A major event this evening as part of Fantasy Fest is the Headdress Ball. I have attended several times over the years. Under a big tent, always a fun event.

My blog talk radio show is also this evening. I will not be at the Headdress Ball. I will enjoy what I will be doing, however. Hosting Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou.

Half the show will be dedicated to everyone’s friend, Monsanto. Some items you already know. Some not yet. The discussion will be revealing.

Other topics include the Putin/Berlusconi relationship, why bank systems are being hacked, the Catholic Church’s synod which rejected a more friendly relationship with gays and divorcees, and more.

The show is at 9 my time. Join me for a fast paced one half hour. www.blogtalkradio/key-west-lou.

Fantasy Fest is in full swing. A ton of events this evening. Many risqué. I have already suggested the Headdress Ball, which does not fall into the risque category. There is also Capt. Tony’s Plaid Party. Don’t bring your mother. Also, a relatively new event. I think it started last year. The Men of Labare Whitey Party. It is at Bare Assets. Instead of women stripping, men will be doing it. An evening for the ladies to whoop it up.

My favorite candidate for Queen won. ML was instrumental in helping to raise $235,000 for AIDS Help. ML’s real name is Mary-Lynne Price. Probably only a handful are aware. She is well known in the Key West community as ML.

Last night was dinner at Roostica with Jennifer and Keith. Two great young people. Hard workers.

We all screw up. Whether our fault or some other person’s. President Obama was in New York City last month. He and Michelle were having dinner at a fancy restaurant. When the bill came, Obama attempted to pay with a credit card. His credit card was rejected! The card is seldom used. The President’s residence is Washington and it was being offered in New York City. The company thought a fraud was being perpetrated.

Michelle’s card was good.

Enjoy your day!



I long ago realized that no matter how much I have learned about Key West, there is always more. Yesterday, a new discovery!

Captain Tony’s was once a morgue. In fact, bodies may still be lying around under and in the walls of the building. For real!

The building was erected in 1851. It was an ice house and the Key West  City morgue. Makes sense that in that time a morgue would be located as part of or very near an ice house.

There is a tree inside Captain Tony’s known as the hanging tree. So named because executions took place by hanging from the tree. I am not certain, but probably because the tree was located within steps of the morgue. Seventy five people were hung from the tree.

Ice found its way to the building from New York City. Sailboats loaded with bananas would travel to New York. The return trip found the boats loaded with ice for Key West. The ice had been removed from frozen lakes north of the City.

Key West got hit with a pretty bad hurricane in 1865. Corpses stored at the morgue went flying. All over Key West and the ocean. Only one body was returned. It is claimed that body lies buried in the pool room area of present day Captain Tony’s. The body was buried with bottles of holy water which were built into the wall.

At some point in time, a new foundation was being layed. The bodies of 16 pirates and one woman were found. How they were determined to to be the remains of pirates, I do not know. It is claimed the woman resides in the building to this day. She is a ghost. Generally remains in the ladies room. She has occasionally been seen floating around the bar area.

Sometime in the 1980s, repair work was being done. The old plywood flooring was ripped up. The skeletal remains of 8-15 people were discovered. Plus a grave marker with the name Elvira on it.

Hanging behind the bar today are the skeletal remains of a body. The bones are very aged. Brown in  color. It is assumed the skeleton was one of those found during the 1980s renovation work. The grave marker is now incorporated into and exposed in cement in the room where the pool tables are located.

The number of bodies discovered over the years amazes me. I always thought a morgue was an in and out place. Apparently the morgue staff was burying the bodies within and around the building itself.

Over the years, the ice house and morgue went. Other businesses moved it. The present day Captain  Tony’s was home to a wireless telegraph office, a cigar factory, a house of ill repute that also provided gambling and bootleg rum. Sloppy Joe’s Joe began operating his first bar out of the building in the 1930s. During the time he and Hemingway were friends. In 1958, Captain Tony bought the building and opened Captain Tony’s Saloon.

For additional and perhaps more accurate information, I suggest you take a Ghost Tour. Captain Tony’s is  one of the stops.

I became aware of what is contained herein yesterday for the first time. I was researching something else involving Key West on the internet and found some information which led me to the morgue story.

