|Sauce with your conch fritters? Key West.|
|Truman remembered. Key West|
|Why is that chicken crossing the road?|
|A six-toed cat resting on Hemingway's bed. Key West.|
|The Hemingway place, Key West.|
|Hemingway's writing studio., Key West Here, 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' was created.|
|Sloppy Joe's on Duval Street, Key West.|
Long before the overseas highway connected it to the mainland and cruise ships made it a regular port of call, Key West was a tropical frontier town. Populated in the early twentieth century by an eclectic mix of fishermen, spongers, rum runners, and cigar makers, the tiny island was more Caribbean than American. Over 100 miles from mainland Florida and the southernmost point in the United States, Key West has attracted numerous artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Wallace Stevens, Ralph Ellison, Elizabeth Bishop, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and James Merrill, with its remote location, tropical setting, and wild spirit.
Tennessee Williams first came to Key West at age thirty, in 1941. After living in a boarding house, he bought a clapboard Bahamian cottage on the outside of town, at 1431 Duncan Street, where he created a compound with a guest cottage, swimming pool, and one-room writing studio he called the "Mad House."
|Pretty Key West architecture.|
|Bisque on the Beach. Key West.|
More recently, Calvin Klein had a house in Key West, a lovely wooden confection in an octagonal shape, painted white and pale turquoise. Nearby is a house left by its owner to her cats, a bequest upheld by the courts. Key West lost many of its gay residents to the Aids epidemic, and has its own sombre Aids memorial. Its near the beaches on the Atlantic side of the island. I enjoyed a bowl of excellent seafood bisque on Higgs' Beach (memo to self: look up Clarence S. Higgs; he's probably a relative). The sea doesn't roll up in big surf here - there's a reef about five miles out. The sand is trucked in.
|Calvin Klein's (ex) house, Key West.|
|Pauline Hemingway's bedside lamp. Homage to the pineapple.|
|Conch fritters? Mojito?|
On the Gulf side of the Key is the old seaport where the fishing boats, sailing boats, dinghies and runabouts moor, in front of crab shacks and mojito bars. At sunset, tradition has it that a conch shell is sounded - blown through a hole in one end to produce a low hoot which marks the going down of the sun on another day in paradise.
|And Key Lime pie for afters?|
|A local member of The Conch Republic.|
That's Key West.
|Jimmy Buffett got his start singing in bars in Key West.|
|Only 90 mies to Cuba! The southernmost point of the USA.|
"The Conch Republic."