A Thanksgiving Tale from Key West

Real Estate Agent with Preferred Properties Key West

I was watching NETFLIX'S "The Crown" episode entitled Tywysog Cymru  a couple of nights ago as Prince Charles is sent to Aberystwyth to learn Welsh from an ardent nationalist in preparation for the ceremony for his investiture as Prince of Wales.  The Prince arrived in town with signs of welcome and disdain. He had never been there before and had presumably never done anything to any person there worthy of such scorn. And this reminded me of how my beloved Gertie (above) was treated the first, second, third, and fourth times we walked past the former Strunk Lumber barns in the 100 block of Simonton Street shortly after we moved to Key West in late December 1993. Until then Gertie had lived her entire life in the privacy of her backyard in Denver. I don't recall her having interacted with any other dogs (other than an occasional sniff while walking and that one time she got pregnant on purpose) and certainly know she never met a cat.

We had just moved into the former Eaton Lodge at 511 Eaton Street in Key West which we purchased at auction in October 1993.  The place had been foreclosed by the Small Business Administration which boarded the place up to protect it while under foreclosure - two years of neglect. We moved in, bought a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and fell in love with Key West in an all new way.  Spend Christmastime in Key West and you will understand how enchanting this little town becomes.


I put Gertie's lead around her neck and walked her one-half block to Simonton Street, turned left and walked north past the old Post Office, Cypress House, and headed to Gulf of Mexico two blocks beyond.  At that time there were multiple lumber barns on the east side of Simonton Street which were no longer being used as Strunk Lumber had sold the lumber business to Manely deBoer who relcated the lumber business to Eaton Street. Tall corrugated chain link fences kept ne-er do wells out. As we passed hissing sounds abounded from inside the barns. Gertie paused and turned her head to the right to take in the sounds. She was puzzled. She knew nothing of cats or hissing.

Town homes replaced the former lumber barns on Simonton Street


We made out way to the end of Simonton Street.  The Key West Hotel was located on the east side of the street. There was a small wood pier that extended out to the Gulf of Mexico.  Gertie and I walked out to the edge of the pier to survey the water as early morning light tickled the waters.  We both saw fish swimming in the water. Gertie knew fish even if she did not know cats. We had had a large fountain in our former home in Denver which had two very large KOI.


We walked back to the land and moved over to the waters' edge. Gertie stuck her snout into the water. She recoiled back and hacked the salt water out of her mouth. "Egads" she said in dog-speak. Never again.


As the days progressed Gertie's appreciation of the cat hissing turned from puzzlement to rage. Gertie would start to growl and try drag me across the street to show those cats who was the boss. Gertie never met any of those cats in person. It would not have ended well. She met a couple of people who climbed over our fence in Denver. One ended up in jail after his leg ended up in Gertie's mouth.


I am thankful to have had Gertie a part of my life for many years. I think of her often. I am very thankful that I live on this little island out in the middle of the ocean. Far away from all the craziness up north. In America.






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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Gary. Your historical knowledge of Key West sets you apart from other agents. Like your posts! Enjoy the holidays on the Keys!

Nov 28, 2019 04:54 AM #1
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Good morning, Gary... loved your story about Gertie. I, too, am grateful for all the four-legged friends that have been and are in my life. Unconditional love at its finest. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Nov 28, 2019 04:54 AM #2
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Gary(and the spirit of Gertie) - I am sure you are quite thankful for these memories.  Those of us who continue to learn about Key West through your posts are likely impressed with your knowledge of the area which extends beyond real estate. Happy Thanksgiving.  

Nov 28, 2019 04:58 AM #3
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Thank you for sharing your story of Gertie - and more insight about your knowledge of Key West. I've never been, but it sounds like a wonderful place!

Nov 28, 2019 06:18 AM #4
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Great story Gary! My now ex-wife left me four years ago and took both dogs! One of them passed away 2 years ago without my ever seeing her again, and I have only seen the other one once! I miss them EVERY DAY

Nov 28, 2019 08:30 AM #5
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Gary - Key West has such a storied history - I would love to visit someday soon. And I'm sure Gertie also appreciated the warmth of Florida after Denver!

Nov 28, 2019 10:01 AM #6
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I have had a dog most of my life . They add so much value to your health and mental outlook with their unconditional love .

Nov 28, 2019 10:18 AM #7
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Key West seems like a pretty great place to have Thanksgiving with people they love!

Nov 28, 2019 07:36 PM #10
Michelle Cherie CarrCrowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

I hope you and your family enjoyed a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving 

Nov 28, 2019 11:31 PM #11
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Gertie sounds like a very speical friend, companion and protector.  Sounds like she took to Key West in due time as have you. Love the Charlie Brown Porch... Home Sweet Home for sure!


Nov 29, 2019 12:33 AM #12
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Hi Gary, I've never been to the Keys but, you make Key West sound so appealing. I can tell you're grateful for Key West as well as your dog Gertie.

Nov 29, 2019 05:38 AM #13
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Love the story, sure you miss Gertie, and the photos showing the transition are well done. Have visited key West in january and understand why you like it so much.

Nov 30, 2019 07:35 AM #16
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Gary- I am so happy that this was featured!  Loved your tale of Gertie and I've been told I need to watch The Crown. 

Dec 01, 2019 10:29 AM #23
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Sweet story. I love your signature. It really stands out.

Dec 02, 2019 10:24 AM #24
Eva Fisher

An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who has been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner simply because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this matter here on your web site.

Dec 03, 2019 02:08 AM #25
Reece Kirk

After checking out a few of the articles on your blog, I truly appreciate your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and tell me your opinion.

Dec 03, 2019 02:09 AM #26
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I just watched that episode of The Crown last night!  I can't binge it all at once...I like to savor and appreciate each episode.  That scene at the end when Charles was talking to Elizabeth in her bedroom....just tells you so much about the Brit royalty.  Anyway, a touching story about Gerti,  glad he/she was in your life!

Dec 05, 2019 07:42 AM #27
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