After 5 long years i returned today to Peanut island. The last time i visited this nefarious place was in the summer of June 24th 2005. On this day 5 years ago my Comrade Chad and I decided to explore the island before it was to be reconstructed later (as it is known today) as an attraction of amusement by Palm Beach boat enthusiasts, partiers, freeloaders and well wishers. That day we relived our childhood curiosity of 3rd party stories containing people who actually went inside the bunker. Rumors of a presidential seal at the bottom etc. I have always been fascinated by things, people and places that can be so prestigious not so long ago but derelict in its present time.; that I could have access to it- if i wanted it badly enough. We tried our very best to somehow get inside but it was a failed attempt, being that we had no tools or the amount of strength to get force our way inside a nuclear fall out bunker. Upon leaving the island we decided stupidly to swim back ashore... and long story short- if anyone has ever tried to swim around the area they would be weary of the fierce current in between the island and the dock. We both nearly drowned in the process. Most people these days who ever tried swimming in that current wont believe we made it as far as we did- thanks Chad for saving my ass at the very end.
5 Long years later on this memorial day, September 6th 2010; i returned to the island. Several friends of mine were enjoying the new park, hanging out on the beach and attempting to socialize with palm beach county's finest civilian leftovers from a #1 college summer vacation destination. It wasnt the best day to go i was told; Not that i dont enjoy seeing people have a good time but i felt that the people dancing on top of the boats were living a shallow and empty lifestyle. Something i could compare to live stage acting, except all the characters are trying to play themselves and to me it played out more like a community theater performance. After that we came back and i volunteered to stay with our stuff so that my friends can try their luck again. I sat on the beach and reflected about the last time i visited the island. This started from the moment i entered the parking lot and approached the tikibar at the dock, and perpetuated as i sat on the sand. When they came back I announced several times if anybody was interested in seeing the Kennedy Bunker. One of my friends expressed enthusiasm but was distracted ultimately by playing football. I used the excuse of going to find the mensroom to relive my quest from half a decade ago and to find the bunker. While scouring the island i noticed the small details of landscaping and park re construction that was never there my last visit. The island is now an official park, an attraction to campers and the open public- so i began to worry if the Bunker was even accessible- looking at all the barbwire separating the exterior boundaries of the park. I started to visualize myself drastically jumping the fence and risking it all just to catch a glimpse at the bunker doors one more time and compare it to the memories in my head from 5 years ago. Its hard to believe this much time has passed by since then, but as i pressed on walking through the island came a familiar feeling to me.
I didnt know what time it was and I was trying to remain conscientious that we had a ferry to catch back to shore. In order not to swim back to the dock and avoid a repeat what happened last time- i began to run toward my unknown destination. I dont know why there is something retarded about running in sandals, maybe the schlepping noise it makes. The afternoon was overcast as it was, and had been raining lightly for over an hour. I sped my way across the island until i saw the reddish rooftops of the historic guard tower across on the treeline. That is when i knew i was in the right direction. I came across a large landscaped grassy area and saw the new coast guard building and a gift shop, and then the old guard house- I ran up to the closed giftshop to ask these two girls ducking the rain for directions. After the words came out of my mouth i thought of the spectacle I made of running through a field in the pouring rain, nonchalantly taking off my sunglasses and asking them where the location to the bunker is. They pointed me in the right direction, i thanked them and disappeared again. I sprinted in my sandals across the field and made my way to the official helicopter pad. I stopped briefly and remembered how derelict it looked before. Its been restained now and had a USA emblem repainted at the bottom. As i stepped onto the landing pad i imagined myself being escorted off of the presidential helicopter with jfk himself walking with me towards the bunker door. With nuclear holocaust nipping at my feet i pressed on and saw the ominous pod door. I approached it with reflection; noticing every little detail and recording everything in my head while comparing it to what i remembered previously. The door i remembered was painted red 5 years ago- which is now a newly painted military desert camouflage. I grinned to myself at the new paint job and how appropriate it was in context with today's politics. Some things never change, almost 40 years later and we are still in perpetual war. I re read the official sign informing me about the possible theat of an end of the world scenario and how the president would of ducked here in case it all went down. Its hard to believe there was a time humanity's finger was pressed against a launch button during the Cuban Missile crisis and that this is where my favorite president would of bunkered- in my very backyard inside palm beach county. The sign itself was cheap but honest. It reminded me of a grim future that never happened. When you see the door you notice how heavy it looks; it is a morbid reminder of the time and not something eloquent in any way-at the same time i saw it as the hope for humanity. there was no corporate sponsorship, no advertising- just a poor excuse for a history lesson paraphrased on a sign, some old shrubs and basically a huge rusted metal door in the sand that would of housed the president of the united states to broadcast messages of confidence to the rest of our dearly surviving patriots. I couldn't resist to give the door a knock. what followed was a deep echo that answered me back from inside. I always thought the way inside the bunker was though a latch on top and that you had to climb downward. I observed a long pipe that could of been used for that alternative way inside, exposed and sticking upward high above the ground level. what remains is the main entrance is secured with a padlock and this strange exit door which may have been added later (possibly for the display exit?). It was a bit of irony because the backdoor looked more like a bedroom door from the inside of a house. Of coarse i reached for the door handle to see if it was open, and before i slowly turned it i noticed that someone has desperately twisted the door handle to the point of almost breaking it off. No luck for me either, as i guessed, it was locked.
This entire time it was raining and i have been getting soaked. As i sprinted across the field back into the direction in which i came i looked back one more time at the door. With the water hitting me in the eyes, my newest memory felt blurred like a dream already and i knew if i ever saw the door again it would be remembered exactly the way i saw it at that very moment. As i walked back to shore and met up with my friends; they all knew already where i really went. There is a lot to learn from this more than a morbid fascination; from our mistakes we can appreciate the life we have. Peanut island was the gates of the end of the world and a place i almost drowned. After 5 years i came back and there was no way i was going to leave without seeing the Kennedy bunker. It was something that i didnt want to do but that i had to do again!!!
This photo isnt mine i lifted it from Flickr to illustrate my point. I wouldn't of added it to the blog unless it was but i figured you would of googled it anyways