Cult of Personality: Joe Mercurio
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Captain Joe Mercurio[/caption]
President Harry S. Truman had never been to Key West until November 17th 1946. The plan was to fly from the Washington National Airport and then land in the Florida Keys at the Boca Chica Airfield. He needed a vacation. The rain and dreary autumn scene at the White House would soon be replaced by palm trees and emerald waters. It was also a break from his personal life, as Mrs. Truman was not part of the vacation plan. She would stay back in Washington DC. A smooth landing and a short photo session started the six day stint in paradise but the President’s deep connection to the Florida Keys never ended. He was touched.
Meanwhile, due north but still in the deep south, a bouncing baby boy would be born a month and a week later on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi setting the stage for an international exposure of the Florida Keys lifestyle. His name was Jimmy Buffet and he would eventually discover 1970’s Key West sparking a tourist love affair with Margaritaville through his music and pirate like habits.
That’s how long Captain Joe Mercurio has lived in the Florida Keys. His father’s heart problem was the trigger that forced the 1946 family move from Ohio to South Florida and then ultimately to Key West. In those days, the best health remedy for many was to move to a warmer climate and that’s exactly what the Mercurio family did.
As Joe grew up he always knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a boat captain. All of his spare time was spent at the docks or on a boat; eventually owning one, and then a series of boats, including the famous Gulf Stream III and presently the Triple Time at A&B Marina. For 53 years, Captain Joe Mercurio has been at the helm and is included in the Florida Keys’ “Cult of Personality”.
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The final voyage of the Gulf Stream III years later....[/caption]
The personality of an authentic charter captain is more of an acquired series of traits formed by successes, failures and survival. Captain Joe is the first to say that he would have liked to have made more money but other than that he would do it all over again. He would take the same path. Along that path he has touched many people’s lives including boys and young men who shared the same love for the saltwater as he did. With a FishMonster Magazine social media call to action, stories with pictures started to flood in. Captain Joe Mercurio is highly regarded and people wanted to share their experience with him.
FishMonster Magazine fan Pete Johns describes his experience with Captain Joe from 1985 when he was just fourteen years old. “When my father was stationed in Key West, we spent three weeks in the BOQ at Garrison Bight. I was introduced to Walter Kirchner by my school bus driver. He was the deckhand of the Gulf Stream at the time. I started hanging around the boat from then on. I met Captain Joe and he intimidated me at first but that changed after a few days. He was always nice to everyone. I started helping Walter wash the boat and I would go out on their fishing trips from time to time. When I worked the deck Captain Joe was nice to me. I was fourteen years old but I was never pushed aside for being so young.” Pete also thanked us for honoring a “Key West legend in the charter community”. Is Captain Joe Mercurio a living Key West Legend? That’s the word on the docks.
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Former Gulf Stream III deck hand Pat Porter (center)[/caption]
Former Gulf Stream mate Pat Porter, who now lives in Virginia, spent some time gathering pictures for our “Cult of Personality” expose of Captain Joe. Priceless pictures of old Key West with Captain Joe as a young man plus shots of Pat himself in his role as deckhand of the Gulf Stream solidified his legendary status. Key West history was formed by special people like Captain Joe Mercurio. Pat also mentioned how much respect he felt for Joe and how well he was treated as a young man and even now when he comes to fish on the Triple Time. He also believes that Captain Joe is deserving of the title.
On a continual basis, grandsons D.J. Barrios and Damien Sellers send pictures and stories about their grandfather to FishMonster Magazine along with pictures of some of their own adventures underwater. From the very beginning, and for as long as they can remember, Captain Joe has always had time to take them out offshore of Key West and on their yearly family trip to the Dry Tortugas aboard his present charter vessel the Triple Time. To say that family is important to Captain Joe is an understatement. Family is the MOST important thing. Every time his grandsons show up in the magazine or on the FishMonster Magazine Facebook timeline Captain Joe mentions it proudly.
Captain Joe Mercurio has been part of the Florida Keys “Cult of Personality” for 53 years and celebrates his 70th year living in Key West. A remarkable accomplishment that continues to this day from the docks at A&B Marina aboard the Triple Time. The legend continues......
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