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 1961. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• Kathleen Hartley and Woodrow “Woody” Richardson each pleaded not guilty to charges they embezzled nearly $36,000 in funds from the Clerk of the Civil and Criminal Courts of Record over a two-year period.
Hartley was suspended from the post of Clerk in October by Gov. Farris Bryant when the embezzlement charge was filed by County Solicitor Edward M. Booth. Bryant appointed former U.S. Rep. Emory Price to replace Hartley. Richardson, who was chief deputy clerk, had earlier been suspended by Hartley.
The pleas were entered after Criminal Court Judge A. Lloyd Layton denied a motion by Hartley’s attorney, Walter Arnold, to dismiss the charges against her.
Arnold argued that the charge was improperly drawn up because it named two defendants jointly even though they held separate official positions. He also said the charge failed to state which defendant received what money over the two-year period.
“Is she charged with receiving $36,000 in her capacity as clerk or with $10,000 in her capacity as clerk? That’s where the fallacy of this thing is,” Arnold said.
The statute under which the two were charged provided in case of conviction for maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a mandatory fine equaling the amount of the embezzlement. Arnold raised the question of who would pay what fine in case of a conviction, since both defendants were charged with embezzling $36,000.
Arnold argued also that alleged misappropriations on various occasions could not be prosecuted as one crime but were distinct and separate offenses.
In his counter argument, Booth’s contention was that the wording of the charge adequately informed the defendants of the accusations and Layton agreed.
“I know of no law in this state that prevents you from charging a continuous type of offense over a period of time, as we have done here,” said Booth.
When the charge was filed, Booth said investigation showed $14,000 of the total was embezzled through a scheme using payments to a nonexistent printing company for supplies that the clerk’s office never received. The remainder, he said, covered funds of the clerk’s office that should have been, but were not, in bank accounts.
No trial date was set pending disposition of Arnold’s motion for a bill of particulars that would list specific dates of the alleged thefts and which defendant benefited from any particular misappropriation of funds.
Richardson was represented by attorney Lacy Mahon Jr.
• A campaign was launched to identify 500 local businesses that would help fund an observance of the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first French colonists at the mouth of the St. Johns River.
Fred H. Kent, attorney and president of the Ribault Quadricentennial Celebration Association Inc., a nonprofit group, said the campaign would be led by businessman John W. Simmons.
The celebration was set for May 1962 in commemoration of the arrival of French Huguenot Capt. Jean Ribault on May 1, 1562. The main event was to be the presentation at the Municipal Coliseum of a symphonic drama written by Kermit Hunter of Hollins College, Va., and entitled, “Next Day, in the Morning.”
The title of the play was taken from Ribault’s ship log and was the beginning of the description he wrote in sighting the majestic river.
The underwriting campaign would be to raise $50,000 to pay for the production, which would run for two weeks in conjunction with other activities marking the anniversary.
The underwriting agreement stipulated a cash payment of $500 with a pledge for an additional $500 if the corporation’s directors deemed the additional money was needed.
Members or representatives of the contributing firms would be invited to be directors of the corporation to participate in decisions of the group.
The announcement of the effort was made in The Jean Ribault Room, a restaurant in the Sears, Roebuck department store.
A day later, the first check, covering a $1,000 investment in the corporation, was made on behalf of the Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co. by Jacob F. Bryan III, its president.
• The Duval County Commission responded to the grand jury’s call for more counseling positions within the Juvenile Court.
At the request of Juvenile Court Judge Lamar Winegeart, the commission approved an appropriation of $16,870 to cover the salaries of four additional assistant counselors, for a total of 12, beginning Jan. 1 for the remainder of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
The grand jury had recommended additional counselors to work with troubled children under the court’s jurisdiction, as well as expanded facilities for the court and for housing children in custody.
Winegeart said he was “delighted with the action” but said even though the additional positions would bring to 12 the number of counselors, it still was not enough.
He said the caseload in 1960 was 6,000, which meant that even with a dozen counselors, each would be handling 500 cases annually.
Winegeart said that was double the number of cases per counselor recommended by recognized standards.
He said he would accordingly ask for more counselors in the 1962-63 budget.