Key West

Key West was a very interesting place to be in the early 1960's. I shared an apartment with another shipmate . Our landlord was Bruce Sales , a WWI veteran who went to war with his friend , Ernest Hemmingway. Bruce showed me the scars on his legs caused by being gassed with mustard gas in the trenches. Also Bruce had books from the 1700's which used human skin as the covers ( both black and white ). I guess back then there was a shortage of Naugas ( to make naugahide covers).

So Bruce told me stories about his friend Ernest who wrote many of his stories in Key West. Key West is an island about 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. In 1960, there were over 200 bars on this tiny island. President Truman liked to go there to escape Washington. His home ( the " Little White House " ) was the Admiral's Building when I was in Key West.

Right after Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to kill President Truman in 1950 , Truman was on the Sub base in a car headed for the "Little White House ". A sub sailor in dungarees wanted to dump garbage in the dumpster across the road from his sub. A security guard said it would be all right as long as he wasn't spotted by Truman wearing his dungarees. ( All the other sailors were in dress whites). So , just as the cars came around the corner , a guard told this poor sailor to jump into the dumpster. When Truman's car came in sight , a Secret Service agent spotted movement in the dumpster and they opened fire on the dumpster! After many rounds were fired, and President Truman was safely clear , the Secret Service surrounded the dumpster and told the poor sailor inside to come out with his hands up. The mound of garbage moved ( our sailor had burrowed under it ) and a head poked up with one scared sailor really shaking in his boots!

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