Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mallory Deserted

Mallory Square, the waterfront destination in Key West for the sunset celebration street fair is usually seen as a place filled with people and turmoil. I was there the other day and snapped a few pictures just because... Perhaps because it wasn't packed with people and it was for a change a quiet spot, good for contemplation.

Stephen Mallory, whose bust is among those in the Pez Garden nearby, a shady square filled with bronze heads of important Key West people properly known as the Sculpture Garden, is best remembered as the Confederate Secretary of the Navy. That this square is named after him seems impenetrable when you consider Key West accidentally remained part of the Union throughout the unpleasantness between the States in the 19th century. At the start of hostilities the captain of the small detachment of artillery in town marched to Fort Zachary in the dead of night and would not be moved from the fort, declaring for the Union and taking the sometimes unwilling town with him.


When I first saw Mallory Square it was rather more tired and rundown than it is here. But in the truly ancient days past it was a working harbor with warehouses and wooden docks and bustling commerce. These days the most it gets is a smaller cruise ship tied up, which if it stays into the evening garners the ire of the vendors who crowd the square and buy permits by lottery to be there and make money.

The sign above welcomes people to turn their backs on Mallory Square, just past the Maine Monument, a Navy installation which remembers the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana in 1898. These wrought iron gates open up to the world of Mallory Square commerce, dust catchers sold by the ton.

Everyone is scratching around to see what they can find at Mallory Square.

Me? I sometimes remember that during the day this famous spot can be just the place to take a quiet reflective break. More than commerce there is history in Key West and that's what interests me. Hold the dust catchers, I'm going to daydream.