I heard this great story about local kids from Bahama Village, which is considered the poorer section of town, read: black. Ernest Hemingway’s famous domicile, with its graceful second floor balconies and tended gardens and six toed cats sits on the cusp of Bahama Village and after one too many nights of ruckus he stormed outside and ordered the miscreant kids from Bahama Village out of his swimming pool.
‘Enough of this!’ He bellowed at the children, ‘You’re in my swimming pool every night. I’m calling the police!’
The kids, a posse of ten year olds were unfazed by the raging man, and one of them said, ‘You’re supposed to be this famous tough guy. Why do you need the police?’
The answer made Mr Hemingway laugh so much he said, ‘Stay in the pool! Swim whenever you want.’
Today the Hemingway House, along with all of Key West and environs, is under siege from hurricanes, tornadoes, sea surges that will cover all of the island. It’s a good time to have a second floor, and I hope the cats, from the quadrupeds to the intrepid humans who have stayed, are nestled high.
I wanted to stay just to see it all. I’m curious that way. Meanwhile all my friends were harping on me to get out of town. But I was throwing a book party and I was mono focused and not catching up with the threat level. I was phoning friends Tuesday morning gathering RSVPs and one and all told me, ‘Fuck off and pack and get the heck out of town.’
‘Pussies!’ I declared and bought a box of crackers and figured I was good to go. But still the pals clamored, threatened, cajoled. I said NO!
Then I got a phone call from little Miss Pacific island girl herself, Kate Hall Feist, granddaughter of James Norman Hall, co-author of Mutiny On The Bounty. Kate, who is part Tahitian and can out-canoe any native, has an island of her own, inherited from her grandfather. This girl knows about tropical weather and she was not taking no for an answer. ‘Teeny, get out now!’
We are friends since high school, and these days we speak maybe once a year. Life is busy, you know how that gets.
Kate phoned and put down her graceful claw filled paw and ordered me off the island.
As soon as I relented the angels went to work, including my Bama dude who texted, ‘Go To Mama’, and friends from all over time and space in my life moved almost as one to guide me through the steps to get out of harm’s way.
Thank you to the angels, you know who you are.
I am very lucky and I am very grateful. I am in Birmingham, Alabama safe and sound in a beautiful house with wonderful friends, a sweeping park for a garden and a generator!
I know the Hemingway House staff have stayed and I wish the best for every living being on the island currently under massive strafing and battering from Irma the Whore, the storm of the century. Good luck my friends with much love from Ox.