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Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 04/2023
  • 978-0-9886651-3-2
  • 148 pages
  • $69.95
Richard M. McGarry
Author, Illustrator
Faces of Old Key West 1918

A collection of portraits and personal stories of local Key Westers a century ago that show what life was like on the island before it became a glamorous resort.

Reviews
McGarry has crafted a lovely portrait of Key West over a hundred years ago, when it was one of the largest cities in Florida, assembled from his own paintings, photographs from a government pass system during the First World War, and archival photos. Each two-page spread reproduces a waterfront security pass, from which a face from the past peers out at us, plus a McGarry painting, and a brief story on one side and then an archival photo on the facing page. The security passes were only saved by a series of almost miraculous coincidences, recounted here. When McGarry stumbled across them, he was inspired to paint and uncover the stories behind the grocers, nuns, railroad workers and more documented in them.

The depth of McGarry’s research is impressive. His art uncovers the stories of people from prominent citizens to young telegraph boys. Key West is portrayed as a hub of industry, a bustling railroad town and a multifaith community. He is sensitive to the dynamics of race in Key West at the time, profiling a leader of the Ku Klux Klan as well as a Black harbor pilot and one-time child laborer Louis Welters, seen at age 13 in his security pass but also, in a photo from 2006, at age 100. He also reflects briefly on some gendered differences in Key West at the time, with one person profiled only receiving a pass because she possibly needed to bring her husband lunch.

McGarry’s love for Key West shines through his portrait paintings and the stories and photographs he shares, and the reader will grow to love them as well. Faces of Old Key West 1918 conveys both an artistic and a historic narrative, helping the reader feel the personalities of these men and women who lived on the island. Anyone looking for a specific name or organization, whether an ancestor or simply the origin of a street name will benefit from a helpful index. A winning mixture of art and history, Faces of Old Key West 1918 is sure to appeal to anyone who loves the keys, tourists and locals alike.

Takeaway: A lovely collection of photographs and paintings of Key West and its people, circa 1918.

Comparable Titles: Maureen Ogle’s Key West: History of an Island of Dreams, John Viele’s Tales of Yesterday's Florida Keys.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 04/2023
  • 978-0-9886651-3-2
  • 148 pages
  • $69.95

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