Here’s to Lookin’ Up Your Old Address

It has been my observation in recent years that true Key Penners are not very familiar with change. Still, they are against it.

But as of April Fool’s Day, fittingly enough, we have all been changed.

Over a year ago, some deep state actor in the guise of Pierce County set into motion a series of events culminating in the April 1 erasure of the long-cherished post-directional-sobriquets of our otherwise uninspiring street names—the now extinct KPN and KPS. And, yes, that’s “KP—no space—N (or S),” just like Glen Cove is Glencove, Long Branch is Longbranch, and Bay Lake is Lakebay.

My family has lived here for about 15 years now—hardly a ripple on the surface of time as far as the KP goes. But it’s been long enough to lose reliable contact with our mainland friends. We learned quickly not to bother giving our street address to any outlanders who wanted to visit. Their GPS devices directed them down logging roads or into unchartered wetlands, while they tried to find, read and follow the local so-called street signs that led only to the fenced compounds of unsympathetic strangers. 

Instead, we began to offer directions by landmark rather than address or street name, as in, “It’s five minutes past the intersection with the light, then bear right at the intersection without the light, then slow down when you get to this weird cedar stump and turn at the scary gravel road next to a bunch of battered mailboxes.”

Even this set us apart from longtime Key Penners who still persist in navigating their peninsula by the undiminished memory of landmarks that no longer exist. “You go past that Station Break place that got burned down to where Macon (sic) Bacon was, then keep going to where there didn’t used to be a light till you get to Not Walt’s, then turn on that right side road before—that’s BEFORE—you get to the wine shop that didn’t used to be there till you get to the house that did, and you’re there.”

Ours was never much of an address—far too many numbers and letters mixed together—and was always better suited to a simple grid system instead of the organic macramé of roadways that carry us to our neighbors over the many and varied contours of this peninsula. But at least that “KPN” at the end anchored our home to the Key Peninsula, even if it also repelled all but the most intrepid delivery drivers. 

Now reduced to the homogenizing “NW” (and what are we supposed to be northwest of?), there is nothing standing between us and a misapplied ZIP code unjustly linking us to a city overpopulated by drivers who could never survive our road system, unable as they are to safely navigate even large, well-marked circles.

The original street sign at the top of our road was a homemade affair; an awkwardly cut, greenish rectangle that, when observed through squinting eyes at the right time of day, seemed to reveal a faint pattern of silvery hieroglyphics appended by the ever-ennobling “KPN.” It is now nailed above the grill on our deck.

I replaced this inscrutable icon soon after our arrival, back when I thought street names mattered. The sign I installed remains a bright, reflective green metal beacon, defiantly declaring this patch of land as Key Peninsula North. 

It’s not going anywhere.

Ted Olinger lives in Vaughn, KPN.

Another Last Word