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.
• Henry John Klutho, the architect who came to Jacksonville immediately after the Great Fire of 1901 to rebuild the city, died at his home at 30 W. Ninth St.
He left behind some of the city’s most significant architecture including the Dyal-Upchurch Building, the first bank and office building constructed after the fire; the Jacksonville Public Library, one of the first completely fire-proof structures of its size when it opened in 1904 (now offices of the Bedell law firm); the 1907 YMCA Building, later the Haverty’s Building and now the Jake M. Godbold Annex; and the St. James Building, originally a department store, now City Hall, and still the largest Prairie-style building in the world.
Klutho also designed the U.S. Post Office West Bay Annex, which is being converted into offices for the state attorney near the Duval County Courthouse, the Morocco Temple, the Leon County Courthouse, Florida’s governor’s mansion, several public schools and numerous private residences and apartment buildings.
• Los Angeles-based architect Welton Beckett was named to draw up plans for the $20 million Gulf Life Insurance Co. complex on the Southbank Downtown that would include an office building and a hotel.
The Jacksonville firm of Kemp, Bunch and Jackson was selected as associate architect on the project.
“We have seen the work of Welton Beckett and Associates and we are pleased they are going to design the new Gulf Life buildings,” said M.S. Niehaus, president of the insurance firm.
Beckett said hotel-office building complexes were a current trend in the United States and he was looking forward to building one in Florida.
• Seven African-American ministers accused of trespassing in Downtown business places were found guilty and the cases of four others were dismissed in Municipal Court.
The charges stemmed from arrests made at the Robert Meyer Hotel, Morrison’s Cafeteria along Monroe Street and Leb’s Restaurant.
The defendants were convicted under Florida Statute 509.141, which in 1964 was being tested in the Supreme Court.
The assistant manager of Morrison’s testified that four of those charged were asked to leave the cafeteria Feb. 24 but refused.
Judge John Santora found them guilty of trespassing, fined each $25 and suspended the fines.
Three defendants were arrested when they would not leave the counter at Leb’s Restaurant. Santora fined each $40 and set bonds at $75 each when one of the ministers said he and his codefendants intended to appeal the verdict.
Santora dismissed charges against four other ministers when the complainant, the Robert Meyer Hotel, did not have a representative at the trial.
• Collection of customs in the Port of Jacksonville topped the $600,000 mark in February 1964, but trailed the figure for February 1963.
Merle J. McCoy, deputy collector of customs, said total levies amounted to $617,988.33 compared to $675,049.60 for the previous year.
McCoy noted that February 1964 had 19 working days, compared with 22 in 1963.
• In 1964, corporal punishment was part of the program in public schools and a high school athlete was paddled so severely by two coaches that he required medical attention and missed classes the following day.
The two paddlings were administered by the coaches because the student failed a test on athletic plays and failed to return unused tickets to an athletic event, said Duval County School Board member Martinez Baker. He said he had been contacted the day after the punishment by the parents.
Baker declined to identify the school or the coaches involved.
Hugh Wilcox, chairman of the school board of trustees, said the trustees would hold a hearing in the matter if the parents requested it and furnished all available information.
“This is a bad situation and has been for some time, but I thought our warnings earlier had brought the situation under control,” he said.
Another member of the board, Homer Bailey, said he felt the paddling “went beyond the call of duty” for disciplinary action and pledged the board would investigate the matter.
• Robert E. Lee High School was in the winner’s spotlight when two of its seniors took top honors at the North Florida Regional Science Fair at the Maxwell C. Snyder Armory.
Margo Murray, 16, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Nelson A. Murray of 3164 Yacht Club Road, and Robert Bradley, 17, son of Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Bradley of 4812 Irvington Ave., received all-expense-paid trips to the national science fair in Baltimore in May.
Murray’s project was titled “Eight-hour Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy,” a study of cancer cells. The death of a 16-year-old cousin from the disease prompted her work in the field, she said. Her father was a pathologist.
Bradley’s project was titled “The Impingement of Electromagnetic Radiation.” He said a book on electromagnetic spectrums fascinated him and inspired his work.
Of the 26 winners, 11 were students at Terry Parker High School. Next nearest in number was Nathan Bedford Forrest Senior High School with three winners.
Nearly 300 projects were entered in the competition in subjects ranging from astronomy to zoology.
As the two regional winners, Murray and Bradley would forego competition in the State Science Fair April 2-4 in the Civic Auditorium.
• Jewelry valued at more than $40,000 was taken from a Downtown hotel room registered to a New York-based manufacturer’s representative.
The loot was in a display trunk and consisted mainly of 14-carat gold bracelets, lockets, earrings, pins and necklaces, said Rudolph Heilbron, the victim of the theft.
Heilbron said he arrived Thursday evening in Jacksonville and visited his two customers by noon Friday when he left his eighth-floor room at the Mayflower Hotel at 10 Julia St. to eat lunch. He said the door was locked when he left his room.
Returning about 45 minutes later, Heilbron told police he went to his closet where the trunk had been left and discovered it was missing.
“I travel often, but never before have I had a major theft,” he said.
• Claude Kirk Jr. of Jacksonville, 38-year-old attorney and investment banker, qualified as a Republican Party candidate for the U.S. Senate to oppose incumbent Spessard Holland, a Democrat, in his bid for a fourth term. Holland, a former Florida governor, qualified for re-election Feb. 21.
Kirk was a partner in the firm Hayden, Stone and Co., and was one of the founders of the American Heritage Life Insurance Co.
He also was chairman of the Florida Democrats for Nixon-Lodge organization.
“There is an urgent need for greater business development in Florida. We must have more payrolls and more jobs and we must have them at once to take care of our fast-increasing population,” Kirk said.
The candidate also expressed concern over development in the Caribbean and Latin America that could lead to what he described as the “threatened Communist takeover” of the Western Hemisphere.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Cuba has been established as a Communist fountainhead in the revolutionary subversion of Latin America,” said Kirk.
• A new trend in modern health care began at St. Luke’s Hospital when two “luxury” rooms went into service.
Each room had a bed three inches wider than the ordinary hospital bed and the bed could be adjusted up or down by the patient “with a flip of the switch.”
A sofa, easy chair and ottoman also were provided and the floor was carpeted. Each room was furnished with a mahogany desk and chair, a rocking chair and a curtain that could be drawn to close off the bed area.
W.E. Arnold, St. Luke’s executive director, said the most surprising part of the improvement was the cost to patients.
“Just $25 a day,” he said, compared to the $16-$20 charges per day for other private rooms at the hospital.
Adding amenities was found to lower the cost of health care.
“The nurses have found that patients in the luxury rooms need less care,” Arnold said.