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- 2012 - May - 7th -

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 1962. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.

• A $500,000 damage suit against the City of Jacksonville was filed in Circuit Court by the father of a 16-year-old girl who was killed by a policeman’s bullet during a high-speed motorcycle chase along Main Street.

Edgar Allen Houston charged in the complaint that Patrolman O. M. Koon, acting as a City employee, carelessly and negligently discharged a pistol and caused the bullet to strike and kill Mona Sue Houston.

The girl was fatally wounded while riding in the sidecar of a motorcycle driven by her 20-year-old brother, Eddie. The brother was being pursued on Main Street by Koon and two other motorcycle officers.

Koon said he fired a warning shot from his service revolver and then started to lose control of his motorcycle.

He said he was returning his pistol hand to the handle bar to bring the motorcycle under control when the gun fired accidentally.

The bullet passed through the girl’s body and also struck her brother, who was treated at St. Luke’s Hospital.

A City warrant had been issued, charging the brother with excessive speed, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and running three red lights.

• A recount of ballots in the Democratic primary election for the Group 1 Florida House of Representatives seat gave Tom Slade a nine-vote advantage over Bill Basford and the right to face Joseph G. Kennelly Jr. in the May 29 runoff primary.

The original count of the primary votes by the canvassing board showed that Basford ran second in the nine-candidate contest with just four more votes than Slade received.

Slade filed a protest, based on the possibility that an error had been committed. He did not charge that any fraud was involved.

Assistant Supervisor of Registration Robert A. Mallard said the discrepancy was due to an inadvertent error by a clerk at Precinct 29-C at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church.

After the recount, Basford said he was satisfied with the results and confident the vote count was “just as accurate as accurate can be.”

Other primary results: State Rep. John E. Mathews took away Duval County’s 18th Senatorial District seat from Sen. Wayne Ripley; County Judge Page Haddock retained his seat on the bench, defeating attorney Morgan Jones; and Juvenile Court Judge Lamar Winegeart remained on the bench after defeating Assistant County Solicitor Hudson Oliff.

Both judges appeared to be assured of being elected without opposition in the November general election, barring a most unlikely write-in campaign, since no Republicans qualified to run for either seat.

Four candidates on the ballot won by default, since no opponents qualified for the primary election: U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett and Circuit Judges Charles Scott, William Durden and Frank Elmore.

Bennett was the only Florida congressman without opposition in 1962.

• The waiting room at Imeson Airport was a scene of pandemonium when Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn, America’s first astronaut to orbit the Earth, strolled into the room to buy a magazine.

A group of about 10 kindergarten children on a field trip spotted Glenn first, according to witnesses. They flocked around him and Glenn was soon surrounded by autograph seekers and well-wishers.

Glenn arrived at the airport aboard a National Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. After signing dozens of autographs, he boarded a plane to Orlando, where he said he would pick up a car and drive to Cape Canaveral.

• A new junior school building was dedicated at The Bolles School.

Headmaster Winston R. Johnson said alumni, parents and friends of the school contributed more than $115,000 to the project.

The two-story structure contained 12 classrooms, including two science laboratories, an administration office for the Lower School and a small room for remedial reading.

An unusual feature of the building was the use of sliding partitions on the south end of the second floor, Johnson said. The entire area, 98 feet in length, could be opened into a single room or sectioned off into four classrooms. One of the sliding partitions had blackout curtains for use of movies or other visual aids.

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