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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Beachless Boynton Beach, a Story from Sid's Archives, a Vargas New Years Greeting and a Comment on "Prerequisites of Nationhood"

Where Did Boynton Beach's Beach Go?

A goodly number of the followers of this blog reside in Boynton Beach, Florida.  Some of them may wonder why it is that Boynton Beach, as contrasted to nearby Delray Beach or Boca Raton, actually doesn’t have a beachfront!  Well, here’s the story.

Up to 1931, this whole area, including the oceanfront, was known as the Town of Boynton.  “Beach” wasn’t part of the name until 1931 when there was a dispute as to how oceanfront property would be taxed.  Also at that time, the town’s “debt load” was pushing it toward bankruptcy.  Apparently, to resolve the problem, Boynton split off its oceanfront area except for retaining rights to a municipal beach.  This new, separate and highly desirable area took on the new name of Boynton “Beach.”  Eight years later, in 1939, that oceanfront community officially changed its name to Ocean Ridge.  Two years later, the Town of Boynton was able to add the word “Beach” to its name, becoming Boynton Beach, which continues to be what it is called in its present form as a city, even though the only “beach” it possesses is its small municipal beach, retained from that 1931 arrangement.  (Of course, this should not be confused with the Boynton Beach post office designation, which encompasses a far wider area extending deeper “out west” into unincorporated Palm Beach County, some parts of which still get their water and sewage service from the City of Boynton Beach and is more populous than that city.)

I don’t know what caused Boynton to have debt problems 81 years ago, but it would appear that letting its prime asset, its oceanfront area, go its own way and become a separate town (now Ocean Ridge) resolved those problems.  This left what is now the City of Boynton Beach without an oceanfront, an asset which neighboring Delray Beach and Boca Raton both possess and have successfully developed and expanded upon. (Along the way, the oceanfront areas of Manalapan and Briny Breezes also managed to separate from what we now know as Boynton Beach, completing the disappearance of its beaches, except for the municipal beach.)
Jack Lippman



Sid's Corner


“Would someone please kill me?” begged the shriveled, old man wrapped in the sheets in the bed.

“You know that we can’t do that, Arnold,” answered his wife, Helen, softly. “It’s against the law.”

“Law, shmaw,” snorted Arnold. “I’m in agony. I’m terminal. You know it. I know it. So what’s the sense of prolonging my discomfort? The morphine is becoming less and less effective, and the pain is excruciating. Keeping me alive is not in my best interests. Let me talk to Dr. Kay. He’ll do it. I know he will. The oncologist is too afraid of a malpractice suit to do it.”

“What will I do?” asked the tall, dark, lean figure who had suddenly appeared in the doorway. “What is it that I would do for you, Arnold, my old friend? I’ve kept you alive all these years as your cardiologist, and I was devastated when this cancer invaded your body. And now it is winning the long, drawn-out battle.”

“That’s my point, doc. It’s been a long, on-again, off-again siege. I’ve been successful overall, but we all know that this is the end of the road. It’s in my bones, my back, my groin, and it’s won. So let’s finish me off on my terms, not its. Will you complete your years of compassionate treatment of me with the ultimate gesture of helping me across life’s final threshold in dignity?”

Dr.Kay gazed sadly at his long-term patient who had morphed into a dear friend as well. Arnold’s full head of silver-gray hair had been plucked out like chicken feathers by the chemotherapy to leave only a few tufts scattered randomly across his bald scalp. Ghost-white shadings painted over flesh that hung in wrinkled folds over his shrunken frame now replaced Arnold’s once robust coloring and smooth skin. Throughout his ordeal Arnold had maintained a positive attitude laced with a tolerant embrace of his illness. Everyone had marveled at his forbearance – even in these later stages in which the cancer’s tentacles had almost doubled him over into the letter ‘c’, requiring him to use a walker to get around. And now he was beyond even that luxury and could only lay in bed, fed by tubes, and toileted by a catheter and diapers because he no longer had enough strength to position himself atop a bedpan.

“Helen,” Dr. Kay whispered to the tall, white-haired, elegant woman standing next to him at the end of the bed, “what do you want? Do you agree with Arnold? You’ve been his stalwart companion and nurse throughout his illnesses. These last few years have been especially hard for you and have devastated your own health. What do you wish for Arnold?”

With tears rolling down her cheeks Helen quietly, but firmly answered, “I want what he wants. While he was able to cope and function with some dignity, and the pain was drugged down to bearable levels, I knew—we all knew –that this day would arrive. This is torture. It’s inhumane. We wouldn’t allow an animal to suffer through this. It’s time to help him slip through the final doorway, Dr. Kay.”

Dr. Kay nodded solemnly, reached for the control valve on the morphine drip, and gently whispered to Arnold, “I’m increasing the drip, my dear friend, to ease your pain. Sleep tight.”

A few moments later Arnold crossed over in dignity. 

Sid Bolotin - Vintage 2003


Nationhood Prerequisites Draws a Comment

A reader of this blog pointed out one country, in their opinion, which while failing to meet all three “prerequisites of nationhood” about which I wrote in the last posting, manages to exist.   That country, he contends, is the United States of America which (1) does not have a homogenous population, (2) lacks natural boundaries to the north and to the south and finally, (3) has an economy which he feels is on the way to economic ruin.

I don't feel that this disproves my "theory" since the United States’ lack of homogeneity doesn’t matter historically.  We have always been a nation of immigrants and succeeding waves of newcomers have consistently been able to blend into our culture, and that will continue to happen.  True, there have been bumps in the road such as mid-nineteenth century employment want ads which included the words “Irish need not apply,” but even that kind of bigotry eventually disappears in our society.  

As for our wide open northern and southern boundaries, the similarity of our culture with that of Canada precludes any danger from that direction.  To the south, however, the Rio Grande is an inadequate barrier to potential dangers from an unstable Mexico.  That border  requires extensive policing and we should recognize that this will probably be a permanent challenge over the next century.  Of course, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are wonderful natural boundaries to the east and west, so in the final analysis, our borders provide adequate protection.

As for a successful economy, while it is clear that our economy is not flourishing the way it once did, it certainly remains one of the strongest in the world.  Once the problem of the nation debt is properly addressed, and it will be, and the United States adjusts to the fact that labor-intensive jobs will have to be replaced with brain-intensive jobs, and that tax-based steps to increase consumption will be necessary, we will be just fine. The reader, of course, disagrees.

What happens to nations which “fail” because they truly lack the prerequisites of nationhood?  They might be conquered by aggressive neighbors.  More likely, their independence will remain as a fa├žade while they actually become dependent on stronger nations into whose sphere of influence they fall.  Such “stronger” nations might include China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa, Brazil and the United States.



From the 1945 Esquire Calendar, here's a Vargas girl wishing you all a  Happy New Year!



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Jack Lippman

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