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50 years ago: Dozens stung by jellyfish on July 4 holiday

Compiled by Max Marbut

Despite heavy rain, 75,000 people spent part of July 4 along Duval County’s beaches.

Most of them were on the strand in the morning when the sun was shining and a hot wind was blowing from the west. The rain began about 1 p.m., scattering the bathers, who packed up and headed home.

Volunteer lifeguard Capt. B.E. North said the day went unusually well, except for the weather and the remnants of a fleet of Portuguese men-of-war that had lain offshore for several days leading up to the holiday.

More than 50 people were stung and required first aid at the lifeguard station.

• Jacksonville took the new federal civil rights law in stride following the signing of the bill by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

African-Americans integrated a Downtown restaurant Thursday evening without incident, according to police sources.

The Jacksonville Police Department, the Duval County Sheriff’s Office and County Solicitor Edward Booth all reported receiving calls from business owners and operators asking questions pertaining to the new civil rights law.

Booth said most of the calls to his office regarded questions about interpretation of the law. He said he gave what assistance he could, although his office had no direct part to play in connection with the new federal statute.

The Jacksonville office of the FBI received no calls in connection with the new law.

• The Board of Public Instruction adopted a $36.9 million budget for 1964-65. Superintendent Ish Brant called some of its provisions “a giant step” toward keeping Duval County’s schools accredited.

“The retention of our secondary schools on the accredited list of the Southern Association has been uppermost in our preparation and deliberation,” Brant said at a board meeting in the County Courthouse. “We feel it reflects the sincere effort on the part of this board, the superintendent and staff to meet our needs through the judicious allocation of the limited funds available.”

He said the budget in no way reflected the needs of the school system, but that it “represents the full amount the board is allowed to spend legally under the present tax rate.”

• A Stetson University freshman, 17-year-old Jeannette Ferrell, was crowned Miss Duval County at the 15th annual pageant sponsored by the Jacksonville Beach Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Ferrell also won the Tommy Tucker Talent Trophy with her renditions of “I Got Plenty of Nothin’” and “Summertime.”

Miss Duval County 1963, Mary Grace Ezell, crowned her successor.

• The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce was designated an accredited organization by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. The official announcement, made by national chamber President Walter Carey, was received by William B. Mills, president of the Jacksonville organization.

The national chamber’s voluntary accreditation program was established early in 1964 to recognize effective organization performance.

• The City Commission and City Council scheduled a July 30 joint meeting with municipal employee groups to discuss options for a group hospitalization insurance plan, which had been under discussion for more than a year.

Those invited to the closed-door session included members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Fraternal Order of Firemen and the city employee’s local union.

• Users of Jacksonville electricity from Fernandina Beach to Green Cove Springs were faced with voluntarily reducing their consumption of electricity or having electricity rationed.

The power shortage was caused by the failure of the largest transformer in the Jacksonville power system. The incident had instantly knocked out 28 percent of the system’s generating capacity.

Utilities Commissioner J. Dillon Kennedy said if rationing was required, it would first hit residential customers during peak-demand hours: mid-morning and late afternoon.

“We are asking them to continue curtailing the use of electricity, especially for air conditioning, for at least a week,” he said.

To prevent a general shutdown of the system, circuits to those areas would be pulled first. Next on the list would be commercial areas, then industrial areas and then hospitals. The U.S. Navy would be the last customer that would be temporarily disconnected, Kennedy said.

After receiving permission from the State Road Department to move a 90-ton transformer from the Southside Electric Generating Station to the J. Dillon Kennedy Station along Talleyrand Avenue, Kennedy said full service could be restored in a week or 10 days.

Moving the transformer was a story in itself.

A lowboy trailer, escorted by police, left the Southside plant via Philips Highway. The procession crept slowly to San Clerc Road, then to Southside Boulevard and then to the Mathews Bridge.

There, since the load could not pass through the toll gates, the trailer was routed to an access road north of the gates, up over the curb near the Riverton Towers apartment building and then back onto the bridge.

The move was accomplished without incident until the critical time when the trailer carrying the transformer approached the bridge. That’s when it started raining, causing a slippery surface on the incline.

For 40 minutes, westbound traffic was stopped. When the load approached the grating at the top of the span, all traffic was held.

The 90-ton shipment was “moved beautifully,” despite several harrowing moments when the immense weight caused the grating to give about an inch, said police traffic Sgt. Fred Ledig.

The city’s rated power output capability with both plants in full operation was 540,000 kilowatts. The transformer loss knocked 140,000 kilowatts out of the system, leaving the city with the ability to produce only 400,000 kilowatts.

• The 100-member Terry Parker High School Band was preparing to leave for a weeklong stay in New York City in conjunction with the World’s Fair.

The band was selected by the Florida World’s Fair Commission and would join 11 other high school bands scheduled to perform in the Florida exhibit.

Band Director Joe Lippo said the band would travel to the city on an Atlantic Coast Line train. Two concerts were scheduled on each of three days, with the remainder of the week devoted to visiting attractions at the fair and sightseeing.

Members of the Terry Parker band previously performed and marched in the inaugural parade for the late President John Kennedy, at the Mason City, Iowa, Music Man Festival and several Gator Bowl games.

• Police ran into a dead end in the search for clues in the murder of the son of a prominent Jacksonville banker.

Glen L. Monroe, 28, son of Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Monroe of 5733 Weller Ave., was found dead from bullet wounds near Public Access Ramp 3 in Seminole Beach.

G.C. Monroe was vice president of the Florida National Bank of Jacksonville.

J.G. Patrick, chief of Duval County detectives, said the victim had been shot twice, once through the back of his head and once through the right side of his back.

His mother’s automobile, which Monroe had used the day of his murder, was missing along with his wallet. Mrs. Monroe told detectives the wallet had contained no more than $1 when her son left home.

Patrick said he used a Navy helicopter to search an area bounded by the Intracoastal Waterway, the Atlantic Ocean and Mayport Naval Station to Atlantic Boulevard in an effort to locate Monroe’s blue Volkswagen, without success.

In addition, police combed the woods and dirt roads in the area where the body was found, by automobile and on foot trying to locate the car.

Monroe’s body was found lying face down on a sand dune by three young women who had gone to the area to wade in the surf. When they discovered the victim, they immediately left the scene and reported their discovery to Atlantic Beach Police Chief R.C. Vogel.

Patrick said Monroe had not been dead long when his body was found. He also said there was no apparent motive for the murder.

• Two safes containing $11,500 in cash and checks were stolen from a Western Auto store at 744 N. Edgewood Ave.

It was the second burglary at the store within two weeks. Between $5,000 and $6,000 in cash and checks was stolen on June 18.

The two safes stolen in the first burglary were found two days after the robbery in a wooded area near Fernandina Beach. A number of checks were scattered on the ground around the torn-open safes, but the cash was gone, said Duval County Patrolman R.E. Deck.

The safes involved in the second burglary had been welded together and attached with metal straps to a metal pole so they could not easily be moved. The thieves used a hacksaw taken from the store to remove the straps before stealing the safes.

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