Saturday, December 15, 2018

A little history about the little City of Lake Worth.

The blog post below is one that’s re-posted every 2–3 months since it was first posted back in 2010. This blog began in 2006 and the letter from Cpt. Stafford remains one of the most requested all time. Many of you have read the letter from Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.). Some of you many times.

But for new residents of this little City of Lake Worth the letter below gives an interesting perspective in the context of history.

First, a short excerpt, the entire letter is below:

“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”.

The streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure long-ignored and under-maintained for so many decades is now being addressed following the passage of Lake Worth’s Neighborhood Road Bond in Nov. 2016 and then the passing of the County ¢1 sales tax increase.

The public decided to tax themselves because we needed to fix our streets and sidewalks. The first Neighborhood Road Bond in August 2014 failed by just 25 votes. The majority on the City Commission — Mayor Pam Triolo and commissioners Scott Maxwell and Andy Amoroso — decided to go for a second Road Bond in Nov. 2016. That one passed by a “whopping 69%”:

“I want to thank the commissioners who have been sitting on this dais longer than I have for having the courage to go for this twice. And I want to thank the voters who approved this. Because this is really going to transform our City.”
Quote. District 2 Commissioner Omari Hardy from a City Commission meeting on Jan. 16th, 2017.

I hope you find this informative and worth your time. One of the most-viewed posts ever on this blog, the letter from Capt. Wm. S. Stafford (Ret.) from 2010:

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

South Island,

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,


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