Grits & Grunts
Folkloric Key West

By Stetson Kennedy
With art by Mario Sanchez
© 2008

Grits and Grunts

A treasury of Key West tales, love and legends.

Many a book has been written about Key West, but there has never been anything like Stetson Kennedy’s Grits & Grunts, a portrait of the Key West that was. Neither a history (though you will learn a lot about Key West’s unique past) nor a guidebook (though you will learn more about Key West than any guides offer), Grits & Grunts is a treasure trove gleaned from the rich multiculture that came to full-flower on “The Rock” during the first half of the twentieth century, “when Key West was Key West.

You’ll find an abundant sampling of the inimitable art of Mario Sanchez, whose carved bas-relief paintings of Key West street scenes are in great demand around the world. The overflowing Key West songbag is also here in all its abundance, from lullabies to traditional ballads, as well as games and folktales. Kennedy’s keen observations and humor infuse a cornucopia of collected folklife gems—giving voice to the diverse residents of the Rock. Kennedy, as folklore director for the Florida Writers Project of the 1930s, was one of the pioneering folklorists of the 20th century.

About the Author

Stetson Kennedy has devoted his life to the championing of human rights, traditional culture, and stewardship of nature. A founding member of the Florida Folklore Society and Oral History Association, he is also a recipient of the Florida Folk Heritage Award and the Governor's Heartland Award, and is in the Florida Hall of Fame. He first came to Key West in 1935, married a Key West native, wrote the Key West Historical Pageant, and served as editor of the WPA Key West Guide. He has written many other books, including Palmetto Country and South Florida Folklife.

About the Illustrator

Mario Sanchez is a native of Key West and was born in 1908, the son of a cigar maker. After graduating from business school he held many jobs. As a self-taught artist he began carving and painting in 1930. He continued to work until 1970 when he devoted full time to his art work. Through Mario's art we are provided an insight into people's lives who otherwise never would have became a part of history. Their lives and tangible associations such as old wooden buildings and street scenes are alive today for us to see.