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.
• Kathleen Hartley was sentenced to serve from six months to five years in prison and fined $8,668 for embezzling public funds while she was clerk of the Civil and Criminal Courts.
Criminal Court Judge A. Lloyd Layton also sentenced Woodrow “Woody” Richardson, who was Hartley’s chief deputy clerk, to a five-year prison term plus a fine of $8,668.
Layton ordered that each defendant would serve an additional five-year term if the fines were not paid.
Hartley, 58, and Richardson, 48, were suspended in October 1961 following an investigation by the office of County Solicitor Edward M. Booth that turned up shortages in the financial accounts of the clerk’s office.
Booth charged the defendants with jointly embezzling $35,896.30 in public funds. An analysis by State Auditor Bryan Willis revealed a cash deficit of $104,819.45 in Hartley’s official accounts.
In his report, Willis gave a breakdown of the discrepancies, listing $31,612.20 in improper payments to a bogus printing firm; $12,480.78 in payments to office employees that were kicked back to the defendants; $7,282.67 missing that was being held as evidence in a gambling case; and a cash shortage of more than $45,000.
Willis said the improper payments to the bogus printing company dated back to 1953.
Hartley and Richardson appeared in court Feb. 12 and pleaded no contest to amended charges that each embezzled $8,668. At that time, evidence was presented by Booth, and Layton deferred sentence until he formally adjudged both defendants guilty and handed down the sentences.
After the sentencing, Hartley’s attorney, Walter Arnold, said her fine likely would be paid. Arnold said Hartley’s large family had “pooled their resources” to pay the fine.
Richardson’s attorney, Lacy Mahon Jr., said his client would “endeavor to pay the fine.”
Arnold presented a long list of character witnesses at the sentencing hearing and pleaded for leniency for his client.
Layton told the witnesses they had paid a great tribute to Hartley. “But I’m sure you don’t condone what she has done,” he said.
Layton said he recognized the truth of remarks that Hartley was not equipped by education to handle the business affairs of the clerk’s office.
“But it doesn’t take much education to know the difference between right and wrong,” he said.
In direct remarks to Hartley, Layton said, “Your actions reflected on all public officials and particularly the three judges you served as clerk. You were elected to an office of public trust. There were no extenuating circumstances or justification or reason for these things.”
It was during those remarks that Hartley collapsed, in an apparent faint, while standing before the judge. She was assisted to a chair, where she was comforted by friends and relatives. After a brief recess, Hartley revived and was sentenced by Layton.
• Mayor Haydon Burns and City Commissioner Lou Ritter, who were expected to be candidates in the 1963 race for mayor, took a few jabs at each other during a commission meeting.
Burns had already declared he would be a candidate for re-election. Ritter had indicated he would run against Burns, but said he would not make a formal announcement until October.
Burns said all expenditures from the mayor’s $1,700 “dues and affiliations fund” had been approved by the City auditor and memberships in certain clubs and organizations were necessary if he was to entertain official visitors as host for the City of Jacksonville.
Ritter responded with a charge that many of Burns’ affiliations were not strictly for official business. He asked City Attorney William Madison how the funds legally could be spent. Madison said he would be glad to rule on specific expenditures if asked to do so by the City auditor.
Commissioner J. Dillon Kennedy asked if Burns could pay for the memberships with part of the mayor’s $5,000 contingency fund. Burns said he could not.
Burns said the dues and affiliations fund was set up as a separate account with the approval of the City Commission for the specific purpose for which he was using it.
Burns said that the whole matter was motivated by “petty politics.”
The next day, Madison ruled that Burns had improperly used funds in the account to pay for membership in a business club, but had properly charged dues to the same account for nine other clubs he had joined.
“It is difficult to see how membership in the Southside Business Men’s Club could provide a facility or service in connection with the mayor’s official duties that could justify such expenditure as being for a municipal purpose,” Madison said.
He said the $10 dues Burns paid the club from his dues and affiliations account should be charged back to the mayor.
Madison ruled that Burns’ memberships in the Florida Sheriff’s Association, Jacksonville News Club and Jacksonville Duval Safety Council were in organizations that rendered a service to the city and therefore were in a separate proper classification of expenditures for a municipal purpose.
“The memberships in the Gator Bowl Association Inc., River Club, San Jose Country Club, Selva Marina Country Club, Seminole Club and Deerwood Club make such facilities available to the mayor in the performance of his official duties as host of the city and can therefore be classed as a municipal purpose,” Madison said.
• Atlantic Coast Line Railroad President W. Thomas Rice delivered the company’s annual report to its stockholders.
The highlight of the report for 1961 was the big jump in trailer-on-flatcar , also known as “piggyback,” movements during the year, he said.
Rice said the railroad started 1961 with 500 piggyback car loadings a month and ended the year with 1,500 per month. The railroad was running three piggyback trains weekly from Florida to New York. Rice said he envisioned the scheduling of daily piggyback service in the future.
On the financial side of the business, Rice reported operating revenue of $162,383,705 and net profit of $9,914,872. Income from freight, which accounted for 80 percent of all income, was $135.3 million, an increase of $867,676 over 1961. However, passenger service income dropped $276,910 to $14,518,609.