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 1962. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• H. George Carrison, investment banker and chairman of a 60-member citizens advisory committee, said he spoke for the group when he declared that development of a new port facility in Jacksonville would bring millions of dollars in additional payrolls to the community.
The committee represented a cross-section of the city’s leadership in such widely diversified areas as business, finance, industry and labor.
The committee unanimously adopted a resolution confirming their support of a proposed port expansion program. The action was immediately approved by the existing port authority, composed of the county commissioners.
Carrison said he and his colleagues felt Jacksonville had many advantages that other successful ports did not have including location and land for industrial development.
“I can see an industrial complex down at Blount Island, with its deep water and proximity to the ocean, that will make Jacksonville one of the finest ports available and you can’t find anything comparable to Commodore’s Point,” he said.
Exact figures concerning the impact of an expanded port operation were not available, but Carrison referred to the results of a report prepared for the authority by the engineering firm of Reynolds, Smith and Hills.
“Industrial production and port services are activities which bring income into a community from outside and contribute cash flow to storekeepers, service station operators, motor bus drivers, construction workers, plumbers and television repair men,” the report said.
A bill before the 1963 Legislature would set up a new port authority composed of a county commissioner, the City utilities commissioner, a County budget commissioner, a City Council member and a member to be elected by the voters at large who would serve as chairman.
The committee recommended that the new authority, if approved, be empowered to raise money by issuing either revenue certificates or ad valorem tax bonds on a favorable vote by the county’s freeholders.
• Members of the World Trade Committee of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce were told a plan to bring more luxury cruise business to Jacksonville would represent a substantial new source of revenue.
John E. Smith Jr., president of Caribbean Cruise Lines, outlined to the committee his firm’s expansion plans.
Speaking at a meeting at the Robert Meyer Hotel, Smith said his company planned five spring cruises out of Jacksonville in 1962 and that the cruises would attract 4,000 visitors through the port.
“The bringing of the luxury liner M.S. Victoria here means that the finest such facilities available in New York or any other major port will be available here, and everybody will get into the act,” Smith said.
“It means that for every voyage, some 450 persons will move through Jacksonville twice to board the ship and leave it. They will do business with your hotels, your shops, your taxicabs and your florists,” he said.
Smith said the cruise line would purchase more than $6,000 in food for guests and crew for each day of each cruise and the vessel would require 45 tons of diesel fuel for each day at sea.
He said surveys indicated that each passenger arriving from out of town to board the ship would spend an average of $50 per day for hotel accommodations, meals and last-minute purchases. Local residents, “particularly the wives,” Smith said, would spend upward of $150 each for clothing, accessories, luggage and going away parties before departing.
The cruises were designed primarily to attract seagoing conventions and business meetings, Smith said, and the length of each cruise would coincide with the time usually devoted to a convention in a hotel.
“I have been assured by the Internal Revenue Service that there will be no question raised as to the deductibility of convention costs as legitimate business expenses simply because the meeting is held aboard ship,” he said.
• Nathan Mallison, vice president of the Ribault Corp., announced that Hemming Park Downtown would be transformed into the likeness of Le Grand Carre de Dieppe – the big square of Dieppe – April 28 as a prelude to the Ribault Quadricentennial celebration.
Mallison said Dieppe, the scene of a major commando raid in World War II, was the birthplace of Ribault.
The main theme of the all-day carnival in the square would be a sidewalk art show featuring paintings associated with the Ribault celebration. A second group of paintings would be of any subject in any style, said Malison.
Rosa Harlan, queen of Jacksonville’s “50 years of Progress Pageant,” would arrange a fashion show of the latest French clothes.
French poodles would be seen strolling with their owners during the day and “a select few” would stage a drill under the direction of the K-9 Obedience Corps.
Mallison said French would be spoken during the carnival to provide the proper language atmosphere. Anyone who could speak French was invited to participate in the event.
Mallison said the carnival would begin at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. with “something different happening every 15 minutes.”
• Attorney Walter Arnold unleashed a barrage of criticism at the media and the Jax Police Credit Union in pleading for probation for his client, Elizabeth Sams, in Circuit Court in Green Cove Springs.
Arnold described the coverage of the case over the previous three years as “a sorry history and chapter in journalism in Duval County.” He said Sams was subjected every morning to “glaring headlines and editorials” that condemned her.
Arnold said coverage of the case was “the most dastardly” he had ever heard of and was far worse punishment than that which the courts could invoke. He said anyone who dealt with the case was biased to a certain extent because of the coverage in the news media.
At one point during the tirade, Circuit Judge Charles Scott interrupted Arnold to state that the case would be judged on the evidence.
Arnold protested that a “horde of photographers” was present to snap Sams’ picture as she entered the courtroom. There were two photographers present.
Scott told Arnold he had no control over the photographers as long as no pictures were made inside the courthouse.
Arnold said his client was only following orders when she forged checks at the request of the credit union’s treasurer and manager, who committed suicide the day after more than $180,000 in shortages were discovered in July, 1959.
• Touches of Scotland and the U.S. Navy were the highlights of the 16th Annual Welcome Day festivities at Jacksonville Beach.
A parade marking the beginning of the 1962 “swimming season” featured a bagpipe and drum corps and a float made to look like a miniature aircraft carrier. The kilt-clad Scotsmen were entered by the Morocco Temple of the Shrine and the float was promoting the scheduled May 6 performance in Jacksonville Beach by the Blue Angels.
Martin G. Williams Sr., a founder of the Jacksonville Beach Chamber of Commerce, the parade’s sponsor, was the grand marshal.
The procession honored Williams as an originator of the annual observance in 1946 and for having served as chairman of the arrangements committee each year.
• Attorney Mark Hulsey Jr. was elected president of the Children’s Home Society of Florida at the organization’s 60th anniversary meeting at the Mayflower Hotel.
Hulsey, who previously served as legal counsel for the society, succeeded William H. Jeter.
Recognition of the society’s 60 years of service to the state came in the form of a proclamation from Gov. Farris Bryant declaring April 12 “Children’s Home Society of Florida Day.” Bryant urged all citizens to pay tribute to the organization’s foster care work and leadership in child welfare legislation.
Keynote speaker at the meeting was Prime F. Osborn III, a director of the society and vice president and general counsel of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.