This is my favorite paragraph from the National Geographic’s
piece on Cedar Key:
“I sat down to lunch with a young Virginia artist, Dan Moncure, and a bearded veteran author, George Walton. “ I came here for a weekend three years ago, “George said. “and I have not found the time to leave.” Dan came down for the arts festival that Bessie organized, then decided to come back.
What magic does this old shell heap of a town have?
I fell in love with this crazy place when I saw the chain and padlock they use to lock up the front door of the bank.” Bessie said. “Last weekend,” George said, “there were eight Ph.D.’s in this hotel, escaping. Eight people from the top drawer.’ “Some with no drawers at all,” said Bessie”
Bessie and her husband, Loyal “Gibby” bought the hotel in 1946 it was an old, dirty and dilapidated building. They transformed the hotel and it became a secret hideaway for famous people from Pearl Buck, Vaughan Monroe, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to Richard@ Boone, of the television series Paladin. In 1973 Bessie, by now widowed, sold the hotel and perished in a house fire in 1975. The mystique of the hotel continued to attract artists and performers of the era, the best known of whom was Florida songwriter and balladeer Jimmy Buffett, who visited the Island Hotel often during these years. In his song Incomunicado, he pays tribute to Cedar Key and the mystery writer John D. McDonald:
Travis McGee’s still in Cedar Key
That’s what John McDonald said