In Key West, Florida, locals know how to keep life exciting all the way to the end. In the island's one-of-a-kind cemetery, the humorous last words of Key West eccentrics leave their marks.
History Is Alive Among the Dead
In 1847, after a hurricane washed away the island's original graveyard, the current Key West cemetery was built in its place. Due to the city's high water table, most of the graves were placed above ground, similar to those in New Orleans . Although it was originally designed to hold only 15,000 people, the Key West cemetery today contains a whopping 80,000 to 100,000 graves and is one of the island's most popular tourist attractions.
Tombs of well-known residents like “Sloppy” Joe Russell, a local bar owner, and William “Bill Money” Curry, millionaire shipping magnate, along with a section dedicated to those who died in the Cuban revolution, all represent Key West's unique past and heritage. But despite the immeasurable history kept alive by these notable graves, the ones that seem to attract most visitors are those that evoke Key West's particularly quirky sense of humor.
Take It to the Grave
According to tour guides, the most popular of these amusing headstones is that of local hypochondriac (and quite possibly comedic genius) BP "Pearl" Roberts. Her famous epitaph comically quips, "I Told You I Was Sick."
Another hilarious and well-known epitaph is that of Key West local Georgio Aversa who died in 2008. His wife chose to memorialize Georgio's life through comedy with the line, “Jesus Christ These People Are Horrible”, something she says Georgio exclaimed about 20 times per day. If you want a peek at Georgio's memory, you'll have to crane your neck, as it's 10 feet in the air atop a recently built mausoleum.
Other notably witty epitaphs include literary references (appropriate for an island that boasts more writers than anywhere in the U.S.) like, "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," a line from Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." While others like "I'm Just Resting My Eyes," "I've Always Dreamed of Owning a Small Place in Key West," "Devoted Fan of Singer Julio Iglesias," and "If You're Reading This You Desperately Need a Hobby," are just a few famous last words that prove residents of Key West don't take life (or death) too seriously.
Guided tours of the cemetery are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. through the Historic Florida Keys Foundation. Reservations are required.
(Adapted from curiosity.com/Ashley Gabriel)
When (& if) I die, I don’t want a conventional funeral, with everyone being sad. Instead, I want fireworks to celebrate my life! I told my husband & he said fireworks weren’t his thing. I said they were my thing. He offered a compromise; he said he would stick a sparkler in my behind. Somehow, I didn’t feel that would be the same thing. What do you think?