Sunday, October 27, 2019


As you may remember, among all the other useless stuff I collect, I save old matchbooks. My collection doesn't grow anymore, because restaurants have largely stopped offering matchbooks as promotional items, but I've kept a lot of them from the '80s and '90s.

While reading Ms. Moon's recent post about going to the Ocean Grill in Vero Beach, I remembered that I went there myself in the late '90s. It occurred that I might have a matchbook. And I do!

As was my habit, I wrote inside the date of my visit and who I was with -- in this case my friend Sue, on Dec. 20, 1999. We went shopping in Vero afterwards, and according to my journal at the time, "I got some great Calvin Klein overalls at the mall there! I'm a farmer!"

(This was actually a matchbox, which is hard to scan!)

I decided to scan some others too, just for the heck of it:

Here's a quick trip down memory lane, from left to right, top to bottom:

1. Visage was a dance club on the Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. An occasional hangout for me in my mid-20's, it specialized in "alternative" music like New Order and Violent Femmes. (From a visit with three friends on Feb. 2, 1991)

2. The Colonnade was a seafood restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa with a fabulous waterfront view. It has since been torn down to make way for ritzy condos. (With John and Sue, October 2005)

3. Kokomo was a dance club in Lakeland. It billed itself as "Lakeland's only beach resort," even though it wasn't on water. I think they had a sort of sandpile outside. I specifically remember dancing to Janet Jackson here. (With Cherie and Arthur, June 16, 1989)

4. Hukilau was a Polynesian restaurant in Key West. I barely remember visiting there with my friends John and Barbara in 1986 or so, although I didn't write down the exact date. Lots of plants and torches and tiki gods.

5. Kasey's Cove was a beer bar near the University of South Florida in Tampa. I spent many productive hours there with friends, drinking pitchers and watching music videos by INXS and the B-52's. (With Michelle, Dec. 16, 1987)

6. Mirabella's was a well-known seafood restaurant in Tampa where I went with my family, often for my birthday. I used to love their lobster. The restaurant was torn down long ago. This is one of my oldest matchbooks -- so old I don't even know when I got it.

7. The Kapok Tree Inn was a sprawling, legendary restaurant in Clearwater. I went with Barbara in the mid-'80s. It has also been demolished.

8. Fast Eddie's was at the base of the pier in Anna Maria. I went with some friends on New Year's Eve in 1989. We were all very excited to be rounding the corner into a new decade -- the '90s! There's still a restaurant in that building, but Fast Eddie's is long gone.

9. Gary's Harborside is a lakeside restaurant with a deck in Winter Haven where I used to hang out with friends from work in the late '80s. Of all the places represented by matchbooks in this photo, this is the only one that's still open. (With John and two other colleagues, Dec. 21, 1988)

10. Coconut Joe's was another college hangout. Alcohol was a new experience when I went there a few times in spring 1985, as an 18-year-old. I remember ordering Mai Thais. What was I thinking?!

11. The Adam's Mark was a big hotel on Clearwater Beach. They had a great breakfast buffet, where I took several friends back in the '80s, including fellow blogger E. (Remember, E?) It has since been torn down.

Lots of memories are wrapped up in my matchbooks!


  1. Boy, you really rattled my brain cells with that one. It seems we went to breakfast at several places and I do remember that one because of its renown. Lots of restaurants come and go. Until I saw your matches, I hadn't thought of them in years.

  2. I love the strapline for Fast Eddie's - "Warm beer - Lousy food". More companies should be honest in their advertising. I wonder what the strapline would then be for your school library? The terms "iron fist" and "heavy fines" might well be included.

  3. This brought back memories. We used to collect them years ago and had a carrier bag full. Somewhere along the line they must have got thrown out. Seeing yours, I wish I had kept them.

  4. matchbooks/boxes have gone by the wayside in favor of the plastic disposable lighter. of course. matches didn't make more unrecyclable plastic trash. we have a friend who has one of those giant brandy snifter glasses filled with matchbooks he's collected. and another friend has an enormous collection of condoms.

  5. What a really neat collection you have. I like the Fast Eddie's the best. I think it's wonderful that you can recall all of these memories. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  6. I never thought of scanning my matchbook collection. I should do that. However, I didn't have the forethought to put dates and company inside the covers. I kind of wish I had done that to jog the old memory. I love that "Fast Eddies" one.

  7. Just the other day, SWMBO was commenting to me about some of our swizzle sticks with the names of bars or restaurants on them which we collected over the years. I think it was before the era of anonymous plastic stirrers. I'll have to photograph some of them one of these days.

  8. Very cool collection. If I ever open a bar, I'm going to call it Fast Eddie's and steal that tagline. What a great idea, to write down the people you went with. I'm sure it brings back a vivid memory every time, all the more so if it's a memory that you have not pulled out and moseyed through very often.

    As an aside, I too remember New Year's Eve 1989. It was one of the happiest NYE I've ever had. The Berlin Wall had fallen in November and I was certain that the 1990s were going to be fabulously peaceful and evolutionary. I had such high hopes. And then Europe lost its mind in the Bosnian War and the '90s sucked ever after.

  9. The Kapok Tree Inn is now long key nature center, just a couple of columns are left but it's a great park with trails. Thanks for this blast from the past.

  10. good thing to collect! They do not take up space and they hold memories, and in a pinch, you can set your house on fire.

  11. It's been a rough week here, so thank you for two great LOLs:
    1 - "I'm a farmer!" Your sense of humour doesn't seem to have changed any :)
    2 - Linda Sue's comment!

  12. I have that same match box from the Ocean Grill! Well, its twin.
    I always take a cocktail napkin from the bar but when I was there last week, I got a card instead.
    Still on the beach. Still has fresh seafood.
    I never got to the Kaypok Tree Inn and I've always regretted that. It was legendary.
    I HAVE been to Gary's Harborside but I think only once. I was back in Winter Haven for the funeral of a friend's father.
    Funny how you and I share so many points of intersection.