Endangered Species

While spending a few days in and around Islamorada several weeks ago we found ourselves in the Safari Lounge, known locally as the Dead Animal Bar. Once the sun goes down it’s a dark and smoky place where the mounted heads (and sometimes more) of large game animals stare down from the walls at assorted local barflies and tourists. The beer was cold and cheap. Not sure about the women.

cigsStanding among the rare and endangered species is this ancient device. Look closely, kids, as extinction looms. Once ubiquitous, cigarette machines are rare these days, having gone the way of phone booths, book stores, and fast counter service. There was a time when every restaurant, bar, waiting room, bus station, airport, corner store, laundromat, grocery, etc. hosted one, as did the cafeterias and lunchrooms in office buildings and on college campuses. Everybody smoked, and cigarette machines were everywhere.

Alas, no more.

Two items of note. First, they’re $8/pack. That’s 40 cents a smoke. Evidently cigarettes are now a rich person’s luxury. Another way of looking at it: if you really want lung cancer, ya gotta pay top dollar.

Second, note the hand-made sign that “Camel Lites are Really Camel Menthols.” I was never a cigarette smoker myself, but the idea of either Camel Lites or Camel Menthols is repugnant and Just Plain Wrong, a degradation to the carcinogenic appeal of the original short, filterless Camels of my parents’ generation (most of whom are dead from complications of smoking).

The Safari Lounge. The Dead Animal Bar, “Where the extinct meet to drink” (shouldn’t that be “meat”?). Mile marker 73 or thereabouts. Bring your own smokes, meat.

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6 Responses to Endangered Species

  1. Fran G'Panni says:

    I don’t get up to Islamorada that often, but I’ve stopped at the Safari over the years to sit out traffic jams and end up staying for hours. It’s a delightfully dirty dump with a happy-go-lucky vibe that reminds me of home. When you guys coming all the way down to KW this year?

  2. Mumblety Peg says:

    “The beer was cold and cheap. Not sure about the women”.
    Men are such pigs.

  3. Old Timer says:

    I remember the neighborhood barber shop had a cig machine right next to the soda dispenser, 5-cent nuts, and candy machine. All the basic food groups for kids and their parents. Smokes cost about 20 cents a pack. Pepsi (in the wasp bottle) was a dime.

  4. Living Will says:

    Believe it or not, my dentist and eye doctor had offices in the same medical building, and the waiting room had a cigarette machine for many years. I remember even back then various people commented on how wrong that was. Then again, I remember watching many medical staff buying cigarettes and smoking them during lunch hour, and sometimes on breaks.

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