At Duval Auto Sales at 1037 Hendricks Ave., you could buy a 1967 Triumph Spitfire for $1,899. It was described as having "humming tires, a snarling engine and a fast back."

50 years ago: Port authority awards contract for bridge to Blount Island

By: 
Jan. 30, 2017

The Jacksonville Port Authority awarded a $310,215 contract for a bridge that would pave the way for development of Blount Island.

Low bidder for the 1,560-foot wooden span was Wood-Hopkins Contracting Co.

The bridge would cross the old channel of the St. Johns River to link the island with the mainland near the new Northside Generating Station on Heckscher Drive.

Port authority engineer Robert Peace said the clearance of the bridge would be as great or greater than several existing bridges in the area.

City Utilities Commissioner George Mosely said the bridge would not interfere with shipping traffic, particularly the tankers that delivered fuel oil to the generating station.

He also said if a drawbridge were to have been selected, it would have added more than $2 million to the budget.

When planning the project, authority members decided that would be impractical because the bridge was intended to last only 12 to 15 years.

• An $8 million program to expand and modernize laboratory and patient facilities at St. Vincent’s Hospital was announced.

Patients there and at other hospitals would benefit from new equipment and techniques that would be made available in a new wing at St. Vincent’s, said Sister Virginia, hospital administrator.

She presented a three-year, three-phase plan to the screening committee of the Health Facilities Planning Council for the Jacksonville Area Inc. The committee, responsible for evaluating sites and construction of hospital and medical facilities, unanimously approved the plan.

“Adding hospital beds means nothing unless you provide proper treatment,” said Jacob Bryan III, council president.

• Magazines and paperback novels readily available at newsstands were giving “detailed courses in some form of perversion” and were a danger to the morals of children and teenagers, said First Assistant State Attorney Edward Booth.

Speaking to members of the Duval County Parent-Teacher Associations, Booth urged the group to “make war on obscene literature” both within and outside the courts.

“Well-meaning psychiatrists and doctors say there is no connection between obscene literature and juvenile delinquency, sex crimes and illicit relationships between teenagers, but I will debate this,” he said.

• A 2,400-gallon moonshine still, one of the largest operated in Northeast Florida, was found by beverage agents in a thickly wooded area off U.S. 90, about three miles west of Baldwin.

Although the huge welded iron vat containing 2,000 gallons of sour-smelling white liquid was still warm, the attendants had fled hours earlier.

A combined force of city, county, federal and state beverage agents conducted the raid.

B.R. Taylor, state Beverage Department agent, climbed on top of the vat and lit fuses to dynamite charges that blew apart the rig.

“This one won’t be back in operation,” he said while examining the dripping ruins.

Nearby were the rusty remnants of two stills destroyed in earlier raids.

“Maybe they thought lightning wouldn’t strike three times in the same place,” Taylor said.

• Acting Police Chief R.C. Blanton Jr. said private ambulance companies in Duval County probably would have to be subsidized to succeed.

Blanton, one of four finalists for the permanent position, told members of the Civic Roundtable that “in my opinion, government must step in and do something.”

Two private companies, operating along with a funeral home, were being hurt by the inability to collect fees for patient transportation.

Blanton said for many years, funeral homes offered the service for little or no cost to the user. People had become accustomed to the low rates and were unwilling to pay $15 to $22.50 per call, which had to be met for the operators to stay in business.

Studies had shown if the police department were to operate ambulance service limited to within the city limits, it would cost about $350,000 annually, he said.

The Fire Department might be able to handle such a service with fewer men because of its strategically located stations, but that also probably was not a solution, Blanton added.

• A group of parents threatened to withdraw their children and boycott Gregory Drive Elementary School unless free bus transportation was provided.

At least 10 mothers with students at the recently opened school picketed the Duval County Courthouse, protesting the lack of bus service.

Mrs. Jerry Carter, who had two children enrolled, said she and other mothers would continue to picket until they got a bus.

“We would rather picket — and even go to jail — than have to go to the funeral of one of our children,” she said.

School Superintendent Ish Brant arranged to provide bus transportation for more than 400 of the pupils for 70 cents per week, the average cost per pupil for school bus transportation.

Carter said 70 cents per child was not acceptable to most parents.

“So many of the parents out there can’t afford to pay it. They are on relief and can’t afford to pay an extra nickel for ice cream for a child’s lunch. How could they pay 70 cents a week, particularly when they have two or three children going to school there?” she said.

Duval students who lived more than one-and-a-half miles from their school rode buses free of charge. Those who lived closer had to furnish their own transportation or walk.

Gregory Drive parents had protested there were no sidewalks in the West Jacksonville neighborhood and their children had to walk along hazardous roadsides.

• The city Electric Department made the news this week in 1967 when it was recognized for achieving $50 million in annual gross revenue and passing one-third — $16 million — back to its customers.

It was one of the biggest businesses, public or private, in the state.

The utility system had assets of $210 million, second only to Los Angeles in the ranking of municipal utilities.

The profits from the system were deposited into the general fund to supplement tax revenues.

• Vandalism with guns was causing serious problems for the Electric Department.

“Many power interruptions over the years have been caused by people taking shots at insulators on our transmission lines,” said Louis Giddings, operations manager.

Replacing the insulators on the tall towers that crossed the county cost thousands of dollars each year — and not just for the utility, he added.

“Business and industry suffer from loss of products and production time and everyone suffers inconvenience in this age of electric appliances,” said Giddings.

Loss of electric service also put residents’ lives in danger.

“We have a long list of homes where people are in iron lungs and dependent on electric power for the very breath of life,” Giddings said.

• Beach Boulevard was declared the most dangerous roadway in the county by the Duval County Patrol.

Sixty-two auto accidents from Jan. 1-30 resulted in one death, 17 injuries and more than $21,000 in property damage along the main road between the Beaches and Jacksonville.

Second-place was a tie between Atlantic and Blanding boulevards.

Those roads each had 57 collisions — 36 people were injured on Atlantic Boulevard and 25 on Blanding Boulevard.

One of the safer roads during the review period was Philips Highway, south of Jacksonville.

Despite high speed and volume, including trucks and tourists, only nine people were injured in 30 collisions that caused just $8,750 in property damage.

• At the Municipal Coliseum, the Jacksonville Rockets ice hockey team played the Long Island Ducks during “Salute to the Navy” night.

Tickets were $2 for reserved seats, general admission was $1.50 and students were admitted for 50 cents.

• The Jacksonville Expressway Authority said bids for construction of a section of Commodore’s Point expressway link would be opened Feb. 9.

The work included building an approach ramp to the Commodore’s Point Bridge (later named the Hart Bridge) extending from the southern end of the span to Carmichael Avenue along Highland Avenue.

The project also included a 200-foot bridge over Atlantic Boulevard and the reconstruction of about 1,400 feet of Atlantic Boulevard.

• Twenty-four offices on the top floor of the St. James Building at Hemming Park were burglarized by a band of whiskey-drinking culprits.

Police found five empty liquor bottles and a shot glass in one of the offices.

The tenants were doctors and dentists, one of whom reported theft of $225 worth of gold he used for tooth fillings.

A doctor reported that 1,000 5-cent stamps and a .22-caliber revolver were missing from his office.

The thieves also ransacked several vending machines and broke open desk drawers and file cabinets.

At the time, the building, now City Hall, was mainly occupied by the May-Cohens department store.