- 2014 - January - 27th -

By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

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 1964. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.

• A special committee of the City Council was established to study possible adoption of a hospitalization insurance program for city employees.

Council President Clyde “Red” Cannon said after the meeting he could not elaborate on the proposal except to say the committee would work with the City Commission on the drafting of a program designed to provide city workers with hospitalization insurance coverage.

Cannon said he could not say whether the plan would be paid entirely by the city or jointly paid for by the city and the employees.

• Duval County Solicitor Edward M. Booth was appointed by state Attorney General James Kynes to direct a special study of commercial frauds.

Kynes said the study would be made in cooperation with county prosecuting officers throughout the state. Its goal would be the “tightening of state laws” against fraudulent business practices. He said prosecutors expressed that the laws were too lax.

“They have indicated to me they find many incidents that appear to be clearly fraudulent but the perpetrators cannot be prosecuted under existing law. Florida has strengthened the law in the past two years in the field of installment land sales and the home mortgage area, but it is clear to me that we must give constant attention to keeping the business climate of Florida free from suspicion,” Kynes said.

• Complete freedom was won by a man acquitted of second-degree murder in his wife’s shooting death.

Guy Ashmore, a telephone company switchman, was found not guilty by a Criminal Court jury the previous week by reason of being temporarily insane when he shot and killed his wife on March 29, 1963.

Judge Lloyd Layton directed Ashmore to return to court a week after the verdict with his attorney, Walter Arnold, so the judge could determine Ashmore’s mental condition.

Layton said he had consulted with psychiatrists who examined Ashmore and in his opinion and theirs, Ashmore was sane and no danger to himself or others.

Accordingly, Layton said, Ashmore was released.

Layton said, however, he did not believe Ashmore was insane at the time of the shooting but he could not set aside the jury’s verdict.

The shooting occurred in woods off the 3300 block of Philips Highway, where Ashmore had driven his wife in their car. He told investigators they argued about her alleged extramarital affairs and he shot her with a .38-caliber pistol. She was hit in the abdomen, left arm and right knee.

During the murder trial, Arnold called two psychiatrists who testified that Ashmore, beset with worry about his wife’s marital fidelity, was in such a state of mind he could not tell right from wrong when he killed her.

During the trial the prosecutor, Assistant County Solicitor R. Baker King, produced two psychiatrists who said in their opinion, Ashmore was sane at the time of the shooting.

• The Duval County Budget Commission appropriated $10,000 to finance an agricultural exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

A committee composed of County Agricultural Agent Jim Watson, County Commissioner T.K. Stokes Jr. and Budget Commissioner Carl Langston was named to work on arrangements for the exhibit.

• Construction of a four-story dormitory for men was being contemplated at Jacksonville University, said acting president Benjamin Rogers.

He said construction of the building to be ready for the fall 1965 term was contingent upon approval of a $1.5 million federal loan.

The university had applied for the funds to the Housing and Home Finance Agency but had not received an answer whether the funds would be made available.

Rogers said plans were moving ahead on locating the proposed building. If it were to be constructed, the new two- or three-wing building would be adjacent to the proposed Brest Amphitheater.

The building would house male students and the existing dormitory, built in 1962, would house female students.

An enrollment of 2,900 students was projected in 1965 at JU, including nearly 600 on-campus resident students.

• Thieves battered and pried on a safe at ABC Concrete Co. along Edgewood Avenue but could not open it.

County detectives D.L. Cody and D.R. Coleman said the safe was covered with scratch marks and dents after being attacked with a pry bar and hammers.

The officers said the safe was not even locked. All the burglars needed to do was turn the door handle and it would have opened.

• The Duval County Sheriff’s Department raided after-hours bottle clubs along Philips Highway and West Beaver Street and arrested club operators, employees and patrons.

Lt. J.L. Hamlin, head of the vice squad, said the arrests were made in a continuing crackdown on the clubs, which stayed open until dawn and allowed patrons to bring their own alcoholic beverages.

Warrants for contributing to the delinquency of a minor issued by Juvenile Court Judge Lamar Winegeart were served on the operators and an employee of the Daylight Bottle Club at 6765 W. Beaver St. in Marietta.

While the suspects were being taken into custody, an unidentified person slashed the tires on three county patrol cars while officers were inside the building.

Five customers were arrested on charges of drunkenness and vagrancy.

Also raided was the Tabu Club at 8607 Philips Highway, where two employees were arrested on charges of assault and battery on two customers who were thrown out of the club and sustained bruises and other injuries.

• Post office customers were served free coffee all week in appreciation of the people of the Jacksonville area’s “cooperation in postal matters,” said Postmaster James Workman Jr.

The coffee was available from 9-10 a.m. each day at all post offices and was provided by postal employees.

• The City Commission reversed a ruling barring the use of bottled gas by concessionaires at the Gator Bowl stadium.

However, use of the fuel at hot dog and popcorn stands would be subject to increased regulations.

The action came on motion by Mayor Haydon Burns, who originally ordered the ban on bottled gas in the stadium. Burns said use of the gas might be dangerous and directed the fire marshal and fire chief to notify the Gator Bowl operators that bottled gas would no longer be allowed.

Following an investigation, city Fire Marshal E.C. McDermon advised Burns that regular fire inspections showed the gas users met state and national fire code requirements.

McDermon said after conversations with George Robinson, executive director of the city recreation board, additional safety precautions could go into effect.

Steel pipes would replace copper tubing and gas cylinders would be placed in a fenced and locked enclosure. Burns said in light of the increased safety measures, he would move the ban be rescinded.

• More than 2,000 Duval County junior and senior high school students were preparing to visit Washington, D.C, over the next seven weeks.

The first group of 436 students from Terry Parker, Robert E. Lee, Baldwin and Nathan Bedford Forrest high schools left Jacksonville Monday aboard the Seaboard Air Line Railroad’s Tidewater.

Each tour would last six days. It was the second year students had toured the nation’s capital. More than 400 students participated in 1963.

• Jacksonville’s fourth annual Delius Festival was set to begin Feb. 6 to commemorate the work of English composer Frederick Delius.

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra would open the festival with a concert in the auditorium at the Prudential Building. It would be the first all-orchestral program of Delius’ music in Florida.

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