Although I was aware that the Key West Outboard Club was active just down the street now that we were filling the Bay Bottom we could watch their races. They had a world class race track laid out between Stock Island and Boca Chica. Many weekends through the sixties and seventies we watched as boats from far away place used to compete for trophies and prizes. Their clubhouse on Lot 17 had a bar, ping-pong table, pool table, kitchen, large outside bar-b-que grill, and a concrete patio and all the other amenities that it takes to make a first class fun place. Since that time, many boats have taken up permanent anchorage in the bay that even if the club was still active it would be impossible to hold races in Boca Chica Bay.
Each and every year we tried to do some extensive work to improve the part of the campground that needed it most. After we acquired the bay bottom and had filled to the deep hole that existed there it was time to put in docks for boats. We did this all ourselves. By some careful maneuvering with our old tractor and some calculations on the weight and strength of concrete, we were able to wind up with a launching ramp and enough concrete bulkhead to be able to dock twenty boats. A couple of campers at different times built a small building on the dock which later we were able to make into a fairly presentable marina. We rented it and some of the dock to a big man, Joe Mitchell. For some years he sold bait, ice and fish hooks, etc. Although I don't think he had much money he was able to pay the rent and spend a lot of pleasant leisurely time there.
Next door to us was Nebo's dance hall and bar on lots 13 & 14, block 45. This all-night bar featured exotic dancer and loud music plus of course the additional noises of screeching tires and drunken brawls. The noise that came out of there was just about ruining my camping business. I would like to have bought him out but he wanted $65,000 which was a lot more than I figured it was worth.
One night a fire broke out in a building which was part of the Home Milk complex on lots 15 & 16, block 45. I got to thinking perhaps it was a good time to buy it. I sat down and wrote a letter to them making an offer. We had our own mailbox out front so I placed the letter in there for the mailman to pick up next time around. When I thought it over again, I retrieved that letter and wrote a new one offering $10,000 less. A few days later I received a phone call accepting my offer. We closed a deal for $60,000. While we were getting the papers in order for the closing I contacted the owner of the northerly half of lot 17, block 45 and I was able to purchase that lot also for $19,000. No one else around knew of either of these transactions.
Now I had to make a deal with Mr. Brogli who had purchased Nebo's lots 13 & 14, block 45. These two lots divided my properties. He was amazingly receptive to my interest in the property. I found out later he had purchased this property with very little down and payments with a balloon mortgage that was coming due within the next year or so. Brogli found Nebo very difficult to deal with. Brogli could lose everything unless he could come up with about $30,000 real soon. Nebo wanted all of this money or the property back. He really wanted the property back so he could sell it again. It was important to me to make a deal before word got out that I had purchased lots of 16,16 and Ĺ of 17 on the other side of Nebo's. You would have been proud of me that day as the three of us stood there dealing on the street in front of Nebo's house. I put up the $30,000 to pay Nebo off and I agreed to pay Brogli another $30,000 in payments. Later, after all the papers had been signed in the lawyer's office Mrs. Brogli asked if it was all finished. The lawyers assured her that it was all completed. Then she let out a visible sigh of relief. I smiled across the table at her and her husband and said, "I never would have bought this property if I didn't already own the lots on the other side." Brogli looked very keenly at me and said, "You have bought the Home Milk property?" I assured him that I had. His face dropped in disappointment as he realized what an opportunity he had missed. He would have just loved to charge me two or three times the real value of the Nebo property.