapter one: The grandparent trap

This is “Dam’s Scams,” a new feature of our Marcophiles column, in which Keith Dameron, vice president and manager of Marco’s Iberiabank, offers tips to Islanders on how to recognize and avoid the many scams and scammers out there, working hard to take your money.

This is one of the hottest scams in the Marco-Naples area right now, aimed at grandparents who may have hearing problems and can’t always tell which grandchild is on the phone.

A young-sounding caller says, “It’s me.” No name, hoping the grandparent will say something like, “Is this Cheryl?” or “Jamie, is this you?”

The voice says yes and tells a tale of woe, that he/she needs money in an emergency and doesn’t want mom and dad to know. “I don’t want to get in trouble but need cash now without mom knowing,” or some similar line. The “kid” then asks the grandparents to “wire money” right away via Western Union or from grannie’s bank to a foreign address, often in Canada or Mexico. Once money is sent that way, it’s tough to ever retrieve.

Recently a Naples lady was scammed out of $5,000 from a young man calling his “grandma.” He said he totaled his rental car in Canada and needed money to pay for repairs. She later found out a friend got a similar call that same day.

If your “grandchild” phones, make sure he or she is for real. Ask for names, schools, parents’ address, anything to foil the evildoer.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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