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 1966. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
The vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral approved plans for a $2.6 million Episcopal high school, designed for 1,000 college preparatory students, to be built along the St. Johns River south of Downtown.
The school would be established on 36 acres bounded on the north by the river and on the west by Highland Avenue, the southern terminus of the Commodores Point Bridge, which was under construction by the Jacksonville Expressway Authority.
The site, known as Keystone Bluff, formerly was used as a day camp for the cathedral.
The purpose of the school would be to produce Christian leaders and at least half of the students would not be Episcopalians, said the Very Rev. Robert Parks, dean of the cathedral.
“The goal will not be to develop the do-gooder,” he said. “But rather to develop doers of good and leaders of men in this challenging age.”
He described the ideal student as a young man or woman who was “intellectually superior, physically competent, spiritually oriented and morally secure.”
Parks said at least 12 buildings, to be connected, would be constructed on the campus, including an administration center, a general education building and others for arts, science, language, literature and physical education.
Also included in the plan were residences for the headmaster and the chaplain.
Although the architect had not been selected, Parks said the planning committee suggested the design “be in harmony with the climate and culture of Florida” and express the “historic faith of the Episcopal church.”
The school would open with a headmaster, who would serve as chief administrative officer, five department heads, 10 senior teachers, 25 teachers and 18 junior teachers.
Also on the faculty would be two teachers from foreign countries who would teach for one academic year, Parks said.
The tuition and fees were estimated at $700 per academic year, including registration, tuition, athletic fees, books and supplies.
It was estimated the operating budget for the school would be about $724,000 per year.
Money would be raised locally by Episcopal High School of Jacksonville Inc., said Parks.
• A man was shot three times by a Jacksonville police officer attempting to make an arrest for transporting moonshine.
Johnny Turpin, 43, was shot in the left forearm and in each buttock. Two of the shots exited his abdomen.
Vice Squad agents and members of the state Beverage Department received a tip that illegal whiskey was to be moved across the Mathews Bridge.
A car thought to be the one carrying the moonshine was spotted near the Arlington Expressway by Sgt. M.P. Richardson.
He and his partner kept the car under surveillance as it was driven through the bridge toll gate.
Richardson radioed ahead and requested a squad car try to intercept the vehicle after it crossed the bridge.
Patrolman R.J. Hall, alone in his car, followed the vehicle as it turned off the bridge onto an access ramp to the Haines Street expressway link.
As the car was driven onto Haines Street, Hall turned on his red light and the suspect pulled to the side of the road.
The officer pulled in behind the vehicle and turned on his bright lights. Hall said Turpin stepped out of the car at the same time he did.
Turpin took several steps toward Hall, who still was alone, and was ordered to halt, according to investigators.
When he did not stop, Hall opened fire. The first shot struck Turpin in the arm.
He turned and fled with Hall chasing him. Turpin was again told to stop several times before Hall fired two more shots.
Turpin was taken to Duval Medical Center and was charged with possession of non-tax paid whiskey, transporting moonshine and resisting arrest.
Officers found in the car 47 5-gallon cans filled with moonshine.
It was noted that in his six years as a police officer, Hall had shot several people in the line of duty.
• Doug Sanders withstood late charges by Tommy Bolt and Gay Brewer Jr. and sank a 14-foot putt on the final hole to win by one stroke the $82,000 second annual Greater Jacksonville Open at Selva Marina Country Club in Atlantic Beach.
Sanders carded a 71 in the final round and a 15-under-par 273 for the tournament.
The victory was worth $13,500 and was Sanders’ second of the year. He also won the Bob Hope Desert Classic in early February, defeating Arnold Palmer in a sudden-death playoff.
• A trash fire that got out of control ended in a forest fire that consumed more than 100 acres of timberland and threatened several homes in the Isle of Palms subdivision.
According to Capt. Lamar Wilson of the Southside Estates Volunteer Fire Department, the blaze began when a resident of Beach Haven lost control of a trash fire near his home.
The call was answered by the Southside Estates unit, which soon was joined by a tractor from the Southside Forest Ranger Station.
The initial attempt to stop the fire, which was driven by wind and moving east and southeast, was to lay four fire lines with the tractor, driven by Forest Ranger Ray Dickson.
After the fire appeared to be contained within the perimeter of the lines, it began throwing sparks ahead of it, starting another blaze in dry brush.
“It looked almost like the forest was soaked in gasoline,” Dickson said.
Firefighters then withdrew and set a backfire near San Pablo Road, which ended the advance of the main fire and saved the threatened homes, he said.
• Residents of Grove Park, who were complaining about vehicles speeding in the neighborhood along Grove Park Boulevard, were assured stop signs would be installed if other measures to slow down traffic weren’t effective.
The promise came from County Commissioner Bob Harris, who said he already had asked the County Patrol to crack down on speeders.
The highway department would paint a double yellow line down the road, he added.
County Patrol Chief W.F. Johnston said his officers recently issued quite a few citations for excessive speed on the road, mostly to Grove Park residents.
He said stop signs on the road would impede traffic and he would recommend them only as a last resort.
“There are many such areas as Grove Park, which have a basic main road leading in and out of the area, and requests for stop signs have been denied due to the nature of the roads,” Johnston said.
He added stop signs would bottleneck traffic rather than control it and installation of the signs would establish a precedent the department felt was not necessary for the existing conditions.