Appearing This Month

The Old Anchor Inn – “The Snake Pit”

People slept in their cars behind the bar. The restrooms often flooded; you walked on bricks to keep your shoes dry. Men in clothes swiped from clotheslines gambled tens and twenties at the pool table. The picket fence lining the sidewalk was erected to appease the city; there had been too many complaints of saloon patrons falling out the front door. Murals on the insides of the window shutters were painted by Monkey Tom, swapped for a "bottomless" bar tab. Bud and Dorothy MacArthur's place at 208 Duval always was crowded - but more at three in the morning that at three in the afternoon. A blue cloud hung low, directly above the roof.

Many survivors of The Snake Pit recall wee-hours dance marathons and Joe Cocker singing "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" 20 or 30 times a night. Speaking of the subject, there was a fine message crawled on the wall in the men's room: "Life and ink run out at the same time. - Squid" As we know the quote found its way to immortality.

There are more Anchor Inn stories that can't be told than ones that will be told. One evening, in 1972, Jimmy was fortunate to escape the bar's upstairs apartment and a woman gone crazy on Lower Duval. Curse words, a broken beer bottle and a hasty exit were reported. Several of Jimmy's most valued possessions escaped harm and possible theft. Indeed, that's one of the stories we don't tell.

Read the complete piece above and more in Jimmy Buffett, The Key West Years.