50 years ago this week
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 1963. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library's periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• The figures in the FBI's latest crime report for Jacksonville were a "hoax and an insult to a citizen's intelligence," said City Council member John Lanahan, a candidate for mayor.
"The figures were supplied by the Jacksonville Police Department. The FBI didn't come in here and get them," he said.
Lanahan was referring to a report that indicated serious crime in the Jacksonville area had declined by 7 percent in 1962 as compared to 1961.
He charged the figures "had been juggled to make the City and Mayor Haydon Burns look good."
Lanahan read a letter he said was from the FBI to the police department that stated: "Your response to our trend letter of Jan. 24, 1963, concerning the sharp decrease in Jacksonville crime has been noted. You indicated that this was due to special enforcement efforts. Aggravated assault is not the type of crime that can be influenced greatly by police patrol tactics. Sixty-five percent of it happens within families or among acquaintances. Police can't patrol bedrooms and kitchens. We note a sharp decrease in this crime and want to be sure that it is not the result of reporting or record changes. The handbook on Uniform Crime Reporting is enclosed for your use. Particularly note the discussion on aggravated assault."
Police Chief Luther A. Reynolds acknowledged receipt of the letter. He said it and similar letters from the FBI were not out of the ordinary.
"Any time crimes show a decrease, in this department or in others, these letters come. They (the FBI) don't expect the crime rate to drop, they expect it to go up. Our system of records is one of the best I know of. If anyone wants to come down and look it over, they are certainly welcome to," Reynolds said.
• A Cecil Field Naval Air Station unit, Light Photographic Squadron 62, received additional commendation for its low-level reconnaissance over Cuba.
The praise came from President John F. Kennedy in a letter to the squadron's commanding officer, Cmdr. W.B. Ecker.
"My naval aide has delivered to me the excellent photographs taken by your squadron on the first low-level reconnaissance flight over Cuba last October. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in presenting it to me, and ask that you convey my gratitude to your officers and men. You will be interested to know that it is now hanging in my outer office.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my thanks for your hard work during those weeks. As I said in our meeting at Boca Chica (the U.S. Navy base in Key West), the reconnaissance flights which enabled us to determine with precision the extensive buildup in Cuba contributed directly to the security of the United States in the most important and significant way," Kennedy wrote in his letter.
The meeting in Key West that Kennedy referred to was in November 1962 when he presented to the squadron the Naval Unit Commendation.
• The Jacksonville Humane Society dedicated its new shelter and grounds along Beach Boulevard. It was a dual celebration, combining the dedication of the $30,000 Annie M. Dore Building and the observance of the organization's 78th anniversary.
Mayors Haydon Burns of Jacksonville, William Wilson of Jacksonville Beach and Henry Isaacs of Atlantic Beach were among the public officials who attended the ceremony.
• A.A. Andreca was singled out for his enjoyment of walking. The New Jersey native was assistant manager of Timuquana Country Club. Andreca said he found his walks "invigorating and relaxing."
A resident at 66 W. 45th St., Andreca was known for his roundtrip hikes to the Jacksonville Zoo and to Jacksonville Beach.
"I can't put into words the feeling of well-being, of buoyancy and life I gain from going out into something instead of staying indoors, away from the world. Walking, I become more aware of everything as the senses become sharper. I'm conscious of sounds, smells, textures and tastes. I stop to observe beautiful things – flowers, a lovely leaf, a graceful cloud. I listen to all the good sounds of the world, to children playing and birds singing. Persons who ride everywhere never hear anything but the sound of a motor," he said.
Andreca's other hobby was making violins, which he gave away to friends. He said it was a labor of love.
"It takes me about a year to make one instrument. I just put my 23rd coat of varnish on the latest one. I give them to friends. One went to Hungarian gypsies I met in New York. One must give of himself to others," Andreca said.
• More than 12,000 students were enrolled in Duval County's adult education programs conducted at 15 public schools.
The courses were scheduled during the day and in the evening with a curriculum "tailored to present and anticipated needs." The stated purpose of the program was to "elevate the educational level of the community" and "help solve community problems through education."
It was noted that educational needs already had outdistanced the anticipations of the next decade.
"It's like a fog. You almost don't realize adult education exists, or that there is a need for it, until the need confronts you," said E. John Saare, Duval County adult education director.
"If I had a job to do requiring some knowledge of algebra, for example, I'd be lost. But I could go take a short course offered by the adult education department and be a long way toward solving the problem. In more and more fields, this need is becoming apparent," he said.
In addition to general education, courses were offered in automotive mechanics, advertising and commercial art, cosmetology, drafting, electricity, electronics technology, machinist practice, printing, refrigeration and air conditioning and precision sheet metal.
It was estimated there were more than 138,000 people in Duval County without a high school education.