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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Otto: These numbers give Tampa some reasons to smile

Numbers don’t always mean everything, and they usually don’t tell the entire story. But here are a few I wanted to mention this week. Three numbers belong to Walter and Lorene Darville. Both of them are turning 90 this year. Walter says he was born in his house in West Tampa back in 1923. Lorene was born in Madison, Fla., and only came here years later looking for work. If you’re from that generation, you know those were lean years. That’s why Lorene came down and landed a job in the Tampa Shipyards as World War II cranked up. That’s also where she met Walter. They got married in 1943, which gets us to our second number of 70, which was their anniversary this week. Unfortunately, one month after getting married, Walter was off to Europe as an anti-tank crewman. He was at Anzio. On D-Day, he found himself on Utah Beach on his way to slogging across Europe until the end of the war.
It was 40 years ago this year that Walter and Lorene opened the 3-D Service auto machine shop. The three “Ds” were Walter, Lorene and son Clyde. The business finally moved to Howard and Cypress until the night lightning struck and the building burned down. Walter reopened next door. These days, the Darvilles are retired and still living in West Tampa. Walter says the reason they can celebrate those numbers is because he learned the two words that kept his marriage together…“Yes, dear.” Another number that slipped by this week was 80. That’s the number of years Tanner Paint Co. on Armenia Avenue has been in business. If you know the Tanners, you know generations of them have been involved in their community and that they are constantly raising money for one good project after another. Good people. One thing about public art in this town is the public may not always know that it is there. My favorite “Exploding Chicken,” resplendent with a new paint job, looks pretty good on its nest in the Channelside roundabout. Now I’m wondering what the future might hold for “America, America.” I know you weren’t aware we had a sculpture with such a noble name, but it’s been standing since 1977 in downtown Tampa. You probably missed it because the red steel sculpture by Barbara Neijna has been stuck next to the stairwell behind the John Germany Library. Apparently that stairwell may be on the chopping block as part of the new “Big Ugly” (my name, not the developers’) proposed apartment complex between the library and the river. You might keep an eye on what happens to “America, America.” Speaking of that project, Roger Wheling, who was the city planner back in the Mayor Sandy Freedman administration, has some interesting thoughts. Here are a few: “I’m surprised Mayor Buckhorn has not seen this exactly the same way as you. He was involved in city government when a downtown plan developed by community leaders and Mayor Freedman and subsequent ordinances that protected 15 feet of the water’s edge from development so that a riverwalk could eventually be developed…That plan called for the synergy of art-related development in that district which would serve to attract new visitors and residents to downtown; but not to attract new residential and commercial development west of Ashley Drive between Kennedy and the Performing Arts Center (Straz). “Thank goodness Mayor Greco’s plan to build a new museum configured in a way that walled off the river never came to fruition. The view across the river to the University of Tampa is equally as important as what activity is taking place in the arts district. The view also helps create a sense of place that is special and unique.”
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