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.
• The long-awaited legislation calling for a special election on a comprehensive expansion of Jacksonville’s city limits was due to be filed in Tallahassee.
Duval County’s three House members were supporting the bill and would send it over to the Senate for concurrence by Sen. Wayne Ripley.
Ripley was against the proposal but had agreed to pass the bill with a clause ensuring that any annexation would become effective only a few months before the City election in 1963. That would mean new citizens wouldn’t have to live long under a City administration without the chance to name the officials who would govern them.
Ripley predicted the voters would reject annexation by a large margin, leaving the city limits where they were.
A consistent critic of the City’s government officials, Ripley held that suburbanites had little to gain by coming inside the city limits because Jacksonville residents already were doing without some municipal services.
Voters inside the city limits would have a single choice, whether to admit all four proposed annexation zones. Voters in each zone would vote on whether they wanted their zone to be annexed. A majority vote against the proposal in any zone would keep it outside the city limits.
Zone 1, on the west and southwest, extended from the Ortega River and Cedar Creek to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad west of New Kings Road and was bounded on the west by Lane Avenue.
Zone 2, on the northwest, extended from the city limits on the south to the Trout River on the north and from the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Old Kings Road to the Trout River on the east.
Zone 3, Arlington, extended north from the Expressway on the south to the St. Johns River on the north and from Mill Creek Road on the east to the St. Johns River on the west.
Zone 4, a Southside area, included Clifton, Glynlea, San Souci Manor, Englewood, South Pines, Granada, Lakewood and San Jose.
An additional ward and an additional City Council seat would be created for each zone becoming part of the city.
• A bill designed to give the Deerwood Golf Club a liquor license cleared the Legislature with amendments suggested by the governor’s office.
Senate Secretary Bob Davis said the bill would go immediately to Gov. Farris Bryant for his signature.
Passage of the bill was rushed through the Senate and House by the Duval Delegation. Operators of the club were in a hurry to secure the license because they were planning a large-scale party for golfers who had just competed in the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.
The bill, as originally drafted, said Deerwood was eligible for the one special quota club license available in Duval County except that the club had not been operating for two years. The original measure required the state beverage director to consider Deerwood’s application without regard to the two-year requirement.
The bill was amended at the last minute by state Sen. John Mathews, who explained the governor’s office thought the original version “might possibly be unconstitutional,” since it instructed the beverage director to ignore provisions of the existing law.
Mathews’ amendment excluded the club from the two-year provision without giving orders to the beverage director.
The bill passed in the House on a 77-3 vote. One of the dissenting votes was cast by Rep. Robert Mann from Hillsborough.
“I don’t think the Legislature has any business granting liquor licenses any more than it does granting divorces,” he said.
• The Senate voted to increase the Jacksonville tax assessor’s annual salary from $8,800 to $10,000.
The action favoring Assessor W.F. Wilson was headed for the House where it was expected to be approved.
The Senate also passed a bill granting a $525.24 annual pay increase to Vivian Norman, stenographer for State Attorney William Hallowes. It would give her $5,000 annually.
The bill directed that in addition to the $3,000 Norman received from the state treasurer, she would get an annual salary of $2,000 from Duval County’s general revenue fund, up from $1,474.76 in County funds.
A spokesman for the state attorney’s office said Norman had not received a raise in years and did not receive pay increases when County employees did.
• Members of the Class of 1916 at Duval County High School met for their 45th anniversary reunion at the George Washington Hotel, joined by their former Latin teacher, Miss May Franklin.
“But I’m not planning to test their memories on Latin verbs,” she said.
Franklin, who lived in an apartment at 2159 Riverside Ave., said she felt especially close to the class members because they entered Duval High School in 1912, the year she started teaching there. At the time, the school was the only high school in the county and she was the only Latin teacher.
It was noted that times had changed since the days of Duval High School, when students who lived on the Southside had to take a ferryboat across the St. Johns River to reach school.
Franklin said how they got to class wasn’t the only change she had observed in public education.
“The most fundamental change in the school system is the lack of discipline today. When progressive education came into the school system, discipline went out. And I think perhaps parents were wiser then, too, because they didn’t complain when children were disciplined,” she said.
Duval High School was closed in 1927, when Franklin went to Landon High School where she taught Latin until her retirement in 1950.
• County Solicitor Edward M. Booth said he supported a proposal to consolidate his office and the state attorney’s office because he did not see the need for two prosecutors in Duval County or in any other county.
Booth also reaffirmed his opposition to a proposed Senate bill to give misdemeanor trial jurisdiction to Duval County’s nine justices of the peace.
Speaking to members of the city, county and state affairs committee of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce at the Roosevelt Hotel, Booth said “in the interests of law enforcement and the taxpayers,” changes should be made in the prosecuting and JP systems.
Concerning abolishing the solicitor’s office and placing its jurisdiction with the state attorney’s office, Booth said it was “illogical for two prosecutors to work on the same cases because of the expense and the loss of time.”
He said instead of enacting the proposed JP bill, he would support consolidating the court system rather than creating nine additional trial courts by giving the JPs jurisdiction in a limited number of misdemeanor cases.
Booth also commented on criticism from state Rep. Wayne Ripley concerning Booth’s opposition to the JP bill.
“I have in good faith opposed the JP trial jurisdiction bill since it was conceived just as I opposed Ripley’s unsuccessful attempt in 1959 to pass legislation to prohibit Judge Marion W. Gooding from issuing search warrants and I will continue to do so because I recognize all these for what they are, that is, an attempt by Sen. Ripley to change the rules of court procedure where they primarily concern moonshiners, bootleggers and gamblers that he represents, which is his privilege, but as state senator, I wonder,” said Booth.
• The Jacksonville Opera and Choral Society’s production of “Fanny” opened a three-performance run at the Florida Theatre.
The cast featured Jean Nice and Edward Doe in lead roles and a large company of professionals and amateurs under the direction of C. Carter Nice Jr. and George Ballis.
Nice directed the Starlight Symphonette and a 39-member chorus while Ballis, director of the Jacksonville University Players, supervised the dramatic performances of the 70 actors.
• The new Murray Hill Branch Post Office opened for business at 435 Cassat Ave.
James E. Workman Jr., acting postmaster, said the new structure was necessitated by crowded conditions at the old facility at 1008 Edgewood Ave.
The former station was opened Nov. 20, 1944, to relieve congestion at the West Bay Annex, which then served Murray Hill and adjacent areas.
It was a product of the World War II population growth sparked by Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Cecil Field Naval Air Station, which brought thousands of civilian and military personnel to the area.