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- 2011 - December - 5th -

by Max Marbut

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 1961. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.

• The Duval County Tax Collector’s Office won by default a suit to recover $3,500 from funds of the Clerk of the Civil and Criminal Courts of Record.

Circuit Judge Charles R. Scott entered the final judgment when the defendant, Kathleen L. Hartley, the suspended clerk, did not file pleadings within the time required by law.

Tax Collector Clyde Simpson on Oct. 9 filed a suit claiming that Hartley, acting in her capacity as clerk on Oct. 2, issued a $3,500 check payable to cash which bounced after it was cashed by the tax collector’s office.

Assistant Tax Collector T.E. McDowell said in an affidavit that Woodrow “Woody” Richardson, Hartley’s chief deputy clerk, presented the check Oct. 2 for the stated purpose of obtaining cash for juror fees.

After the check was cashed, and about the time Simpson filed his suit, Hartley and Richardson were charged jointly in Criminal Court with embezzling nearly $36,000 in County funds in the clerk’s office from 1959-61.

Hartley, who had suspended Richardson, was suspended in turn by Gov. Farris Bryant.

Bryant appointed former U.S. Rep. Emory Price to replace Hartley as clerk pending action on her suspension by the Florida Senate. The embezzlement charges were awaiting disposition in Criminal Court.

The Barnett National Bank of Jacksonville was holding $3,907.08 in clerk’s funds under a writ of garnishment to satisfy the tax collector’s claim if it was granted. Scott’s action allowed enough of the money to be turned over to cover the $3,500 check and costs connected with the case.

The tax collector was represented by attorney Gerald Bard Tjoflat.

• A group of property owners in the San Marco area went to the City Commission to reiterate an 11-year-old complaint: they wanted their dirt streets paved.

They got the same answer that had been given for 11 years: “There are no funds.”

James Hawthorne Jr. of 2318 Mitchell Place represented the property owners on Mitchell Place, Mitchell Avenue, John Street and Bertha Street who were seeking the road improvements.

Hawthorne said four times in the preceding 11 years he and his neighbors had sought to have their streets drained and paved. Each time, he said, funds for the work were included in the budget but each time were “knocked out” before the work could be done.

Hawthorne recounted alternate flooding and dust conditions which he said had at times made the area hazardous and unhealthy in which to live.

Highway Commissioner Louis H. Ritter was out of the city and unable to attend the meeting, but a message from him was read explaining that $46,088 for the work had been placed in the 1961 budget by the commission and then removed by the City Council.

Ritter said he would make temporary improvements if the property owners wished, but he advised against doing any paving work until funds were available for drainage.

Hawthorne said he and his neighbors appealed to the City Council at its most recent meeting and were told to seek help from the County Commission.

• Sue Ann Odom, sweetheart of Kappa Tau Kappa fraternity, was crowned Jacksonville University’s Homecoming Queen at the annual homecoming ball at the George Washington Hotel.

The ball concluded JU’s 10th annual homecoming, a celebration that was highlighted by the announcement of the school receiving full accreditation.

• Mayor Haydon Burns hit a clutch single to give the City Slickers a contested 5-4 win over the County Crackers in a softball game played as part of the celebration of Jacksonville’s newest park between the Main Street and Acosta bridges on the Southbank Downtown.

The victory was the result of a five-inning charity baseball game between City and County officials sponsored by the Southside Business Men’s Club.

At halftime (part of the improvised ground rules), members of the School Board won a tug-of-war across the diamond against members of the County Budget Commission.

The School Board members yanked to victory despite the determined effort of Commissioner Joe Kennelly, who anchored the budget team until he was dragged across the dividing line in a sitting position.

Slickers’ manager Ben Geraghty, who also managed the Jacksonville Suns, played “his usual” percentage baseball, juggling the City lineup from one end to the other in gaining the come-from-behind victory.

Earlier in the day, Geraghty had expressed doubt in the ability of his players.

“I tried to make some deals, but no one would listen,” he said before the first pitch.

The Crackers were paced by heavy stick work by County Judge Page Haddock, who collected three doubles to help the team hold the upper hand until the bottom of the fifth inning.

County pitcher Sheriff Dale Carson was greeted with singles by City Council Secretary Mims Ingram, Highway Commissioner Lou Ritter and Council member Oscar Mattox.

Council member Brad Treddinick flied to shortstop County Solicitor Eddie Booth. Municipal Judge John Santora grounded to Booth, who caught Ritter at third. Council member John Lanahan, who had blasted a home run earlier in the game, was walked intentionally.

That brought Burns to the plate and he stroked his single. Mattox and Santora came across home plate and the ballgame was over.

A militant faction of Crackers, led by County Commissioner Bob Harris, said it only made four runs. A scorekeeper agreed, but everybody else said it was five, so five it stood.

The enthusiasm of the crowd prompted Carson to estimate attendance at 23,000 although other observers figured the crowd in hundreds.

The game was the first public event to be held in the park. It was arranged by Harry A. Pierce, chairman of the event for the Southside Business Men’s Club.

• There was an observance of the 20th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, sponsored by the Jacksonville-Duval County Civil Defense Council and the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Jacksonville.

W.W. Weatherford, civil defense council director and immediate past president of the U.S. Civil Defense Council, was the master of ceremonies.

The event served to honor local survivors of the attack, including Marine Corps Staff Sgt. E.T Pearson, who in 1961 was assistant guard chief at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

When the attack began, Pearson said, he was still brushing his teeth when a sergeant ran into the room yelling “The Japs are attacking! The Japs are attacking! Get your rifle and get outside!”

Retired Navy aviation metal smith Clay Covington was awakened by a loud explosion and began to run out of his barracks to see if a plane had crashed. Before he got to the door, he said, another sailor ran inside and blurted out that an attack by the Japanese was under way. The sailor told Covington he saw the red “Rising Sun” symbols on the numerous aircraft overhead.

Asked what he remembered about being at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Covington said, “It was the fastest day of my life.”

• A case of mistaken identity led FBI agents to the apprehension of a man suspected of stealing two wallets in November from the locker room of the San Jose Country Club.

According to D.K. Brown, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville FBI district office, agents had been hunting a man they believed to be Edward Wayne Edwards, one of the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives, when they arrested Walter Lewis Creavy, 25, in Daytona Beach

The agents, Brown said, soon learned they didn’t have Edwards, but they did have a man who confessed to being a phony physician and a professional golf club locker- room thief.

Creavy admitted stealing wallets belonging to San Jose member John Shaw and John Dwyer White of Pueblo, Colo., who apparently was a guest at the club on the day of the thefts.

Brown said Creavy traveled cross-country from his home in Riverside, Calif., and throughout Florida, posing as a former member of the medical staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital who was looking for a place to open a private practice.

Brown said “Dr. Creavy” was an accomplished golfer and carried with him a bogus newspaper clipping, which the suspect admitted having made in Washington, D.C., for $7, which stated that Creavy was the grandson of a multimillionaire and heir to a $200 million fortune,

The agents who arrested Creavy found a large number of identification cards and gasoline credit cards in his possession, which Creavy said he had taken from the wallets he had stolen in locker rooms across the country.

Creavy was charged with grand larceny and was being held under $5,000 bond in Daytona Beach in connection with another locker- room theft Nov. 19 during a golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club in Ormond Beach.

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