Sunday, September 27, 2015

Winter Haven, Florida revisited after 48 years.

Winter Haven is a small city--population about 36,000--in central Florida. It's a little south and west of Orlando, east of Tampa, and west of Melbourne. It has fifty lakes within or touching its city limits, and is surrounded by citrus groves. One thing it has in common with New York City is a Central Park, with a fountain (photo above).

When I was a student at the University of South Florida I became friends with several fellow students who were from Winter Haven. I visited there on several occasions, and got to like the place very much. I even wrote a paper for one of my political science classes about its city government. (Don't ask me what my conclusions were; I've forgotten.)

From my Winter Haven friends, as I've noted before, I learned about Gram Parsons before he became famous. About two years ago, through social media, I reconnected with one of those friends, Steve Griffith. He told me that there was an effort to restore the Derry Down, the former "teen age night club" established by Gram's stepfather, initially to give Gram and his high school folk group a place to play. I then learned that the group restoring the Derry Down was presenting a "Cosmic American Music [Gram's term for his style, now called "Americana" or "Roots" or "Alt Country"] Festival," and I decided to attend.

I hadn't been to Winter Haven since 1967--48 years. In this post, I'll show some photos of scenes around town, all my photos except where otherwise noted.
One thing you're not likely to find in New York is a cattle egret standing on a car roof in a drugstore parking lot
 Another sign I'm not in the North: Spanish moss hanging from a tree.
The shore of Lake Howard, the largest of Winter Haven's lakes, was a block from where I was staying. I spotted this fly fisherman working along its shore. He's standing on a small boat that's hidden by the reeds.
This handsome building is at the corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street NW. Winter Haven is laid out with lettered avenues going east to west and numbered streets going north to south, divided into NE, NW, SE, and SW quadrants; because this pattern is frequently interrupted by lakes, some circumscribed by drives bearing their names, e.g. "Lake Howard Drive," I once described a map of Winter Haven as a Cartesian grid superimposed on a piece of Swiss cheese. The building is called "Time Square," and was given that name by my friend Steve, who, inspired by the clock on its northwest corner, won a contest to name it when he was eleven or so. I don't recall what prize he won. Photo: LoopNet.com
As a bibliophile, I believe you can tell a lot about a city by the quality of its library. The Kathryn L. Smith Memorial Library, done in the Spanish colonial style popular in Florida, looks impressive and capacious. I wish I'd had time to explore inside.
Lily pads near the shore of Lake May.

Another solitary egret perched by the lake shore.

I'll be doing another post soon about the Cosmic American Music Festival and some of the groups and musicians I saw, heard, and met there.