In the dark early morning, Ed Taylor, Floyd Mishoe and Julio Fernandez sit at the gray rectangular tables outside of Nourish Coffee Bar + Kitchen and patiently wait for the doors to open at the Center for Health & Wellbeing.
It’s 3:30 a.m. The men bring their water and hot tea to stay hydrated and solve the world’s problems outside of Nourish. Between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., they come in, workout, shower and return home. They’re the first ones to arrive at the Center and the first ones to leave.
“If I don’t come early [to the Center for Health & Wellbeing], I ain’t coming,” Fernandez says.
And the two veterans of the trio—Taylor and Mishoe—agree. They’ve been early to everything in their lives they say, including their time together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Fernandez and Mishoe come to the Center every day, except Sundays when they rest.
“I had to be at work for 35 years at 4 o’clock in the morning so it’s not like early morning is new for me,” Mishoe says.
As veterans, this is early-to-rise and the discipline that accompanies the military mindset is a way of life for Taylor and Mishoe. Mishoe, 75, is a former Army soldier who volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War in 1965. He was wounded in his first operation by friendly fire. After two injuries, he returned home. Mishoe was a jogger for many years until he hurt his knee, and he says giving up jogging was like giving up cocaine.
Born and raised in Orlando, Taylor, 87, quit Orlando High School in the middle of his junior year in 1945 to serve in the U.S. Navy, where he taught electronics to other sailors.
These early morning hangouts are as routine as their military schedules. They sit outside of Nourish in the early morning conversing about the daily politics of the country, what they call the “current political situation.”
“We live, breathe and move politics,” Mishoe says. “Not many people of the Left can stand to be around us for very long.”
A Life at the Center
The friends have very few disagreements about our current state of affairs. They not only share similar political viewpoints; they share an identical upbringing, living in Central Florida when there were orange groves left and right. Taylor and Mishoe both joke they’re “Florida Crackers” who, when young, were raised to eat everything they harvested or helped raise, including livestock. Although Fernandez was born in Cuba, he, too, enjoyed a diet of livestock and harvested greens after moving to Central Florida in 1967.
“We all represent the old values,” Mishoe says. “We’re not part of the modern hierarchy. We all knew what it was like to pump the old water to wash clothes.”
After each suffered a heart attack, these three musketeers started their own personal fitness journey, subscribing to a regimen.
“I don’t have any heart problems now. I lost about forty pounds recently and I am completely off insulin now,” Taylor says. “I used to be on two kinds of insulin.”
Fernandez pipes in.
“I tell him, don’t worry about how much you lost, I gain it for him,” he says. The men laugh in unison because what are friends for if not for carrying the weight of their loved ones?
It’s been 14 years ago since they met in the “old” Crosby Wellness Center. They mingled with others over coffee.
Coffee is a fuel for them. On the first day Nourish opened, Mishoe was the very first customer. His order? A coffee. “They have my coffee ready for me before I’m even here,” he says.
But, Fernandez quips it’s not the coffee he cares for. It’s about the socializing with his friends that gets him coming back to the Center. The group also still meets once a month at Steak N’ Shake for breakfast with five other friends.
Yet, nothing seems to beat the camaraderie and routine they like to carry on at the Center.
“This is my social life, “ Taylor says. “My social life is the wellness center and my social life boils down to the three of us.”