Lyman A. Boomer’s 1910 Boynton Map

From the October 2004 issue of The Historian. At the time, the society did not know Lyman Boomer’s identity.

In 2004, the Boynton Beach Historical Society reprinted a map of 1910 Boynton in the October issue of The Historian. The map’s creator was Lyman A. Boomer, age 10. At the time, no one at the historical society remembered a Boomer family, and several officers determined that the lad must have been a Lyman family member nicknamed “Boomer.”From the October 2004 issue of The Historian. At the time, the society did not know Lyman Boomer's identity.

The map depicted the original town of Boynton and had a key with family names and businesses. It even showed the Boynton Hotel, Fred Dewey’s orange grove, pineapple plantations, truck farms, the cemetery, and packing houses.

Lyman A. Boomer’s “Boynton in 1910” map reproduced in the Boynton Beach Star, ca. 1968.


Over the years, Ginger Pedersen and I used this map, along with Sanborn maps and real estate sales ledgers to recreate the original Town of Boynton and to research Boynton’s pioneers. Along the way, we discovered that Lyman Boomer was a real person, that the Boomer family did indeed live in Boynton in 1910, that Lyman was a talented artist with a keen interest in history, and we made contact with a family member.

Since Lyman Boomer left us with an important document illustrating early Boynton, I think it’s only fitting to tell his amazing story.

John and Ida Boomer (center/left), John’s sister Ella Boomer, and children Florence, Horace and Lyman in front of the Boomer home, ca. 1910.


John Boomer, a Missouri farmer, tried his hand truck farming in early Boynton. The family arrived in early 1909 and returned back to the Midwest in 1914. The 1910 federal census shows John, his wife Ida, sister Emily, and three children, Horace, age 13, Lyman, age 8 and Florence, age 3. Mr. Boomer’s occupation was listed as farmer. Their small frame house stood on the northeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Federal Highway.

1910 Federal Census record showing the Boomer family living in Boynton. John Boomer’s occupation is listed as a farmer in the truck farming business.


At the time, about 600 people were on the census pages for the greater Boynton region. The Boomer children attended school and played with the Murray kids, and Lyman, we learned, maintained a friendship with several Murray brothers even after they were grown men.

In the early 1920s, the Boomer clan moved to California, and lived in the Los Angeles area. Horace worked in a gold mine and Lyman opened an advertising firm painting signs and backdrops for Hollywood movies. Our Boynton map maker had true artistic talent. In the 1930s, Lyman wrote and illustrated a Wildlife Illustrated trilogy and won national acclaim. School children and families learned about birds, animals, and reptiles in their natural habitats from his works.

Illustrated Wildlife written and illustrated by Lyman A. Boomer, 1935

Lyman returned to Boynton for a visit in the late 1920s, and spent time with his childhood chums, Horace and Arthur Murray. A few years ago, Lyman’s great nephew, Dave Lineberry, saw our Facebook post about Lyman and sent us a link to Lyman’s

of going to a “Cracker Dance” with the brothers Murray. Mr. Lineberry also alerted us to the fact that Lyman also wrote a book about growing up in Florida. We don’t have a copy of it, but are actively looking for one.

The Florida Everglades illustration by Lyman A. Boomer

Lyman later had a cattle farm in Missouri, and over the years earned a reputation as a talented artist and a noted naturalist.

Lyman Boomer, and friends Brice and Bess Jones, ca. 1970s

He cared deeply about history and the environment and learned all he could about the land, including the native American tribes. He served as family historian and kept the family treasures. I feel that somewhere out there there are more Boynton images.

In the early 1970s, Lyman and his second wife sold the farm and moved into town. A local newspaper advertised an estate sale and listed household good, antiques and farming implements. It would seem that was a very sad time for Lyman to give up so much of his estate.

1974 estate auction advertisement for Mr. and Mrs. Lyman A. Boomer. After they sold their farm and moved to town they downsized and sold off personal household good and farming implements.

Lyman and his first wife had two sons, who are both gone now. We are grateful that his grand-nephew is keeping Lyman’s memory alive. In 2004, a newspaperman in Lyman’s hometown was gathering information, photos and stories for a Lyman Andrews Boomer biography. The journalist, Chris Houston advised me a few years ago that he hadn’t received the response he needed and the project is on hold.

One young boy’s simple Boynton cartography leaves us with an understanding of how people lived here 110 years ago. Thank you, Lyman for giving us a glimpse into the past with your legacy. Wish I could have met you.

Lyman Andrews Boomer
1901- 1990

Close-up of Lyman Boomer’s 1910 Boynton map depicting the Boynton Hotel and the Coquimbo shipwreck.

Close-up of Lyman Boomer’s 1910 Boynton map.

Close-up of Lyman Boomer’s 1910 Boynton map.

