Friday, December 1, 2017

Tropical Bohemia

Rusty walking and leading me along the fences and past the architecture of Key West. This is my life with my energetic young dingo:
There used to be a food truck here and I miss the South African one from many years ago. That was replaced by a  pizza truck and now they are digging a hole. Who knows what's next but probably not a food truck. Restaurants never did much go for trucks when they were popular downtown.
Walking past a truck loaded with belongings I saw a big fat book about Bob Dylan's music. Perfect I thought, some poor deluded hippy coming to Key West to find the spiritual nexus replaced by million dollar conch cottages... The times they are a'changin'
 Oh and don't do like the locals do while you're here either. Tow fees are expensive:
 It baffles me how there are still places like this in a town where the cost of dirt is appallingly high:
 And across the street the expansive public housing complex:
This is the Whitehead Street side across the street from that gigantic tourist attraction known as the Hemingway House:
And there is  a church up the road which I struggle to contain in my viewfinder so huge is the structure: 
When I pass by the Cornish Chapel on Whitehead Street I spare a thought for it's founding benefactor Sandy Cornish who has a fascinating entry in Wikipedia, and herewith an excerpt:

Cornish was born a slave in Maryland in 1793. In 1839, his master hired him out to a railroad-building project in Port Leon in Florida's Panhandle The position allowed him to earn money for himself, and after nine years of work at $600 a year, he was able to purchase his own freedom and that of his wife Lillah. However, the papers showing him to be free were destroyed in a fire. Lacking proof of his emancipation, he was seized by slave traders, but managed to break free. The next day he gathered a crowd of onlookers in Port Leon. He loudly proclaimed that, having purchased his freedom once, he would not return to slavery under any circumstances. He then deliberately maimed himself, stabbing himself in the leg, slashing the muscles of one ankle, and cutting off a finger of his left hand, which he proceeded to sew back on with a needle and thread. These injuries made him worthless as a slave and thus immune to recapture. Friends took him home in a wheelbarrow, and he eventually recovered his health.

Apparently he made his way with his wife to Key West in 1850 where they bought a  farm and made an actual fortune selling vegetables. Because he was a decent sort he ploughed lots of money back into the community that he now called home. Hence the massive "chapel" in his name.

After Hurricane Irma word got around that the big tree at Eaton and Simonton (above) came down. I was afraid to come down and check but it's still here, a bit pruned perhaps as it doesn't seem as dark underneath.
Some things don't change too much in Key West. A few stalwarts hold out against gentrification but one can't say they really add a lot to the city's lost bohemian air: