• Franklyn Johnson, who had tendered his resignation as president of Jacksonville University, addressed the League of Women Voters and criticized the local commitment to education.
“I do not believe the people of Duval County either want or expect decent schools,” he said.
Franklyn said pleas for more funding for local schools had “fallen on deaf ears” for many years.
“For 30 years Jacksonville was the largest city in the United States without an accredited four-year college. We stumbled along until 1954 before establishing a junior college and it was 1956 before the public would support its conversion into a university.
“Several decades ago, California citizens decided they wanted outstanding schools, and now that state reaps the harvest of such an attitude with many great aircraft plants and research facilities of world renown,” he said.
Franklyn was leaving Jacksonville to become president of Los Angeles State University.
• W. Thomas Rice, president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, was among 13 Southerners in fields cited for outstanding achievement by the editors of “Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.”
Rice was selected by the editors for “bringing fresh vigor and perception to the railroad and many other progress-building activities.”
The 13 selectees were chosen from 13,800 names appearing in the newly published 8th edition of the biographical reference book.
Rice was considered a leader in the railroad industry. Since taking over Atlantic Coast in 1957, he had reduced its ratio of expenses to income by 8 percentage points, from 84 to 76, and the railroad’s income had increased 40 percent.
He also led the effort to make Atlantic Coast the first major railroad in the Southeast to go into the “piggyback” business, transporting truck trailers on rail cars, and the first to run all-piggyback trains from the South to other parts of the country.
• An Alabama convict sentenced to 135 years in prison for a robbery in that state pleaded guilty in Jacksonville to the 1954 robbery of Underwood Jewelers.
In view of the long sentence in Alabama, and an additional 10-year term pending in Louisiana, Criminal Court Judge A. Lloyd Layton did not give Cecil Otis Flummer, 51, any additional prison time.
On the recommendation of County Solicitor Edward Booth, Layton deferred sentence for Flummer on the jewelry robbery from day to day, term to term, year to year. Technically, Flummer could be brought back to Jacksonville for sentencing if he finished his terms in the other states.
“What’s the use of giving him additional time here? It would be like beating a dead horse,” Booth said in court.
Flummer and 39-year-old Edwin Brent were charged with the June 15, 1954, daylight robbery of Underwood Jewelers at 227 N. Hogan St. The loot included $23,328 in rings and stones, most of which, Booth said, was recovered.
According to Booth, Flummer and Brent escaped Feb. 15, 1954, from a penitentiary at Angola, La., and made their way to Jacksonville. Booth said Flummer was serving 10 years at Angola for a narcotics violation and Brent 15 years for kidnapping. They were arrested in Savannah, Ga., for the Jacksonville jewelry store robbery
Booth said Brent was serving 25 years in Georgia for a narcotics violation and was due to be brought to Jacksonville for prosecution in the robbery case if he was released in Georgia.
While he was in court, Flummer told Layton he had spent 22 of his last 25 years in prison.
• Two mice playing inside a jukebox at a Southside tavern were upstaging the other attractions at the establishment.
Manager Mary Reilly named the mice “Frankie” and “Johnnie” for their apparent like, or dislike, of a record by that name in the machine.
The rodents had become featured performers, sometimes roving around the glass front of the jukebox and peering out at patrons.
Reilly said they would appear every time she played the Frankie and Johnny record. She said the moving parts of the machine probably disturbed them more than the music.
While a reporter was at the tavern for the story, Frankie – or possibly Johnnie – was asleep behind the turntable when Reilly put a dime in the coin slot and punched the namesake record. The mouse awoke and disappeared into the maze of wiring and mechanism below.
Five more renditions of the record and one of “Back in My Baby’s Arms” finally brought the mouse back into view.
“I couldn’t see him when I came in but I went back and took a drink and there he is. Things like that are what worry you,” said a patron of the tavern after he saw the mouse in the machine.
• The Board of County Commissioners rejected all eight bids received for construction of two new stations for the Pickettville and Wesconnett volunteer fire departments.
County Engineer John Crosby recommended the rejection because of all of the bids far exceeding the funds available in the County budget for the new facilities.
The apparent best offer was from William Cellar, who submitted a bid of $42,859 for both stations. However, Fire Coordinator Jerry Kirkland said only $27,000 was available for both stations.
Crosby told the board changes were being made in the specifications for the two projects “to try to get the price down where we can afford it.”
Based on his recommendation, the board voted to advertise for new bids based on new plans and specifications.
The stations would be the first County-owned buildings housing volunteer fire departments. In 1963, volunteers either owned or leased their own buildings.
• Three people paid fines in Criminal Court as alternatives to going to jail for being involved in production of pornographic materials.
Pleading guilty before Judge Hans Tanzler Jr. to posing for obscene pictures May 23 were Jack Robinson, 24, and 25-year-old Mary Yvonne Owen.
Tanzler gave Robinson the choice of paying a $500 fine or five months in County jail and ordered one year probation. For Owen, he ordered a $300 fine or three months in jail and six months of probation.
Larry Benjamin, 34, pleaded guilty to developing and printing the pictures. He paid a $400 fine rather than jail for four months and was placed on probation for one year.
Butch Haroldean Parker, 22, was charged with posing for the pictures and also with selling obscene pictures to Deputy Sheriff J.L. Pfeiffer, who was investigating the case. Parker pleaded guilty July 12 and was sentenced to one year in the County jail.
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.