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 1962. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• The City Commission conducted a lottery to select 460 $1,000 municipal parking revenue bonds, which were to be retired.
On the recommendation of City Auditor John W. Hollister Jr., the commission voted to call $460,000 of the $1.5 million in revenue bonds due in 1984, but callable on Dec. 1, 1962.
Since all of the 1,500 bonds were not being called, Hollister said it would be necessary to call the 460 by lot. He told the commission the City would have $460,000 to apply for the call and $18,000 to apply on the premium.
• Ralph Flanagan and his orchestra would provide music for the Rotary Club of Jacksonville’s 11th Annual Charity Ball Oct. 26 at the Civic Auditorium. The announcement was made by Luke Sadler, chairman of the Charity Ball Committee.
Proceeds from the event would be used to purchase equipment for the new open-heart surgery program at Duval Medical Center.
Keynote speaker at the club’s meeting at the Mayflower Hotel was Henry G. Motes Jr., a club member and former president of the Jacksonville Sales Executives Club.
Motes said that because of selling, America owned 73 percent of the world’s bathtubs, 81 percent of its television sets, 77 percent of its automobiles and 79 percent of its telephones.
• A U.S. Navy F8U Crusader jet crashed and burned within 300 feet of a home in Wesconnett. The pilot ejected seconds before the impact and landed safely.
The aircraft, which had taken off from Cecil Field Naval Air Station, plummeted into a cow pasture near the home of L.L. Roberts in the 6000 block of Jammes Road.
A Navy spokesman said the pilot was Lt. William Kelt, who was attached to Light Photographic Squadron 62.
Roberts said he was halfway between his house and a nearby dairy when he heard an explosion, then looked up in time to see Kelt’s parachute open. A second explosion followed and the aircraft “came straight down like a rock,” he said.
Wesconnett volunteer firefighters doused the fire that started in the crater that contained most of the jet’s fuselage.
• The Cummer Gallery of Art began its first anniversary celebration with a reception honoring Joseph J. Dodge, gallery director.
The evening included a musical presentation of George
Gershwin tunes featuring pianist Thomas Wright, soprano Charlotte Reinke and baritone Herman Gunter.
The gala concluded with a preview of an exhibit featuring the use of flowers and gardens in more than 500 years of Western art.
Dodge had assembled the exhibit from 18 museums and galleries. The display was dominated by two large tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries and included two paintings from the collection of Mrs. Ninah M.H. Cummer.
• Leaders of the Macon, Ga. ,Chamber of Commerce visited Jacksonville to observe the operations of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Council.
“We came to observe a successful downtown council in action,” said Thad Murphey, Macon chamber president.
He said the Macon chamber was developing plans to revise its retail merchants bureau and prepare a broader program of activities for Macon’s central business district.
Murphey said his chamber’s retail division had been concentrating solely on sales promotions, but the chamber’s leaders were considering a program similar to the Jacksonville Downtown Council’s, which included streetscape beautification, traffic and parking and free shuttle bus service in addition to sales promotions.
Harold A. Martin, vice president of the Barnett Bank of Jacksonville and general chairman of the Downtown Council, headed the Jacksonville hosts at the meeting and tour.
Other Downtown Council members assisting in the program were Frank Gay of the J.C. Penney Co.; William Kemp and Warren C. Hendry of Kemp, Bunch & Jackson; Ray Prado of Sears, Roebuck & Co.; Guy Lake, formerly of the J.C. Penney Co.; Leo Jansen of Haverty Furniture Co.; Richard Lewinson of Purcell’s; Robert Kloeppel Jr. of the George Washington Hotel; and Joseph Davin of Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co.
The Jacksonville chamber’s board of governors approved the establishment of the Downtown Council, as well as other area councils, in 1956. The council was inaugurated as a separate unit of the chamber in July 1958.
• Several sailors from the Italian cruiser Garibaldi caused some confusion when they crossed the Mathews Bridge on foot. The visitors apparently were unaware of the law against pedestrian traffic on the span.
The Garibaldi was visiting Mayport Naval Station. There was no indication where the crewmen on liberty were going.
Toll takers on the bridge said about 14 of the sailors crossed the bridge, seven in each direction. A language barrier prevented the bridge employees from warning the sailors away.
The sailors fared better than drivers who violated bridge laws, however. Since they had no axles, they were not charged a toll fee.
• The Duval County Board of Public Instruction planned to confer with civic organizations before finalizing a school integration plan that had to be submitted by Oct. 30 to U.S. District Judge Bryan Simpson.
Fred H. Kent, the attorney who had been representing the board in federal court since litigation began in 1960, said the school board would seek a sampling of public opinion before making a final determination on the plan.
• The Mandarin Players opened the 1962-63 season with a three-act comedy, “The Cheerful Idiot,” in the Mandarin Community Club building.
The play was written in 1921 and played successfully across the country, said Mandarin Players Director Roy Meischner. The plot centered on William Small, the protagonist, and his get-rich-quick schemes.
Meischner said the Players had previously produced the play in 1950, with the part of Small and Jane Mason acted by the same performers who would appear in the new production.
The cast, in order of appearance, included Pauline Philman as Betty Small, William’s wife; Mamie Lou McCauley as Jane Mason; Imogene Coarsey as Kate Camden; Oscar Franklin as Ed Mason; Charlie Cleghorn as William Small; and Strat Coarsey as James Belden.
• Willie Coppedge of 117 Florida Blvd. in Neptune Beach was being held under $500 bond to face the U.S. District Court on a charge of defacing U.S. currency.
Coppedge had altered a $1 bill by gluing, on the corners of one side, corners from a $20 bill, said R.M. McDavid, special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Jacksonville.
McDavid said Coppedge attempted to pass the altered bill in a bar. The attendant noticed the alteration and called the Jacksonville Beach Police, who took Coppedge into custody and later turned him over to the Secret Service.