TBT - The Trouble With Key Largo

The famous director John Huston made a movie classic called 'Key Largo' in 1948, staring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson - it put the Florida Keys in the public spotlight. Key Largo is actually the first of several small islands extending south into the ocean from Florida - like driblets from a dangling penis.

On Key Largo is a rustic dive bar built in the '30s called 'The Caribbean Club', that claims to be the location used in the making of that movie 'Key Largo'. Which turns out to be so much 'Hollywood Ballyhoo' - the film was made entirely in California. The club was actually the last project of famed developer Carl Fisher (the developer of Miami Beach) who wanted a place for the idle rich to hang out while fishing in the Keys.

When I was living and working in Homestead (just south of Miami) I would occasionally take a friend's motorcycle for a ride on Sundays down to the Florida Keys. 'Alabama Jack's' was usually the first stop on those trips - a real funky bar & restaurant operating since the '40s in the mangrove swamp just before you get to Key Largo. It was always a fun place to roll into when going to the Keys - lots of colorful local characters and good ole boy music for the Florida version of Rednecks. And they have great food too!

One Sunday afternoon in 1981 I took off for Key Largo on the borrowed motorcycle looking for a break from work, some distraction - it had been a hard week. As I rolled down highway US1 in Key Largo by the 'Caribbean Club' I saw about 50 or more motorcycles parked in the front and I immediately veered into the place. I pulled around to the back where there was more bikes and several bikers drinking in the outside section of the bar. They gave me and my big bike a once over - but with no motorcycle club colors or tattoos showing on me, they just ignored my arrival. Inside the dark smoky club the music was very loud rock and roll and the place looked like the movie set for 'Dusk Till Dawn' - not the set for the movie 'Key Largo'. Rowdy drunk bikers - don't you love em when you are looking for a fun experience?!

I found a chair at the bar and ordered a double tequila straight up - just to clear my sinuses and get me into the party mood. The guy next to me looked like Danny Trejo - without the smile. Looking around the room I saw some bikers arm wrestling at the small tables scattered about and after a few drinks I felt up to the task of arm wrestling too. A couple failures later I just drank some beers to cool down and to enjoy watching the biker 'moms' jumping up on tables and doing some dirty dancing. Quite a show. I found one particularly girl attractive, but soon after showing my infatuation I started feeling woozy. I had not eaten much that day so I figured the booze was hitting me hard and it was best to just leave and head back for Homestead.

I got on the bike, but in my condition the bike fell over on me. A couple big bikers came over and helped me stand my bike back up and handed me my helmet. Putting the helmet on I cranked up the bike and hit the highway to home, giving it full throttle - and then my helmet flew off when I put it in third gear. I had forgotten to fasten the helmet strap! So pulling the motorcycle well off onto the shoulder and into grass that was about waist high, I parked the bike and went to look for the lost helmet.

Next thing I know it is dawn and I am awakened by rain falling on my face as I lay sprawled on my back in the grass. I had dropped like a rock when some drug a biker had put in my beer hit me. Fortunately the knock out drug kicked in while walking in the grass looking for the helmet - and not while I was driving the motorcycle at 90 mph going down the highway! Once again in my life, a of case of "Shot at and missed - shit at and hit"!

I walked to the highway's edge trying to find the bike. And then a car pulled up alongside me and the driver asked if I was looking for a big motorcycle left parked in the grass the night before. What are the odds? When I said yes - he said the cops looked everywhere for the owner and then finally called a tow company in a Shell station about a mile away.

I walked to the gas station and got a blister from my wet cowboy boots - but that was the total of the damages from my night of 'distraction'.

Yep - I got more lives then most cats.

"Life is an adventure- live it!"

BRM