We were back in Florida for eight days at the end of September. We stayed at the Villas of Clearwater Beach in a unit where we’ve camped out before. The Villas are at the north end of the beach, walking distance to just about everything, but not in the middle of all the horn honking and other nonsense that can sometimes be found at the south end of Clearwater Beach.
We had an all-purpose trip, complete with three fun visits with my mother and Sid, a drive to Tallahassee to watch the Seminoles play Louisville, a Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium where we watched the Bucs give up a big lead to the Giants, a manicure-pedicure session, and a late morning in Deland with an artist whose work we really like. Of course, there was the usual beach walking, hanging around at the pool, and eats at Frenchy’s and Palm Pavillion—after many years of great food and service at both places, Palm Pavillion has now become our favorite (Frenchy’s was number one for us for many years).
The title of this post is in reference to Scientologists. I have written about Scientology in previous posts. So, you already know about the history of Scientology since their purchase of the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater in the mid-1970s, including recent stories about conflicts between Scientology leaders and the City of Clearwater. Scientology now owns a lot of downtown Clearwater, 22 downtown facilities alone. Over eight percent of the population of Clearwater identifies itself as Scientologists. The Flag Building (aka The Super Power Building), all 889 rooms, is the iconic structure in downtown. It is connected by an enclosed skywalk to the private Fort Harrison Hotel where visiting Scientologists stay during “auditing and rehabilitation” sessions (whatever that means).
When we first visited Clearwater in 1988, and in many following trips over three decades, we observed a large number of people on the street, day and night, dressed in sea org uniforms (now matching blue slacks and vests with white shirts and black ties). On our first visits, we incorrectly thought that there was a naval base in Clearwater (the U.S. Navy, not the L. Ron Hubbard Navy). Those in uniform looked sharp, and many of the men had haircuts that fit the part—high and tight. It was only after we started reading about Scientology that we realized that there was not a U.S. Naval base in Clearwater.
On more recent visits, this one included, we have observed that the street traffic with regard to those in sea org uniforms has declined, markedly, day and night. Without sea org members out and about, the streets of Clearwater appear to be virtually deserted. The effect of the lack of foot traffic can be easily observed in what was previously a High Pedestrian Area. On this visit, we walked (and drove) the main streets in the downtown area, including Cleveland Street, over the lunch hour on a weekday and found that many of the storefronts were empty. The existing restaurants had few customers as well. Please check out the linked YouTube video of a drive around downtown Clearwater. How many people do you see?
Like other cities, Tampa and its suburbs has its idiosyncrasies, one of which is worth noting. First, let me begin by declaring that Lady Bird was right, billboards are the scourge of too many highways and streets. These message boards hawk all kinds of products and services, inform us of events, and provide political and religious messages. In Seminole and Largo, Florida, my mom’s neighborhood, as well as along Interstate 4 from Tampa to Orlando, many of the billboards have a coherent message. Yes, you read this correctly. I used the words coherent message. The message is that the west coast of Florida is a dangerous place to drive, and many of those who venture out are at high risk of a crash and injury. Those who manage to crash all have something in common. They need an attorney. I noticed one or two of these billboards on previous visits, but did not pay much attention to their catchy messages and phone numbers. For some reason, on this visit I noticed more than one or two, and decided that we should catalogue some of those we observed. A large number of them appeared along a five-mile ride from Clearwater to my mother’s place in Seminole. Here it is, a sign by sign summary followed by some pictures we captured along the drive. I hope that you find these as entertaining as we did.
- Auto Accident? Lawyers Matter 1-800-Ask-Gary
- Arrested? WeGotYourBackDaytonaDefense.com
- See Our Results TheInjuryLawyers.com
- We Sue Drunk Drivers 1-800-Burnetti
- Injured? Dial #Law
- Auto Accident Law Firm #Hurt
- Car Accident? 727-Call-Mia
- Accident? 727-847-Hurt
- Injury Law Harvard Law Graduate
- Auto & Motorcycle Accidents – Injury Law
- Your Local Injury Attorney – Helpforthehurt.com