In the fifth installment in the series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit North America...

The World Of James Bond - North America (2)
9th October 2004

While aboard the Silver Phantom bound for St Petersburg in Live And Let Die, James Bond receives a tip-off that their lives were in grave danger. 007’s first reaction is to order dry Martinis, but “when the two ‘personalized’ bottles appeared with the glasses and the ice they seemed so inadequate that he at once ordered four more”. He followed this by an order of “scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages, a salad, and some of the domestic Camembert that is one of the most welcome surprises on American menus”. Jumping the train at Jacksonville, Bond immediately books two Pullman seats on the Silver Meteor “at about nine o’clock”. Obviously Bond still had an appetite, as they immediately made for one of the all-night diners: “‘Orange juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, twice,’ said Bond briefly”. Today Jacksonville’s Terminal Station, built in 1919, is the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

Bond and Solitaire leave the train at Clearwater, the last stop before St Petersburg, before catching a taxi to The Everglades, “a group of neat white-and-yellow clapboard cottages set on three sides of a square of Bahama grass which ran fifty yards down to a bone-white beach and then to the sea”. The hotel is “one of a hundred similar beach establishments on Treasure Island”, which is situated just outside St Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico. Just a few miles long, it boasts a number of mid-20th century modernist buildings and one of the longest beaches in Florida.  
Above: Jacksonville’s Terminal Station

Felix is already at The Everglades and was not expecting to see them again. Relieved, he quickly produces a bottle of Haig and Haig and some ice and soda. “There’s a small pantry next to the bathroom and I’ve stocked it with all we’re likely to need”, he explains. Clearly Felix is a good man to have around.


Bond was cheered when he saw that “Leiter had got hold of an old Cord, one of the few American cars with a personality”, and when they arrive in St Petersburg “Bond caught a whiff of the atmosphere that makes the town the ‘Old Folks Home’ of America”. Parking the Cord they make their way to the waterfront and the worm and bait factory run by Mr Big’s man, The Robber.

The factory is named Ouroboros, after the ancient symbol of a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail, which represents the cyclic nature of the universe. Similar designs have appeared in many different civilisations, including the ancient Egyptians, Norse, Aztec and Chinese and some representations feature the serpent as being part light and part dark, similar to the yin-yang symbol.

Left: Ouroboros, the tail swallower

One of the great contrasts that is noticeable between New York and Florida is that Bond and Leiter have no time for the restaurants, bars and jazz clubs once they arrive in Florida and so prominent in New York and it seems that Fleming was unimpressed by what he say in St Petersburg - there is little to flesh out the descriptions of the scenes that take place here. Before the visit to Ouroboros, Leiter promises that the two will take out Solitaire to “the best restaurant on the whole coast, Cuban, ‘Los Novedades’”, in Tampa.  

Above: An old Cord motor car

Unfortunately, circumstance dictates that the two friends make do with a rather uninspired meal at The Everglades, which they eat “gloomily while the dining-room emptied of its oldster couples and the table lights went out one by one”. However, Felix intuitively knows how to cheer up his English friend: “‘Come and get drunk,’ he said. ‘This is the bad end to a worse day.’” However, Felix didn’t know that even worse was to come; deciding to visit The Robber again that night he ends up as shark bait. In preparation for his own visit to Ouroboros, Bond “had the biggest steak, rare, with French fried, he had ever seen” at a small grill called Pete’s. After a violent confrontation with The Robber, Bond returns to The Everglades, packs his bags and leaves for Jamaica.

James Bond’s next visit to Florida is in Goldfinger, when we find him sitting at Miami airport nursing a bourbon on the rocks. He is wishing for “a slice of the easy life” after an assassination he has just carried out in Mexico and when his flight is delayed he bumps into one of the minor characters from Casino Royale. Mr Du Pont is a wealthy American who is a shareholder in the Miami Beach based Fontainebleau Hotel. The Fontainebleau is a real hotel that opened in 1954 and boasts that every American President since Eisenhower has been a guest there.

