Laetitia chose Key West as the next Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours destination. The island was named Cayo Hueso during its period as a Spanish territory. The name translated means “bone cay” or “bone island,” a name derived from its use by the Native American predecessors as a burial place.
Two of Key West’s most famous residents were Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. Hemingway moved there with his second wife, Pauline, in the late 1920s, and lived there off and on throughout the 1930s. While there, he worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls, Death in the Afternoon, and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. He used depression-era Key West as the setting for his novel To Have and Have Not. Laetitia and her group visited Hemingway’s home on Whiteside Street. Hemingway was fond of polydactyl cats (those with extra toes). The house staff takes care of a number of these six- and seven-toed felines that live on the property.
Tennessee Williams was a frequent visitor to the island in the 1940s and purchased a home there in 1949. He is said to have worked on A Streetcar Named Desire while staying at the La Concha Hotel in 1947. Williams’ home is privately owned and not open for tours. Though Williams and Hemingway were sometimes in Key West at the same time, they allegedly only met once.
The Mind’s Eye group was scheduled to go on a sailboat sunset cruise, so Laetitia gave them some time off in the afternoon to go to the beach. She sat on a bar stool shaded by a thatched roof, sipping a piña colada. She was enjoying the gentle breeze and her view of blue water, white surf, sparkling sand, and gulls. She knew she would have to write a limerick, but was enjoying the scene and was in no hurry to get down to work. Then a limerick presented itself.
The beach bar was mostly filled with tourists, but there was one table of women from the local community. They were talking about a neighborhood lady of French descent. Mimi was in late middle age and unmarried, but loved children. When she saw kids playing in the neighborhood, she invited them to come up on her porch for lemonade and cookies. A brouhaha ensued when a neighborhood boy told his parents that he and several friends had been invited inside to see Mimi’s chest. Without talking to Mimi, the parents called the police, who investigated. They found that the chest in question was an ornate wooden trunk filled with interesting family treasures that her great grandparents had brought with them when they sailed from France.
Fascinated were boys in Key West
With Miss Mimi’s magnificent chest
Which they wanted to see
For it came cross the sea
In a ship with her forebears from Brest.