Historically speaking about hurricanes (part 1)

Hurricane watches evoke emotion. They are oft-times viewed with humor by those who take these weather events lightly and are greeted with stress and anxiety by those who aren’t sure how to react, have responsibility for others, and people who live alone. Many residents and visitors partake in hurricane parties; not a particularly bad idea for commiserating with others placed in similar situations; provided that you’ve already properly prepared for the storm by “battening down the hatches,” stockpiling adequate water, food, fuel, and other provisions, and don’t over-party.

Wind map of Hurricane Dorian on Friday, August 30 10:00am (Windy.com)


Having lived through several hurricanes and countless watches and warnings over the last fifty or so years, I’ve become accustomed to the Atlantic tropical storm action and the community’s reaction.

Surfers and most tourists love this time of year. Homeowners and small businesses dread it.

Boynton Ocean Inlet Park 2019

Exceedingly, newcomers to town are anxious about hurricanes, albeit somewhat excited.
Historically speaking, Boynton Beach, Florida and its surrounding areas have experienced many devastating hurricanes. On the other hand, most years (about 9 out of 10 over the last 130 years), Boynton has dodged the bullet and had no significant hurricane damage.

Looking back, this blog series will examine Boynton’s most significant hurricanes over the last one hundred years or so. While there’s been loss of life and significant property destruction in the early twentieth century, the region’s growth and expanse has taxed roadways, storm sewers, electrical grids and water supplies in ways no one would have predicted.

Just look at how we communicate? Today one can email and text instantaneously to friends and relatives in other states, countries and continents.

Historically speaking…Imagine being in a storm with no warning, no place to go and no way to reach your friends and family? While today, we have advanced warning, computerized tracking models, the Weather Channel, cell phones and social media for connecting with and helping friends, neighbors and family members, communication used to be severely limited. Before the days of daily newspapers and radios, one of the early warning systems came as the FEC—Florida East Coast Railway locomotives signaled an SOS—a Morse Code system of three short, three long and three short horn blasts, symbolizing distress.

Hurricane fo 1928 Mass Burial Site


From the unnamed 1928 killer hurricane (when the Lake Okeechobee levee broke causing massive flooding), to the 1949 storm that spawned tornadoes that flattened parts of Boynton and much of Briny Breezes, to the 2004 triple play of hurricanes Frances, Jean and Charley, Boyntonites who’ve been here at least fifteen years understand hurricane wrath. They also understand how important it is to heed the ample warnings, to take precautions to secure their home, have basic supplies and expect at the least to be without power for several days or weeks.

Today, the City of Boynton Beach, and other local governments have carefully prepared hurricane plans and recovery plans. The community comes together to help. FEMA—the Federal Emergency Management Agency, created in 1978 also assists people with emergency aid after the storm. You might remember people lining up for MREs—Meals, ready to eat, and ice after Hurricanes Frances and Jean.

City of Boynton Beach Hurricane Preparedness

It’s always surprising, but understandable seeing people running around ransacking grocery stores and jockeying for a full tank of gas as storms approach. These precautions are smart moves, but today most gas stations and grocery stores have generators, and unless roadways are impassable after the storm, new deliveries will arrive again in a few days. We won’t starve. If the power goes out, and it’s likely to happen, food can spoil quickly, so having bread, tortillas, crackers, and peanut butter and jelly on hand will provide ample nourishment.

Gathering Hurricane Supplies navy.mil

Additionally, power is now more easily fixed, due to extensive and ongoing utility upgrades and a team of linemen who travel to affected area to repair lines and rescue new South Floridians who have never lived without air-conditioning. Oh, and water. The water coming out of your tap is fine now. Fill up cups, bottles, containers and such that you have in the house. Freeze them. They will serve as ice, then cold water if the power goes out. Even plastic bags can hold ice.

*If you live in a mobile home or evacuation zone—relocate to a safer place—inland preferably, or Wisconsin or Michigan, especially if you have friends and family there.

American Red Cross – Hurricane Preparedness

More to come…but for now, don’t panic. There’s plenty of time to prepare for Dorian, so heed the warnings and get ready. Please remember to help out others, especially people who live alone, and the elderly. We are all in this together.

Boynton Beach Memories

“What’s your earliest Boynton Beach memory?” If one asked that question on the street, the beach, at the mall or even on Facebook, it’s likely there’d be dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of different early memories, visions (or versions) of Boynton. That’s because we all have our personal memories, our familial stories. We may have been born in different eras, grew up in a different neighborhood, or hung out at different places.

There’s probably some commonalities, like food. People tend to fondly remember food. It wouldn’t be an oversimplification to say that Bud’s Chicken, Lucy’s Donuts, Lucille and Otley’s Restaurant and Sal’s (or Danny’s) Pizza comes up. Who the heck is Danny, anyway? Oh, he’s a new kid on the block, like many of you (Welcome to the neighborhood).