Above: Los Novedades Restaurant, Tampa, Florida


Mr Du Pont has put Bond down as something to do with intelligence and when asked to listen to a proposition over stone crabs at “Bill’s on the Beach”, Bond decides that this could be the slice of the easy life he was looking for. Bill’s is based on “Joe’s Stone Crab” restaurant on Miami Beach, established in 1913 and still going strong today. Over “the most delicious meal he had had in his life”, he learns about how a certain Mr Goldfinger is cheating at cards and accepts a ten thousand dollar fee for 48 hours private work. James Bond does solve Mr Du Pont’s problem and after travelling on the Silver Meteor to New York followed by a flight back to London, he is soon put on the tail of Goldfinger by M, first in Kent and then later across the Channel to France and into Switzerland.

Saratoga Springs
After New York, James Bond journeys to Saratoga Springs in Diamonds Are Forever. Driven by Felix, they stop at The Chicken in the Basket, which must be somewhere on the road to Troy. They lunch on scrambled eggs, sausages and hot buttered rye toast washed down with Millers Highlife beer and then iced coffee, although curiously the beer is not mentioned in US editions. They venture on to Saratoga Springs, where Bond stays at The Sagamore, “on the edge of the town and only half a mile from the race-track”, Fleming seems to have appropriated the name, but not the location, of a real establishment; the real Sagamore is on Lake George and just not close enough to Saratoga. Later, Felix Leiter takes Bond to “the ‘Pavilion’, the only smart restaurant in Saratoga”, ordering broiled lobster - but only after “two very dry Martinis made with Cresta Blanca Vermouth”. Strangely enough we read a page later that “Leiter took a pull at his whisky and sat back in his chair”.

Saratoga Springs became a popular destination for the rich in the 19th century due to its saline springs. The area was famous for is high quality fur, which were attributed to the springs that had been traditionally used by the Indians for medicinal purposes. In 1853, when Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his French fries were too thick, chef George Crum fried some paper-thin potato slices and dubbed “Saratoga Chips”, they became a favourite, although they did not achieve mass popularity until the 1920s. With the influx of fashionable society followed horse racing in 1863, however, following a decline in the early 20th Century due to prohibition of gambling and a further decline during the Second World War, the town managed to regain its prominence in the horse racing world.

James Bond returns to the area in The Spy Who Loved Me. Arriving at The Dreamy Pines Motor Court on Lake George, “the dreadful hub of tourism in the Adirondacks that has somehow managed to turn the history and the forests into honkytonk”. Perhaps the Dreamy Pines is located where The Sagamore stands in reality, but it is difficult to prove one way or the other.

Fort Knox
After his travels in Europe on the trail of Goldfinger, James Bond finds himself back in the United States. Goldfinger is planning the heist of the century, in which he will rob the American gold reserves from Fort Knox in Kentucky. Fort Knox is home to the 1st Armored Division and the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor (which displays the model of Fort Knox used by Goldfinger in the film). Since 1936 it has been home to the “Gold Vault”, where the majority of the country’s gold reserves are held - shipments began in January 1937 and required 500 rail carriages to complete the transfer. Current holdings are around 368,000 gold bars, each weighing 12.4 kg.

Above: Fort Knox

Although the scheme does not stand up in reality, it is notable that Fleming first devises the use of an atomic weapon in a criminal action, a theme that reappears in Thunderball and is one of the major preoccupations of the intelligence community since 9/11. Goldfinger plans to open the doors of the vault using the bomb, whereas the film altered the plot so that the doors are opened with a laser, while the gold was to be rendered worthless by irradiation rather than stolen.

The West Coast
After checking into The Tiara in Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond sits at the bar with a Vodka Martini while watching the gambling around him. His impression quite unfavorable, as “the first thing he noticed was that Las Vegas seemed to have invented a new school of functional architecture, ‘The Gilded Mousetrap School’ he thought it might be called, whose main purpose was to channel the customer-mouse into the central gambling trap whether he wanted the cheese or not”.


