The Key West Cemetery certainly looks creepy and forboding, with its cracked and toppled stones and worn above-ground crypts. The 19 acre graveyard is home to an estimated 100,000 souls-- to put that in perspective, the island of Key West's population is around 30,000. To make matters creepier, it actually had to be moved after an 1846 hurricane washed away many coffins. But once you really start poking around, you'll see why it's such a popular attraction: many of the gravestones are inscribed with humourous sayings.
Pearl Roberts' grave infamously declares "I told you I was sick". Another memorializes Thomas Romer, a privateer from the Bahamas who, according to his grave was a "good citizen" for 65 of his 108 years. Edwina Lariz was such a devoted fan of Julio Iglesias that it was set in stone on her grave marker. Also look for the tombstone of Gloria M. Russel, which states, "I'm just resting my eyes". Martha M. Perez's grave is inscribed with the phrase "the best flan maker". And definitely check out the stone marking the grave of Alan Dale Willcox: it says, "If you're reading this, you desperately need a hobby". Ouch. Another dryly states, "I'll always remember my so-called friends". Double ouch.
Other well-known residents of the Key West cemetery include "Sloppy" Joe Russell, a rumrunner, bartender (at Sloppy Joe's, of course) and fishing guide to one Ernest Hemingway-- people have been known to leave bottles of booze at Russell's grave. There's also Abraham Lincoln Sawyer, a little person whose final wish was to be buried in a man-sized tomb. The graveyard has a memorial to victims of the USS Maine, a ship that sank in Havana Harbor in the late 1800's and a section devoted to those who died during the Cuban Revolution. There are even gravestones for 3 Yorkshire terriers and a pet deer named Elfina.
Don't have too much fun, though...legend has it that the ghost of a mysterious Bahamian woman has been known to terrify anyone who is too disrespectful while visiting. And don't be surprised if you hear disembodied voices or see shadowy apparitions appear-- it is still a graveyard, after all.
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