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    Readers reply on what Largo means to them

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published July 8, 2001

    From precious childhood memories to disappointment at the cancellation of the July 4 fireworks show at Largo Central Park, Largo means different things to different people.

    Amid discussions among city leaders and business officials about creating a "brand identity" for Largo, we asked Largo readers to complete this sentence: "When I think of Largo, I think of . . ."

    Some like Largo just the way it is and do not believe the city suffers from an image problem. A few are deeply disenchanted with the city and its services. For others, Largo is not a favorite park or the mall. It is a collection of moments that elicits a smile of satisfaction.

    Here are some of the responses:

    * * *

    When I think of Largo, I think of my teenage years. Going to Pete's Pizza, the county fair. Walking to the library with a friend. Going to the movies in the middle of town. Going to Largo's schools. I love Largo. That's why I still live here.

    -- Martha Bauer, 48

    * * *

    When we think of Largo, we think back to a little sleepy town that has emerged into a beautiful city. We are proud to take visitors through our beautiful, spacious park, the cultural center and the new quaint downtown section. We are so pleased that this city of progress had foresight to imagine this beauty and then follow through.

    -- James Keifer, 71, and Elaine Keifer, 73

    * * *

    I am thankful for a wonderful place to live that is convenient to important locations, events and activities. I think of the exemplary services provided by our mayor, city commissioners, fire and police departments. My only major concern is the horrendous percentage of dangerous traffic violators who fear no retribution.

    -- Kathy Nudd, 57

    * * *

    Any city that cancels its annual Fourth of July fireworks display two years in a row while every other city in the county goes ahead with theirs can only be considered bush league. I sincerely pray that Largo doesn't annex my property. Quick, what's Seminole's phone number?

    -- Jesse Attreau, 48

    * * *

    I think of the recreational centers for the adult and youth groups, the parks, library and the cultural center. A town where the people take pride in their homes. What is there not to like in Largo?

    -- Bud Little, 80, and Dot Little, 74

    * * *

    When I think of Largo I think of home. It has the heart of a small town, but has more to offer than any city twice its size.

    -- Judie Fox, 62

    * * *

    It's where I grew up in the home my granddaddy built in 1923. Where my mother grew up. Where I'm raising my children. It's where, as a child, my grandmother knew everyone we'd meet -- on the street, in the grocery. And who they had married. And who their children were (and had married). . . . It's brick streets (that we fought to save), city celebrations in the park. . . . Largo is a hometown at its finest.

    -- Susan J. Williams, 47

    * * *

    I am a happy resident of Largo (corny, but true). I lived 71 years in Stratford, Conn., and then we moved here and have no regrets at all. It has been the best thing we have ever done for our later years. It will be the same for young ones, too.

    -- Lilyan Mahoney, 81

    * * *

    Largo Cultural Center, our heritage.

    LHS Band of Gold, our future.

    Largo Community Center, our heritage.

    Family Aquatic Center, our future.

    Shuffle board courts, our heritage.

    Playground at Largo Central Park, our future.

    -- Joan Schawb, 60

    * * *

    This is what I propose as a slogan for Largo, which encompasses the many facets of the city from single and family life, to culture, education, recreation and senior living. Largo . . . has it all!

    -- Dolores Ruskin, 72

    * * *

    You only wanted 50 words -- too bad because it would take a million words to describe how much I hate Largo. Jesus Christ couldn't get a building permit, even though he is a skilled carpenter. Unpleasant, unhelpful staff at the community development office. City manager and City Council members never return your phone calls. City Council spends $10-million to discover that downtown doesn't matter to most of us.

    -- Fred Ericksen, 45

    * * *

    I think of coming home after work and cleaning up dog crap from my front yard from pets who weren't picked up after. . . . Being told my property tax is going up again for something like the Cultural Center, or better, recreation facilities that neither I, nor my family, have ever used. Listening to loud vibrating cars 24 hours a day, dogs barking and left out in yards all day and sometimes all night. . . . More building, because that means more tax money, rather than just having green space.

