• The City Electric Department sold more than 50 percent more power to customers in the first six months of 1962 than it did during the same period in 1958.
The increase was described in a five-year power consumption report prepared by City Auditor John W. Hollister Jr.
J. Dillon Kennedy, City utilities commissioner, said the large increase in demand was caused by population growth in the county, new construction in the city and air conditioning.
“Our Downtown redevelopment and the influx of a number of large business and industrial customers have accounted for much of the increased demand in the city,” he said.
Kennedy noted that although the number of accounts inside the city limits in the first six months of 1962 was only 125 greater than in the same period in 1958, the kilowatt hours sold increased by 36.9 percent and revenue increased by 25.4 percent.
“Obviously, a normal increase of 125 accounts could not have accounted for the sharp rise in kilowatt hours over the five-year period. It was new building and the increasing popularity of air conditioning,” he said.
• Lynda Bird Johnson, daughter of Vice President Lyndon Johnson, was an honored guest at a farewell party at Mayport Naval Station for officers of 12 ships being deployed to the Mediterranean.
Her escort was Ensign Bernard Rosenbach, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1961. He was a member of the crew of the destroyer USS Jonas Ingram.
“We met about a year ago on a blind date back home,” said Johnson. Rosenbach was from Comfort, Texas, about 40 miles from Johnson’s hometown of Stonewall.
Johnson was staying with a friend, Mrs. Thomas McDonough, who lived at 1412 Tanglewood Road in Jacksonville Beach.
“I’ve been having lots of fun swimming and playing bridge,” Johnson said.
She expressed mild displeasure that the news media had learned she was visiting the area. A question about whether she and Rosenbach were going steady revealed the reason behind her displeasure.
“None of the boys when I go back to school (at the University of Texas) will ask me for a date if you write about this,” Johnson said.
Rosenbach told reporters he gave Johnson his fraternity pin in January. He said he had asked the vice president’s daughter to visit him as soon as he was assigned to Mayport.
“I can thank her father for this visit. He’s a former Navy man himself,” Rosenbach said.
• The valuation of building permits issued by the City in July 1962 was $2,415,393, nearly double the amount issued in July 1961.
A single permit accounted for more than half of the month’s total, said Herbert Oatman, City supervisor of building.
The permit was issued to Atlantic National Bank for construction of a parking garage at 100 N. Hogan St. The estimated valuation listed on the permit was $1,260,321, Oatman said.
Only one other permit was issued covering work for more than $100,000. It was taken out by R.C. Motor Lines Inc. for a warehouse and shop service building at 4600 Walgreen Utility Road. The valuation listed was $202,000.
• A Raiford State Prison escapee who was serving a life sentence telephoned prison officials from Jacksonville and asked them to come get him after spending a night at large.
James N. Lewis, 56, was picked up by Assistant Superintendent L.E. Dugger, who found the escapee at a drive-in restaurant along Normandy Boulevard at Cassat Avenue.
Dugger said Lewis was a model prisoner at Raiford and that the fugitive was eating a hamburger when he was apprehended.
In the parking lot was a prison employee’s automobile that Lewis had stolen after walking through the gate as a trusty at the prison.
Prison Superintendent DeWitt Sinclair said Lewis telephoned Dugger and said, “Come and get me. I’ve been pretty silly. I don’t know why I did it.”
Asked whether Lewis would be charged with escape, Sinclair said he wasn’t sure.
“When a man has behaved himself so well as Lewis, then runs off like that and realizes he has made a mistake and turns himself in, I really don’t know what will be done,” he said.
• The new Civic Auditorium wasn’t scheduled to open to the public until Sept. 16, but about 100 members of the Downtown Lions Club toured the facility with City Commissioner Claude Smith after the club’s weekly meeting at the Mayflower Hotel.
Franklin Bunch of the architectural firm Kemp, Bunch and Jackson, designers of the building, explained details of the $7 million waterfront entertainment venue.
Bunch said the stage had been approved by the Metropolitan Opera Co. for presentation of its productions.
While the main auditorium received much praise from the tour group, the exhibit hall, in which 2,000 people could be seated for dining and was flanked with two large kitchens equipped with “modern stainless steel equipment” also was lauded by the Lions.
Bunch said the exhibit hall was the largest south of Philadelphia.
• Three children from Orlando whose parents had been injured in a traffic accident on Roosevelt Boulevard were taken in by a City police officer.
The parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Lashley, were admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where their condition was listed as fair.
The Lashley children, ages 5, 7 and 9, waited outside the emergency room. While their parents were being treated and admitted, the children were befriended by hospital staff and the police officers who were called to the accident and accompanied the children to the hospital.
Hospital officials worked for hours to locate relatives of the children, including an uncle who lived in Folkston, Ga., and a distant cousin of Mrs. Lashley, who lived in Jacksonville Beach.
When the search proved unsuccessful, Patrolman C.B. Musselwhite offered to take the children to his home for the night until Lashley’s employer could arrive from Orlando to take the children back there.
“It was a question of putting them in a dependent shelter or a private home. We cleared it with their mother. She said it was all right, just so they were taken care of,” said Musselwhite.
• A report of an airplane collision turned out to be false, but not before it had led to an extensive investigation.
After receiving a telephone call from a person who said two aircraft had collided in flight, the Duval County Patrol dispatched four units to the Commonwealth Avenue-Jones Road area while the Florida Highway Patrol sent two units.
Jacksonville Naval Air Station deployed two helicopters and a twin-engine search aircraft and began searching the area around U.S. 90 in Marietta.
No wreckage or any evidence of a collision was found.
Officers suspected the roar of a jet’s afterburner, or other unusual noises which had come from a drizzling rain, led to the report of a collision or crash.
The Navy speculated an accidentally dropped flare, smoke bomb or similar device could have prompted the false report and all of its aircraft were accounted for. No civilian aircraft were reported missing.
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.