Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Betsy Jacocks, Islamorada

“Growing up in the Keys was wonderful! It was very quiet. 

Cheeca used to close right after Easter and that was our playground. We would go over there and enjoy the pool, roam the hotel. We would ride our horses on the golf course; on the driving range. There were a few of us who had horses down here back in the early 70’s. Cheeca was a fabulous place to go hang out for the day. We would just take off on our horses in the morning and peruse the island until the street lights came on. It was unusual, but it was a lot of fun!

I had a kudamundi growing up; they are a cross between an ant eater and a raccoon. They are indigenous to Central America. One of my mother’s friends came back with a couple of them and ended up with one of the babies. My father got us a Saint Bernard, we had a boar, and for Christmas when I was 10 years old, my parents bought me horse. Little did they know she was in foal. We had a hurricane that year and she foaled in the back room; my mother and I assisted the horse in her delivery. Yep, we had a foal born right here at the Trading Post in the back room. They lived where the parking lot is now, there was a corral there. Parking wasn’t such a big deal back then!

There was a lot of boating, we did a lot on the water. My only rule, really, was when the streetlights came on, I had to go home; that meant it was time for dinner. Other than that, it was pretty idyllic for a kid, it was very safe. Nothing was really off limits.

My parents bought The Trading Post in 1966. It was a lot different. Tourism hadn’t really caught on yet, so our customers were primarily commercial fisherman. Like I said, everything closed after Easter, you could walk down US1, play tennis, whatever.

The Keys used to have drive -thru bars. Oh ya! In Key Largo, the tall building in the middle of the highway, the one with the mural on the side, that was a drive thru bar. I think it was called The Shorthand. There was a window on the side; you could just pull up to the window, order a rum and coke, and be on your way. All of the bars and restaurants would serve ‘to go’ drinks. Right when you got into Key West there was a liquor store on the ocean side and they had a drive thru bar; now it’s just a drive thru liquor store. Things have changed a lot!

I moved away and went to college in Miami and went to LSU for a while. I really missed the water, being land locked is just one of those things; made me miss the Keys, the water.

My father died suddenly in 1978 and that is when I decided to come home and help my mom. We thought about selling but decided to wait and see how things went. I bought the store from her in 1992. We just celebrated 50 years as a family business. It is very unusual. It will probably be 3rd generation in the future.

So much has changed down here. The cost of living, the population, the construction. I couldn’t let my kids roam the island when they were young like I did, but some things have stayed the same. The sense of community hasn’t changed’ the way the community rallies around someone in need. The beauty of the area hasn’t changed either and I hope it never does

Nearest and dearest to my heart are my 2 kids. My daughter is about to have her first baby, my first grandbaby, and my son is running the property here in the back. I am very proud of both of them.

The life style of the Keys is also near and dear to me. I feel very fortunate to be able to still live here; it makes me so happy. I never get tired of the views; to get to see them every day is amazing for me. I never get tired of the atmosphere. This is all pretty normal for me. I’m not all that interesting at the end of the day.”

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