I was surprised and saddened, too, to read that John D. Rockefeller did not attend Flagler's funeral. Years ago, I read Ron Chernow's excellent Rockefeller biography, Titan -- I'm going to go look it up now and see if there's any mention of a falling out between the men at the end of their lives or other explanation. Perhaps traveling relatively great distances for funerals in that period wasn't common. But it does seem odd, for the two figures who forged such a gigantic enterprise together. I especially liked Standiford's comparison of their legacies, in which he points out that Flagler could have, like Rockefeller, simply benefited from the multiplying proceeds of the Standard Oil empire -- and be remembered now through universities, national parks and major real estate developments like the Rockefellers -- but chose not to. "Rockefeller did the safe and sane thing," Standiford writes, "and Flagler built his Speedway to Sunshine."
It's always hard to read about hurricanes when you live in the Keys, especially about the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, which killed so many. You inevitably start to question your decision in building your life here. I was fortunate enough to interview a number of survivors of that hurricane (yep, that's me name-checked on p. 232) -- and looking back now, it's remarkable how many people decided to stay even after going through that horrific storm. Even those who, like Bernard Russell, lost most of their extended family. I hope that, if the worst were to happen here, I would have the emotional wherewithal to do the same. And I pray that, with our advanced forecasting and analyzing technologies, we will prepare for such a storm to avoid that kind of loss of life (even though, like a lot of Key West residents, I am highly dubious about evacuating for all but the worst case scenario storm). I found I took no notes while reading the section about the hurricane -- it felt like I couldn't stop long enough even to put pen to paper.
|Henry and Mary Lily Flagler arrive in Key West|
on the First Train, Jan. 22, 1912.
|Huge crowds turned out to greet Flagler|
when he rode his own iron to Key West.
|The remains of Long Key station in February 1936.|
|The Federal Emergency Relief Administration sent a rescue train|
-- but it was too late to save the people in Islamorada.