Critter Alley

Critter Alley

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Key West Trip High Point...Meow!

Our visit to the Hemingway home in Key West was truly a high point for me. And in more ways than one. During the course of the tour we found out Hemingway's home is built on the highest point in Key West. It's a whopping 16 feet above sea level. That's pretty high. Well it is for Key West, anyway.

Right inside the gate I saw a sign asking visitors to alert staff if any kittens are seen wandering close to the gate that opens to the street. The cats must be trained NOT to exit the grounds. (I'm truly impressed by this fact since I've never been able to train Bogey not to bolt out the door).

Here's the Hemingway house and some of it's more interesting rooms.

The house is surrounded by palm trees and tropical plants. They provide shade, help keep the inside cool, and form an inviting oasis.

This is the living room found right off the entry foyer. The furniture is just as lovely now as it was then. I wish I had those gorgeous windows in my house.

Upstairs, the master bedroom features a hand carved headboard. Beautiful and intricate.

The bedroom has doors leading out to a full length deck that overlooks the grounds. Nice view, huh?

This upstairs bathroom featured the first bathroom in Key West with running water. A rooftop tank gathered rainwater that could be funneled into the tub and toilet. At the time, such an arrangement must have seemed the height of luxury.

Next to the house stands Hemingway's studio. Years ago, a walkway connected the upstairs studio to the upper balcony of the home. That meant Hemingway only had a short and scenic stroll to the office each day.

We weren't allowed to get any closer than this to Hemingway's desk and typewriter. I could almost sense the ghost of his muse in the room.

Hemingway's wife in Key West, Pauline, surprised him by building a beautiful state-of-the art swimming pool.

But alas, Hemingway was not happy. He dug a penny from his pocket and handed it to her, grousing that since she'd spent so much of his money to build the pool, she might as well take his last penny, too.

Pauline, having a wicked sense of humor, embedded the penny in concrete right next to the pool as a tongue-in-cheek reminder.

Legend has it that Hemingway was given a six-toed cat (poly-dactyl, or extra toes) as a gift. Sea faring men saw poly-dactyls as good luck. The cat found a true friend in Hemingway. Its descendants roam the grounds to this day. Currently 52 cats, all reported to be descendants of the original cat, are on the property. About half of them are poly-dactyl. They have free run, going in and out of the house as they wish. Of course there's an awful lot of nifty places for them to hang out on the grounds, too.

Over the years, kitties have come and then gone on to the Rainbow Bridge. This lovely little cemetery tells the story.

I got to meet several of the feline residents. This one posed to show off his extra toe. Looks like he's wearing a mitten, doesn't it?

Several of the youngsters were quite rambunctious. They pounced on the leaves I rustled for their entertainment. One paw smacked my hand and nearly drew blood. I didn't care. Who else can say they got scratched by a descendant of Hemingway's cat?

The property also has a gift shop. The cats get to hang out wherever they want there, too.

If you're a writer, history buff, or cat lover and travel to Key West, be sure to stop by Hemingway's home for a visit. And do tell the kitties I sent you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

I love being able to see some of the sights I've never see--thanks to your posts.

Thanks, Pat, for packing us into your suitcase and taking us along on your trip. ;)

Unknown said...

What a charming place and how interesting about the cats. Have a terrific Tuesday.
Best wishes Molly

Linda O'Connell said...

So thrilled to see the photos. We were on a cruise bound for Key West when a tug sank, and our ship was diverted. We were so looking forward to seeing The Hemingway House. Thanks for the up close look and informative post,

Sketching with Dogs said...

What a fantastic place to visit with such a colourful and humourous history.
Love the story about the penny and the cats were wonderful. The photo of the polydactyl cat is amazing.
Lynne x

Two French Bulldogs said...

Moms dream destination
Lily & Edward

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

We used to live in Key West, many moons ago. I toured the Hemingway house with my mother when she came to visit. Your pictures brought back to my memory that lovely day. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome place, i never knew he liked cats! Great photos, thanks for sharing.

Tammy said...

Wow! I had no idea. Cool trip, and I enjoyed the pictures!

Ryker said...

What a great place with a wondrous history. I am a huge cat lover and can appreciate the love they show for the multi-toed kitties!

Unknown said...

What beautiful photos, Pat. Thanks so much for tucking us in your pocket and providing a mini vacation through the pics and commentary. So interesting too about the cats. Lots of great information here on Critter Alley!

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Sounds like a wonderful tour! What a neat place to visit!