Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grinnell From Truman

This is not a bicycle repairman on the streets of Mumbai. This is Key West.I was challenging myself with an unpromising street to photograph and I figured the area south of Truman might yield some pictures and as this week wraps up you will see that it did. This place used to be something else and something else before that. Methuselah was knee high to a grasshopper once and they used to sell pasta dishes and sandwiches for two-for-one. That was about five years ago and it lasted longer than I expected. It's something else pasta related now.Across the street is the longstanding Don's Place. I used to work with a woman who would get off work with me at 6am and then she'd make a beeline here for her first beer of the day at 7am. She was a tireless worker and how she did it I don't know but she viewed working nights as punishment. Whereas I live as normal a schedule as I can, she upended her days and had a beer dinner at 7am.Of course wandering Grinnell Street with a camera isn't exactly normal though happily the noted local author and photographer Tom Corcoran told my wife, when he was speaking to kids in her classroom (very well done, she said), " a camera is perfect cover in Key West." Perhaps I looked like a tourist with a Labrador. It isn't exactly a classic Key West lane is it?According to J. Wills Burke's compendium at my elbow, the Grinnell's were a bunch of merchants from Up North, and apparently they may have helped John Fleeming (sic) fund his quarter share of the purchase of the island from Juan Salas. For whatever reason the Grinnell brothers got a street named for them here, though Burke in The Streets of Key West has a fascinating story about Henry Grinnell who never came to Key West and funded Arctic expeditions, particularly to find the lost Franklin expedition. It seems there are pieces of land in the Far Up North named for the man as well as down here in Key West
If you need beer on the run there is a drive through At Don's Place. Drink and drive and get caught and you will go to jail and get a criminal record. I take pictures, for my amusement to record Key West as I live it today, and my eternal regret is that picture taking was so cumbersome and expensive in the days before digital, not to mention the hassle of taking color pictures and having them screwed up in the development process. There was the alternative of black and white photogrpahy in a do-it-yourself darkroom or of actual drawing by hand. I did not wish to intrude but I hoped that was underway here.They really are everywhere: Dilapidated but lovely. Calling all rich persons of taste who will come to key West and not demand that everything be done as they did it Up North. A Key West palace needs to be made lovely. We will forgive you if your loot comes from the cursed Goldman Sachs.
My kennel has found a place in the sun. At last. I can't get over what a ghastly winter it has been. I fear that if climate change has been sending a message this might not be the last time I shall see 42 American Degrees in Key West (5.5 Canadian degrees).Yum!Not content with chickens we have pelicans:Families.
Naked ladies frozen in a moment of intimate derangement. And one more perfectly good unused porch. Cheyenne just knows there is some delicious tidbit mouldering underneath the floor of this Conch cottage.The Old Firehouse on Virginia. When some locals call 9-1-1 in a panic they may shout "the firehouse on Virginia!" as the location. That confuses new call takers in our dispatch center. Training takes a long time. "El Tigre!" is Glynn Archer school. "The Ramp!" is the corner of Bertha and South Roosevelt. "Dead Man's Curve!" is on South Roosevelt and so forth. In the city of nicknames even locations aren't what they seem. Peter Vega is turning the old firehouse into a museum.
I took this picture at the preview of the museum to come: Not many people bother to put the word "please" on their signs:
A day without road works isn't a day in Key West. I remember when they were putting fresh sewers in around town to give the city the most modern sewage facilities, which was a good thing, but we had to go through hell to get there. This gives me flashbacks.
Indeed......and some people think Grinnell is only to found on the north side of the cemetery.