Unusual news stirs up small Hobe Sound
By Ryan Jockers - Greenwich Time

HOBE SOUND, Fla. - The arrest last week of Michael Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was covered extensively by national media outlets, some of which traveled to this sleepy small town of 15,000 residents, momentarily awakening it.

Skakel, who was charged with killing 15-year-old Belle Haven teenager Martha Moxley in 1975, is living in a condominium owned by his stepmother, Anna Mae Skakel, in the posh Loblolly Bay gated community near the shoreline.

The last time Hobe Sound made headlines was in March 1997, after an unfortunate accident for President Clinton, which has been commemorated in town at places such as Harry and the Natives, a popular restaurant at the crossroads of Hobe Sound's two main roads.

In that restaurant, a visitor can purchase a mug with a cartoon drawing of the president - martini in one hand, hamburger in the other - falling down a flight of stairs. The words across the mug state "Clinton Slipped Here," and locals relish in telling the story of how Clinton, visiting golfer Greg Norman at his Jupiter Island estate in March 1997, fell on Norman's stairs, requiring knee surgery.

The official story is that Clinton caught his heel on an "irregular-shaped" step, causing his right knee to "pop" and buckle, while walking to a cottage on Norman's 80-acre oceanside compound where he planned to spend the night. The Hobe Sound bar, which features on its sign a drawing of three animals - an alligator, a shark and an eagle - exhibiting signs of drunkenness, has spun the story differently through its merchandise.

But the Skakel story seems to have just one version, according to residents: They are not too interested and it has nothing to do with Hobe Sound, a quiet Martin County, Fla., community that has both gated golfing resorts and mobile home parks.

"I just didn't think of it as being about Hobe Sound," said Helen McVeigh, a retired resident who has lived here for six months. "I think things here are quiet."

Evelyn DeLuca, 74, a retired resident living in an adult mobile home complex for seniors near Loblolly Bay, remarked on the random sites of school shootings and the towns where those acts occurred.

"That doesn't make the town worse," she said, "it's the individuals who do it."

And Don Pires, 69, a retired resident in the same complex, could not find much of a reason for interest in the murder and the arrest. "It happened so long ago and so far from here," he said. "The only thing that makes this interesting is that he's a Kennedy relative."