• Air pollution was becoming an issue in North Florida this week in 1963.
The City Council Health and Public Sanitation Committee proposed establishment of an air pollution control district to be financed jointly by the city and county.
Council member Elbert Hendricks, chairman of the committee, said he would arrange a conference between his committee and the County Commission to explore the possibility.
Speaking to the Meninak Club at the George Washington Hotel, Vincent Patton, director of the state Division of Industrial Waste, said multiple deaths had been attributed to air pollution.
"We are slowly killing ourselves," he said.
Patton called on local government to appropriate funds to control air pollution for the public good.
"It's becoming more and more of a community health problem. Cancer and respiratory diseases are increasing alarmingly. Statistics show that if you live in a polluted atmosphere, your lifespan will be shorter," he said.
• More than 90,000 people helped Jacksonville Naval Air Station celebrate its 23rd anniversary. The program included demonstrations of precision flying, stunts, parachuting, static displays and comedy.
Navy officials said more than 25,000 vehicles were counted entering the base's gates for the air show and traffic along Roosevelt Boulevard was bumper-to-bumper for miles in either direction. About 250 boats from outboards to yachts formed a spectator armada in the St. Johns River near Ortega.
The weather was less than ideal for skydivers from the Jacksonville Navy Sports Parachute Club. Low clouds partially blocked the view when the skydivers jumped out of their aircraft at 12,000 feet.
The comedy was provided by Naval Reserve Capt. Dick Schram flying a Piper Cub. He played the role of an absent-minded professor who had learned all of his flying skills by reading a book and then found himself alone in the aircraft.
Schram executed a series of snap loops, rolls and spins and at one point, flew low over the crowd, leaned out of the airplane and yelled, "Help! Help!"
The Blue Angels ended the show with a 30-minute display of precision flying.
At the conclusion, the six jets landed together in close formation. As they approached the runway, a flock of geese also flew overhead in a V-formation.
The Blue Angels' landing provided the only unscripted element of the day when a tire blew out, but the pilot maneuvered his aircraft safely out of difficulty.
• The Jacksonville-Duval County Planning Board voted to study alternatives for preserving Jacksonville's Treaty Oak by creating a park around the tree.
Board Chairman W.T. Jackson said the tree had become "a matter of great interest in the community" and the board was "the logical body to coordinate efforts to preserve it."
The tree, located between Alvarez Street and Miami Road south of Downtown, had been protected for a number of years by the duPont estate, but several civic organizations were urging its perpetual preservation through a park arrangement.
• Malcolm Knight, pastor of Southside Baptist Church, was elected moderator of the Jacksonville Baptist Association. He succeeded the Rev. Robert Yates, pastor of Spring Park Baptist Church.
The election was a highlight of the association's 84th annual session.
Before the election, the Rev. Homer G. Lindsay of First Baptist Church criticized some of his fellow ministers for building up congregations with transfers from other churches.
"You'll see where churches with 5,000 to 8,000 members baptize only 50 to 60 new members in a whole year. This is a great problem that stares us in the face. We must eat and breathe missions which are the heart of the teachings of the Bible," he said.
• U.S. Navy Lt. Alan L. Bean, who served with a squadron stationed at Cecil Field Naval Air Station, was one of 14 men selected for NASA's Gemini-Apollo space program designed to land Americans on the moon.
Also named to the list of 14 new astronauts was Roger Chaffee, who had been attached to a squadron at Jacksonville Naval Air Station until January 1963.
(Bean became the fourth man to walk on the moon in November 1969. Chaffee was killed on the launch pad Jan. 27, 1967, along with Ed White and Gus Grissom, while training for the first manned Apollo flight.)
• An 18-month-old boy received several deep bites on his leg when he was attacked by a pet otter in the yard of his Southside Estates home.
Kent Harris, son of Willis H. Harris of 1828 Forest Blvd, was released after treatment at St. Vincent's Hospital for wound in his left leg.
Duval County Patrolmen W.H. Hill and B.D. Sillasen said the 7-month-old otter named Ottie apparently attacked the toddler after he was excited by a dachshund.
The dog was treated by a veterinarian for bites also.
According to Hill, the otter, about three feet in length, was owned by J.T. Blume of 1946 Bradley Road near the Harris residence.
The animal, although penned at times, spent most of its time in a swamp near the Blume home, Hill said.
Seven months before the biting, the Blumes found two baby otters near their dead mother. They kept one as a pet and donated the other to the Jacksonville Zoo.
Since that time the otter had played with neighborhood children without incident until the attack on Harris, the officers said.
The otter, which had been vaccinated for rabies, would be quarantined for 10 days.
• U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett said representatives from France – possibly French President Gen. Charles de Gaulle – would participate in the 1964 celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Fort Caroline.
After a meeting with French officials, Bennett said de Gaulle was scheduled to visit the United States early in 1964 and that he would be invited to come to Jacksonville for the celebration.
"This would be a tremendous show of good will for France," Bennett said.
• Loot from a two-day crime spree by three juveniles netted a few sacks of potato chips, some inexpensive auto tools and checks totaling $206,352.
City Detective H.F. Branch said the checks, at least $16,000 of which were payroll checks and would easily have been negotiable by forgery, were stolen from an automobile parked at the A&P Food Store warehouse at 1800 W. Beaver St.
Branch said the three young thieves were caught by county patrolmen inside the Genuine Parts Co. at 541 W. Duval St.
The boys, two of them 12 and the other one 14, were seen by a passer-by after the juveniles had entered the building by breaking a rear window with rocks.
The suspects admitted running away from a dependent home on Sunday and committing the crimes on Monday.
They told the officers they found the checks in a box in an unlocked automobile. They then entered an unlocked truck on the lot and took the tools.
Branch said an A&P employee had prepared the checks for mailing to various accounts and employees and placed them in his car.
They also admitted taking potato chips from a carton in a boxcar that was being unloaded before they broke into the auto-parts business and were apprehended.
The offenders were arrested and incarcerated in the Juvenile Shelter.
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.