Vintage Key West Welcome Sign Found

IMG_1687During a past New Years weekend I made a commitment to walk inside EVERY bar on Duval Street to see if I could find any hidden treasures.

Upon a wall of old nostalgic Key West photos I found this one in particular most intriguing. It reads: ‘You Are Leaving Key West Florida the beginning of US Route No. 1 and ending in Fort Kent, Me. Thank you-come again. State Road Dept.’ OK, so it’s not the welcome portion of the sign but the other side. 🙂 I don’t quite know what year the photo ways taken, it shows Key West as a desolate road. Wow… that must have been many moons ago.

You can find this vintage photograph along with many others on display at the Flying Monkey Saloon located at 227 Duval Street in Key West.

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I’ve Had Hog’s Breath! Have You?

One of Key West’s most iconic bar stops is the ominously named Hog’s Breath Saloon at 400 Front Street.

Have you ever wonder where their catch phrase came from, well here’s the answer: The logo was worked up with a local screen printer and the saying, “Hog’s breath is better than no breath at all” is a modified version of a saying the founders grandmother used to say, “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.” The rest is history. Since then it’s become the most popular bar for locals on Duval Street. It is also a big hit with tourists looking to blend in with a Key West flair.

The raw bar features local seafood, and the grill takes care of everyone else’s taste and it seems that no one leaves town without a Hog’s Breath T-shirt. This bar comes complete with a live web cam year round, in fact, on New Years about 8 years ago I phoned my friend Mike using my cell phone while standing in front of it with him at home on the computer laughing saying: “It’s true, you really do look 10 pounds heavier on TV!” 🙂

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See And Touch $100,000

Have you ever seen $100,000 and be able to touch every single one of them? I know where you can!

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the “No Name Pub” pizza is indeed world-class awesome but it’s NOT the #1 tourist attraction… it’s the $$$ MONEY $$$… “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” And I mean plenty of it, although no one really knows exactly how much, estimates of $100,000 or more cover every square inch of the walls & ceiling.

We went for pizza and was offered a table outside which we willingly turned down! I’m sorry people, you don’t come here for the first time to eat and sit outside… AIN’T NO MONEY OUTSIDE! 🙂 For the glorious green George Washington decor and the aroma of pure U.S. Mint 🙂 we patiently waited 10 minutes for a table and another 3o-minutes for our pizza. It’s always packed, with only a dozen or so tables be prepared to wait.

The very first dollar bill was given to a female bartender who had caught the eye of a male patron. He proceeded to write his name and phone number upon the dollar which he handed the barmaid that she in turn pined on the wall behind the register and the rest as they say is history. With a FREE provided staple gun & magic marker, these days people just write their names and date visited on a dollar and staple it OVER existing dollars on the wall or ceiling anywhere they can. I spent 45 minutes looking for my previous dollar bill I’d stapled to the ceiling to no avail.

Travel Channel host Samantha Brown was shown stapling up a dollar that I really wanted to find and photograph for you. Unfortunately the waitress said that Samantha did NOT sign one of her own but was shown stapling up another customers dollar instead.

This is an awesome sight to behold and not to be missed! I can only imagine how much their insurance is with such a fire hazard as this in a restaurant! So put this on your list for sure, the address and directions were in yesterday’s blog. It’s FREE to browse around and take photos but the dollar bill itself that you sign and leave behind they ask it be yours! 🙂

         

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Unique Mailboxes Of The Keys (part #1)

The Florida Keys are full of a diverse assortment of mailboxes throughout its entire 128 mile stretch. Seen here are three such examples of unique approaches to receiving your US Postal snail mail. They include the top portion of a ships vent pipe, a replica airplane actually located next door to an airport & a Cushman type golf cart mostly used by retirees in their communities, campsites and parks.

You can find these and thousands of others on your next trip to Key West both on US-1 and its side roads.

    

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Historic Monroe County Public Library

Welcome to the Historic Monroe County Public Library, stop #5 on the Heritage Monument Trail presented by the Islamorada Chamber Of Commerce.

In the photo you can see all four of the notable aspects of the Historic Library: post, sign, plaque, & library . A plaque on the quarried stone sitting on the ground states much of the next paragraph written. The #5 marker on the posts signifies that this is the 5th stop on the numbered Heritage Monument Trail of Islamorada. The Monroe County Public Library sign sits only 10 feet or so from US-1 at Mile Marker 81.5. The original building is pictured sitting only 30 feet behind the road sign.

Helen Wadley Branch Library: The public library building was constructed originally by the Red Cross and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) three years after the “Great Hurricane” of 1935, to serve as a community hurricane shelter. Prior to that time no protective buildings existed in Islamorada; consequently, hundreds of veterans and local citizens died with little or no protection from high winds and water. The poured concrete and steel walls of the shelter are 18 inches thick at its base. Additionally it served as the local school, replacing the previous school destroyed by the storm. Later it functioned as a church and a U.S. Coast Guard facility before becoming a library in 1966. A library addition was built onto the rear of the original structure in 1983.

The library is one of many stops on the Heritage Monument Trail of Islamorada. You can find this tourists cache of city-packed information located throughout Islamorada at many of the locations detailed within the handout along with the Islamorada Welcome Center.

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World War II Munitions Dumps

I know, I too thought it should be ammunition dumps… we would’ve both been wrong! Upon breaking out my trusty Noah Webster Dictionary and wiping off the cobwebs I flipped open the knowledge-packed novel and became a bit wiser. 🙂 Here’s the difference between munitions & ammunition:

Munitions – a broad term that refers to all war material including weapons & ammunition,

Ammunition (ammo) refers to a specific type of munition such as bullets, rockets, gunpowder, grenades or bombs.

These above ground bunker-looking things seen in all of the photos are actually World War II munitions dumps. The munition dumps are now abandoned obsolete unused damp & dark relics of an era long gone by. These history rich stairs & bunkers are located on the northeastern corner of the Truman Annex Navy Base in the southeast corner of Key West. These crumbling cement monuments are an eyesore to most but a beautiful site for a history lover like myself. Upon driving up to the outer fence you’re confronted with these mounds that soar high above all of their surroundings and are impossible to miss. My first guess is that they won’t be around too much longer as the above ground cement portions are crumbling in plain sight. Their frailty is obvious to all that it wouldn’t support today’s standards without a major ‘mucho dinero’ upgrade. It’s a shame that so many locals don’t know of their history or even what they are and just want them torn down. I recommend that you take a side trip to see these dinosaurs among a city setting before they too are gone and can only be found in photos of our past.

         

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Plantations Hammocks Preserve

Located directly beside a very popular city park is this little known overlooked preserve. If you want to be alone, this is your place! 🙂 Welcome to the Plantations Hammocks Preserve!

Most that know of this preserve have parked their cars in front of the rope boundary and cut through the preserve as a short cut to the 50 times larger Founders Park for a featured event. Yes it’s small, it makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of its bigger cousin. It will only take 10-15 minutes or so to walk the entire preserve passing its only bench and birdhouse along the way (seen below). Other than that, it’s just a quiet habitat that is bypassed by the masses just waiting for you to stop on by for a picnic or leisurely walk.

You can find the little known and even lesser seen preserve at Mile Marker 87.0 on US-1 bayside.

    

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