To verify my findings, I went to Captain Tony’s last night. I occasionally stop. Never paid attention to bodies or anything of that nature.

I saw the skeleton behind the bar for the first time. I probably saw it before, but it never registered. I walked the pool room looking for the Elvira grave marker and the place where one of the hurricane bodies was buried. I found neither. I looked through the room next to the pool room. Nothing. The ladies room was off limits so I could not check for the ghost.

I wanted to ask a bartender about the things I could not find.. However, the place was packed and I was lucky to even get a drink. Another time.

Enjoy your day!



Jimmy Buffett was in Key West friday night. He attended David Wolkowsky’s annual cocktail party which has become a part of the Key West Literary Seminary. The Seminary is on going this week. The party was held on the roof top of the Kress building. Better known to most as the building which housed Fast Buck Freddy’s for years.

There was a picture in yesterday’s Key West Citizen of Buffett and Wolkowsky at the party. Buffett and Wolkowsky are business partners. Buffett also proudly tells all that Wolkowsky was the first person to hire him.

The old timers in Key West know of Wolkowsky. Some of the newer residents perhaps not. Most of the tourists not.

I want to share with you David Wolkowsky’s story.

Wolkowsky is 94 years old. He is a legend in his own time. A quiet unassuming millionaire. He is responsible for much of what is Key West today. He worked diligently to preserve the best of old Key West. He was primarily responsible in the prevention of high rise buildings on the island.

He is known as the American Developer. Not for his efforts in Key West alone, but also for the significant preservation work he did in his younger days in Philadelphia.

His grandfather came to Key West in the late 1880s and opened a fine clothing store on Duval Street. Wolkowsky was born in Key West. The family at some point moved to Miami. Wolkowsky later went to college at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, he settled in Philadelphia. He was best known in those years for the renovation and preservation of what once had been Philadelphia’s best neighborhoods.

He was financially successful. In 1962 at the age of 40, he retired to Key West. Soon after, he started developing Key West real estate.

Today’s Captain Tony’s stands because of Wolkowsky’s efforts. This goes back to when it was Sloppy Joe’s and Hemingway’s first hang out. The building had been condemned. Wolkowsky saved it.

In 1967, he built a 50 room motel and restaurant at what would be 0 Duval today. It was called the Pier House Resort Motel. The forerunner of today’s Pier House.

My favorite haunt the Chart Room was a part of Wolkowsky’s Pier House. Here is where Jimmy Buffett comes into the picture. Wolkowsky was the first to hire him and it was at the Chart Room.

Wolkowsky built a dream home some eight miles off Key West on Ballast Key. He entertained often at both the Pier House and Ballast Key. He entertained the likes of Truman Capote, Tennesee Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev, and Lillian Hellman. The Rockefellers,  Mellons and Vanderbilts were his guests, as well as British Prime Minister Edward Heath.

Wolkowsky entertained at Ballast Key with a menu consisting of hot dogs, white wine and potato chips. For which he was famous.

Another significant accomplishment was his construction of the Reach Resort.

Wolkowsky  could be seen over the years driving around Key West in a golf cart or his beloved 1926 Rolls Royce.

A man for the ages. Key West is fortunate that he settled here and his family before him. Conchs all in every sense of the word!

Enjoy your day!



A new football season. A new Syracuse team.

Syracuse lost yesterday to Penn State 23-17. I was not disappointed in Syracuse’s performance. I would rather the team had won. Syracuse played well. They could have, might have, won.

Syracuse is still a rebuilding team. They are working towards being what they once were. A great team. Oh, so long ago. It is coming, however. The team I saw play yesterday was the best I have seen in years. Everything is a step at a time. In this instance, a year at a time.

After the game, I headed down to Duval. Brewfest!

I walked Duval a few blocks. The streets were jammed with people. Stands selling beer.

I stopped into three places. Sloppy Joe’s, Smokin’ Tuna, and Captain Tony’s. Enjoyed the people and a beer at each place.

David frost died yesterday. He was 74. British. A talented journalist, broadcaster, and media personality. His Richard Nixon interviews represented his best work. Each show was dramatic and thrilling. Frost will be best remembered for the Nixon interviews.

