Stanley Drescher’s subjects, like his cheer, knew no bounds.
Whether it was Henry Flagler, Ponce de Leon, Alzheimer’s disease, the Flagler Beach water tower or more prosaic subjects like the Flagler Beach City Commission or the chamber of commerce, Drescher could rhyme it, alliterate it, gently poke fun at it or emote it all in poems that, if not epic in the Homeric sense, could stretch to epic lengths.
Drescher performed his poems at the city commission, at schools, at First Friday in his adopted city, at the Inspired Mic, the monthly improv event held for years until the pandemic interrupted. He loved to disseminate them by email or hand delivery, on paper, to friends and acquaintances. He loved writing them, usually at his dining room table at the break of dawn, with his first cup of coffee (“my head is clear,” he’d said). Everyone knew him as Stan, or Grampy to his closer family members.
“He was just that everything, anything environmental,” Jane Mealy, who chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, said this morning. “He just wanted to do good for the county–the city, but the whole county too. He was involved with the A1A group. He certainly added a lot to this place.”
Drescher had his occasional cause, as when he ran a contest at Old Kings Elementary that led students to paint kissing dolphins on a small water tank next to the city’s fire station. Then, less than two years a resident of Flagler Beach at the beginning of the 2010s, he found it unacceptable that his city’s water tower–“this stubby water tank,” that “seamless monolith,” as he described it–did not bear his city’s name. He campaigned, made his case before the city commission, raised the $5,500 through the chamber of commerce (hence one of his more flattering set of verses on behalf of the chamber), and in October 2010, the paint job was done.
“I saw lagler without the F,” he said in an interview with FlaglerLive at the time, “and I took a picture I was going to have some fun with it—I was really exited—so I figured I’d mail it to my friends and say look, they made a mistake, because everybody’s been following this with me, all my New York friend, and everybody down here, you know, I made a million friends just by going around. In one year I probably know more people than people who’ve lived here 20 years.”
Six months later, the Flagler Beach City Commission honored him by naming him the city’s first Poet Laureate. He was charged, as is the national poet laureate, with raising “the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” The resolution naming him laureate cited such Drescher poems as “Leave the Tower Alone,” “Where Is Flagler Beach,” and “The Flagler Beach City Commissioners,” works now possibly lost to memory–a sore subject with Drescher, who’d written a long poem about what he called “A D,” Alzheimer’s Disease and the way it ravaged its victims:
Their sartorial splendor
Required help from none
But as of late when they’re through
Their zipper’s left undone
Thursday night, Stanley Drescher died in his sleep in Flagler Beach. He was 88 years old.
“Our hearts are shattered,” his daughter in law, Colleen Conklin–the shool board member–wrote on her Facebook page this morning. “The sweetest, kindest man we love and adore called Grampy has passed. We are simply in shock. Many of you knew him as Stanley, Mr. Drescher or Flagler’s self proclaimed ‘Poet Laureate.’ I LOVED my father-in-law like he was my own. He was funny, intelligent, kind, sensitive, caring man who always saw the best in everyone.” Drescher lived next door to the Conklins, within sight of the water tower.
Drescher was a son of New York’s Lower East Side. He’d owned an insurance agency, was president of a credit union back in Rockland County, N.Y., and had taught his profession as an adjunct professor. When he discovered that too many students were dropping out of courses designed to help them pass the New York State Brokers exam, he spent six months working on a 300-page manual, then taught the five-week course in a Rockland County community college three decades ago. All 25 students who took the exam that first year passed. He moved to Flagler Beach with his wife, Mary, in 2009.
And he only started writing poetry when he was around 70.
In 2011, he’d written a poem to commemorate the end of Alice Baker’s tenure as Flagler Beach mayor. The last lines read:
You’ve given much to us all
We’ll just try thanking you
But since that’s impossible
We’ll wave and bid adieu