Going The Distance


That was the warning (and a much needed one) placed above the knick knack shelves at the Ox Bow Gift Shop in the Twin City Mall, here bordering Lake Park back in the 70’s. I remember the sign well, perched just above the horse models my friends were enamored with. With all the careless kids in and out handling the models and intricate figurines, the owners had no doubt learned a lesson or two.

For years, that mall was the place to be, especially if you couldn’t get your mom to take you to the Palm Beach Mall. As young teens, my friends and I spent hours and hours in that enclosed little world at the Twin City Mall (aka: the little mall), and we spent most of the money we ever managed to scrape together from babysitting and whatnot buying pizza at The Orange Bowl (where they also sold Orange Julius), munching carmel corn from the Karmelkorn shop, looking for gifts for our mom’s at Ox Bow (knick knacks were standard “mom gifts” in those days), longing for the cool jewelry and incense at The House of India, trapsing in and out of Morse Shoes, Murphy’s, Sears, JM Fields, and on and on.

Beyond the draw of the shops was the fact that we had our own movie theater at the mall: The Twin City Cinema. When the movie Rocky came out, I went on my first date there to see it. I have limited memories of the guy sitting next to me; I was busy falling in love with Rocky… and the music of Bill Conti.


Friends of mine worked at the movie theater at the time, and that was as good as gold to a teenager. I confess we shouldn’t have done it, but I succumbed to the temptation, and the willingness of my friends acting as accomplices, and after the movie had been out a couple of weeks or so, our friends snuck us in for free, ummm, repeatedly… during the afternoon shows.

With hearts pounding, we’d make it safely through the dark and to our seats. Our friends who worked there would also pass along their perks of free popcorn and coke. Any wonder why I didn’t resist? The only stipulation was that we had to bring our own bags for popcorn and cups for the coke because they couldn’t short the inventory.

Aside from my skewed sense of right and wrong, which thankfully I corrected before it could draw me into a life of crime, it was an adventure we enjoyed more times that January than sounds rational when typed out, so I’ll leave that to your imagination. Let’s just say double digits may or may not have been involved.

The draw was, in part, the thrill of something free, but more than that, we snuck in to relive the magic of Rocky and Adrian falling in love and of course the thrill of Rocky’s rise against the odds to go the distance.

The myth of the greener grass

So what does this have to do with Lake Park, other than to remind me of memories embedded in my head and heart from my youth; time spent at the mall where the Publix now resides? Well, these days, I have to admit, there are times I think: If it doesn’t work out here and we can’t get this place turned around, I could always just move somewhere better, and find a little town where they still ‘get it’…where those in leadership aren’t caught up in a dreary progressive political agenda, some place where they are doing it right. I figure I can always throw in the towel on this place if it gets too hard.

While the dream is that the grass will be greener elsewhere, the fact is, across this country, similar scenarios are taking place everywhere. Small towns and big cities have been slowly co-opted and are influenced by a well-funded progressive political machine. The scenarios  seem to involve the greening of everything, and that’s not the kind of “greener” I’d go looking for. Wherever we turn now, it is obvious, there will be “sustainable” battles to fight and a progressive push to overcome…as well as the need to watch out for the corruption that money and power bring with them. Remaining engaged and keeping vigilant and involved will always been the answer, no matter where we live.

The small town advantage

The good news is that in Lake Park, we have an advantage. The effort of residents is always most effective on a smaller scale. Thankfully, we have already begun to build a committed group of neighbors that is awake and working to hold the town government responsible, Citizens Requiring Accountability from Politicians (see sidebar for contact information and an article by the Palm Beach Post). Efforts are underway to restore the shine to our town, once known as The Jewel of the Palm Beaches.

We are watching, listening, speaking and working to keep on top of what our leaders are doing to our home of Lake Park. It’s a matter of determination now, of continuing to engage more people, informing them and helping them to take some pride and ownership in the place they live… and then sticking together as we fight… and yes, it is a fight.  Those who can’t handle the idea of contending with those in opposition will find themselves with somebody else’s values and plans running the show and their lives.

We need to be contenders. To restore our community, we will have to go the distance…Rocky taught me back in the 70’s that it can be done, and I learned it right there at the Twin City Cinema in our own back yard. It’s a lesson I’ll hang onto and hopefully draw from as the days go by and the fight continues.

Meanwhile, if I get the itch to go looking for greener grass, there’s always the Rocky soundtrack for a little inspiration to stick it out.

Gonna Fly Now…