South Street

The Southernmost Point is at the junction of Whitehead and South Street. We’ve gone down Whitehead. Now let’s go down South Street. Thelma Strabel supposedly lived in the house right next to the Southernmost Point. Ms. Strabel wrote,“Reap the Wild Wind” as a serial spread over six issues of the Saturday Evening Post from April To June 1940. In 1942 it was made into a movie. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille this ocean adventure dealt with honest salvage masters fighting dishonest ones. It had a battle with a giant squid as the climax. The movie had many well-know actors and actresses, including Ray Milland, Paulette Goddard, John Wayne, Raymond Massey, Robert Preston, and Susan Hayward, all big stars at the time.


rd0067 One block later on the corner of South and Duval is the Southernmost House, a beautiful large Victorian mansion built in 1896 as a private residence for Vining Harris.Picture:   (State Archives of Florida). It became a Cuban nightclub called Cafe Cayo Hueso in 1936 and converted back to a private residence in1954 and remained that way until 1996 when it underwent a three million dollar renovation that converted it into an 18-room hotel.

pr06079Across the street is South Beach where as a child I went for a swim with my father when he got home from work each day. It was also where I had my first job working at the Luncheonette stand on the beach.  Picture: (State Archives of Florida).   I was 16 and the man who ran the place about in his 50’s. He was a gruff old man and I a know-nothing newbie. For a first job it was pretty cool.


dm6583Down the street a few blocks is a Stone House, built of coral rock in 1909-10 by Richard William Harrison.  Picture:  (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).   When I was a child my family often visited this house. Mr. Homer Herrick then owned it. He was a civil engineer and taught my father surveying and the two of them surveyed the Keys prior to the building of the Overseas Highway in the late 30’s. They remained lifelong friends.

Diagonally across South Street is Reynolds Elementary School. I went there first through third grade. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Wooten, would actually put, mostly boys, in the corner with a dunce cap on their heads. My Mom said her teacher back in the Dark Ages would say. “ Sixty seconds make a minute, big fat head with nothing in it.” Children were not so coddled then as they are today. I always walked home the two blocks for lunch. No school cafeterias even then for me. There was a traffic light at the intersection of South and Reynolds Streets.

dm6582Mr. Kirchembaum in uniform was always there under the traffic lights, a friendly presence keeping us safe from marauders, brigands and speeders.  Picture: (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).  I saw a picture of me the other day, probably third grade, oxford laced–up shoes with socks and a schoolgirl dress, which I exchanged for play clothes each day. We even wore dresses in High School and the hem had to touch the ground when we bent down on our knees. That was when teachers could make you do such things. No more.

Ernest and Pauline Hemingway lived at 1100 South Street in 1928-29 while their house on Whitehead was being renovated for them. He finished “A Farewell to Arms” while there. In his introduction to the 1948 edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” Hemingway wrote:

“This book was written in Paris, France, Key West, Florida, Piggott, Arkansas, Kansas City, Missouri, and the first draft finished near Big Horn, Wyoming. It was begun in the last winter months of 1928 and the first draft finished in September of that year. It was rewritten in the fall and winter of 1928 in Key West and the final writing was finished in Paris in the spring of 1929.

During the time I was writing the first draft my second son Patrick was delivered in Kansas by Caesarean Section and while I was rewriting my father killed himself in Oak Park, Illinois. I was not then quite thirty years old when I finished the book and the day it was published was the day (sic) the stock market crashed.”

That sort of says it all about Mr. Earnest Hemingway, who lived a fast-paced life.


One thought on “South Street”

  1. Great blog today! I always wondered about the Stone House. Is the old Reynolds School now the Boys & Girls Club? Thanks for all the details on one of my fave streets in Key West.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *