Friday, June 4, 2021

Old Town Walk

I took a  lunch break and went for a walk. I was not sure what to do with myself so I went where I like to go, Margaret Street near Southard.
The houses are pretty, classic, conch cottages which are always a pleasure to look at.
There is abundant greenery for what would Old Town be without plants?
Before they piped water during World War Two to supply the expanded Navy base there wasn't cistern water to spare for landscaping.
Consequently photographs of Key West  in the good old days show a lot less flowery plants and more white light and dust.
The housing was as neat as owners could make it but there was less money around in those days too. 
Imagine crumbling sidewalks, bright sunlight, no air conditioning and not much movement in a city founded in 1828 pretty much forgotten and commercially not very viable until tourism was figured out.
The streets weren't as shady as they are now but the houses looked the same, porches and all.
Carsten Lane is a favorite, often called Carstens not least because one street sign has it one way and at the other end of the street it's spelled the other way. Confusion is the name of the game. At work where we use official city cartography to log every business and every address it is spelled Carsten so I stick with that.
I've had callers on 911 painfully spell out the name of their street P-E-T-R....and I try to hurry them along explaining I know the streets in my city. Other people try to give directions to their homes as though we don't spend every day dealing with the most abstruse addresses in key West.
When I got my job as a dispatcher I figured pretty soon I'd better get to know the streets and every time I got a weird address I'd take the time to go check it out. And then I started taking pictures. 
Whoever decided to name Key West Streets pulled a real number on us as they are duplicated all over the place and many  are nearly spelled the same way as completely different streets. Confused? Thompson has three locations across town. In an emergency try separating Venetia from Venetian, George from Georgia, Harris from Harriet, White from Whitehead, South from Southard and the butchery of street name pronunciations is awful. Simm-on-ton, South-hard, and every tourist figures they are on Duval Street all the time. I recently had a visitor tell me he was on Duval Street. He actually got rear ended in front of the Shell gas station on North Roosevelt and First Street...
But we get through it.  William Street is singular and I know Petronia Lane off Bill Butler Park is not the same as the Petronia Street you are more familiar with. Carey Lane and Terry Lane sound the same on the phone but I can figure one is near the cemetery and one is in Bahama Village. Fort Street versus Fourth Street? I may need to ask a  couple of questions to confirm where the emergency actually lies.
Key West and its street names. Sigh.  If they made me dictator for a day I would rationalize every single one of them. Well, not Donkey Milk Lane. That one is so special tourists keep stealing the sign.  And yes there was once a dude who sold donkey milk in a town that was a long way away from a dairy in the Good Old Days.
It's summer so I am checking for the lovely orange blossoms of the Poinciana trees, known in the Caribbean as flamboyants and elsewhere as flame trees. I wonder why?