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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #187  (Vol. 4, No. 43)  This edition is for the week of October 20--26, 2003.

The Ghost of the Cabbage Key Inn
 by Will Moriaty
"Kill Bill, Vol. 1"
 by Mike Smith
Are You A MOUI?....Things I Didn't Know, But Maybe I Should Have....Slush Pile....One-Shots
 by Brandon Jones
Comics News....Alan Moore....Vampi
 by John Lewis
Halloween Reflections
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Happy Birthday....Pop Culture: a Definition....Trick Or Treat....Life is not a Cabaret, Old Chum!....Get Well Soon....Rocket Man....What The?....Passing On
 by Mike Smith
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The Ghost of the Cabbage Key Inn

In addition to the Florida Keys, my wife and I plan to spend two days at the Cabbage Key Inn in Lee County, Florida in our December South Florida vacation.

Accessible only by boat or helicopter, this tropical island paradise off of Florida’s southwest coast was built in the 1930’s by playwright Mary Roberts Rinehart. I made reference to this same resort in my book review of John W. Hall’s book “Hot Damn! Alligators in the Casino, Nude Women in the Grass, How Seashells Changed the Course of History and Other Dispatches from Paradise” (La Floridiana, PCR #179)

The Inn, with its collection of over thirty thousand one dollar bills signed by patrons and stapled to the walls of its bar, sits atop a Calusa Indian shell mound. It has six guest rooms and six cottages. Both visitors and boaters typically access the island from Bokeelia or Pine Island. The Inn’s restaurant specialty is called the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and is said to have been the inspiration for Jimmy Buffett’s famous tune of the same name.

The Ghostly Presence Felt by Inn Keepers and Guests Alike
Neither Inn Keepers nor visitors have been ignored by a ghostly presence when it “wants” its presence to be known, seen or felt.

The typical story is that of a woman with long brownish hair who is wearing a blue skirt, black belt and white blouse with long sleeves who wanders into the guests rooms then sits down on a couch or stands next to a bed. She always remains silent, conducts this same routine for up to half an hour before leaving the room without opening the door! The guests never seem terrified, but are left inquisitive.

In addition to this apparition, there are physical manifestations. One day the Inn’s general manager and a server were alone in the main dining room, just standing there drinking a cup of coffee and talking.

There was a table between the two of them that had an empty tub that was used to bus dishes from the tables to the kitchen. As the two carried on their conversation, the bus tub shot off of the table flying about twelve feet clear across the room crashing into a nearby wall. The two witnesses will testify that no human hands created the tubs frightening flight.

The ghost is believed to be that of middle aged woman who contracted tuberculosis in New York and came to the inn to recover. Sadly, she passed away as a result of complications from the illness.

As Inn Keeper and visitor alike have witnessed an apparition of middle-aged woman, this is the most logical “candidate”. Of course the spirit of a Calusa Indian may be having a little bit of its own version of “fun”!

If you ever plan to spend some quality time shelling or beachcombing along Florida’s southwest coast, consider staying at the Cabbage Key Inn (http://www.cabbage-key.com/). It’s truly a Florida Phenomena!

Book Review:
Haunt Hunters Guide To Florida“Haunt Hunters Guide to Florida”
Joyce Elson Moore, 1998, 168 pp.
Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida

The first “ghost” story I ever read was in 1963 when I was in the second grade. It was a story my older sister warned me not to read titled “The “Thing” Attacks” that appeared in a Frank Edwards book on the paranormal called “Strangest of All” (1956, 1962, 189 pp, Ace Books, new York, N.Y.). Against her best advise I grabbed a flashlight one evening and read it under the covers one fateful evening. When I was done reading the story I’d wished I’d have listened to my big sister - - I couldn’t sleep for over a week, the story terrified me so much.

Some sixteen years later I visited my sister in Greensboro, North Carolina. While browsing at a local bookstore, I picked up several wonderful regional books on the haunted Carolinas; “Ghosts of the Carolinas” by Nancy and Bruce Roberts (1962, 1967, 1977, 62 pp., McNally and Loftin Publisher, Charlotte, North Carolina); “An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts and Mysterious Occurrences in the Old North State” by Nancy and Bruce Roberts (1959, 1967, 1977, 53 pp., McNally and Loftin Publisher, Charlotte, North Carolina); and one year later, “This Haunted Land Where Ghosts Still Roam” (1970, 1980, 71 pp., McNally and Loftin Publisher, Charlotte, North Carolina). I read and enjoyed each story in the three books, but fortunately did not lie awake at nights terrified after reading them.

For years it seemed that books exclusive to Florida hauntings languished as compared to the Carolinas. Finally in 1998 I found a copy of what I consider to be the finest book on the subject, the “Haunt Hunters Guide to Florida”.

Florida native author, environmentalist and Folk Hero, Joyce Elson Moore breaths incredible life and color into these tales, adding a Florida twist by describing native flora and fauna which adds to the depth and character to these stories - - she even recommends good restaurants and lodging which I have taken her up on.

Her selection of thirty-three tales is divided into seven regions of the State where they occur.

In the Northwest there are amongst others the “Dorr House in Pensacola’, the “Lighthouse in Pensacola Bay” and the ‘Shell Mound at Cedar Key”.

Northeast Florida includes the ”Tabby House on Ft. George Island”, the “Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine” (LA FLA #133) and the “Devil’s Millhopper Near Gainesville”

Central east presents us with “Waldo’s Mountain in Vero Beach”, and “Cassadega Near Daytona”.

The Central covers the “Maitland Art Center” (LA FLA #131) and the "Inside-Outside House" in Longwood (LA FLA #177), both of which have been covered in this column.

Central West features the Tampa Theater (PCR #82) and the "Center Place in Brandon”, while the Southwest covers “The Boca Grande Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island” and the “Palm Cottage in Naples”.

The final region covered is the Southeast with the “Coral Castle in Homestead” (PCR #84), “Biltmore House in Coral Gables” and “Colours in Key West”, as well as three others.

Although other Florida ghost story books are finally appearing on bookshelves, “Haunt Hunters Guide to Florida” is THE essential book on the subject.

So on that rainy Florida day or night when the best thing to do is lay around in bed or on your easy chair or couch, curl up with this fine book of Sunshine State ghosts and hauntings.

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.