It was a whirlwind 10-day trip to Florida recently, where my brother Frank and I had several matters that had to be addressed.
We went to Tower Lakes, which is a development near the community of Lake Wales.
This has turned out to be one of the very popular areas for the snowbirds from Indiana County. In fact, at last count, there were approximately 28 county residents who spend the winter in this area.
It all started about 14 or 15 years ago when Arch and Marge Brocious, of Dixonville, made their way through southern Florida looking for the warm temps and sunshine during the winter months. They were the first from the area to call Tower Lakes their winter home.
Since that time, many from this area have followed in their footsteps, and, in fact, their close friends, Jerry and Arlene Clawson, of Saltsburg, are now permanent residents in the community.
Both Arch and Jerry were former school superintendents in Indiana County, Arch at Purchase Line and Jerry at Blairsville-Saltsburg.
Brocious, who is recovering from knee surgery, passed along a warning to all his golfing buddies that he will be returning shortly to the links, ready to take on all challengers. He has won the match play event at Meadow Lane Golf Course several times and also competes in the championship flight each year.
They were only county residents at the park while we were there, but beginning next month the locals will begin trickling in for their winter hiatus.
But we did receive a surprise visit from Don Douds, an Indiana native and former head basketball coach at Indiana High School.
Douds has been a lifelong friend of Indiana native Dennis Smith, who also made the trip with us.
Douds retired from teaching and coaching at a school in Maryland and is currently a resident in Florida near West Palm Beach.
Since we have not been to Lake Wales previously at this time of year, we did not realize how the pace slows down until the invasion of the “snowbirds.”
There is no traffic to speak of, not even at rush hour.
Most of the restaurants and bars close at 10 p.m.
The closest sports bar we could find to watch the Pirates in their battle for the playoffs was in Winter Haven, which is about 15 minutes from Lake Wales.
As the pace slows down, there are no lines at any of the restaurants.
But the restaurant prices are very reasonable and gas was $3.22 a gallon.
Sunshine and blue skies are the major attraction and, hopefully, when the snow flies, we can make our way south again.
o o o
When the shocking news about the sudden death of Homer City native Reno Martini was announced, it stunned the community and his many friends in the area.
Reno, who always had a smile on this face, was one of those good guys to know.
A tremendous athlete at Laura Lamar High School, now Homer-Center, he excelled on the football field, where he played quarterback, and on the baseball and softball diamonds.
He was also a great golfer, and we got together every year at the Mario Luther Golf Tournament, where we played in the same foursome. Mario was his former brother-in-law.
Reno was an avid Steelers fan, and we did tailgate together on occasion.
Although he was living in Maryland, where he was a successful businessman in an investment company, he never forgot his friends in this area, and the large gathering at the C. Frederick Bowser Funeral Home attested to that.
Our condolences to the family.