A bend in the road is just about all that serves as a reminder of the once-thriving burgh of Conant. The settlement was a mile or two north of Lady Lake on what was then the Florida Southern Railroad. The bend in the road is the curved overpass on U.S. Highway 441/27, close to Lady Lake’s new Town Hall. Like many of Lake County’s fledgling communities of the late 1800s, cold did the town of Conant in, but not necessarily low temperatures. William T. Kennedy explained it in his “History of Lake County,” which was published in 1929. “Conant would have been a good city of today with its promising start, but its promoters went in for snobbery and ‘cut’ all who did their own work or who sent their children to public school instead of a private school that was opened in Conant. As the town was largely settled and built up by sincere, hardworking people, they moved to more congenial towns.

———

Were Leesburg’s barbers on strike in 1957 during Leesburg’s Centennial Celebration? That was the way it looked according to a newspaper editorial 60 years ago. “For Leesburg is a city of beards,” noted the editorial.

Facial Hair Fest was the result of a proclamation by Leesburg Mayor Alfred W. Smith on Jan. 1, 1957, and it was signed by Mayor Pro Tem Marshall Wilson.

The mayoral proclamation had a short explanation that ran above the headline, “Proclamation for Brothers of the Brush.”

It read: “The following will explain the reason for such prominent and outstanding display of beauty by the male population of the city of Leesburg, Lake County, Florida, U.S.A. WHEREAS, all Leesburg residents are interested in doing their utmost to make our Leesburg Centennial the greatest ever held in this par of the County, and WHEREAS, all of us are anxious to have the city look as it did 100 years ago, and to reflect the struggles and the sacrifices of our forefathers. THEREFORE, I Alfred W. Smith, Mayor of Leesburg, Florida, do hereby proclaim that all males of the age when shaving is feasible, refrain from shaving from now until the end of our glorious Centennial Week, Feb. 24, 1957 through March 2, 1957.