"Uh Dad, there's a money wall in here!"
I'm not sure what my kids were expecting from their first visit to a pub, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't it. We had stopped on Big Pine Key in Florida to check out the Blue Hole and look for some Key Deer, but sometimes you need a little food to keep spirits high. I knew about the No Name Pub, and I'd tipped the boy off to my reasons for wanting to stop there, but the girls were slightly less enthused when I pulled up to the bright yellow building that markets itself as hard to find, yet only really takes two turns to arrive at from the highway.
"Do we have to eat here?"
"I'm not going to like anything at this place!"
"Honey have you lost your mind?"
Sometimes though, I have a clue what I'm doing. I'll grant you that the No Name Pub isn't exactly the sort of place that we frequent when eating on the road, but the looks on the girls faces when we walked into the pub were priceless. There's not just a money wall inside the pub. There's four money walls. And a money ceiling. It's like being inside the U.S. Treasury when the printing press explodes.
According to the No Name Pub website, somewhere in the 70's or 80's, money started getting hung on the wall. Suggestions are that it was started by some of the "illegal money" making it's way through the Keys in those days (Obviously pre-Miami Vice. Tubbs and Crockett would have never stood for it!), but since then leaving a dollar bill with your own personal markings on it has become a tradition adopted by everyone who visits the pub. The walls are no longer thinly papered with dollar bills but layered, five or six deep in some spots. The ceiling has filled up, so now people attach their dollar bills to the ones already on the ceiling, lowering the head room in the pub by 6 inches each time. It's possibly the most flammable building I've ever set foot in.
I know what you're thinking though. How much money is actually stapled to the inside of this building? To be honest, I'm pretty sure that nobody knows. In a newspaper interview eight years ago, one of the bartenders estimated the value at between $65,000 and $75,000. I'd say that today the amount would easily extend into six figures. In fact, I challenged my son to try and figure out roughly how much money would be on the walls while we ate lunch (Look at me, sneaking math into his summer vacation!) and after a few calculations he came up with an estimate of between $100,000 and $200,000. Way to leave yourself room for error. I hope he's a little more exact when taking math tests at school.
While we downed our selection of appetizers and Key Lime pie, all of which was fairly decent, we pondered how to deface our dollar of American currency to best leave our mark. In the end, our creativity was lacking, and we ended up with a monetary equivalent of an "I was here" sign, simply signing our names and adding the More Kids Than Suitcases logo so as to validate our charging of that dollar to our advertising budget (which to date consists of that one dollar).
The No Name Pub was definitely a fun experience. We left with full stomachs, a great story, and three kids who all now want to redecorate their rooms. Sadly, we live in Canada where the dollar bill has been replaced by a dollar coin, and it's going to take a lot longer for them to cover their walls in coin than it would with paper bills. There's also the little matter of where this "wallpaper" would be coming from as their original plan to charge a toll on people entering their room has already been vetoed by their mother (Even though they did offer us a SunPass). Still, it's nice to know that one of our random stops has made an impression on our kids. If you visit the No Name Pub, look for our impression on it at the table closest to the washrooms, and let us know if you find it. It's good to know that our advertising dollar is still hard at work.
Written by Steve Pratt