Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Taxi-stork race recalled; 'Conch' comes home

JoAnn Christ had no memories of Key West, although she was born here.

What she did have was a yellowed, taped-up newspaper clipping that tells the story of how that occurred.

On Monday the Louisiana resident got a new copy of that article, as part of a long-awaited pilgrimage to her island of nativity. Christ was also able to visit the house she lived in as a baby, but did not remember.

Her birthday made news because it ended up a race between the stork and a taxi driver named Emil Lundbloom the night of Nov. 3, 1952. Lundbloom, according to an article in The Citizen, picked up Christ's parents, Jack and Mabel Parker, at their Elgin Lane home.

When told birth was imminent, the driver headed for Monroe General Hospital hammer down. But the baby had other ideas.

"Please step on it," The Citizen story quoted Mabel as saying. "My child is really on the way."

At Hilton Haven Road and North Roosevelt, according to the report, Lundbloom heard the baby crying. Himself a father of five, Lundbloom relayed instructions to the father, cautioning him to check the umbilical cord to see that it was free of the baby's neck.

The trip to the hospital took six minutes.

JoAnn retrieved microfilm copies of the story at the Monroe County Public Library on Fleming Street. She will give copies to her sons, Brian, 39, Brandon, 35, and Blair, 31.

After taking care of business at the library, the homecomer then sought out the house her parents had first brought her to.

"It's been years (that) I am talking about doing this," she said, after visiting her former home on Elgin Lane. "To know it was there, it was very emotional for me but I took a couple of deep breaths and did not burst into tears. The house is still there and I was very surprised. I thought there would be maybe a condo or a hotel or something."

The family's time in Key West did not last long. Jack Parker was in the Navy, assigned to a minesweeper. They moved to Jacksonville when JoAnn was still a baby and then to Basille, a small town in Cajun country, in Louisiana's Evangeline Parish, named for the heroine in Longfellow's epic poem.

"My father always said that when I was born I was ready to go, referring to being born in the cab," JoAnn said.

JoAnn and her friend Colleen Christ - a cousin of her husband's through marriage - have been taking in the Key West sights during their exploration of family memories, which continues through Thursday.

"It's been a great experience," said Colleen. "Very uplifting. This is what JoAnn has wanted to do all her life, it's like history comes back full circle. It's her 60th birthday and she felt she had to do it now. She always wanted to come back and I needed to be with her at this moment."


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