Saturday, April 16, 2016

Key West Bight, At Night

I took a lunch break at eleven o'clock at night and as the wind was blowing I went down to the water.
In nautical terms a "bight" (pro: bite) is a safe indentation for anchoring along a coastline.
The bight was devoted to commercial fishing boats (from Key Westing, with a last entry in 2014).
Nowadays it's all glamor and leisure.
I have quoted this passage from Hemingway's "To Have And To Have Not" before but it is evocative:
 HE DID NOT take the bicycle but walked down the street. The moon was up now and the trees were dark against it, and he passed the frame houses with their narrow yards, light coming from the shuttered windows; the unpaved alleys, with their double rows of houses; Conch town, where all was starched, well-shuttered, virtue, failure, grits and boiled grunts, under-nourishment, prejudice, righteousness, interbreeding and the comforts of religion; the open doored, lighted Cuban bolito houses, shacks whose only romance was their names; The Red House, Chicha’s; the pressed stone church; its steeples sharp, ugly triangles against the moonlight; the big grounds and the long, black-domed bulk of the convent, handsome in the moonlight; a filling station and a sandwich place, bright-lighted beside a vacant lot where a miniature golf course had been taken out; past the brightly lit main street with the three drug stores, the music store, the five Jew stores, three poolrooms, two barbershops, five beer joints, three ice cream parlors, the five poor and the one good restaurant, two magazine and paper places, four second-hand joints (one of which made keys), a photographer’s, an office building with four dentists’ offices upstairs, the big dime store, a hotel on the corner with taxis opposite; and across, behind the hotel, to the street that led to jungle town, the big unpainted frame house with lights and the girls in the doorway, the mechanical piano going, and a sailor sitting in the street; and then on back,past the back of the brick courthouse with its clock luminous at half-past ten, past the whitewashed jail building shining in the moonlight, to the embowered entrance of the Lilac Time where motor cars filled the alley.
I have long contended that Hemingway's romantic picture of Key West from the 1930s ...
....sounds more romantic than it must have been in real life!
Moving away from the water I found myself walking past Clinton Square Market:
And so back to the water, the much more sanitized waterfront at the Westin Resort.
And from the days of poverty and romance:

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow!
I have never seen this Duval Street 1936!
Love it!
Loved the post!
Where did you find this photo?

Garythetourist said...

My turn for a favorite Hemingway "To Have and Have Not" quote. This is a guy in, what, 1936, 1937? looking into the future.
"What they're trying to do is starve you Conchs out of here so they can burn down he shacks and put up apartments and make this a tourist town. That's what I hear. I hear they're buying up lots and then after the poor people are starved out and gone somewhere else to starve some more they're going to come in and make it into a beauty spot for tourist."
Could he have ever imagined the degree of truth in that statement? Maybe he did.