50 years ago this week
Have you ever wondered what stories made headlines in Jacksonville 50 years ago? It may have been a different era of history, culture and politics, but there are often parallels between the kind of stories that made the news in 1958 and today. As interesting as the similarities may be, so are the differences. These are some of the top stories published in the Florida Times-Union 50 years ago this week. The items were compiled by Staff Writer Max Marbut from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives.
• Two stolen trucks were overturned in separate accidents and two youths suspected of stealing them were arrested. Patrolman G. H. Touchton said the C. A. Bush Roofing Company on East 21st Street was raided and the trucks, valued at $1,500 and $350, were stolen along with an undetermined amount of money from a safe and three shotguns worth $400. The break-in wasn’t discovered until the two vehicles were wrecked.
• The arrests led later in the week to the apprehension of a “holdup ring” that was suspected of at least 10 robberies and one burglary. When Patrolman G. H. Touchton arrested one of the youths at the scene of one of the accidents, he noticed the suspect had bullets for a .22-calibre weapon in his pocket, one of the ring’s trademark weapons.
• State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit William Hallowes left Jacksonville for Crestview to act as special prosecutor in an 18-year-old shotgun murder trial of three men accused in the death of Crestview Chief of Police Les Wilson. Wilson was running for Okaloosa County sheriff when he was killed March 15, 1940. Circuit Judge Erwin Fleet was to hear the case.
• Neptune Beach Asst. City Attorney Mark Hulsey was assigned to serve as acting municipal judge during the absence of Mayor. H. E. Lighty, who usually presided at the weekly municipal court sessions. Lighty was on vacation until Dec. 8.
• The Downtown Council welcomed Santa Claus when he arrived in Jacksonville at the east municipal parking lot. He was greeted by “Miss Downtown Council” and what was described as, “a bevy of attractive helpers.” Following his arrival, Santa and his entourage paraded down Newnan Street to Adams Street, over Adams to Julia, Julia to Forsyth and Forsyth to Hogan, eventually arriving in Hemming Park. The Jacksonville Coach Company scheduled extra buses from all outlying areas to transport people Downtown for the event and then back home.
• While people were Downtown to greet Santa, they could do some Christmas shopping. Cohens Department Store’s holiday sale was in full swing. Ladies’ sweaters were advertised for $3.99, casual dresses for $3 and $5 and an imported cashmere coat could be had for $89, marked down from $119. The store also had a supply of Royal Enfield rifles that took two clips of five rounds of .303 caliber “British ammo.” Described as “the fastest operating bolt-action rifle in the world,” the advertised price was $16.99 with ammunition also available for 10 cents a round in boxes of 20 cartridges.
• Paul Georgetti, a former grocery store owner and unsuccessful candidate for City Council, identified himself as the “utility man” listed in the 1959 City budget. Mayor Haydon Burns had protested the inclusion of a $4,300 salary appropriation in the budget for his office, a line item earmarked for a “utility man.” For his part, Georgetti said he had been promised a job with the City in another department but felt his cause had been “footballed around” for political reasons.
• A Navy fighter plane pilot whose engine flamed out near St. Augustine was rescued about 20 miles off the coast after he ejected himself from the aircraft. Lt. Cmdr. James LaHaye was picked up by a helicopter about an hour after his plane crashed and sank. He was flown to the Naval Hospital at Jacksonville Naval Air Station where he was treated and returned to duty.
• An automobile crashed through the front window at Sibyl’s Hair Stylists at 2052 San Marco Blvd. It was reported that nine girls from the Children’s Home Society who were there for their Christmas permanents, screamed as did the rest of the patrons and shop owner, Sibyl Harris.
• Duval County dairy cattle took top honors in both the Guernsey and Holstein categories at the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural and Industrial Fair. Walker Welkener of the Holly Hill Dairy accepted the award for his prize-winning Jersey, “Breedlove’s Domino Dorothy,” and Earl Johnson from Dinsmore Dairy accepted for “Dinsmore Jury Linnie,” the top Guernsey.
• The Jacksonville Expressway Authority announced it would not extend any more financial aid to the City for relocating utilities along Expressway right of way. The Authority did approve a $22,000 “loan” to the City to defray the cost of moving sewer lines along the 16th Street to 27th Street Expressway Link. Expressway Authority Chairman Lucious Buck noted the new advance brought the total of funds allocated for relocation to $166,000 and declared, “It’s time we stop and have a look-see.”