Today in Keys History April 9

Mom’s Tea Room, a Stock Island bordello, was closed in 1953 and later destroyed by fire.

1856: William Hackley recorded in his diary: Rose at 5:30 having overslept myself. Bathed. At 8 A.M. barometer 29.57, wind north northwest 3, clouds 2. Read papers and Law Register. Took tea and spent the evening at Philip Fontane’s. Senator Stephen Mallory called while I was there.

1927: W.H. Malone of Key West took office as president pro tem of the Florida senate.

1932: The Secretary of the Navy announced that the activities of the Seventh Naval District were to be combined with the Sixth Naval District and transferred to Charleston. The Naval Station was to be closed to a bare maintenance status as soon as practicable and not later than June 30, 1932.

1942: The Norwegian freighter Benwood, loaded with phosphate, collided with the tanker Robert C. Tuttle, killing one man. The Benwood lost power and drifted until she grounded in her final resting place on the reef in what is now the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Both ships had been operating at night without lights because of the fear of German U-boats operating in the area.

1951: The Weather Bureau reported that hail up to three-quarters of an inch fell in the afternoon during a thunderstorm. The previous official date hail was recorded was July 15, 1926.

1953: Mom’s Tea Room, the Stock Island bordello for 11 years, closed. County law enforcement authorities never officially admitted that Mom’s existed and the reason for the closing was never confirmed but rumored to be pressure from the U.S. Navy. The building was later destroyed by fire.

1960: Southern Bell Telephone Company installed the first dial telephone line on the Lower Keys. State Rep. Bernie C. Papy signaled the opening of the new system by making a call from his home on Sugarloaf, the first time he could do so without using an operator.

1980: Andean Pact Foreign Ministers met in emergency session in Peru to address the refugee problem in Havana and appealed to other countries for assistance.

1984: The Monroe County Tourist Development Council held its first meeting at the Holiday Inn Key West. This was formerly the Key West Tourist Development Council until a referendum included the rest of the county.

1996: Key West Fire Chief Richard Wardlow and his wife, Nina Jo, were killed in a car crash in Miami.