This title made me stop in my tracks. A moveable feast of Key West? Holy cow. This is right up my alley. Long a huge fan of Key West, I find almost everything about Cayo Huesa (island of bones) worth looking at.
As much as the entire history of Key West is interesting as no get-out, I believe the 1970’s were THE most exciting times. One of my favorite mystery writers plays a large part in this non fiction book chocked full of great stuff .
The day I discovered Tom Corcoran was a great day, indeed. Corcoran is the author of the Alex Rutledge series that takes place in Key West and the Keys. Tom Corcoran has created a character who is the living breathing epitome of the island itself. GUMBO LIMBO will have you deep in the back lanes of the island smelling the trees and living the life in no time flat. The other books in the series are just as good. Pick one up, any one, and be instantly transported.
Reading this book prompted my memory back to my first visit. I flew into KW on a hot and sunny Saturday in June in the 1980’s. I had flown to Miami and then on to the rock via a small plane. I was able to push my nose against the window and watch the water turn from a deep navy blue to such vibrant aqua and sky blue. And, I could actually see through the water. At one point, as we neared KW, I could see an entire school of sting rays coasting along the shoreline. It was truly a divine sight. As the plane began banking and descending for landing, I had to give pause and wonder if we would actually make it or just end up in the drink. My friends picked me up and took me to lunch at the Pier House which is at the end of Duval. At the time, it was the most prestigious hotel on the island. It still is a spectacular place. But it was THE place to be back then. Women were actually sun bathing topless on the little beach and on the raft floating next to the Pier House restaurant where we dined outside on the deck. My first experience with the city that hosted the most interesting writers and artists on earth.
But back to the book at hand. William Mckeen has done a fabulous job reenacting the good old days back in the 70’s. I just missed out on the days when Jimmy Buffet was a regular in town. Tennessee Williams wasn’t around when I was there. And Thomas McGuane, the infamous author of 90 IN THE SHADE ,had long moved to Montana by then.
Everyone and their brother knows about the Hemingway times. That’s why most people go to party in KW, to walk in Hem’s shoes. To slop down a beer at Sloppy’s, and to fish the waters like Hem did.
I’ve visited Hemingway’s Home many times. I’ve seen the cats that are world famous. Yes, they do have an extra toe, but more about this in McKeen’s book. The house exudes such a sense of history and is so unique that it brings people back time after time; people like me. The grounds are full of local plants, flowers and trees that are native to this area. This place is a history lesson unto itself.
I could go on and on, but those of you that are already fans of Key West will totally enjoy this new book with all this behind the scenes “stuff” that will make you smile. Keep in mind that those were truly the days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Not for the faint of heart.
So, with all that said, pick up MILE MARKER ZERO soon and return to the times gone by. Before you know it you’ll be sipping margaritas if only in your mind.