The Lonely Ghosts of Yeehaw Junction
The Desert Inn, Bar, Restaurant and Package store (also known as Wilson’s Corner) is a historic site in Yeehaw Junction, 30 miles west of Vero Beach at the northwest corner of Route 441 and State Road 60. In 1994, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The middle of the day, like the middle of the night, is when time goes slowly. This is when ozone is reaching its daily peak, contributing to the haze of late afternoon, and thunderstorms develop in the west, cumulonimbus clouds towering over each other until they shape themselves into an anvil, when lightning strikes start fires that smoke the horizon and turn pines into blackened stumps. The sun has been baking parking lots and driveways, shooting through blinds and shutters like the “white-hot arrow” Charles Dickens described in Little Dorritt. The build-up of heat makes this a common time for tornadoes.
Late afternoon is when I top off my swimming pool, smaller than most, which is more likely to evaporate in the fierce sun that Marjory Stoneman Douglas described as “diamond hard.” I had unrolled the hose and almost didn’t see it, an emerald green, ruby-throated hummingbird glittering like a jewel, the tiniest of the 650 species of birds that inhabit North America. It hovered near a red hibiscus, its needle-like bill poised to extract nectar from a showy, trumpet-shaped blossom that had already begun to close.
The hibiscus and the chlorine catapulted me back in time to when I was 11, ungainly and awkward, a wood stork with pigtails, my full-sized feet, in proportion to a half grown body, turning me into a right angle. I remember being at the pool of the hotel where my father worked. A beautiful young woman, prettier I thought than any movie star, was anointing herself with baby oil. The grownups said she was kept. I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t care.
Her name was Mickey Bonwit. She wasn’t related to the people who owned the department store. She just liked the name and took it, the way she snapped off a hibiscus flower from a bush growing beside her lounge chair, tucked the blossom behind my ear and told me that was what girls wore in the South Seas.
Read the entire article in the Summer 2011 issue