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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By Jessica Brady, tbt* Staff Writer
Published December 21, 2007
Vitals: 19201 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores. (727) 596-0226. Monday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to whenever they feel like closing. Credit cards accepted. www.mahuffer.com
The spot: This is, by far, the coolest and most unique dive bar I've ever drunk a beer in. Mahuffer's bar looks, smells and sounds like it belongs in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The small shack is a world of wonder. There is not an empty space of floor, wall or counter inside. The ceilings are covered with fishing net and multicolored buoys hang from it - and rusty ice skates and bras and dollar bills. The bar is split up into four sections: the main area, an outside patio equipped with a broken toilet and naked statue holding a hose like it's taking a leak. Then, there's the other half of the bar, or the sex room, as I titled it. Want to know your astrological sex position? Just look above the threshold and find a position for every sign. Car bench seats line the walls with a fire pit in the center of the room. Walk a little further and you reach an old pool table that works on occasion. As for renovation, no need. The walls are covered - top to bottom - with pictures from the 70s on. Mahuffer's will be open 36 years in January and it seems like everyone has left their mark, including myself. It may be a cliche but the writing really is on the walls in this bar. That said, I in no way did this place justice - go there and see for yourself.
Prime location: Mahuffer definitely knew a good spot when he saw one. This place is hard to miss on Gulf Boulevard. Just look for the gutted, brightly-colored car out front across the street from the beach or you can stop in from a long ride on the Pinellas Trail. Mahuffer's has its own parking lot, so that's not an issue.
The crowd: The people at Mahuffer's are just as cool as the bar. Everyone seemed to be 25 and older, with the same mind-set - get a drink and chill. I have to admit I never thought I'd meet a couple of guys who talked about "Da Bears," but I did. I swear it was like I was sitting next to John Goodman and Chris Farley. The bartender was awesome. It was only her fourth shift, but she held everything together and still told some funny stories.
Juice: Good beer and liquor are served in Mahuffer's, from Dos Equis to Red Stripe. Behind the bar are coolers filled with cold brews. No draft beers here and the best part can be read on a giant sign across the bar - Absolutely No Budweiser.
Music: The tunes in this place set the mood. An old, dusty juke box crackles out old blues, rock and well, just some damn good music. Think Tarantino's Death Proof.
Grub: There's no food to be had at Mahuffer's, which is probably a good thing since it's not the cleanest bar in the world. Two big cats chill on the bars, a bird squawks in the corner and frankly I don't think the place has been dusted in years, but who cares - it's still the coolest bar I've been to.