Friday, November 24, 2017

This blog began in May 2006. One
blog post in particular is ‘Worth’
another look.

One of the most-viewed posts ever on
this blog is below:

The letter from Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.)
from 2010.

Why is this letter so special? I think it gives a very unique perspective from ‘back in the day’ about things like newspapers, “much of the same political and socio mechanisms never seem to change”, issuing bonds for infrastructure improvements, and when,

“Dad [Mayor Jim Stafford, elected in 1953] also had larger water mains installed downtown, thus lowering the fire insurance rates, and gave Lake Worth the best drinking water in the State”.

The streets, sidewalks, and other road infrastructure long-ignored and under-maintained for so many decades is now being addressed following the passing of Lake Worth’s Neighborhood Road Bond last year and then the passing of the County ¢1 sales tax increase.

The public decided to tax themselves because,
in part, we have a historic disgrace
in our City of Lake Worth.

At a City Commission Work Session last July, our electeds discussed how to spend proceeds from the County’s sales tax increase. It was at this meeting that Commissioner Omari Hardy, recently elected the previous March, reminded the public we still have 2½ miles of unpaved roads. Many of these ‘roads’ were platted 104 years ago in what we now call District 1 and District 2 west of Dixie Hwy.

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:

Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.)
Master of Science Degree (AvSciTech)
Commercial Pilot ASMEL
Instrument Airplane
FCF Flight Engineer C-130B, E & H
Airframe Mechanic
Royal New Zealand Coast Guard Boatmaster #37155

Canterbury,
South Island,
NEW ZEALAND

20 January 2010

Mr. Wes Blackman

Dear Wes;

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

Kind Regards,

Will

[Here is the video referenced above, uploaded to YouTube on November 30th, 2008.]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice reading this. Bill Martin, the attorney, died many years ago. I also remember the water at the casino being salt water which makes sense. I also remember the little foot wash you had to walk through to get into the casino pool at the turnstile, the tunnel to the beach with two stairways going down, the clock.

Ah, the good ole days.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the postcards

Susan St. John said...

I am looking for ownership of the Lake Worth Leader in the 1950s. My father was said to have ownership of the newspaper, Schuyler Adams Orvis, Jr. I remember the smell of the printing room, learned to set type, tossed newspapers, and watched the endless efforts of my father to revive the Leader. I am in need of proof of ownership by my father, or, at the very least as employee. If you would like I will give you more history of my father's affiliation to the paper.

Anonymous said...

For; Susan St. John

Bill McGoun is an author who has written a book about the history of Lake Worth High School.
He mentioned to me that he had worked at the Lake Worth Leader in the 1950's. He described the printing press, & that the newspaper was located in a quonset hut next to the FEC railroad. He even described the printing press.
I don't have his e-mail address nowadays, but I'm sure that if you conducted a search on-line you might be able to find him.
He could probably answer your questions with regards to your father, if they worked at the newspaper concurrently back then.
Proof of ownership should be contained in the historical deed files, with regards to the buying and selling of the business and the property it was located on.
Hope this helps. Cheers-

Susan St. John said...

Thanks very much for your help. I think the paper shut down in the early 1950s.