I was jogging down Whitehead St. in Key Weird when I heard, “Look honey, it’s another one of those cute, little, carved pineapples.” The sun-pinked, cruise ship, tourist lady looked at her beer-bellied husband who ignored her. He sat on a step in front of the Hemingway House eyeballing a local sun-bronzed hippie girl in a tie-dyed string bikini. The resulting “smack” echoed down the street behind me as I passed.
I stopped jogging when I reached my parked truck. I wasn’t doing any kind of fitness running, just trying to beat the notoriously fast, Key West parking meter timers. While I leaned against the fender sweating and puffing like a rookie angler on the losing end of a swordfish tug-of-war I looked over at a bubbling little fountain with a pineapple on top.
“Hmmm…looks like a blog subject.”
Here’s a little history regarding the significance of the welcome pineapple. Seems it all started with the Carib people way back when. Our boy Christopher Columbus picked up some pineapples and brought them back to Spain in 1493 and the King thought these things were just the best.
When other Spanish explorers sailed back to the Caribbean Islands they figured out that the Carib Indians looked on this fruit as a sign of welcome. If the Spanish set one out at the entrance to a village they would be welcomed in. All the better to swipe any gold the native people had laying around. Nice… real nice.
Anyway, this symbol spread back to Europe, then to the colonies, etc. Key West is and was very much a seafaring town. In days of yore when a Cap’n returned from sea he would impale a pineapple on the porch rail to signify he was back and ready to see visitors. Kind of a waste of good fruit if ya ask me.
Pineapple carvings, statuary, abound on our islands. This very traditional kind of garden art is still alive and well in a very, very untraditional town .
So, I plugged another few quarters into parking meter, spending my hard earned change just for you folks and wandered around Old Town snapping pineapple pix and dodging cranky tourists…by the way, I swear, honest... I never took any photos of good looking hippie chicks.