Rest Beach

As we got older, we kids moved from Monroe County (now Higgs Beach) over to the other side of the White Street Pier and started exploring Rest Beach, which at that time was abandoned, overgrown with weeds and pretty raw, a daring adventure into the wild. What child of the fifties could resist. pc1719 There is a postcard picture in the Florida Archives. It is undated; I think it must have been pre-war. It was not that way when I was exploring the risky unknown.  After consulting with the Key West Historian at the library, I learned the Rest Beach name was first mentioned in tourist blurbs advertising cabanas in the late thirties; cabanas being places to rest from the hot sun.  The cabanas might have been washed away by the hurricane in 1948.

In the early fifties Navy Housing was on the corner of White Street and Atlantic Boulevard. I remember it being a number of rows of attached units. The children attended Truman Elementary School also, and I remember having school friends who lived there: 75 units for Officers and their families.

Further down the beach, there must have been a garbage dump for the city in the late 19th, early 20th century. dm3213After the hippies had invaded Key West in the 60’s a lot of people started digging up the beach and unearthing and collecting old bottles. One house even made a fence with them (State of Florida Archives/McDonald).

Then, when in my very early twenties and teaching school, one of my friends had a sailboat and on a Sunday afternoon we were sailing along dm6573Rest Beach. Often we would jump ship and swim and snorkel. I remember stepping on or startling a small sand shark about two feet long. He scooted, but he must have scared me enough that I remember it, although they are really pretty innocuous.  Picture (Archives of Florida/McDonald).

Today, along Rest Beach next to the White Street Pier, there is a park. The Navy Housing on the other side of Atlantic Boulevard was torn down years ago. dscn0504There are well used lighted Bocce Ball Courts with bleachers and parking there now and team competition is fierce. The League has a neat web page. It’s at ; the names of the teams alone are fun to read. Click on teams at the bottom.

Now, there are oceanfront 3-4 story condos along a lot of Atlantic Boulevard cutting off the view and breeze from the houses on the other side of the road. Once the city had offered to sell the beach land to the residents along Atlantic for I think about $200,000, a lot of money in the 70’s. The residents tried to get everyone to pony up in splitting the cost evenly among them. So what were the chances of that succeeding? It didn’t. Most of the citizens didn’t think the beach could be built on anyhow. So the condos were built much to the consternation of many.

There is a path in front of the condos along Atlantic, which is much used by bicyclists, runners, and walkers. It is a pathway to Smathers Beach, the scene of the crime, and a whole nother blog.

3 thoughts on “Rest Beach”

  1. Yep, cursed condos! They do indeed interrupt the flow of the breeze. Can’t wait to read about Smathers. Thanks for another great blog!

  2. Hey, Joanne! Another jewel in your blog! Thank you! Is there a story attached to the name “Rest Beach?”

  3. I think we’ve gotten a bit behind on commenting on your blogs. Just know that we always enjoy reading them. Seems from mid April we’ve been concentrating on travel to many distant places. Connecticut for a Coast Guard Academy graduation, Washington for a mid school and a high school graduation, Denver for a wedding, and now we’re in Milwaukee getting acquainted with our new granddaughter. After we get home we have a couple of weeks before we head for Reno for a Harmony Brigade meeting. For us that don’t often travel this seems pretty onerous.

    Our new granddaughter is cute as can be and is doing great. Her mother, Anne May, seems a natural mother and, I expect, that’s a big part of how things are going.

    Your description of the beach and ocean makes me want to head that way. It’s been a long time since I’ve had my feet in salt water with either a snorkel or regulator in my mouth.

    Keep the blogs coming unless it gets too hard. I know how that happens.

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