Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random Old Town

A busted bicycle and a rooster on Southard Street:
I was wandering an area between Duval Street and Bahama Village one sunny morning recently taking pictures as I went, not thinking too much about the whys and wherefores and before I knew it I had a couple of other essays sewn up and some pictures left over, which as I laid out the other stories were stating to look like they end up as pictures without a story. But there's always a story or two to liven up a few pictures...I don't think I could do a "wordless Wednesday" as some others do:The Miami Herald last Thursday reported that Key West Mayor Morgan Macpherson appears to have stretched too far in his determination to become mayor of the southernmost city, and is now facing foreclosure. Macpherson owes around 1.1 million dollars on his former residence on Rockland Key (Mile Marker 9) which is outside city limits. He chose to refinance that one a few years ago when made his first run for the office, rented it out and bought a New Town home for himself, his wife (a school administrator) and four kids. The Mayor's job pays just $10,000 a year and Macpherson's "real job" as a realtor has dried up. Hence the foreclosure.I remember that after Hurricane Wilma flooded some seventy percent of Key West the year Macpherson first became mayor in 2005, City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, representing Bahama Village, was washed out of his home. The paper ran a story on how he struggled to help his constituents while he himself lived with the disastrous storm effects. In that same spirit Mayor Macpherson has been a noisy advocate for affordable worker housing in the city, even as he himself was losing his own home. There is a temptation sometimes to forget that our leaders have their own demons to deal with...I found the Whitehead Street sign slightly amusing in an ironic sort of way. In the rest of the country bankers love their planes and their absurd office remodels, while in Old Town a space to park your car is worth all the prestige and gold...
I felt wealthy myself, afforded an opportunity to simply be out on foot on a bright sunny morning with nowhere particular to go and nothing special to get done. I threw up my camera and snapped a couple of passers by attracted by his white hat which put me whimsically in mind of some Somerset Maugham story, possibly set in the South Pacific:I can't imagine myself dressed all in white, I am too absent minded to be able to function and stay that clean...and as I thought about my distant relationship to starch I spotted an old timer across the street, paused, stuck in stationary mode, lapping up the early morning sunshine:And then, without warning he started up again and strode off down the street. I wondered what his story was. The next picture is as close as I can get to saying nothing:It just sits there with it's old fashioned air, and I wonder who the original Curry was, descended no doubt from Florida's first millionaire, the businessman responsible for the mansion on Caroline Street. And when i looked up and saw this I had to ask myself if it could possibly have been fate that lost the "L" or was it a drunken tourist with a sense of humor as puerile as my own?A decade in an English boarding school leaves it's mark. And because this is my diary of life in the Lower Keys when I passed this next instrument of torture (we get so many 9-1-1 hang ups form these diabolical things!), I figured I'd better remember the day we used to have fifty cent coin phones:This next picture is of the Honda motorcycle dealership on Southard Street, where the owner parks his machines awaiting repair on the street and every winter, regular as habit, the Citizen's Voice column records anonymous complaints against the practice of storing machines on the street:On the subject of the newspaper there was a report on the meeting called to discuss the fate of the palms at the cemetery. I think its a storm in a teacup from what I could glean from the paper. Apparently the city arborist has determined that the extra tall Washingtonia palms (remember I'm no botanist) have reached the end of their lives and could fall at any time. Someone offered to donate some palmetto palms to replace them and even though everyone is a little on edge after the struggle to save the casuarinas at Fort Zachary Taylor . It's rather tiresome really, a nice controversy stymied.