Pictured is my one-and-only souvenir from our Florida vacation. I first admired these sea stars in St. Augustine, where a bin of them had them selling for $2.98. Anne eventually got me one, but waited until we were in Key West and of course had to pay Key West prices, three bucks. We first learned of Key West prices from the Sandal Factory, a souvenir store chain that populates the Keys. They were hawking four t-shirts for ten dollars and all the way to Key West were advising us to buy now and “avoid Key West prices.” Sure enough, when we got to the end of the road, the Sandal Factory was selling t-shirts, four for $10.99. We never did shop there, not even for a “Where is Bum Farto?” t-shirt.
Popularized by Jimmy Buffett, the mystery surrounding Bum Farto, an eccentric 1970s Key West Fire Chief, involved his broad daylight disappearance. He was wearing his trademark rose-tinted glasses and was driving his lime-green luxury automobile, complete with spread-eagle gold hood ornament and front license plate bearing the words El Jefe, Spanish for “The Chief.” Witnesses saw a car pullout in front of him and another behind. Men jumped out and whisked Bum away. A tow truck then took his car. That was the last that was seen of Bum Farto. Later, it was generally agreed that the mystery probably had something to do with Bum’s selling of cocaine out of the fire stations. One needs to be careful to avoid paying those high Key West prices, like Bum Farto had to pay.