Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bottle Wall: End of an Era

Not long ago I was surprised to see a letter to the editor in Key West's muckraking, bottom-stirring-up, irreverent Blue Newspaper from a former neighbor, local legend Carolyn Gorton Fuller, usually identified as the Bottle Wall Lady.
Back in the eighties, or earlier, she had started constructing a "wall" out of old bottles in front of her house, located on a sharp turn near the celebrated historical Key West Cemetery. Occasionally a car would crash into it, and it would reappear later in slightly different form. Over the years it became a tourist attraction and artistic motif.
One day it simply disappeared. Inquiring about it, I was told, "I went down to La Te Da, and after having two martinis started thinking about it. I had one more martini and came home and just knocked it down with a sledge hammer. I got tired of rebuilding it."
In the aftermath of Hurricane Georges, a neighbor of hers hired me to rebuild a fence between his property and hers. Knowing her idiosyncratic tendencies, I sent my helper, a high school dropout by the name of Tim, over to her for an hour every morning to see what she needed done.
"What have I gotta do that for, man?" he'd be asking.
"You gotta do that in the morning," I explained, "so we can do this for the rest of the day."
A short investment in time kept her at bay for the rest of the day. She was in her dotage even then, and more than slightly pixilated in the tradition of many an elderly Key West grande dame.
When I saw her letter, I was glad to see that she was still around and raising hell as usual about something after all these years, and all the more shocked to see that she had died the very next day!
She had an interesting write-up in the local rag. Interesting to see that they didn't gloss over her, ummm, original personality.

Update: Since there's been some degree of interest in the Bottle Wall and its creator, we've snagged another photo and added a couple of links to some pertinent stories. Carolynophiles, enjoy!

On "cashing in her chips" . . .

On the demise of her marvelous autumn-mobile . . .

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