Stock Island

A separate Island, Stock Island, just east of Key West, has always been for me one small bridge away up Route 1, the Overseas Highway to Miami. dm0818Picture:  (State Archives of Florida/ McDonald).  Back in the nineteenth century, it was a remote place. Some think it got it’s name because cows and horses were kept there, but the island was named in the 1850’s and there is a photo of cows there but not until the early twentieth century, so it’s not really known where the name came from. dm2538Could be a man named Mr. Stock lived out there. Reaching back into my younger years in the 50’s and 60’s, there are several venues and places that I remember.  Photo:  (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).

My Family would go to the “Islander” drive-in theater built in 1953. At the time it had the largest screen in the state with room for 600 cars. During intermission, we would go to the concession stand for popcorn and/or go ride the live horses in a ring in the far corner of the theater.dm2101 I don’t remember ever watching the movie and usually fell asleep after intermission, but it was good family entertainment at the time.  Photo:  (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).

A Dog Racing track opened in 1953. I went several times when I was a young adult before I married. We would double date and each put in a dollar a race and take turns picking the greyhound dog. We won a little and, didn’t know what we were doing, didn’t care, had fun; and it was a pretty cheap date. There was also an Auto Race track out there, mainly revved up jalopies racing, stock cars I guess.

Monroe General Hospital opened in 1944 on Stock Island. Next to it was the Old Folks Home where my father would take me on Saturdays to visit my Uncle Seely. I only realize now how much he enjoyed the hugs and the visit. Children are so oblivious. Further on down the road was the Animal Shelter. And even further was the garbage dump. Today it is not used, is mounded over with dirt and grass and called Mount Trashmore. Most times there are carrion birds circling it. I guess they still know. Nearby are luxury town homes with very large boat slips in front of each one.

Further down was a golf course. It was there in the fifties.rc18058 I know because when I was young, my uncle played there frequently and would talk about it. More recently, it was made over into a Rees Jones course, which I hear is pretty challenging to play especially with all the fauna, mainly vegetarian Iguanas and many strange looking birds of a feather.  Photo:  (State Archives of Florida).

Lower Keys Medical Center is further down the road and across the street from the hospital is Florida Keys Community College, which has The Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center.  dm6575Photo:  (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).  Williams spent a lot of time in Key West in the 70’s and 80’ and had a small house there.   My brother said he used to deliver mail to him. Also there is a regular size outdoor heated pool at the college. It is used for lane swimming, water safety classes for children, the High School swim team, and the Navy uses it for underwater diver training. And one time when we were there the students in the Sea Perch program, about 25 of them, were testing their robotic gizmos in the pool. We enjoyed watching them. Go to to see what it’s all about.

In the early fifties there was a car ferry that left from Stock Island each weekend for gambling in Batista’s Cuba. Cuba is again open to ships coming from the United States, but no gambling in Castro’s Cuba. Reports are that the amenities are not great. Cuba is pretty much stuck in the fifties.

My father who worked on the P&O shipping freighters that went from Cuba to Key West and then Tampa in the 20’s told me that it is a beautiful country. Cruise ships are now going to several ports with passengers taking day trips on shore.

dm1259Stock Island seems to be coming into it’s own these days. The Key West Yacht Club is out there, as are several other nice restaurants. There are plans to make a seaport walk along the waterfront where the few remaining working shrimp boats are docked that are the ones that get the large pink shrimp for which Key West is known. Stock Island is maybe becoming the funky little place Key West used to be.  Photo:  (State Archives of Florida/McDonald).

One thought on “Stock Island”

  1. Another winning blog post, Joanne and I think you’re correct about Stock. Key West is in dnger of becoming a gated community resort – all the colorful and quirky folks who made it so special can no longer afford to live there! So glad you were there ‘in the day’ and are giving us all a peek into vintage Key West.

Leave a Reply

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