We love small towns. I spent most of my working life publishing small town newspapers, and though I have done it a time or two, if we ever hang up the keys I could never imagine living in a big city again. We have found in our fourteen years of fulltiming that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Arizona, Iowa, Florida, or anywhere in between, small towns all have a lot in common.
The people are all friendly and don’t hesitate to smile and say hello to you even if you are a stranger. The folks in the mom and pop stores and restaurants appreciate your business. And there is a certain civic pride you don’t find in a lot of big cities. If you ask a citizen of Celina, Ohio or Long Beach, Washington, or our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona what they like about their community, be prepared to sit a spell because they’re probably going to bend your ear for a while.
We spent yesterday afternoon exploring a nice small town we recently discovered, Inverness, located halfway between Interstate 75 and the Gulf Coast. With a population that hovers around 7,500 people, Inverness is a reminder of Old Florida, with its handsome 100 year old courthouse, quaint shops on the Square, and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.
Located on the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes, which are popular with boaters and fisherman, Inverness and the surrounding area is laid back and friendly. A lot of snowbirds have found it to be a very affordable place to winter, and many who came for a one time visit have bought small homes or mobiles as their winter headquarters. While the community is small, it has everything you could want or need, from restaurants to a WalMart SuperCenter, Lowes, a good hospital, and easy access to larger communities like Orlando and Tampa.
Built in 1912, the old Citrus County Courthouse is unique in that the building sits on a square lot at a 45 degree angle. Built in 1912, the building features a copper cupola topped with a belvedere, and if it looks familiar to you, it may be because the courtroom scenes from the 1961 Elvis Presley movie Follow That Dream were filmed there. The superstar and his entourage, including boat, RV, and Cadillac, spent six weeks in sleepy little Inverness. If you’re in the area April 26 – 28, be sure to check out the original play/musical When Elvis Came to Town staged in the courthouse.
Today County business takes place at a new courthouse a block away, and the old courthouse is the headquarters for the Citrus County Historical Society, which has an impressive local history collection. People here are proud of their history, and many of the old commercial buildings on the square have brass tablets that tell the history of the buildings and what businesses were housed there over the years.
We found an interesting little shop called Old Inverness Antiques tucked away in an alley behind the square and spent some time looking at all of the old treasures on display. Am I dating myself when I say that they had stuff for sale there that I remember using or having as a kid? Does that make me an antique too?
We really like the Titusville area on the east side of the state, but after spending a day poking around the shops and backstreets of Inverness, I have to admit that if we ever hang up the keys, I could be quite content there.
Somebody who has no intention of hanging up any keys, or letting any grass grow under his creative feet, is my friend Robert Thomas, who is my featured independent author on my self-publishing blog today. Check out Robert’s interview, and then his books. He’s a nice guy!
Thought For The Day – Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.