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- 2014 - April - 28th -
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50 years ago: Committee calls for desegregation of public facilities

Compiled by Max Marbut

The Jacksonville Community Relations Committee adopted a resolution recommending that local hotels, restaurants and other facilities serving the public immediately and cooperatively desegregate.

Chairman William Maness, an attorney and former judge, said the resolution was adopted by a voice vote with five members opposed. There were 21 African-American and 15 white members in attendance when the vote was taken.

The committee offered its cooperation in coordinating the removal of racial restrictions, without advance publicity, to ensure the maximum effort to gain public support and to minimize economic or other issues that might arise.

Maness said the desegregation recommendation by the unofficial biracial committee would be relayed to Mayor Haydon Burns, who in March had proposed creation of the committee following several days of racial disturbances.

Speaking at a meeting of the Exchange Club the day after the resolution was adopted, Maness said Jacksonville had to face the fact that discrimination must be ended.

“The peaceful, law-abiding atmosphere we all desire will not be realized in any other way,” he said. “Too long we have tried to solve racial problems without taking public stands. Too long we have tried to protect the public generally from the reality of racial tensions in our city that have boiled over at least twice in major proportions.”

• Mayor Haydon Burns’ office issued a permit for a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored march through Downtown on a Saturday afternoon.

Officials of the organization said the march was to be held in opposition of the civil rights bill being considered by Congress.

Florida NAACP President Rutledge Pearson challenged the propriety of the permit and said his group was fearful “that this action will lead to incidents of violence in our city.”

None was reported.

• The Jacksonville Port Authority concluded the formalities of taking over the ownership of the former Jacksonville Municipal Docks and Terminals.

The authority took ownership of the facility, which had a book value of $4.5 million, in exchange for a $1.54 million note secured by revenue bonds.

• An Interstate 295 crossing of the St. Johns River south of Jacksonville Naval Air Station was approved by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads.

The $11 million, 3-mile bridge was part of a proposed 35-mile beltway around the Jacksonville metropolitan area. It would extend from a point just north of the Clay County line on the west side of the river to Plummer’s Point on the east bank.

The location was selected over an alternate location that would have placed the bridge between Orange Park and Mandarin.

• Steve J. Pajcic, a 17-year-old senior at Paxon Senior High School, was named by U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett as the congressman’s first alternate for appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The appointment meant that Pajcic could enter the academy if he chose to do so.

He was president of the student body and a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society and the YMCA. Pajcic was selected for the All-City and All-Conference baseball and basketball teams and served as a Capitol Hill page in 1963 under an appointment by Bennett.

• A low bid of $5.55 million for a turbine generating unit at the proposed North Jacksonville electric generating plant was received by the City Commission.

The bid was submitted by Westinghouse Electric Corp. The only other bid, for $5.58 million, came from General Electric Co.

The plant would be located on a 350-acre site on San Carlos Creek near Heckscher Drive. The project was expected to cost $25 million. It was scheduled to be in operation by May 1966, said Utilities Commissioner J. Dillon Kennedy.

• Duval County’s graduating high school seniors were below the state average in scholastic aptitude as well as overall performance based on their test scores, said Garth Akridge, research and information director for Duval County Public Schools.

He said the finding was based on 12th-grade placement tests taken in 1963 by 4,398 seniors. The five areas tested were psychological, English, social studies, natural science and mathematics.

The psychological portion was a measurement of general scholastic aptitude.

“We know there is a definite relationship between the socio-economic level of a community and the results of psychological tests,” Akridge said. “I therefore am not surprised that our psychological test scores are slightly below that of the state norm in view of figures from Sales Management Magazine showing the state’s average per capita disposable income is $1,746 compared with Duval’s $1,682.”

He said the closeness of the scores was remarkable, considering that the students tested had for the past 12 years experienced the greatest incidence of double sessions of any school system in the country and the highest ratio of pupils to instructors in the state.

Akridge also cited that Duval County was last among the 67 counties in Florida in the amount spent per pupil.

• The Duval County Board of School Trustees reappointed 3,811 teachers for the 1964-65 term, including 150 who were teaching out of their field of study.

There also were 144 resignations and 28 retirements. Twenty-nine teachers were not reappointed because of unsatisfactory service and 19 would be on leave throughout the entire school term.

Kenneth Wing, director of personnel, said another 125 weren’t reappointed because they lacked a teaching certificate and 71 weren’t reappointed because they were teaching out of their field of study. Wing said many of those teachers probably would become qualified during the summer and return in time for September classes.

• Criminal Court Judge Hans Tanzler Jr. set May 29 to hear any motions that might be filed in the bribery charge against suspended Justice of the Peace J.W. Jones.

In addition, a hearing in Municipal Court on a drunken driving charge against Jones was continued until May 30 at the defendant’s request.

Presiding in Municipal Court was Justice of the Peace Jesse Leigh, acting for regular Municipal Judge John Santora Jr., who disqualified himself because he was a close friend of Jones.

Jones was represented by attorney Lacy Mahon Jr.

Despite his legal issues, Jones was actively seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the justice of the peace post from which he had been suspended from since being charged by County Solicitor Edward Booth with accepting monthly bribes of $300 from an ongoing gambling operation in his district.

• May-Cohens department store was advertising “The Beatles’ Second Album.”

Customers who wanted a copy of the vinyl disc — which included “She Loves You,” Roll Over Beethoven,” “Long Tall Sally” and seven other songs — were invited to order by telephone or visit the record department on the third floor of the store at 117 W. Duval St., now City Hall.

The monaural version of the disc was $2.98; $3.98 for the stereophonic recording.

• A man who claimed he began making moonshine whiskey to recoup losses he suffered when a fire destroyed his business was arrested by state Beverage Department agents and charged with operating a still.

Robert Arn, 31, of Lanier Road was booked into the Duval County jail on charges of possession of a still and possession of moonshine. Bond was set at $1,000.

The day before he was arrested on the manufacturing and possession charges, Arn had been arrested and charged with driving a truck containing 21 gallons of untaxed liquor. He was later released on $1,000 bond.

On the manufacturing arrest, federal, state and city officers arrested Arn in an abandoned automobile garage at 3806 Talleyrand Ave.

Inside the garage was found a 540-gallon still filled with fermenting mash, 40 gallons of moonshine whiskey, a number of five-gallon bottles and other distilling supplies.

The still and other equipment were destroyed, the mash flowing through the gutter from the side of the building along 28th Street all the way around the corner and onto Talleyrand Avenue.

Agents said the still had been in the building for about two weeks and had been under observation for several days before the raid.

Arn operated a small boat- building plant along Phoenix Avenue until the business burned to the ground.

• Several heavy dredging pontoons that broke loose in a storm while being towed from Grand Bahamas to Jacksonville washed ashore on Duval County beaches.

The Coast Guard cutter Sweetgum picked up five of the 30-foot-long steel pontoons offshore and towed them to Mayport Naval Station. A Jacksonville Beach contractor removed several others from the beach at low tide.

The Coast Guard said at least two others were sighted adrift east of the mouth of the St. Johns River.

It was not immediately known how many pontoons were lost from the tugboat Mikiki, which was owned by a New York-based dredging company.

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