Friday, November 20, 2009

Simonton and Petronia

The request for a "quiet" zone on the 700 block of Simonton Street seems rather quaint in light of all that goes on a block away. The sign seems old enough and worn to hint at another era.The church has a hall attached and they have given it a blinding white paint job, a Caribbean look under the bright white winter sun:And they have barbecue and outdoor seating area for those winter gatherings when it's cool enough. At least that's what I do at home, use the outdoors in winter rather than summer. Across the street another of those bizarre looking cement jobs. It had a Porsche with an Illinois tag in the off street parking spot, so perhaps a little lake shore eccentricity in the land of funky wooden homes is permissible. Apparently the Historic Architecture Review commission thought so... Now this is more like it, boring dependable old Key West, porches planks and picket fences:Simonton Street is by far the best route to cross from north to south and back again, avoiding the cruising on Duval and the sight seeing on Whitehead. And thanks to trees it is scenic enough. Here looking north toward, ultimately, Simonton Beach:
This place has gone through a few iterations of the fast food take out menu. It never seems to last. I suspect lack of easy parking combined with an off the main track location don't help. Probably the rent is too high because the food at the Bottega though good was on the expensive side as I recall. More like a sit down place for me, than a take out. Besides it's hard tot take out when you live 28 miles away. When this was the Bottega there was a silver ET2 (battered and dented) parked outside. My wife's ET4 fills the spot:
Gary the Carpenter is one of my wife's favorite entrepreneurs. He has had a storied life with near misses he talks about quite openly and he favors my wife's class filled with difficult students with stories of how he found his way and made a successful company for himself. He has made a habit of hiring at risk youngsters to give them a chance to avoid the pitfalls he fell into in his younger life.I don't suppose the tourists clambering up the hill on Petronia Street noticed just another construction company. And one likes to think this is a refreshing cola product in her hand at three thirty of a week day afternoon.
Not for long I hope will there be vacancies around town.
This massive affair struck me as two-in-one proposition, the lumpy square utilitarian construction below and gingerbread porch on top.
Off street parking for bicycles is as necessary as any car parking. A stout lock is a useful thing too as bicycles have been known to have been lifted from gated yards, such is their worth in a cycling town (check the pawnshops...). The police department has computerized bicycle registry these days so registering the bicycle by serial number is a very useful thing.I mentioned the trees on Simonton Street:
I would be remiss if I closed this essay without a nod to J. Wills Burke and his The Streets of Key West wherein he tells the story of how John Whitehead told his buddy John Simonton of New Jersey of new business possibilities in the Island annexed with the rest of Florida to the United States in 1821. Simonton, who had interests in Alabama added to his business empire by paying Juan Salas (everyone except Pardon Greene among the early owners of Cayo Hueso were called John for some reason) two thousand dollars for the Island in early 1822. He then quartered the island and sold shares to John Whitehead, John Fleeming (sic), John Mountain and Consul John Warner. The last two sold their shares to the Pardon Green aforementioned. Salas meanwhile made a second sale to John Strong who sold his share to John Geddes, but in 1825 the Johns who have streets named after them (and Greene) won out their claims before the US Land Claims Board.
And there you have it, Whitehead, Greene, Fleming (sic) and Simonton. And not one street named Geddes.