Day 15: Sarasota, FL to Tarpon Springs, FL

It turned out that I had planned about 100 stops in and around St. Petersburg so I didn’t make as much headway as I thought in moving northward.  Tomorrow, I’ll be tackling Tampa and a bunch of stuff east of there. I’ve only got three more days to play down here — so it’s crunch time! The “panhandle” might have to wait until next year.

The dogs only got one real good run today — at the 17th Street Paw Park in Sarasota. There was a huge area with good fencing for Grem and a kiddie wading pool for Nik. Everybody was pretty quiet and tired today except when we passed water, motorcycles, or other dogs.

Grippie has successfully taught my other dogs her hatred of toll boths and what to do about it. It’s become such a nightmare that I usually just quickly park & about 4 feet from the booth and hop out to pay. The toll booth collectors get all angry with me but it’s really a safety issue at this point. Grip knows the second I put my hand in my pocket for money. She looks down the road and at my hand and down the road. Then she starts barking and wakes everybody else up for group mayhem. I’ve tried putting the money on the dash a mile away but she keeps one eye open and the second I touch the money, she lets loose. I stick my arms way, way out of the van because I fear Grip will bite the person if I’m not ultra careful. Most states accept E-Z Pass now so I don’t have this problem anymore. But I don’t think FL’s SunPass is compatible. Here’s Grip getting warmed for a toll booth:


I’m not sure if this building in Sarasota is “real” (vintage) or “retro” (built much more recently to look old):


I do know that the Selby Public Library in Sarasota was built in 1998.  This round building was designed by Eugene Aubry. It reminds me of a couple of F.L. Wright buildings.


I was saddened to find a couple great signs (e.g., the Sunset Terrace Motel) and Mel’s Twistee Treat are now gone from Highway 41 north of Sarasota. This sign and building probably won’t be around much longer either.


In fact, not just in your town or your state, but everywhere across America, strip malls just like this one are popping up.  I really find the aesthetics of this mini Main Street so offensive!


This building in St. Petersburg is not my era — but its details called to me.  It is known as the Snell Arcade.


This appears to be an adapted sign in St. Petersburg.  Does anyone know what it originally advertised?


As I understand it, this place in St. Petersburg used to have gas pumps out front as well.  It has been here since 1946 and is still in operation.  I’m mostly keen on this place because of their clock which is quite large and still works.



Okay — calling all local St. Petersburgians and/or chain experts — what might this building have been used for originally?  It looks like a Tastee-Freez or Dairy Queen — but those wings on the sides don’t look quite right.  Then there are the garage bays — which could have been added later I suppose.


Speaking of fast food chains, how about a purple former Burger Chef — from St. Petersburg:


For those of you that don’t know it, I write the Sign Lines column for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archaeology) Journal.  For the next issue that’s coming out, I wrote about neon plumbing signs. A number of them included animated dripping faucets so I was thrilled to come across this little guy in St. Petersburg even though he’s modern and plastic.  I’m glad to see the sign tradition continues. 


While I was shooting some photos at the Polynesian Putter mini golf course in St. Petersburg Beach, I noticed this guy hanging around.  He was not in the parking lot but actually strolling about the course.  I’m not sure if he’s a regular or gets any handouts but he’s sure different from the pigeons and seagulls that I’m used to seeing in public places.  I believe he’s a white heron.  I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong!


This place in Pinellas Park had me doing a vigorous U-turn over several lanes of traffic.  It’s now a security business.  Google Maps shows the building painted white and for sale.  Does anyone know what was here before to which we can attribute these statues?


This car/boat amalgamation is parked in front of Mahuffers (restaurant/bar) in Indian Shores.  Yes, that’s an outboard motor on the car’s roof and a beer bottle & can next to the boat’s steering wheel.  I assume this thing is drive-able.


 One more sign before we go.  Topper King is in Clearwater.  I love the giant & somewhat crude truck depiction.


20 thoughts on “Day 15: Sarasota, FL to Tarpon Springs, FL

  1. Really sorry to hear the Twistee Treat building is gone. It was still there until at least last November with a Century 21 sign advertising the property. I wonder what happened to the building?

  2. I’m sad about the Mel-o-dee diner in Sarasota- that was my favorite breakfast place down there. Is the Tiki Bar still there on 41? And the bowling alley sign?

    • I have been gone from Saraots for two years now, but the tiki bar was still there when i moved…those sneaky tikis are the best!!!! I’m going back to visit friends and family July 2nd, i can’t wait!

  3. I went up and down looking for the bowling sign (Rip Van Winkle Lanes) — don’t see it anywhere. I had the address of 8154 N. Tamiami, across from the airport. So, unless that’s wrong, it’s gotta be gone, too. Not sure what the “tiki bar” was. There was a tiki-like building directly behind the Mel-O-Dee — also looked closed.

  4. The tiki bar was Bali Hut and it was at a Best Western. Sad about the bowling alley.

    Also, if I am correct, the black legs on the bird indicate it is an egret. The white phase of the Great Blue Heron has yellow legs. I think.

  5. the ace hardware was a former Kwik Chek grocery.Kwik Chek got bought out by Winn Dixie. The a frame was W.A.Woodward Philips 66 in 1970.
    The IHK security address did not exist in 1970. The statues resemble those at the Kapok Inn

  6. Thanks Robby for all that! I’ll have to look around for Kwik Chek signs to see what they originally looked like. I never knew P66 made such a station. Must’ve been a Southern thing? My guess on the statues is that there was some restaurant here — or possibly one of those garden statuary places. I’ll have to look up the Kapok Inn, too.

  7. The statues at the Kapok Tree Inn look a little nicer than these.


    I couldn’t find a Kwik Chek sign like this — but I did find this — and assume this sign’s circle contained their logo:
    kwik chek in florida

  8. The green Buick that has the outboard motor and boat on it started life as a hearse – I know, I drove one for many years to work (an ’88 Buick Superior). Someone cut off the back part where they hauled the casket and slapped a boat on there – ingenious!

    Happy Travels!!

  9. The A-frame that isn’t a what-a-burger was more than likely a chain of called “Golden Point” which operated in Florida in the early sixties. The steep roof was a goldish-yellow, and they offered nothing in the way of seating. The side of the building would have been added later. There were also several around Orlando and one on Merritt Island.

    As for What-a-burger…their original buildings in Florida weren’t A-frames. It seems as thought what-a-burger was somewhat of a voluntary chain in the fifties and didn’t have architechural standards like they did later, with the exception of the pylon.

    Winn-Dixie, for some reason, operated all of their south Florida stores under the name KwikChek. If KwikChek was ever an independent chain, Winn-Dixie purchased them prior to the middle fifties.

  10. The orange building with the statues that is now white and for sale used to be an antiques store. There was an outside fenced area which held a ton of great statues and stuff.

  11. The 4 huge female Goddess statues in front of the store on Park Blvd were in front of an Antique Mall that my neighbor owned and closed a few years back. The statues are from the Kapok that closed down. He still owns the property and the statues and is going to bring them to his house he is building next door. Two on the street and two at his doorstep. They weight thousands and thousands of pounds.

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