Other common threads are the beach, A1A and the Boynton Inlet. Just don’t call it by it’s official name (The South Lake Worth Inlet). That would irritate generations of people who are certain the name is the Boynton Inlet—and that would be especially confusing because there’s a town nearby named Lake Worth. Or is that Lake Worth Beach? Depends upon who you ask, and when they moved here.

And the Boynton Beach Mall. Again, everyone has their version. Back when there was NOTHING to do in little old quiet Boynton, the mall was a HUGE deal. Jordan Marsh, Burdines, food, games, hanging out in something called air-conditioning…ahh. Then there’s haters…haters gonna hate—and supporters. Like mall walkers. They love the mall. And dad, Sears is one of his favorite stores. Oh dear, Sears is gone. Lots of people will say that Sears, ToysRUs, and K-Mart or whatever store is lame—until it’s gone. Then they miss it and post all kinds of photographs wishing that it was still there, and that they could buy some Craftsman tools.

A view of the original bridge over the inlet, sometimes called Rainbow Bridge or Old McDonald Bridge for its twin arches

That reminds me of the Two Georges. No, not the restaurant, the boat. Back in the 1960s (AKA The old days), Boynton was a farming and fishing town. Really, it was. Once the Inlet (the cut to old-timers) opened up, commercial and sport fishermen and even weekend warriors could ride out through the Inlet to perhaps the best fishing spots in the country. That was before wave runners, jet-skis and selfies. The Two Georges was just one of the ½ dozen head boats and several dozen charter boats docked at Boynton marinas. A head boat is a boat where folks pay a few bucks a head (a person) to fish for four hours. They are sometimes called drift boats, because once the captain gets near a favorite fishing spot, or at least the water is a certain depth, he cuts the engine for a time and lets the boat…drift. I won’t tell you what happened to the Two Georges boat (I’ll let the old-timers here chime in), but I can tell you that the Two Georges Restaurant is still here, and so is the Banana Boat. But someone is thinking of the restaurant that was there before the Banana Boat. It begins with an S…..it was owned by the Molle’s…Smokey’s! That’s it, Smokey’s Wharf!

What about the farms? It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that back in the 1970s pretty much everything west of Congress was farmland. West of Military was “the boonies.” That brings us back to the question? What is your version of Boynton? For some it was the blue crabs that flooded the coastal highway, causing tire punctures. For others it was taking horseback riding lessons at one of Boynton’s many stables. Others recall fishing off N. 22nd Avenue (what’s that you say?)…I mean Gateway Blvd. There was a Go-Kart and midget car race track on Lawrence Road…and a citrus farm where you could drink fresh squeezed orange juice, ride a tram through the groves, eat pie, see a native Seminole wrestle an alligator. Certainly you remember Knollwood Groves? What about Palm Beach Groves, Sturrock Groves, Indian Hill Groves, Blood’s Hammock Groves? Why did you think there is a school on Lawrence Road called Citrus Cove?  Have you any idea where the Rangeline is? State Road 441 (AKA the Everglades). Don’t get me started on the dairies. Or the roses and the orchids. Or the pineapples. Or the toms. Tom who? Tom-a-to.

Times change. Nothing stays the same. People are born. We live, we love, we die. Storms come, storms go, we rebuild, preserve what we can, and honor and memorialize what is gone. Embrace what you’ve got. As Joni Mitchell sang “ … you don’t know what you’ve got
till it’s gone … “

Special Event: Florida Highwaymen Exhibit in Boynton Beach

M. Randall Gill & Kay Baker with Florida Highwaymen paintings

Florida’s historic landscape artists known as The Florida Highwaymen will be coming to Boynton Beach on Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 11-3 p.m. Free Admission & Free Parking. This event is sponsored by the Boynton Beach Historical Society and the Boynton Woman’s Club. The popular Highwaymen artists will be in the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church, 235 SW 6th Ave. They will discuss their art work during the day and will have paintings available to buy. Visitors will enjoy hearing about their fascinating history and enjoy seeing the bold, classic Highwaymen style. The artists tentatively scheduled to attend are Curtis Arnett, Al Black, Mary Ann Carroll, Issac Knight, Robert Lewis and Doretha Hair Truesdell. The Highwaymen (25 African-American men and one woman) were from the Fort Pierce area and took to the highways to sell their paintings of blowing palm trees, flaming red Poinciana trees, cobalt blue oceans and fire sky sunsets. The artists traveled south to sell their artwork and Boynton Beach was a favorite stop. As they traveled down Federal Highway they sold art work to many of the businesses in town. Today you can still find their artistic legacy displayed in some of the local businesses along Federal Highway.

