The latest Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum exhibit depicts an era when citizen Americans would try to overthrow "oppressive" foreign governments during the heyday of Ernest Hemingway's hero - the diminutive but manly Stephen Crane.
The exhibit, "Filibustering to Cuba - A Stephen Crane Experience," does not refer to the blustery modern congressional term for a long-winded orator seeking desperately to wear down his majority opponents by a talking marathon.
Filbustering was the term turn-of-the-century Americans used when trying to free oppressed nations from tyranny while liberating their cash, mineral and energy goods, too.
Authentic Cuban keepsakes gathered by Port Boca Grande Museum Executive Director Sharon McKenzie on her previous missionary trips to the beleaguered island outpost, which used to be a vigorous trader with Boca Grande (for mullet in particular).
The Port Boca Grande Museum exhibit details the near-death experience Crane endured as a reporter for a Jacksonville newspaper syndicate to chronicle the exploits of the "Commodore" as it sailed for Cuba. Unfortunately, the Commodore was shipwrecked on Dec. 31, 1896, which left Crane floating in a dinghy clinging to life with three other sailors.
The guns and mercenaries never made it to Cuba. But Crane immortalized the aborted rescue mission in his under-rated novel "The Open Boat."
"I found this exhibit fascinating," said Sharon McKenzie, executive director of the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum.
What: Exhibit "Filibustering to Cuba - A Stephen Crane Experience"
When: April 12-Oct. 14. Closed August.
Where: Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum
Why: The latest Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum exhibit depicts an era when citizen Americans would try to overthrow "oppressive" foreign governments during the heyday of Ernest Hemingway's hero - the diminutive but manly Stephen Crane.
How much: $2 donation encouraged
The exhibit is on loan from the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. Its lengthy run on Boca Grande began April 12 and concludes Oct. 14.
Crane wrote his most famous war novel, "The Red Badge of Courage," without ever having gone to battle himself. He sought to remedy his wartime experience deficiency in the filibuster to Cuba as a correspondent.
"He was really the Hemingway of his day although he was not as big as Papa," McKenzie said. "He was a small guy and sickly a lot of the time. But even Hemingway looked up to him. He loved gambling and women. He was a manly man despite his size."
Crane wrote his masterpiece, "The Red Badge of Courage," when he was 24. Less than six years later he died of tuberculosis, a medical scourge of the day, which had dogged him since his youth.
Boca Grande's tight pre-embargo connection to Cuba long involved trade. The Calusa Indians, believed to be the earliest inhabitors of the Southwest Florida, also shuttled between Cuba and Boca Grande and the last of the royal Indian family is believed to have relocated there.
The exhibit will underscore the Port Boca Grande Museum celebration of Spanish Heritage Month running, oddly enough, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, McKenzie said.