Just Because I like Bars, Okay?

I’m going to seriously stretch random blogginess here. I’ve been busy editing Stepping into the Water so have reached into my unpublished archives to see if anything may be of postable blogging interest. Back in the early 2000’s, after my divorce I began working on a project called Tiki Bars Chickee bars and Fish Camps, the Real Florida. It was a fun idea and certainly made me friends, as I travelled around, sometimes alone, sometimes with a little entourage (you know who you are) in what spare free time I had, went to local bars and wrote about them. What could be more fun than that? A girl has to have goals, right? So in my old writing archives are these fun little stories which never saw the light of day so here we go, here’s the introduction:


My fascination with bars began before I entered Kindergarten. Living in Hawaii during the sixties, Mom and Grandmother would take me along on their afternoon jaunts to Don the Beachcomber, Halekulani, and The Willows. I didn’t mind, really I didn’t. Life at home was nothing compared to the stimulation of roaring voices and clinking glasses amidst some Tiki-type building on the beach. And I was a sponge. I saw people with different shades of skin, some had Mainland accents, and others had slanted eyes. As I waited for people to leave so I could scoop up their playdough-colored swizzle sticks and little umbrellas, I would eavesdrop on conversations and invent peoples’ lives in my head. At four years old, I got away with gawking at people.

I’ve been doing it ever since.

Mv formative twenties were spent in New Orleans. And although I somehow managed to make a living, I cruised from oyster bars to jazz piano haunts to unnamed alley bars, like a local river rat. But that’s another story. I mention this only to prove my qualifications and that I have the stamina to pursue this venture.

Once, on a road trip through Texas, my friend Dona and I persisted in searching for “Rose’s Cantina.” A watering hole worth singing about has to be special! Well, we never found Rose’s, but don’t let that obscure your faith in my abilities, Rose’s Cantina doesn’t exist. At least not in the United States.

I returned to Hawaii in the early eighties and was disappointed to see the beaches covered with hotels,  their lobby bars sporting overpriced ‘fru-fru’ drinks to the backdrop of Hawaiian Muzak. The salty beach spots were gone and the local life was dispersed into unaffordable condo units. Picnics on the beach at sunset with huli-huli chicken and cans of beer was now where the local scene could be observed.

In 1988 I was lucky enough to spend some time in Australia. I was bemused by the hotels and “package stores,” which were actually bars. Brightly painted to resemble whichever regional beer company endorsed them, they loomed up from endless, left-driven highways. I stopped at every one of them. Must have been in a hundred bars in sixty days. I excitedly snapped a photo or two of each one, but my attempts at a photo journalistic study of Australia’s bars were in vain. All the pictures looked the same.

In 1989 I moved to Florida. The smells and sounds of harbor and beach bars gratified me. The true spirit of Florida is felt by observing people in the little bars and fish camps sprinkled throughout our natural surroundings of ocean, lake, swamp, or river. Bars built or created over the years to satisfy the need for locals to round out their day of fishing, housework, alligator wrestling, and mosquito swatting. Analyzing these bars is a science – a science I was born to study.

My short stories in Tiki Bars, Chickee Bars and Fish Camps—The Real Florida are part guidebook and part road novel. I may post one up from time to time, just so they can get some air and I can keep on editing my memoir…


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