    -- Greg Fudala, 45

    * * *

    I think of not just "the city of progress," but more fittingly, the "the city of neighbors." Largo is like a small town of years ago, where you can feel comfortable talking to your neighbors or a stranger in the grocery store, where a "hello" wave is the ordinary.

    -- Stephanie Smith, 57

    * * *

    I see a city that isn't what it wants to be and probably never will be -- no matter its ravenous appetite to annex its neighbors and its aggressive self-promotion. . . . I see Largo's fire and rescue as its brightest jewel and its scandal-ridden law enforcement as its dullest. Largo may become a veritable Garden of Eden but never a complete, versatile city.

    -- Edward G. Di Panni Sr., 83

    * * *

    When I think of Largo, I think of my daughter fighting to keep the old bricks on Largo streets. I think of Taylor Park that is so well kept. For the best hospitals, schools, church, police department, fire department. . . . Largo is a family town that cares for its people.

    -- Gloria Davis, 66

    * * *

    Look in the dictionary. The word "Largo" doesn't mean "long." It means "slow, almost dead." Very appropriate for this city. I think Largo has more stoplights than any other city in the world of its size. All of them are timed to turn red when you get near them.

    -- Gus Andropolous, 53

    * * *

    It is a resident-oriented community. It is not a stunted village or a would-be metropolis. It exists as an aggregation of modest homes amid parks, mini-malls, convenient commercial establishments and suitable streets. This is Largo.

    -- Ed Schapsmeier, 74

    * * *

    Largo is a country club for employees and the City Commission. Largo knows how to waste taxpayers' money and ignore taxpayers. Largo is for the dogs.

    -- Walter Godfrey, 75

    * * *

    My thoughts turn to my childhood and the small "town" I was born and raised in. The closeness of all our "townsfolk," the fun times in the city park, the bandstand, my grandfather's (Pop) grocery store, on and on . . .

    -- Martha McCalister Denton, 53

    * * *

    Largo could and should not be a town of huge building projects or someone's ambitious idea of "progress." Most of us moved here for the peaceful, friendly environment. Why not "Everyone's Hometown" or "City of Parks and Recreation" or "A Place of Happy Living?" Describe Largo, don't doom it.

    -- Judie Bayles, 66

    * * *

    When I think of Largo, I think of a city growing fast. I've lived in downtown Largo my entire life and I've seen some outstanding progress! . . . This past year I have seen the hugest decrease of crimes, all thanks to our caring police department! When I look into Largo, I see a city with much potential.

    -- Savannah Costello, 14

    * * *

    When I think of Largo, I think of a hardworking city. One reason is because they made downtown Largo a beautiful place. Also now, I feel much safer to walk through a park. I've lived in Largo my whole life, so I've seen amazing changes in the city. When I look into the heart of Largo, I see one caring community!

    -- Michelle Costello, 9

    * * *

    Largo is a very progressive midsize city with superb recreation facilities and parks available for pleasure.

    -- Bob Kuslansky, 58

    * * *

    Why, all of a sudden, are we struggling with this identity crisis for Largo? We offer quality schools, excellent recreation facilities, beautiful parks, marvelous entertainment at the Largo Cultural Center, churches for every denomination, a top-notch police and fire department, a past we can speak proudly of and a future that we haven't stopped working on. I call it a comfort zone. Stop working so hard to fix something that isn't broken.

    -- Gigi Arntzen, 52

    * * *

    When I think of Largo, I think of a city that was a town. We were a rural area with groves and dairy farms and friendly people with many downtown brick streets. We now have wonderful parks and recreational areas, wide streets, businesses, schools, churches and friendly people.

    -- Jean Henley, 70

    * * *

    Walking on brick paved streets to school. . . . Air raid wardens. . . . Blackouts. . . . Victory gardens. . . . Rationing. My house at 406 Woodrow Ave. The Largo Fairgrounds. The Largo Packers football team. A warm, friendly town in a very uncertain world of the '40s. But it will always be my hometown.

    -- Richard Griffin, 63, Seaford, Va.

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