Bond first likens the mainly women gamblers playing the slot machines to battery hens. When one hits the jackpot though, “they reminded Bond of Dr Pavlov’s dogs, the saliva drooling down from their jaws at the treacherous bell that brought no dinner, and he shuddered at the thought of the empty eyes of these women and their skins and their wet half-open mouths and their bruised hands”. He is not much more impressed by the Blackjack tables either: “The game was quick and efficient and dull. It was as dull and mechanical as slot machines”.

Bored of watching the gambling, Bond goes to the restaurant and finds the service rather slow. When a waitress arrives at his table he “was able to order a dozen cherrystone clams and a steak, and, since he expected a further long pause, a second Vodka dry Martini”. When it arrived, the dinner was excellent and finishing with coffee, Bond goes back into the casino to sit at a blackjack table, as instructed. He is being paid off for his smuggling services for The Spangled Mob with a fixed hand dealt by his gang contact, Tiffany Case. Walking away five thousand dollars richer, he celebrates with a Bourbon and branch-water in the bar and then in an attempt to up the stakes with the Spangled Mob he gambles the money on roulette, betting on the colours and walking out with 20 thousand dollars in his pocket. The Spangled Mob do take exception to these additional and pursue him across Las Vegas in a taxi driven by one of Felix Leiter’s friends. Bond ends up in the gang’s hands and they take him to the fictional town of Spectreville, two hours drive from Las Vegas. Owned by Spangled Mob boss, Jack Spang, Spectreville is an old style western town where he likes to live out his fantasy as a cowboy.

The town is complete with railway with “probably the most beautiful train in the world. The engine was one of the old locomotives of the ‘Highland Light’ class of around 1870 which Bond had heard called the handsomest steam locomotives ever built”.

Eventually rescued by Felix, Bond and Tiffany Case are driven to Los Angeles and “towards evening, they were sitting in the dark, cool bar of the Beverley Hills Hotel” for the usual Martinis, before flying back to New York and sailing to England aboard the Elizabeth.

Above: The “Highland Light” steam locomotive.

Canada & North Vermont
In the short story For Your Eyes Only, James Bond arrives in Montreal on an unofficial assignment. Flying on the then modern Comet, he mourns the passing of “the days of the old Stratocruiser - that fine lumbering old plane that took ten hours to cross the Atlantic” and “only eight hours after leaving London, Bond was driving a Hertz U-drive Plymouth saloon along the broad Route 17 from Montreal to Ottawa”. He meets his contact in Montreal, a sympathetic Mountie who helps Bond kit himself out with clothing, equipment (including a rifle), and a hunting licence to give him cover for an illegal border crossing into Vermont. Staying “the night and most of the next day at the KO-ZEE Motor Court outside Montreal”, Bond’s provisions for the mission consist of just “glucose tablets and some smoked ham and bread from which he made himself some sandwiches. He also bought a large aluminium flask and filled it with three-quarters Bourbon and a quarter coffee”. Diving south to Frelighsburg, Bond leaves his car at a garage and makes his way along a dirt track that takes him over the US border and within a mile of Enosburg Falls.

Above: The route of James Bond’s drive from Montreal to Frelighsburg

He makes his way to the Green Mountains of Vermont, today an important mineral source and the centre of the Vermont tourist industry, where his target was staying at Echo Lake: “Echo Lake looked what it was - the luxurious retreat, in deep country, well apart from atom bomb targets, of a millionaire who liked privacy” and was almost certainly modelled on Black Hole Hollow Farm in Vermont, which was owned by the wife of Fleming’s friend Ivar Bryce, a favourite place to recharge his batteries in the company of his friends.

The assignment is impeded by the appearance of a girl armed with a bow and arrow, out for revenge. Bond is unimpressed by this complication to what is an already awkward mission: “‘Don’t be a silly bitch. Put that damned thing down. This is man’s work’” he tells her. Of course by the end of the story they are friends and the last we hear from James Bond is his plan to lead the girl back north to the KO-ZEE Motel where they can enjoy a few days R&R.

"The World Of James Bond" will continue next month...

Article by David Leigh.