In Issue 39
J. William Calcaterra, aka Pompano Bill, was born on January 12th, 1926 in Norway, Michigan. He had a normal childhood, however, as he matured, he realized that he was different. Back then the word gay wasn’t used, instead the word was “queer.” Growing up in such a small town of 3,728 people, he kept his difference suppressed.
He graduated high school in June of 1944 and was immediately inducted into the Navy, attended Radio Operator School in Madison, Wisconsin and was assigned to a ship in the Pacific Theatre. World War II ended and he returned to the U.S.
While still on active duty and stationed in San Francisco he stumbled into a bar on market street, not realizing it was a bar frequented by homosexuals, and was invited out for cocktails at the Saint Francis Hotel and treated to a weekend of fun and luxury. He saw that gentleman again during the week. Although he said the experience was amazing, shortly afterwards he got his discharge papers and returned home, where he again went into suppressing his desires. A year later, with the GI Bill, he went to Ferris State College and then moved to Detroit and completed his education at the Detroit Institute of Technology. It was in Detroit that he really discovered gay life.
While in Detroit he had his first relationship, which ended due to his partner being drafted for the Korean War. After graduating from college he joined IBM (which Bill says stands for I’ve been moved) in 1951, where he stayed until retirement 36 years later in 1987. During his employment at IBM he made his way up to middle management and was transferred to many places throughout the country.
Pompano’s second relationship, Peter, was in Chicago and lasted for 4 years until he was transferred to New York. However, he is very proud of the fact that he is still friends with Peter today, some 50 odd years later. His next relationship was a 20-year friendship with a married man in White Plains, NY. When he was transferred to LA he entered into a 4 year relationship that ended when Pompano retired and moved to Florida. He has been single for the last 22 years, but is accepting applications if someone could put up with his crazy lifestyle.
After living in Florida for a few years he became bored and bought a camera. In 1992 he started his second career as a photographer and was published as Pompano Bill in Scoop Magazine. Since then he has worked for Outlook, Buzz, 411, Express, The Blade and is now very happy shooting exclusively for Hotspots Magazine. Over the years he has accumulated tens of thousands of pictures, which have become his life. He says they are like his friends. He has all his pics organized in shoe boxes and digital images in 2 computers and often wonders what the stories are from some of the people when he looks back at the pics. Pomano goes on to say, “Scott, I have many pics of you.” (It’s not like I can forget, because every few weeks I get an e-mail with a pic that is upwards of 10 years old).
He has donated his time to many charities including Poverello, Broward House, the GLCC and many others.
Pompano is going to be 84 in January 2010. He still feels like he is young and keeps active and enjoys all the friendships and camaraderie that has come his way. He goes on to say, “It’s been an enjoyable 22 years in South Florida and I am looking forward for many more years of enjoyment.”
The Dolphin Democrats will be honoring Pompano Bill (in the media category) on Saturday, October 24th at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum. The annual Dolphin Democrats awards reception and silent auction is one of the premier events that recognizes outstanding leaders who have demonstrated strength to lead and a vision to improve the lives of those in the LGBT community and all deserving citizens. Other honorees include Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mayor Gary Resnick, Charles Perez and many more. For more information, to become a sponsor, or to purchase tickets go to DolphinDems.org.