“Lake Worth is poised for some major upgrades following residents’ approval — by a whopping 69 percent — of a $40 million road repair bond. . .”.
—Quote by Rick Christie, the editor of The Palm Beach Post.
The Bond referendum on November 8th, 2016, was a very big deal. Historic.
The result of that vote will be remembered for a very long time. Why? Because it’s another break from our past ignoring so many neglected areas — and yes, neglected people too — in our City. It also shows confidence in the direction of this City. Twenty, thirty, forty years from now people will look back at November 8th, 2016, and truly understand what it meant and how important it was.
An election on March 14th was another break from our past, a seismic shift politically. Just not the way you might think. Commissioner Omari Jamal-Hatchett Hardy is a Black man, or if you prefer, African-American. But his race was never a factor for most voters. What voters cared about and focused on were the issues: public safety, fixing our streets, and Hardy tried and succeeded in getting people to at least try and look at our problems in new ways.
Not all of our problems are problems at all. To go on would risk being cliché. Most of you understand.
However, there was a time when things were very different here in this City. Going forward we can’t ignore the past. And with that, without further ado:
“He [former Lake Worth Mayor Jim Stafford] was also quietly instrumental in getting rid of the rest of the Jim Crow ordinances in his administration and bringing in city water and paved streets to what was then considered to be ‘colored town’.”
The entire letter follows:
20 January 2010
Mr. Wes Blackman
I visited your blog site last night and found it quite interesting.
I also found the historical slide show [see below] of Lake Worth that you put together with what appears to be sincere dedication and due diligence on your part even more fascinating. Well done!
Thank you for making the images available to former Lake Worth residents. Many of those sights I had only in my fading memory from years ago, but seeing them again really balances the perspective of the ‘then & now’ factor in the element of times passed.
My father was Jim Stafford; by that I mean Lake Worth’s then-youngest mayor who was elected in 1953. Dad was instrumental in many now-forgotten improvements in the Lake Worth of the 1950’s & 60’s. He worked with Russell & Axon Consulting Engineers in the context of better water quality, water treatment, and electrical power. I’ll send you his obituary shortly.
My grandfather was William M. Stafford, the owner and publisher of the long-gone Lake Worth Leader newspaper. He purchased the newspaper from P.O. Gorder in 1922. My family of Stafford’s from that era saw the Florida land boom, the bust, and survived the 1928 hurricane on what is now 7th Avenue North & North ‘K’ Street. He was referred to by his family as ‘Chief’, He was appointed Fire Chief of the Everglades Fire Control District on 7 December 1941.
He closed-up the Lake Worth Leader in either the late 40’s or early 50’s, and went to work for the Palm Beach Post Times, retiring in 1964. He passed away 30 October 1981 at age 93. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and taught me about practical survival living in the Everglades.
I donated a few items to the Museum of Lake Worth, and I enjoyed seeing Beverly Mustaine. I do hope that she in time will cover Lake Worth’s next 50 year period in history from the 1940’s to the 1990’s with a follow-on book to her original.
I recently wrote to Eliot Kleinberg and Lake Worth resident Robert Mykle congratulating them on their books of historical record concerning the 1928 hurricane.
I have also been in touch with Jim Stafford (Lake Worth Talk) and his dad Larry in the recent past. The parallels of our different family lines are coincidental and amazing.
I was born in WPB, then raised and schooled in the Lake Worth of the late 50’s and 60’s. I attended Barton Elementary, and the now-gone Lake Worth Junior High School, and LWHS Class of ’73.
My time in Lake Worth was simply due to my parents living there. I consider Okeechobee and Buckhead Ridge to be my U.S. home beginning when I was 10 years old. LW and Okeechobee are very different worlds when compared to each other.
I left LW in 1973, volunteering for service in the USAF whilst Vietnam was still ongoing. I retired in 1990 as a Service-Connected Disabled Veteran. I flew C-130’s and simultaneously held part time jobs in General Aviation.
My Mother taught at Forest Hill High School, (1958-1982) where Jim’s mom Mayra is now the principal.
As I have read the blogs, LW websites, etc., much of the same political and socio mechanisms never seem to change. This adds credence to the observed phrase that “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
BTW, my Dad and attorney Bill Martin were great friends. Is this the same Bill Martin who wrote in your blog?
With regards to the Lake Worth Casino, I believe that Dad had a bond issue to upgrade the Casino in the early to mid 1950’s. I remember going there in the early 60’s and distinctly remember the pools being salt water. The wooden pier came a few years later.
Dad also had larger water mains installed downtown, thus lowering the fire insurance rates, and gave Lake Worth the best drinking water in the State, and their own affordable electricity from the city-owned diesel generators. He was also quietly instrumental in getting rid of the rest of the Jim Crow ordinances in his administration and bringing in city water and paved streets to what was then considered to be ‘colored town’. The museum has quite a bit on file, as does the city historian, I’m sure.
Anyway, thanks for uploading the photos.
Cheers from New Zealand
[Here is the video referenced above, uploaded to YouTube on November 30th, 2008.]