Author Ernest Hemingway aboard his vessel Pilar. Hemingway sued his boat to shuttle supplies in to survivors of the 1935 hurricane that devastated Islamorada. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Wilkinson/Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys)
Ernest Hemingway stockpiled his boat, Pilar, with all the supplies he could rally and, two days after the Great Labor Day Hurricane devastated Islamorada, he arrived to help. His initial estimate of the number of dead was between 700-1000; granted, writers can be prone to hyperbole.
Sept. 7, 1935, Ernest Hemingway penned a letter to his editor and friend, Maxwell Perkins. He wrote, We were the first in to Camp Five of the veterans who were working on the Highway construction. Out of 187, only 8 survived. Saw more dead then Id seen in one place since the Lower Piave in June of 1918.
He described Indian Key as,
absolutely swept clean, not a blade of grass, and over the high center of it were scattered live conchs that came in with the sea, craw fish, and dead morays. The whole bottom of the sea blew over it.
Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2013 06:44 PM EDT
A U.S. Weather Bureau map details the path of the 1953 hurricane and its destruction. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Wilkinson/Upper Keys Historical Preservation Society)
The roots of weather forecasting in the United States date back to 1849 and stem from an overture by the Smithsonian Institute when the instrumentation used to measure and record weather was provided to telegraph companies around the country.
Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013 04:32 PM EDT
Federal Emergency Relief Agency Camp 1 on Windley Key. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Wilkinson/Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys)
World War I veterans were sent to Islamorada to begin working on a Federal Emergency Relief Agency project in 1934. Hundreds of vets were assigned the job of creating a solid bridge system that would create a continuous road from Miami to Key West.
Posted: Thursday, May 09, 2013 06:56 PM EDT
The Russell Arms Hotel later became the Matecumbe Hotel, which was destroyed by the 1935 Hurricane. (Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys)
President Woodrow Wilson ushered America into the First World War when he declared war on Germany in April, 1917. The Germans were fighting with France and Russia; they were also posing a threat to Great Britain.
The Germans went so far, in fact, as to send a secret telegram to Mexico in hopes of forming an alliance with our neighbors south of the border. Fortunately, the communiqué was intercepted and translated.
Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 06:33 PM EDT
William J. Krome circa 1904. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys)
Before there was Islamorada, there was Matecumbe, a community founded on the northern end of Upper Matecumbe Key. The early settlers constructed their homes out on the beach, facing the Atlantic, so that the breeze coming off the ocean could serve the dual purpose of cooling agent and rudimentary means of pest control.
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013 06:24 PM EDT
Snorkeling the Florida Keys
NEW BOOKKeys historian combines love of history and snorkeling
Those interested in Keys history, particularly in the Upper Keys, know well the names of historians Jerry Wilkinson and Irving Eyster.
They are the go-to people for anyone with questions about the background of a local landmark, longtime business, noted figure or tropical storm. But emerging on the scene is Brad Bertelli.
Posted - Thursday, April 11, 2013 06:22 PM EDT
Ted Williams presents an unidentified man an award during a
ceremony in Islamorada. (Photo courtesy of Jerry
Wilkinson/Upper Keys Historical Preservation Society)
NOTES ON KEYS HISTORY with Brad BertelliBaseball great Ted Williams brought his perfectionism to Islamorada backcountry
It was the year 2000 when the Islamorada Village Council proclaimed an otherwise nondescript road Ted Williams Way. Williams used to live at the end of the street, in the second of two houses he once owned on Upper Matecumbe Key. His first house borders the property lines of The Islander Resort; in fact, it practically overlaps them.
Posted - Thursday, March 07, 2013 07:12 PM EST
Ted Williams legacy lives on in the Keys
Street sign marks the lane where baseball legend Ted Williams once owned a home on the bayside of Islamorada.
Part 2 of 2
The greatness of Ted Williams did not appear from thin air; the legend believed in determination, fortitude, and practice, practice, practice. Doug Kelly illustrates this point in his book, "Florida's Fishing Legends and Pioneers," when he recalls watching Williams at a fishing seminar at Homestead Air Force Base in 1965. Williams walked out and placed a trash can in the middle of the sporting goods aisle at the exchange, picked up his fishing pole, and then put on a casting skills display like only Ted Williams could.
Posted - Friday, March 29, 2013 11:01 AM EDT
James Howard stands by his red Chevy pickup truck in the driveway of the Hibiscus neighborhood house hes lived in since the late 1950s. (Photo by Donna Dietrich)
KEYS BLACK HISTORYAfter 63 years in the Keys, Chicago is always too cold
In January of 1950, 21 year old James Howard drove down to Key Largo for a vacation with some buddies from his native Chicago.
Posted - Thursday, March 07, 2013 07:10 PM EST
An aerial view of the Alligator Lighthouse, built in 1822. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Wilkinson, Upper Keys Historical Trust)
NOTES ON KEYS HISTORY with Brad BertelliThe story of the Alligator, Part 2
Four marines were wounded and two killed when the men of the U.S. Schooner Alligator attacked pirates holed up in a small cove near Guajaba, on the eastern coast of Cuba.
Posted - Thursday, February 07, 2013 06:59 PM EST