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 1967. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
The city was trying to get itself out of a dispute that had developed over the possible location of a new Children’s Museum in Treaty Oak Park.
Officers of the museum had expressed interest in using the park as a site for a new building, but the deed that turned over the property to the city from Mrs. Alfred I. duPont stipulated that no building be constructed on the grounds.
City Commissioner George Carrison was interested in the idea and contacted duPont, who agreed the stipulation might be removed if she were allowed to approve the plans for the museum.
In the meantime, the Garden Club of Jacksonville and the Woman’s Club of Jacksonville objected to the proposal. The groups contended the park should be free of buildings and construction might damage or kill the ancient oak.
The City Commission considered drafting a bill for introduction in the upcoming session of the legislature that would waive the restriction against building in a public park with specific reference to the Children’s Museum and Treaty Oak Park.
Mayor Lou Ritter said he hoped the groups could reach accord without the commission getting involved.
Carrison also weighed in with his hopes for a resolution.
“We’re hoping peace will reign supreme,” he said.
• Duval County Courthouse employees and visitors learned they wouldn’t have to swelter without air conditioning for two weeks, as was feared.
An engineer’s report said maintenance work on the cooling tower on top of the building could be done in stages, eliminating the need to disconnect the system.
The Board of County Commissioners learned the good news from Ivan Smith of Reynolds, Smith & Hills, the consulting engineers.
County Building Superintended Edward Acosta had advised the board March 13 it appeared that extensive work on the tower would mean shutting it down for about 15 days.
Smith said lack of proper scheduled maintenance on the 10-year-old tower had caused corrosion, but its structural integrity was not compromised.
He cautioned, however, that if the machinery continued to be ignored, it was merely a question of time before that would change.
• City Council and the City Commission were considering changing an employee benefit.
The council Laws & Rules Committee had held hearings on an employee union proposal for expanding the vacation plan.
The workers received two weeks of vacation annually after one year of service and three weeks after 10 years.
The union wanted two weeks of vacation after one year, three weeks after five years, four weeks after the 10th year and five weeks after the 15th year.
• A weeklong show by members of the Village Art Group to benefit the 1967 Cancer Crusade was on display in the lobby of the Atlantic Coast Line Building Downtown.
Fifty percent of proceeds from sales of the art would go to the fundraising drive.
The group was an association of 50 local artists, representing all aspects of art from traditional to modern.
At the first show for the cancer campaign in 1966, the artists sold $1,025 worth of paintings and made $600 in personal donations.
• The treasurer of the Local Government Study Commission of Duval County was accused of conflict of interest and violation of a professional code of ethics because an accounting firm of which he was a member audited the commission’s books.
At a City Council meeting, the charge was leveled against Aaron Davis by George Dandelake, the council’s financial adviser.
Davis, a certified public accountant, was a member of the Davis, Presser & LaFaye accounting firm.
Dandelake said the firm auditing an organization of which Davis was an officer constituted a conflict of interest and was against the code of ethics adopted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The matter came up during an appearance before council by Walter Smith, chairman of Better Government for Duval County Inc., an organization working against the commission’s recommendation that city and county governments should be consolidated.
Smith, who asked the council for the audit, said the report by the firm did not satisfy him, because it did not account for money spent since January. Council agreed to request an additional audit.
That was when Dandelake made his allegations.
He said he had no argument with the substance or accuracy of the audit, but only the firm conducting it.
• “Gator Bowl 1966,” a 28-minute color film that had just returned from Vietnam where it was shown to troops, was screened for directors of the Gator Bowl Association at their meeting at the Robert Meyer Hotel.
“The boys in Vietnam report they enjoyed the film greatly and almost wore it out, showing it over and over for two weeks,” said Nelson Harris, association president.
• In New Orleans, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that six Southern states had to integrate their public schools at the start of the fall term.
The opinion by the 12 members of the court endorsed the decision made three months earlier by a three-judge panel of the court that the integration order applied to students, teachers, school transportation and school-related activities.
Duval County school officials were confused about what to do – if anything – about the ruling and disclaimed any immediate effect.
They noted the New Orleans court reaffirmed a decision directly involving schools in Louisiana and Alabama.
Further, Duval County schools already had taken affirmative action as required by the federal court decision to integrate public schools, said Elliot Adams, attorney for the school board.
• Duval County’s public school system, with 118,573 students, was the 17th largest system in the U.S., according to a report from the National Education Association research division.
The rank was two places below the 1966 survey.
The No. 1 spot was held by New York City, with 1,094,827 students.
Among Florida systems, Dade County was No. 7, with 208,710 students.
Duval County ranked ahead of St. Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.
• Surfers using the ocean off Atlantic Beach were reprieved when the Atlantic Beach City Commission tabled an ordinance that would have restricted surfing to specific hours and limited locations in the interest of safety.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit surfing from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. May 1-Sept. 30 except in designated zones between Seventh Street and the Atlantic Beach Pier.
Among those attending the meeting in support of unlimited surfing was George Bull of 1238 Beach Ave. in Atlantic Beach.
He said there was no record of serious injuries involving surfers and argued the law was harsh because only a few thought the sport was dangerous.
Bull emphasized that surfers helped people in trouble due to their fast travel in the water and Commissioner J.W. Weldon said surfers often reached swimmers before the lifeguards did.
Mayor William Howell said he didn’t think there was any big problem involving surfers that needed legislation.
• A pet monkey was safely returned to its home this week in 1967 after a week at large that upset two communities 20 miles apart.
How Tiko, a small squirrel monkey, crossed the St. Johns River was a mystery.
He escaped from Arlingwood Hills, east of the river, and was found in a tree in Wesconnett, west of the river, by 9-year-old Joe Higginbotham, who lived at 5078 Eulace Road.
The boy held out a grapefruit for Tiko and the monkey climbed down from his perch and into Higginbotham’s arms.
When the monkey was apprehended, an onlooker remembered seeing a classified ad about a missing monkey and Tiko soon was reunited with his owner, 3-year-old Wanda Smith, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Herbert Smith of 5949 Caribbean Drive.
It was a sweet homecoming.
The fugitive snatched a Popsicle from the girl’s hand and “we gave him ice cream, too,” said Mrs. Smith.