After 40 years, Jim Torchio’s Finer Meats & Deli closes its doors

On October 26, 2018, a hungry would be shopper stopped by Jim Torchio’s Finer Meats and Delicatessen and found a hand-written note scrawled on what looked like white butcher paper: “Torchio’s is no longer open for business. Thank you for shopping here over the years. It is time for us to move on. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause anyone. Sincerely, The Torchio Family.”

Note left on the door to Torchio’s

The news spread like wildfire though social media channels. Some people were outraged at the lack of notice, others were concerned about the family. Customers and friends left well wishes. Facebook posters reminisced about the food and the friendly family service. They wrote mouth watering tributes to their favorite delicacies: pastrami and mozzarella sub sandwiches, Taylor ham rolls, antipasto party platters, stuffed pork chops, filets, and other choice meats. Even vegetarians professed their love for the small store located in a strip mall on Woolbright Road just around the corner from Palm Beach Leisureville.

Antipasto Salads in display case (Yelp review)

I remember the store well, its spicy aroma and busy atmosphere. Cases of meat – prime rib, hamburger, veal cutlet, and sausage—fresh ground homemade Italian sausage. Dry goods and vegetables displayed on shelves, in baskets and refrigerated cases, some homemade pies, and a full service deli counter. My mom used to refer it to it as “the stinky store,” a term of endearment that goes back to the Italian butcher and delicatessen we used to visit in Chicago.

Torchio’s Meat Cases


This made me wonder who the Torchio family was, where they came from, and how they ended up with a successful 40-year business in little old Boynton Beach? It’s not exactly the meat packing capital of the world—although there was a time, back in the late 1920s, and early 1930s when livestock, namely cows, outnumbered people. Alas, the cows in Boynton were dairy cows, not Brahman bulls. Boynton’s plentiful dairy farms – Melear, Knuth, Goolsby, Keatts, Weaver, Bell, White, Benson, Muggleton, Rousseau, Fideli, etc., supplied milk and cream to Southern Dairies. Dairy cows blanketed the Boynton landscape until the early 1980s.

Boynton Cows on Winchester’s Land

It turns out that Jim Torchio, a New Jersey born son of Italian immigrants, only owned the Boynton butcher shop and deli for about two years, if that. Torchio, his father Guiseppi, and younger brother Frank were all Jersey City butchers. Jersey City had large stockyards to supply New York City with fresh meat. James Torchio owned and operated an independent butcher shop in Jersey City by 1940 and had a son and a daughter with his wife, the former Angelina Loori. Tragedy struck in 1963 when their 22-year-old son Joseph died suddenly. A few years after Angelina’s 1969 death, Torchio gave up his New Jersey butcher shop and headed south to Palm Beach County with his second wife, Mary Jane Swayze.

1973 Flame Meats Help Wanted Ad (Palm Beach Post)


Torchio, a successful businessman as well as meat carver, served as head butcher/manager at The Flame Meat Market and delicatessen in North Palm Beach. The butcher shop supplied fine meat cuts to The Flame Restaurant. He incorporated Jim Torchio’s Farmer’s Meats operating his business at the West Palm Beach Farmer’s Market on Congress Avenue in the mid-1970s.

Farmer’s Meats at The Farmers Market, 1976 ad

In 1978, Torchio opened a friendly, neighborhood Italian butcher shop and delicatessen in Leisureville Center.

The land the strip mall sits on was part of a failed 1920 boom time development, and before that it was a fresh water lake. The colorful real estate developer K.D. Purdy planned a large, opulent neighborhood around the partially filled in lake.

Lake Boynton Estates postcard

The hurricanes of 1926 and 1928 slowed progress, as contractors couldn’t get building supplies to meet the boom time demand. The real estate bubble burst…and the land sat mostly undeveloped for years, until Caldros properties developed it in 1968 into a 2,000 home adult community and golf course.

1968 Leisureville advertisement


In June 1981, Worley E. Walker, a retiree from Tennessee, applied to operate under the fictitious name “Jim Torchio’s Finer Meats, Inc.” Walker, along with sons Steven, Richard, Terry, and their families, were the friendly faces who operated Torchio’s delicatessen. Jim Torchio, the Italian Jersey City butcher who lent his name to the deli, continued to live and work in Palm Beach and on the Treasure Coast. He was the butcher at Pinder’s Seafood in Jupiter until 1993. Torchio passed away in 1996, but his name will always conjure up mouth-watering memories for generations of Boyntonites. Torchio’s, the landmark, and the Walker family kept Boynton residents and visitors well fed.

While the cows of Boynton have all vanished, so has the family butcher shop. Each generation covers over the previous one with another layer of history. Patronize your local merchants, especially the family operated ones. Some day they won’t be there. You’ll be lucky if there is a kind note left on the door.