I have two houses here on the Island. At different times I have lived in either one for different reasons, usually financial. Both neighborhoods though are completely different, All the neighborhoods on this Island are different. The entire length of the Florida Keys is populated sporadically, with unique towns and areas, none are alike. The rich, the poor, and the somewhere in the middle. All types, some even on the same street. You’ll find million-dollar mansions next door to mobile homes if it’s located on any type of water: bayside, oceanside, canal. Large and long expanses have no homes at all. Some areas are jam-packed.
My little “Conch Styled House” is maybe my favorite. It was built in the 40s,, back when people just came to the Keys for a get-away, like going to a cabin on a lake or seaside cottage. Not to live.
The other home is a duplex, from the early ’60s. It is built on what is actually an artificial part of the island, so to speak. Built on sand dredged from the ocean to create an expanded landmass.
Both houses have weathered many tropical storms and hurricanes’ direct hits and glancing blows just since I have owned them. Both are solid and here to stay. I like to think of them as little pieces of history. The duplex on a street is named after the daughter of the man who build it, Sarah. The other is called Little Corinth, named for Grecian Canals. I love them for their history, uniqueness, the fact that they have names. I feel like they own me. I am just the custodian, to care for and love them as long as they are mine. It may not be official but, to me, they are historical landmarks.
Little Corinth is a mildly impressive area, but the best thing, to me, about the house is “The Tree” in the yard. That tree is older than the entire neighborhood. Its branches are wide and its roots are deep surrounded by a coral rock wall. When the last Hurricane hit the only devastation, I felt, was over The Tree. Winds of 185 MPH for 24 hours had tilted and twisted it slightly sideways. I was more horrified over that than the house. Conch style built homes can take a whipping, in tropical storms and hurricanes, that’s how they’re built – to withstand it.
All the neighborhood had an opinion about what to do over “The Tree”, cut it down, root it out, it might be a hazard on and on. Old tenants called from out of state to ask how “The Tree” faired from the storm. Not the house – “The Tree”. I moved “heaven and earth” to save “The Tree”. It lives on strong and restored as does the little “Conch House” that belongs to it.
When I tell people, I live in Sarah their little eyes widen – impressed! This always makes me smug. This home is certainly not all that, just a matter of, as they say in real estate, location, location, location. I love it because it reminds me of Key West. You can walk/bicycle anywhere from there. Duplexes tucked up snug together. All built above ground and none beat up by any storm I’ve known of. I keep it as cute and “Keysie” as I can. This street has some houses tidy, clean, neat and others not. That‘s what I love about it – it’s all the Key West look.
This Island is like the town of Mayberry – from the old Andy Griffith show, complete with a cast of characters. You can walk the streets safe on this cozy part of the Island. There’s no real crime. No one locks up. Like “Cheers” everybody knows your name. This can be good or bad. Because you better believe if you “Burp” on one side of town the news will be all over this Island by end of the next day. Courtesy of the commonly known “word of mouth” known as “The Coconut Telegraph”.
I try hard to fly under the radar……