By Mary Thurwachter
People say Ann Lloyd is colorful. But, really, “colorful” is too dull a word for the 81-year-old former hotelier turned author.
By her own account, she is “an eccentric Auntie Mame type” who began penning her autobiography when she was 62 while living in a porcelain-lined trailer (or, as she calls it, her rectangular bubble) because of a strange immune disorder that kept her from functioning in the real world.
Lloyd has been married three times, widowed twice and divorced once. Her first husband died in a car accident, her second in a plane crash she witnessed from the shoreline of their Bahamas resort. Her final marriage was a business arrangement that lasted a few years.
She lived in the rectangular bubble for 10 years and says her doctors didn’t think she would ever be able to leave. But she did, and, while she still struggles with an out-of-sync immune system, Lloyd is anything but a downer. She is funny, upbeat and never, ever dull.
Her first husband, a favorite graduate student of her professor father, was a drug-store chain executive twice her age.
Like her mother, Lloyd showed artistic talent at an early age and had her photographs displayed in the Cleveland Museum of Art when she was 19.
Lloyd and her second husband had a popular scuba diving resort called The Lloyd’s in the Bahamas (Spanish Wells) for 15 years. During that time, she got to know many characters on the island and a whole slew of celebrities and other famous folks who came to stay.
In fact, there were so many famous people (Raymond Burr, Bela Lugosi, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Lloyd Bridges, to name a few) in her life she included a celebrity index in her book, Vodka On My Wheaties (available at Amazon.com, various book stores and Hands Office Supply in Delray Beach), which she finally had published last year at the urging of family and friends.
She worked as a real estate agent in Miami, operated a tavern in North Miami and was as a volunteer Job Corps supervisor to help women find employment.
Over the years, Lloyd battled alcoholism and allergies. She has been very wealthy, but lives on less now.
“When I was very well-to-do, I found that money gave you power, but not love,” she said. “Now that I have less, I’m happier than ever in life.”
One source of her happiness, she said, is her family. She has three children nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Because she was an only child, she grew up around adults. She enjoyed childhood through her children, she said. “I could be naughty,” she laughs, “but we had fun.”
And about that book title, what does she mean? Has she actually ever poured vodka on her cereal?
“I like to keep people guessing about that,” Lloyd says. “I have put vodka on stewed tomatoes. The title came up in the 1960s in the restaurant (at the resort). Someone said I should write a book and I said I already had the title: Vodka On My Wheaties.”
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born in Sheboygan, Wis., but grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I was an only child and an adult from the time I was born, because I was always around adults.
I married at 18. I ran off with my father’s graduate student. They were both art collectors. We were married three years before he died in an automobile accident. At 21, I was a widow with a baby.
Q. What is a highlight of your professional life?
A. Building from scratch a skin-diving resort in the Bahamas. I had a good business head and became a well-known hotelier.
Q. Were you always a good writer?
A. I never kept a diary, but I have always been a detail person. That gave me problems with proofreaders who always wanted to cut sentences short. I sent letters to my parents describing people on the islands and my mother saved them. I never found them, but I remember the stories. My parents loved the letters and the long, descriptive sentences.
Q. How did you choose to make your home in Boca Raton?
A. I needed to live by the ocean for my health. It’s so good for my immune system and allergies. I’m not a “Boca babe” though, not loaded with jewelry or a big fancy hairdo. I don’t need all the props.
Q. What is your favorite part about living in Boca Raton?
A. I’m a beach bum. I go out to the beach at 6:30 in the morning for a few hours and then again at night for a while.
The Boca beach I go to (almost at the Broward County line) is one of the best around. It’s not crowded, not a lot of people with suntan lotion. And it’s quiet.
Q. How would you describe your writing style?
A. Wordy with character studies. I speak to my readers and people like that.
Q. What is your Vodka On My Wheaties about?
A. It’s about everything. My life. I let it all hang out. Trust me, there are no secrets.
Q. If someone made a movie of your life, who would you like to play you and why?
A. My family says Reese Witherspoon would be good.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. I like a Viennese waltz, Johann Strauss and Madama Butterfly. I have arias I like.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote?
A. I like my mother’s quote regarding politics: “The insane are running the asylum.” Also: “There are no martyrs, only volunteers.”