A toast, to days gone by and taverns torn down

Published March 20, 2007

SEFFNER - Let us raise a glass to the Eleven Mile Tavern, days away from destruction, the latest sacrifice to cars and asphalt in this ever-expanding area.

Here's to 1885, the year these boards were nailed together on a patch 11 miles from Plant City, 11 miles from Tampa. This place was all woods and dirt roads then. The Pony Express watered up outside.

Here's to the building's past lives, the feed sacks and postage stamps and drip coffee, to the ham and potato salad, to Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

Here's to the couples who met by the pool tables and the enemies made on bar stools.

Here's to the bullets buried in the boards, and the spit in the soil.

And here's to the ghosts.

To Bobby Mayhew, who ran this bar long and hard and is still trying to get what it's worth from the state, which is widening the road out front. To those who came before him, Harold Young and his wife, Mary Alice, may God rest their souls.

Here's to the last last call a few weeks ago when more than a hundred people ate ribs and hamburgers and said farewell before the bulldozer comes and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard swells. Here's to those who stuck around until the last keg ran dry, and then some. Here's to the grown men who cried.