…and full of rum. Today’s Soup du Jour today is rum, with ice croutons!
We got off to a slow start, barely making the hotel’s breakfast. Once underway, what developed was a literary tour. Between Tennessee Williams and Earnest Hemingway, Key West was the go to retreat for 20th-century American authors.
Our first stop was with Tennessee Williams. His museum was certainly the lesser of the two. It is in a building with no connection to the author and shows mainly second sourced material. He hailed from St. Louis, but hated it. Though, his most famous play, Glass Menagerie, was from there. We regaled the woman proprietor with our own “Stella” moment, from years ago, when the girlfriend of a neighbor’s boyfriend showed up one night, drunk and with a gun. The woman was suitably mortified. The Lou has got to keep up its rep.
The Hemingway house was fantastic. It was also fantastically crowded. Still, the largest single family home in Key West, Hemingway only lived there for about eight years, but wrote 70% of his library in that time. His study, a former barn loft is a highlight of the tour. Then there are the cats. Many of these cats have more than the normal five digits on their front paws and four on the back. This genetic trait is called polydactyly. Some cats there sport 24 toes.
Though a great author, Hemingway was also a deeply flawed man. Ask any of his many wives. When he announce that he was to cover the Spanish Civil War, he neglected to tell his then wife that he would be accompanying his soon future wife. A pattern that he would repeat.
While off to war, his then wife got wind of things and tore down his beloved boxing ring and built a swimming pool. Her uncle originally paid $8,000 for the property, but she then spent $20,000, at the height of the depression, on a pool.
Returning, Hemmingway was infuriated. He confronted his still wife with a penny. Shaking it in front of her, he exclaimed, “You have taken me for all my money. This is my last penny.” Then he threw it at her and stormed off. The next day, she impressed the penny into new patio concrete, where it remains.
Anne has been repeating what she had heard at school that they should move the Super bowl to Saturday, so that everyone could party and not have to worry about getting up for work the next day. As it turned out she didn’t have to worry anyway. With the day off and such a beautiful day it was, we headed over to the botanical gardens and its annual orchid show. She deployed with her brand new camera. Her old one had taken a few too many hit points. This one is heftier, has a much bigger zoom, but still fits in her pockets, which was a must. We walked the gardens after the show. Afterwards, we headed to Olio for a late lunch.
Set in a 1930s Standard Oil gas station, its décor is eclectic. We first discovered this place while biking, but then so did everyone else. On this day, dare I say, late winter or maybe even early spring day, it was pretty empty. We saw Witch Hazel in bloom at the gardens, always one of the first harbingers of spring. The Post’s recommendation was for their King of Kings tahini humus. We ordered that, plus their Jerusalem bagel, which features a sauce of labne, zaatar and pomegranate. It was all so good that we finished this vegan day with a salad. I guess dinner’s blue cheese dressing doesn’t quite qualify as vegan. Whoops!
On last summer’s westward excursion, we stopped for an afternoon in historic Deadwood, South Dakota. After lunching in a saloon, along Main Street’s strip, we explored the more gentile side of town. The Adams Museum delves into the town’s local history, which during its gold rush days featured such luminaries as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. In this museum we saw the pictured oak and walnut dining set, which was built in the 1930s by Anthime Leveque. Anne took these photos, because they reminded her of quilt designs.
Anthime Leveque emigrated from Quebec and at fourteen, began to work for the Home Stake Mining Company in nearby Lead, SD. He worked there his entire life. During his last twenty years of employment, he made furniture with a process called marquetry, a technique using small wood pieces to create surface decorations. Most woodwork of this kind uses thin layers of veneer. Leveque’s pieces are a full quarter-inch thick. His most ambitious set consisted of a quarter million pieces. This set of table and chairs includes a mere 4,500 section.