LAKE WALES, Fla. — Was Wednesday really the first day of spring?
My brother Frank and I picked up Craig, my son, at the airport in Melbourne, Fla., and we headed for the golf course.
Of course, the conditions in Indiana County were probably not ideal to get out on the golf course and I am not going to rub it in.
But the reason we are in Lake Wales is that we had a few weeks remaining on the place we had rented, so … here we are.
On Thursday, Craig and I hooked up with a pair of IUP retirees, Bill Neal and Lou Sutton, in a competitive match at the local country club, where Clymer native Joe Kochman was the organizer for the day’s events.
Both Neal and Sutton were head coaches and retired from IUP.
Sutton started the cross-country program at IUP in 1968 and passed the torch to Ed Fry, for whom the arena at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex is named, and Neal was the head football coach from 1970-78.
Of course, he had the pleasure of coaching Jim Hazlett, who went on the play in the NFL, was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints and is currently defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.
We reminisced about the “old” days and Neal told a story recalling a trip to Clymer when he was first named head football coach.
“You took me to a place (Abraham’s Hotel) and introduced me as the new head football coach at IUP and said to set up the house.
“I got nervous since I didn’t have a lot of money with me and wondered what this was going to cost me.
“Hub Abraham was the owner and after getting everyone taken care of, he gave me the tab. It was two dollars and ten cents.”
Well, I knew at that time the drafts at the Abraham Hotel were only 10 cents, but Neal wasn’t aware of that.
He made a lot of friends in Clymer for a couple bucks.
Hub was quite a guy and was responsible for organizing the Little League in Clymer. Any time you walked in, there was something for sale to benefit the Little League.
In fact, he was inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 for his dedication and success with the Clymer Little League program, and the field is called “Hub Field.”
My colleague, Bill Hastings — the Inside Indiana guy — and I would travel on Fridays to different areas of the county, and when in Clymer we always stopped at the Abraham Hotel for lunch.
I think his wife, Minnie, was the cook and it was always a great meal. Good stuff like stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes and homemade pie for about a buck and a half.
And three of their sons, John, Ken and Howard “Tink,” were members of the Watchmen’s Quarter, along with Loren Green, of Indiana. They sang gospel music and performed nationally.