Doctor Tape's best friend (yes, I do have friends) moved to the Florida Keys and he has given me an open invitation to crash at his place. I have gone to visit him and experience the totally unique lifstyle that is the Florida Keys. For those who have never been it is a different world.
I read the following in the Key West Citizen back in December of 2010. It is possible that in my youth I met this guy because I lived in Miami during the late 1970's and went to Key West many times. In a nutshell this sums up the Conch Republic.
Obituary of "Fat Bobby" Bottorff
Longtime Key West resident Robert Melvin Bottorff died in South Bend, IN on Nov. 4, 2010.
It's doubtful you knew him by that name; hell, even his best friends were never clear on that last name of his. But if you spent any time in Key West between the late 1970's and the mid-1990's, odds are you had more than a passing aquaintance with the Big Boy. (That's one of Key West's charms; freedom from bourgeois naming conventions. Names? We don't need no stinkin' names!)
Not that he lacked for his share of sobriquets, of nom de party. Jamaicans called him "Babylon Bob". Locally he was "Fat Bobby" or "Big Bobby" or "Cute Bobby" -- or just "Bobby B" for those to whom a man is more than mere morphology. But by any name, once you knew him, he was a comrade for life. He was our Bluto Blutarsky, our Brown Bull, our Doctor Gonzo, the 300-pound Samoan client who gave as much advice as he took.
They say fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life (though it's not a bad reputation to have in some places). But fat, funny and smart was a fine way to pass the time here in Bobby's day, and he went at it with an unmatched ferocity. The Fat Boy got away with murder in Key West -- or maybe just "attempted murder" and only "allegedly" (as well as too many lesser included offenses to recall in one sitting). But they could never pin anything on him and make it stick.
Some people will claim that the liver failure that finally claimed him was just a bill that came due -- like the bar tab he used to run at the Mascot, when a working stiff could still get credit in this town -- the payment for too many vices, too long indulged.. Maybe so, but if (as Fitzgerald claimed) we're all just boats beating against the current, then Our Boy -- call him the Great Fat-sby -- was a supertanker out in the deep-sea lanes, battling a sucking rip current to a draw for most of his 55 years.
He might be gone, but on moonless nights when the wind is right you can go down to the Southernmost Point, and with the right kind of ears tuned to the breeze blowing in from out past Tail End Buoy, you can still hear the Fat Boy howl. We will miss you, Brother. And we'll keep cold beer and comfort food in the fridge, a bed roll by the hearth in case you ever come home. You'll always be welcome back here, Bobby -- alive or dead.
Please join us this Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 for a celebration of Fat Bobby's life. Festivities kick off at the Half Shell Raw bar at the crack of noon -- or maybe 1 o'clock. Bobby would have understood.
Doctor Tape again. I have to say, Bobby, you were the man. Oh yeah, this was totally reprinted without permission.
Hope I die before I get old -- The Who