Soon after arriving home, my family had another medical scare with my grandmother in Florida. As soon as we heard about it, my dad and I ran raced down to see her for a week. After that, I stayed in Lake Placid with her and he went home.
Lake Placid, Florida is not what you'd call the most "hopping" place around. It is a small, retirement community. There's one coffee shop (which was very hard to find), two bookstores (both of which are Christian bookstores), a few thrift shops, and a variety of very nice restaurants that all close around 3 P.M. Essentially, there are only two types of people in Lake Placid, the retired and those who take care of the retired. Oh, and clowns... there are clowns too.
At some point, someone thought that it would be nifty to add a mural to one of the buildings in town. It didn't take long after that for another and another and another to join it. Thus much of the downtown area is covered in murals and decorated trash cans. At some other point, someone decided to start up a clown college in Lake Placid, which eventually added on a museum. Somehow, the murals and the clown college became intertwined. Now wooden, cut-outs of clowns decorate the fencing along the elementary school nearest the clown college.
Most of the murals celebrate local, fairly mundane achievements. One such mural shows the noble Dr. Dewey standing before a billowing train, holding up a document, marking the moment when he put Lake Placid on the map. This image seems to act as the town's Aeneidian foundation myth.
Another, portrays the town's early physicians carved into stone like the presidents of Mt. Rushmore.
One mural shows the town's first drug store, which closed in 2005. Next to the mural, presumably where the drug store used to stand, now sits a gym and juice bar.
A mural called "The Lost Bear Cub" displays a mother bear looking through the forest for her young. Meanwhile, the cub sniffs around a bee hive at an orange grove. At one time, Lake Placid had been a great place for black bear hunting. Of course, that passed with the black bears.
One mural shows the turpentine industry that had at some time provided a wide array of jobs for people in the area.
Another depicts the Floridian scrub jay's deeply passionate love for peanuts in a rather Greco-Roman motif. They say, the scrub jay loves its peanuts so much that all you have to do is place one on the palm of your hand and the friendly, little jay will swoop down onto you, pick it up, and carry it away.
Some show boy scouts, basketball teams, the town's first bank robbery, a beloved mid-wife, sand cranes, Florida panthers, and a man who has dedicated his life to growing roses.
A lot of history can be preserved through those murals. Not big history, mind you. Instead, the town is painted with the tiny stories and curious folk that make up any community. It is filled with the most precious things that we are quick to forget, but in desperate need to keep in our minds. It's a shame that so many towns don't find neat ways like this to preserve their culture, identity, and memory.