Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rev. Willis, Vacationing in Florida, Writes from Lakeland, 1917

“Sojourning in Florida,” from The Robesonian, Lumberton, March 1, 1917

Rev. W.W. Willis Writes of Pleasant Surroundings in the Land of Flowers—Florida Suffered in Recent Cold Snap
Lakeland, Fla., Feb. 21—I came to Lakeland on Sunday last. My stay in Jacksonville was prolonged on account of a few days sickness, due to cold, which brought on a slight attack of muscular rheumatism to which I have been subject at intervals during the last few years. I am stopping at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Ford, proprietors of the Ford house and here I fund about 50 guests (tourists), some from as far north as Vermont and New York; also, they are here from Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina.
Florida was hit hard by the cold. I have seen enough oranges grape fruit on the ground in one orchard alone to satisfy the appetites of all the “kids” and grown ups in the town of Fairmont; but remember, they are not all on the ground by any means. The cold has not “busted” Florida for she is hard to “bust”.
Tuesday Mr. Ford and two other gentlemen were up at 4 a.m. to go fishing. About 40 pounds of fine trout as ever came from the pure waters of the Lumber River graced the table at dinner. These came from Lake Whistler. Some say Florida fish are not as finely flavored as our North Carolina fish, but this is a mistake.
Yesterday, in the afternoon, I went to Tampa with Mr. Ford. We went alone in his car. It is 32 miles from here to Tampa. From Plant City, a distance of 22 miles, the road is constructed of the finest brick that could be had. One has nothing to do but ride over such a road when in a good car.
Plant City is a magnificent town, very pretty and business like. The phosphate works are close by. I saw them at a distance but did not stop to investigate. When the war broke out in Europe, the mines had to shut down, but when the dark cloud passes over, and the nations strike hands over the bloody divide, and make peace, they will open up again.
As I write, Ford informs me that he is going fishing again and wants me to join him in the sport. I will lay down my pen and report results later on. I have had a good dinner and fee like it—1:25 p.m.
The Morning After
Five of us went about 12 miles to a beautiful lake, the name of which I have forgotten. I ran the boat for Ford and he did the fishing. Seven were all we got. The largest weighed 8 ½ pounds. These we will have for breakfast, I am sure, because I am writing now at 5:30 and this gives plenty of time to cook, and the delay will furnish the appetite.
Lakeland is a nice city, not large like some others in the State, but has room to spread out; and the popularity of the place will furnish the rest.
I am told that a letter came to the Ford house for me before I reached the city, and after remaining a short while disappeared. It is supposed that the mail man took it up again. Will the friend write me again? Anybody wishing to address me, write in care of the Ford house.
The weather here is ideal now. During the night it is cool enough to require cover and the days are about the same as in North Carolina.
Will close with best wishes for all in the home land.
                --W.W. Willis

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