We picked up a load of ammo from the Naval Station in Indian Head, Maryland to the Naval Air Station at Key West, Florida. Hey, somebody got’s to do the dirty work. We delivered Friday so decided to spend the weekend in Key West. Good decision. We spent Saturday doing the tourist thing in Key West in late October. It was 89 degrees and the town was filled with tourists, but not packed. The town center of Key West still has the atmosphere of the Hemingway days but with lots of tourists. At the terminus of the Florida Keys, Key West is actually closer to Cuba than to Miami. Several highlights of the trip were a tour of Hemingway’s home and a “Members Only” club several blocks from Ernest’s house.

First, the end of the day. We were walking back to motel’s shuttle bus pickup when we passed some street venders selling food on the side walk. A sign that read, “Fried Crab” got my attention. I always look for opportunities to try the local foods. Oregonians love their crab as much as Marylanders, so I asked to see the fare and was invited into a stucco building. The sign on the door said “Members Only.” The “members only” was a bar and grill only for African Americans. Barb stayed outside with Oliver and I stepped inside. The establishment was filled with black folk and a middle aged lady told me to follow her up to the cook’s order window. I was the only white folk in the place and was treated with courtesy, kindness, and respect. My order was placed for an $8.00 portion of “Fried Crab.” I waited quite a while, but finally my order came and I thanked the folk for their hospitality. Barb was getting impatient and came into the place with Oliver and they were both greeted kindly, but I was just handed my take-out order and we all left with pleasant farewells from the clientele. We walked several blocks to our bus stop and sat on a bench to try the local food. Oh My Gawd, “Fried Crab” is to die for! Sections of crab, in the shell, deep fried in a batter that was only gourmet. Succulent yet crisp and a taste subtly sweet that encouraged one to greedily eat the soft white meat inside and the breaded crunchy shell outside.

Now back to the focus of the sojourn into town. We both wanted to see Hemingway’s Key West home and made that the goal of our trip. We had to take turns to tour Ernest’s home primarily because the house is still filled with cats that seemed to be the owner’s passion. No dogs allowed, not even Oliver. The house continues to be one of the better looking homes in Key West. Built in the late 1800s in the center of Key West, Mr. H bought the property in 1931 for back taxes owed, $8,000. For the next twelve years, he lived in this place and did most of his creative writing in the study above the guesthouse. In the morning, he would rise and retreat to his study and type out only between four hundred to seven hundred words per morning. The rest of the day was devoted to whatever a Nobel Lauret and Pulitzer Prize winner suited his fancy. The typewriter he used is still on display in the guesthouse but it is not a Royal. Hemingway complained to his editor that Royals made too many spelling errors.