Saturday, March 20, 2010

salvage spoils

Here in Key West, on the corner of Fleming and Simonton, we've got an antique store with a kind of cool name. . .
"Duck & Dolphin"

Being an antique store, it makes sense that there'd be a lot of "old stuff" in there.
Some of the "old stuff" is just barely getting old and some of the "old stuff" has been old for so long it's used to it.
But then there's the "old stuff" that's so old, it could be the all the other old stuff's grandmother.

That's the stuff I imagine about.
The stuff that's so old, it could have been on a boat in 1823 sailing west for the Americas when it's ride got hung up on the reef and started taking on water.

That's when boatloads of folks, the likes of Ben Baker, Hog Johnson, John Geiger and Bull Weatherford would race against each other out to the site of the wreck for a
"winner take all"
claim on the spoils.
Then they could either sell the stuff at auction or decorate their newly built and otherwise empty palatial mansions
with it.
Wreckers made pant-loads of money on the misfortunes of others. (like wall street bankers today?)

When Wreckers would salvage whatever they could from the shipwrecks on the reef, it was theirs to keep; Finders keepers was the "common law of the sea".
Then, when Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821 and Key West was declared an "official port of entry" a year later, the salvage spoils went overboard like rats jumping ship and Key West became the richest city in the United States.

. . .But what about the stuff?

Before the stuff found it's way to Duck & Dolphin,
before the stuff was salvaged from the briny deep,
before the stuff went down in the briny deep,
before the stuff was shipwrecked on the reef and,
before the stuff was even loaded on that ill-fated boat. . .

. . .Who's stuff was it?

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