Downtown gained a new landmark Tuesday afternoon when Ron Chamblin, owner of Chamblin’s Uptown bookstore and café, took delivery of a 1934 Ford DeLuxe “Fordor” automobile.
Chamblin said his acquisition was used in the 1971 television documentary, “Appointment with Destiny: The Last Days of John Dillinger.”
The vehicle was admired by another desperado of the 1930s, Clyde Barrow, who was killed in an ambush by lawmen along with his partner in crime, Bonnie Parker, in a 1934 Ford.
Barrow wrote to Henry Ford two months before the ambush: “While I still have breath in my lungs, I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one.”
Chamblin said he plans to park the vintage automobile in front of the store on a regular basis.
“I think it really decorates Laura Street,” he said.
Two tall ships, training vessels from the French navy, are scheduled to sail April 30 into Downtown as part of the city’s celebration of the 450th anniversary of the arrival at Mayport of Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault on May 1, 1562.
The schooners will dock along the Northbank Riverwalk near the Hyatt.
The vessels will be open to the public for tours, said Michelle Barth, Mayor Alvin Brown’s deputy chief of staff, Wednesday at Downtown Vision Inc.’s quarterly operations meeting.
The 58 officers and crew members will be guests at a private reception at the Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center at the Landing. The center is looking for people who can speak French to join the festivities, said center Director Catherine Krueger.
“We want to make them feel welcome and at home,” she said.
As part of the celebration, Downtown’s churches have been asked to ring their bells for 4 1/2 minutes beginning at noon May 1.
Barth said the City is working with Visit Jacksonville to promote the festivities as an 11-day event that will involve businesses including restaurants that would add some French cuisine to their menus in honor of Ribault and the visitors.
Olio restaurant on East Bay Street has already signed up and will offer a French apple tart.
Also along the French theme, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra will present “Cirque de la Symphonie” April 26-28. The Broadway in Jacksonville Series will offer “Les Miserables” May 1-6, also at the Times-Union Center.
“We think this will be a great opportunity to highlight Downtown,” Barth said.
For more details about the event, visit www.commemorate450.coj.net.
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