Clipped From Fort Lauderdale News
Friendly folks meet at old watering hole ' ' , r ' 5-!,.:: 5-!,.:: 5-!,.:: ! ( - : t .':' s ' IF J " ...... 8 J 1 x-V x-V x-V HO 1. ' - - - f; ?i . u.iw iimih i in, jheiu'i u' ni'-. ni'-. ni'-. T-i- T-i- T-i- T-i- m ;: ' . i '. Bill IMcCord downs a cold one at the rustic Stratford's Bar in Hollywood, a 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old institution with a reputation as a place to meet friendly people. By Willie Fernandez Staff Writer In an area best known for sunshine, glitter and impermanence, it's considered an enigma a spot that has remained standing through time while ignoring ignoring the trends. The place definitely is simple and old right down to the walls that could use a fresh coat of paint, the weathered interior and floors; the collection of no-longer no-longer no-longer seen signs and antique brick-a-brac brick-a-brac brick-a-brac brick-a-brac brick-a-brac that adorn" walls and shelves. But here in Florida, it's ironic that this haven, with as close to a sense of historical perspective as you'll find in these parts, is a bar a watering hole patronized by the near-famous near-famous near-famous and the nearly down-and-out. down-and-out. down-and-out. down-and-out. down-and-out. This local institution, born out of the swamp and hinterland of early Hollywood, is known as Stratford's a 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old 35-year-old establishment owned by the same family for three generations. Today Stratford's location is no longer the sticks, but more accurately in the thick of civilization, at Hollywood Boulevard, immediately east of the northbound northbound exit ramp of Interstate 95. Over the years Stratford's has accumulated a large following as word of its existence is passed on from generation to generation and as newcomers to the area discover its charm. , "It seems to me that a new generation starts coming in here every three years," says owner Guy Roper.- Roper.- You see. Stratford's allure is partly based on the fact its owners have steadfastly maintained the building's building's original characteristics while resisting change, Roper says. ' Stratford's has high ceilings, a long wooden bar, dilapidated black and brown bar stools and a nearly ancient shuffleboard table that's the centerpiece of . attraction. . But to faithful followers, Stratford's is more than a pub housed in an old building It's an honest-to-goodness honest-to-goodness honest-to-goodness honest-to-goodness honest-to-goodness neighborhood bar, the type that can be found only up north. "It's a northern bar the people here are out to have a good time. It's not like one of those pickup places that you have around here," said Frank Harris, who along with his wife, Lynne, have been Stratford regulars for four years. They discovered Stratford's after spotting the video machines from the road. The video machine games are the bar's only concession to anything modern. The couple stops in at Stratford's , two or three times a week to get out, of rush-hour rush-hour rush-hour traffic. The Harrises, along with other bar regulars, say in an area that can be construed as unfriendly because of its large transient population, Stratford's is a place filled with friendly faces and pleasant conversation. It's hard to be lonely at Stratford's. There's no such thing as a stranger. Just stand around the crowded bar and before long, people walk up and talk to you. Booming laughter can be heard constantly from every direction. Clusters of people are found everywhere, everywhere, enjoying a joke, a swig and good conversation. And beyond a double-set double-set double-set of swinging doors that act as a divider, cutting the lounge in half, is a restaurant. The plates are made of light green plastic and the tablecloth is non-existent. non-existent. non-existent. Patrons swear the best and cheapest-priced cheapest-priced cheapest-priced seafood in town can be found here. Lines of customers usually are found waiting outside the restaurant hoping to get a seat. Stratford's is also unusual because it attracts a wide variety of folks, the regulars say. At this bar, the young and old, the rich and poor, can and do rub elbows over pitchers of ice-cold ice-cold ice-cold draft beer. "The clientele Is so diverse, you will never know if you're sitting next to the governor of Rhode Island. You can see anything from a Mercedes to a junker in the parking lot," Roper says. It's also a gathering place for such potential adversaries adversaries as cops and journalists, lawyers and judges, blue- blue- and white-collar white-collar white-collar workers. . "Everybody mingles. You see all these friendly faces," says Alice Campbell, who frequents the bar with her husband, Charles. - The Campbells, a middle-aged middle-aged middle-aged couple, sat at the bar on a Friday afternoon talking with Cheryl Weaver, a 20-year-old 20-year-old 20-year-old 20-year-old 20-year-old dental assistant. Stratford's holds fond memories for Mrs. Weaver. It was there, in January 1981, that she met the man who became her husband. Mrs. Weaver still stops in at least once a week to visit with her friends at Stratford's. "This place is a real hole in the wall. But the people here are so friendly," she said. And then Mrs. Weaver looked around wistfully and spoke. " "I wouldn't remodel it or change it or do anything to it. Stratford's is Stratford's. If you do anything to it, it would not be Stratford's. You get all types here from ditchdiggers to millionaires. But it's really a very high-class high-class high-class place because the people are so friendly. At other places, you pay $4 to $5 for a drink and you feel out of place. Here you're relaxed." if 4, I - -; -; .V - xv-- xv-- xv-- d I - - f" -r -r -" -" :" ' I f; 4 fjV'rt- fjV'rt- ' ill - K - in. -Wfcs -Wfcs . J"' F ' - X"' I ' ft I n I Staff photos by ROBERT MAYER Bill Wilson, extreme left, pours the brew behind Stratford's Bar while Bill Asbury, above, shoots a game of "horse collar." Free-flowing Free-flowing Free-flowing beer, left, Is a tradition among the bar's faithful followers.