Have you ever wondered what life was like in Jacksonville half a century ago? It was a different era of history, culture and politics but there are often parallels between the kind of stories that made headlines then and today. As interesting as the differences may be, so are the similarities. These are some of the top stories from this week in 1963. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library's periodical archives by staff writer Max Marbut.
• Roland Hurley, owner and operator of Brentwood Golf Club Inc., and the corporation itself were found in contempt of a federal court injunction calling for African-American and white golfers to be allowed to use the facility without discrimination.
Four African-American golfers had petitioned the court, contending that new fee charges and rules put in place at Brentwood were discriminatory.
U.S. District Judge Bryan Simpson gave Hurley five days to submit rules that would not discriminate against any users of the golf course and purge himself of the citation.
The principal complaint in the petition was an increase in membership fees from $18 per year to $120 per year. The higher fee was applicable to new members, while renewal memberships remained at $18.
The new fee schedule was implemented Jan. 18, the same day Simpson's injunction prohibiting racial discrimination at Brentwood and at Hyde Park golf courses went into effect.
Simpson heard testimony from two witnesses during the hearing, Hurley and Frank Hampton, an African-American golfer. Hampton on Jan. 18 had paid the $120 fee and was accepted as a new member of the club.
Hurley said the higher membership fee was an economic necessity, but did not deny there was no coincidence in the effective date of the fee increase, when he expected a number of African-American golfers would apply to be members.
Simpson declared the higher fee was a deliberate attempt to raise an economic barrier and was "calculated discrimination" against the African-American applicants.
Simpson suggested that if Hurley believed a higher fee was needed, the increase should not go into effect for 60 or 90 days so that African-Americans could join the club on the same basis as the renewing white members.
Hurley's attorney, C. Ray Greene Jr., indicated a proposal along those lines would be submitted to the court before the deadline.
• The Salvation Army reported a total of $23,083 was received in its 1962 Christmas fundraising campaign.
Col. Howard Stout, Salvation Army division commander, said $7,505 of the total was collected in the red kettles on Downtown streets and shopping centers and the remaining $15,578 was mailed to the organization.
Stout expressed his appreciation to local groups that provided bell ringers at the kettles. He said the list was led, in terms of money collected, by the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, followed by the Meninak Club, Downtown Kiwanis Club, Civitan Club, American Institute of Banking, Downtown Optimist Club and Exchange Club.
Stout reported that 6,375 Christmas dinners were given to needy families in their homes. He said 2,784 children received toys from the Salvation Army toy shop and 306 men, women and children who were stranded in Jacksonville away from home were given Christmas dinner and gifts at the Salvation Army's transient lodge.
• Duval County Solicitor Edward M. Booth received the distinguished service award from the Jacksonville Junior Chamber of Commerce for his "contributions to society in making the community a better place to work and live."
The presentation was made by Charles Cook, Jaycee president, at a dinner meeting at the Steer Room Restaurant.
Booth, 35, accepted the award on behalf of all the members of his staff "whose combined efforts have been responsible for any success or achievement we have accomplished," he said.
"I hope our future actions will make this award deserving. It is one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me," Booth said.
As recipient of the Jacksonville award, Booth was automatically a nominee for recognition as one of Florida's five outstanding young men, to be chosen by the state Junior Chamber.
• The Kiwanis Club of South Jacksonville recognized Prime F. Osborn III as Duval County's outstanding citizen of 1962.
Osborn was general counsel of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
He was selected from a list of nominees selected by other civic clubs. The award was presented "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the welfare and betterment of Jacksonville and Duval County."
Announcement and presentation of the award was by Lucius Buck, former chairman of the Jacksonville Expressway Authority, and a past recipient.
• George Paul Cook, owner of a Tallahassee grocery chain and an ex-convict, was found guilty by a Circuit Court jury of first-degree murder. The jury spared his life by recommending mercy.
Under Florida law, the verdict called for a mandatory sentence of life in prison unless Judge Marion W. Gooding granted a motion for a new trial.
Without the mercy recommendation, the sentence would have been death in Florida's electric chair.
After a four-day trial, the 12-member jury deliberated only 90 minutes before returning its verdict. They found the 41-year-old Cook guilty of the premeditated killing by strangulation of William James Arnold, 69, a Jacksonville gambler and rooming house operator.
Arnold was strangled June 30, 1962, with a length of rope in a wooded area near Julington Creek.
The victim's body had been weighted with cement blocks tied with barbed wire and electric wire, but floated to the surface of the St. Marks River in Wakulla County on July 2.
Assistant State Attorney Nathan Schevitz presented evidence to support the prosecution's contention that Cook murdered Arnold in a gangland style because Arnold had violated the underworld code by "squealing" on Cook.
Arnold had turned state's evidence in a grand larceny case in which they were charged with defrauding a Tallahassee man of $5,000 in a poker game.
A key witness in the state's case against Cook was his co-defendant, Arthur Eugene Williams, 50, who had at one time been Cook's cell mate at Florida State Prison.
Williams testified he was a "frightened, unwilling and nauseated witness" as Cook strangled Arnold in the woods.
Williams, who complained of being in ill health, said Cook threatened to kill him, too, if he didn't help dispose of Arnold's corpse.
Cook told a different story. He said he collected a $500 debt from Arnold in a peaceful manner, left him in good health in the woods and was contacted later by Williams, who told him that he, Williams, had killed Arnold in self-defense during an argument over who would drive Arnold's car.
Gooding gave defense attorney Zach Douglas 15 days to file a new trial motion.