In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.
"When you find a beautiful woman," Mac Klein advises, "never change a hair on her head."
That fine lady of which he speaks, if you don't know, is Mac's Club Deuce, the infamous and beloved Miami Beach dive bar that Klein has owned, operated, and cherished for the past five decades.
"She's always looked exactly the same as she does now," he says, smiling with pride. "From top to bottom, always gorgeous."
See also: South Beach's Five Best Bars
Now 100 years old, Mac came into the world September 19, 1914. "I was born on the East Side of New York at 524 E. 11th St. on the third floor," he says, "where there was only one bathroom for everybody."
He lived through the Great Depression. He earned his education on the streets of NYC. And then he joined the Army. "That was World War II," Klein explains. "I served five years. I fought in France. And I was wounded in August of 1944, when we made the invasion with Operation Dragoon."
Injured and discharged from active duty, Mac finally arrived in Miami. "Just a day after I got out of the Army," he remembers, "I was recovering and I felt that I needed warm weather."
Between leaving the military and becoming a bar owner, "I was living off my wits," Klein says with a mischievous smirk. It was a time of hard work and hustle that lasted 20 years.
"Then I bought this club March 4, 1964," he recalls. "The owner died the same day my daughter was born, and I bought it from his widow. We were friends. His name was Harold Schwartz."
Before Mac took over, it was known simply as Club Deuce. "And the reason was," he explains, "the address is two, two, two -- you know, 222 14th St. And for anyone born yesterday, a two is a deuce."
The bar originally opened "just after Prohibition," Klein says. The walls have always been black. The neon has always been bright. And the happy-hour drinks have always been two-for-one from morning till night.
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As Mac says: "The beauty of keeping her beautiful and never changing anything is there are people who were here 50 years ago, and they come back and they feel 50 years younger because she's just as they remember her.
"It's magic. And believe me," he chuckles, "if everybody in the world would just meet at Club Deuce and have a drink together, we would all have wonderful peace and prosperity on this Earth."
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