For 2 days, Gail, Ronnie and I toured Key West on a Conch Train. We learned a lot about the history and who lived in what houses. I love that kind of stuff. We could get off and on and another one would be by about every 15 minutes. The heat was horrendous. We broke it up into 2 days.
Richard took Athos, Porthos, and Aramis to various places of interest on the island. The visited the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. According to the website they “experienced an impressive collection of flowering plants, colorful birds, cascading waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the "flowers of the sky." Witnessed a variety of some 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate- controlled, glass enclosed habitat.”
I have to take their word for it because Papa didn’t take any pictures because of an activity we lovingly call “herding cats”. ‘cause sometimes there is too much going on to think of everything. They say it is lucky if a butterfly lands on you. Brody had two on him. With his dare-devil ways, he needs all the luck he can get.
They also went to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. It’s a natural history museum that exhibits plants and animals of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. They had a really big time there. Again, no pictures.
I asked the boys what else they did with Papa those two days and they said shopped for t-shirts, went to the Dairy Queen, waded in the Atlantic Ocean, waded in the Gulf of Mexico and swam in the swimming pool. All in all, they didn’t miss grandma for one second.
The Harry S. Truman Little White House was the winter White House for President Harry S. Truman for 175 days during 11 visits. The house is located in the Truman Annex neighborhood of Old Town, Key West.
|I like this picture I pulled from the Internet.|
The house was originally on the waterfront when it was built in 1890 as the first officer's quarters on the submarine base. In 1911 the home was converted into a single-family dwelling to house the base commandant and additional land was filled in front of the house. The waterfront view was eventually blocked by a new building at the station.
In November 1946, President Harry S. Truman had finished 19 months in office, but was physically exhausted. His doctor ordered him to take a warm vacation. Truman arrived in November, 1946. His second vacation came in March 1947. After that he visited every November–December and every February–March. Changing technology allowed the President to communicate with multiple political or world leaders at one time and he could summon staff to Key West for a meeting in three hours flight from Washington. Most importantly, Truman realized that where the President was, the White House was.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but it is worth looking online. The furniture and how it is set up is the exact way it was when Harry Truman was there.
I did two more things without the kids, and they were my favorite things. Not because the boys weren’t with me, J but because they are near and dear to my heart.
First, we visited Ernest Hemingway’s house. As a published author, I loved seeing his office where he completed several of his many novels. His estate is also known for polydactyl cats, which are born with more toes than usual on one or all four paws. Hemingway loved these cats and even today there are approximately 75 direct descendants of Hemingway’s cats. They are all named after famous people and they are everywhere.
|This cat is on the counter in the gift shop. We had to step|
to the next register so she could nap. LOL
|Hemingway's Office. That is his|
actual typewriter. Loved it!
Ernest (I’m sure he and I would have been on a first-name basis) had 4 wives. His second wife’s father gave them the house in Key West. Pauline wanted a swimming pool, but Ernest said they couldn’t afford it. Since boxing was one of his passions, he proceeded to build a full-size boxing ring in the back yard.
While he was in Europe on assignment, word came back to Pauline that her hubby had been messing around on her. She had the ring removed and a swimming pool built at the cost of $20,000. Ernest returned home as the concrete around the pool was drying. When Pauline told him how much it cost, he gave her a penny from his pocket and told her she might as well take his last red cent. Pauline walked over to a wet place beside the pool and stuck in the penny. It is still located there today.
|One of the largest pools in Florida|
|Ernest's "Last red cent".|
Ernest and Pauline collected two things during their travels—chandeliers and birthing chairs. They are all over the house, along with beautiful pieces of art. He received the Medal of Honor for his wartime photography and had never been in the military.
|One of many beautiful light fixtures|
in the Hemingway House
|Birthing chairs from Ernest and|
My second favorite thing--I love a good ghost story. One evening, Gail and I took a walking tour through the streets of Key West and were told of the different ghosts and the homes or buildings or cemeteries they hang around. It was all very interesting. We saw the house where the famous Robert the Doll lived with his owner Robert Eugene Otto. The doll is supposedly possessed with a mischievous (sometimes mean) spirit. He was the inspiration for the 1988 movie Child’s Play about Chucky the Doll. He is on display in a museum there in Key West. I have no desire to go see him.
But my favorite part was the cemetery behind the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. There are only a few graves left there since one of the major hurricanes brought several caskets out of the ground and floated them down Duval Street, which, btw, probably isn’t the weirdest thing to ever go down Duval Street. Still left in the cemetery are 8 graves of little kids who died (I believe it was in a fire) and are buried there around an angel statue.
Since it was nighttime, the gates were locked. The guide told us to go up and down the iron fence and snap random pictures. You wouldn’t probably see ghosts with our naked eye, but they had a funny way of showing up in the pictures. I went to the right and tried to snap several pictures with my phone, but it wouldn’t take any. I gave up, went to the other end and snapped away. When we were through there, everyone started looking through their pictures. No one had anything, but I had three streaky ones that I didn’t think had taken at the right end of the fence. But there they were. The picture I am posting below, has a streaky thing in the shape of a person, but if you look to the left, you can see 3 small figures dressed in white, looking like kids.
|Picture taken through the iron gate surrounding|
the St. Paul's Episcopal Church cementry. Please notice
main figure in front and 3 small figures in white
looking like children. Yikes!
We had quite a time in Key West. I don’t have time to write about everything, but these are the highlights. Hope you enjoy.
Until next time,