We are in the middle of the Labor Day weekend. Labor Day used to be a big deal. Labor itself was big. I remember as a youngster the parades. Huge. Everyone marching. Everyone excited.

As labor’s influence and strength have diminished over the years, so too has interest in Labor Day as a time to remember labor’s achievements. Today, it is a time for cook outs and partying. The successes of labor are forgotten and buried in the closet.

Enjoy your holiday Sunday!



My friend Jim Van Sickle is dead.

Sorrowful. The knowledge of his death has affected me.

Jim was an up north friend. The Utica area. We first met in the mid 1960s. There was an instantaneous bonding/attraction. We continued to be close till sometime in the early 1980s. Then for whatever reason, we drifted apart. This occurs with relationships.

Jim was 88 at the time of his death. His wife Sara survives, plus a daughter Joyce and some other child/children and grandchildren.

Sara was a charming woman. Lovable. Tough. The stand up type.

I loved them both.

Jim owned a motel at the time we first met. Van’s Motel. In a Utica suburb, New Hartford. Nothing fancy. Sort of a strip building with 4 or 5 units on each side of the office. There was a small apartment upstairs where Jim and Sara lived.

They worked hard at the motel. Did their own washing and cleaning. Both did it. The motel was a shared responsibility.

Sometimes God does good things. Jim experienced one of those things.

A major shopping center was to be built. Jim’s motel sat in the center of one of two main entrances. It was  a natural. Jim scored! Made some money!

Jim and Sara then went into the grocery store business. A neighborhood grocery store. A pound of bologna and loaf of bread type.

The store was part of a two story brick building on a corner in a middle class neighborhood. The store downstairs. Jim and Sara lived in the upstairs apartment.

Jim was a street smart old time business man. The time is around 1980. Newspapers were cheap to buy. A nickel or dime as I recall. Every thursday, Jim would buy an extremely large number of newspapers. Then he and Sara would cut all the grocery coupons out.

The grocery chains at the time were playing games with their vendors. The grocery chain would buy back the coupons at a discounted price and then charge them to the vendor for their true value. Jim might sell a certain brand of coupons back at $ .25 a piece. The grocery chain would receive $ .50 or more from the vendor.

A win/win situation.

Jim did not want the money. He wanted groceries to stock the shelves in his small grocery store. So the grocery chain gave him equal value in can goods, toilet paper, etc. for the coupons.

Time moved on and the grocery business became a bit too much for Jim and Sara. They sold the store and building. They then purchased a lovely one family brick home two blocks away. For the first time in their lives, they had nothing to do. Sara became a house wife and grandmother full time. Jim had a little shack in the back where he puttered around.

For twenty five years Jim and I were close. Talked to each other by phone at least once a day. Visited with each other to sit and talk 3-4 times a week. Then for no reason at all, we drifted. I still loved him and I am sure he loved me. But the communication was gone. Since the 1980s, Jim and I have only visited on two occasions.

Jim and Sara were good parents. Especially as concerned their daughter Joyce. The sun rose and set on her.

Joyce was shot while in the store one evening. Sara was away at the time. The bullet did a number on her. Traveled through several organs. She was on the operating table. It was questionable whether she would survive.

Sara was flying back from a trip. She was in the air. She knew nothing of the shooting. Of course, I was at the hospital with Jim. Jim said you (me) have to go pick Sara up at the airport…..I have to stay here.

I went. I met Sara as she came of the plane. She knew instantaneously something was wrong. Why was I meeting the plane? She thought some thing had happened to Jim.

I sat her down and told her in a calm simple straight forward manner that Joyce had been shot, she was presently being operated on, and there was a quation as to whether she would survive.

Sara looked me in the eye. Stood and calmly said let’s go. There was not another word said between us on the half hour trip to the hospital.

A tough woman.

Joyce survived. Is a mother and I assume a grandmother today.

I do not know if Jim is of any interest to you. He was to me. He was a friend. A true friend.

This is going to sound strange. We talk about meeting our parents and grandparents again when we die. I would want Jim there, also. I would enjoy spending eternity with him.

Enjoy your day!