Students arrested for defiling Jewish Center, City votes to sell Hyde Park golf course
Have you ever wondered what life was like in Jacksonville half a century ago? It may have been 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 similarities may be, so are the differences. These are some of the top stories from the week of Jan. 18-24, 1960. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• Three students were arrested at Andrew Jackson High School and charged with defiling the Jacksonville Jewish Center with swastikas.
The boys, two 15 and the other 16, admitted smearing the walls of the Jewish Center with red swastikas but said they harbored no ill feelings toward those of the Jewish faith. One of the boys told police he had several good friends at school who worshiped at the center which was located at the corner of Third and Silver streets in Springfield.
“They were doing it in Europe and we thought it would be a good idea to start it around here,” Police Department Lt. J.O. Crews quoted the youths as saying.
Juvenile Court Judge Marion W. Gooding ordered the boys held in the Duval County Jail on charges of delinquency, vandalism, vagrancy, defacing private property and trying to incite anti-Semitic feelings in the community.
“This act goes beyond boyish prankishness and I have little sympathy for the suspects,” said Gooding.
The case broke when Crews, head of the intelligence division, received information that three boys had boasted to schoolmates that they were responsible for painting swastikas on the synagogue. Crews said news stories of the defiling of synagogues in Germany, England and New York gave the juveniles the idea of doing it here.
“They said they had nothing better to do,” he reported.
The next day the boys were released to the custody of their parents after receiving a stern reprimand from the judge.
He allowed them to return to school with the warning, “If I hear one word about you bragging about this incident any place in town I am going to have you arrested, held without bond in County jail and send you straight to Marianna (the Florida Industrial School for Boys). You have brought shame to Jacksonville, to your parents and to yourselves. I have talked to your teachers and they tell me you have never been in trouble before and have good records in school but this is a blight on your character.”
Gooding also ordered that the cost of removing the vandalism be determined and that restitution would be required of the culprits.
• The Jacksonville Expressway Authority agreed to put overhead lighting on the Expressway in Arlington from University Boulevard east to Mill Creek Road if someone else would foot the bill for the operation and maintenance of the lights.
The cost to install the lights would be $72,000 and the distance involved slightly under 1.5 miles. The agreement was disclosed at a meeting of the Arlington Area Council at the Thunderbird Motel.
• At a luncheon attended by members of the Civitan Club and the Committee of 100 of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, James F . Oates Jr. of New York City and president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. shared his opinions about Jacksonville’s future.
“Jacksonville will be one of the great metropolises of the world in a generation,” he said from the podium at the Seminole Hotel. “Your prime assets of people, power and natural resources, along with transportation facilities, are providing the basis for recruiting new industries and enlarging existing enterprises.”
Oates said his company, which began doing business in Florida in the mid 1800s, had recently been investing $2 in the area for every $1 taken out.
“These figures alone are an indication of how we feel about the potential of Jacksonville and the Southeast,” he added.
• The Neptune Beach City Council agreed to allow a new post office building to be erected in a residential area on Third Street near North Street.
At a public hearing at which only one person objected, Council members decided they would approve the application if a building permit was filed. The land was owned by the City and almost directly west of the existing post office.
• The Downtown Council came out solidly in support of a later closing hour for Jacksonville bars while a committee of the Jacksonville Ministerial Alliance opposed it.
The board of directors of the Downtown Council, a group of Downtown property owners and businessmen, unanimously adopted a resolution favoring a proposed ordinance that would extend bar closing time to 2 a.m.
The four-member Civic Welfare Committee of the ministerial alliance sent a letter to City Council President Clyde C. Cannon, which was filed at the city recorder’s office, protesting the proposed curfew change.
“We feel that this will greatly increase the problem of law enforcement in juvenile delinquency and that it will encourage alcohol absenteeism in business and industry. The effect upon the morality and spirituality of the city and surrounding area can only be hurtful. We therefore strongly urge that this bill not be passed as being contrary to the public welfare,” the letter stated.
In their resolution the council directors said Jacksonville was experiencing a dramatic growth with many efforts being made to provide a well-rounded program to meet the new expansion. Yet Jacksonville, the resolution said, was the only major metropolitan area in Florida where midnight closing hours were enforced.
• A $2 million expansion program by Horne’s Enterprises that would take two years to complete was to begin immediately, said Robert I. Horne, chair of the firm’s board of directors.
Horne, which had it headquarters in Bayard, would add to its chain of 20 candy and gift stores extending from Delaware to Florida.
The company had become partly publicly owned the day before with an initial offering of 235,000 shares of common stock. Horne and his father, Alton, a Jacksonville resident who was secretary of the company, would retain 215,000 shares.
The funds raised by the sale of the stock would be used to add 20 new stores. At the time the roadside retail locations sold candy and gifts but, “With the expansion we will add a 25-seat counter grill to each of the stores,” said Horne.
He also said the new stores would be of a more “contemporary design” and would feature more use of glass.
• The Jacksonville City Commission voted to sell the Hyde Park golf course to the course professional, Fred Ghioto, on his high bid of $615,000. The action was subject to approval by the City Council.
The offer exceeded the value of $606,000 set by L. Walter Benjamin and George Fish, Realtors who were hired by the City to appraise the course.
Some confusion was caused by Ghioto’s original bid in that it erroneously called for annual payments of $30,375 including principal and 5 percent interest for 40 years. The day before the bid was accepted Ghioto told the commissioners through his attorney, Ellis Fernandez Jr., that it was a clerical error and the annual payment was in fact $34,966.90 for 40 years.
The amendment to Ghioto’s original bid was accepted over protest of William T. Stockton Jr., attorney for the Hyde Park Country Club. Stockton said the amendment, in effect, gave Ghioto an opportunity to change a bid that was not responsive to a sale offer and that the bid should be rejected. City Attorney William H. Madison ruled, however, that the commissioners had the right to accept the amendment.
Stockton also questioned Ghioto’s ability to keep up the schedule of payments to the City. He said it was safer with the country club group which would derive $60,000 annually from its membership fees.
Mayor-Commissioner Haydon Burns cast the sole dissenting vote on the sale to Ghioto. He contended the course should be sold to a non-profit organization. Burns also questioned Ghioto’s ability to keep up with the payments.
“Ownership by the Hyde Park Country Club would be next to having the course owned by the public,” said Burns.
• A proposal to double the water allowance for the minimum monthly charge and an offer to buy some waterfront land were turned down at what was described as a “lively meeting” of the Jacksonville Beach City Council. Those issues, however, weren’t the big stories that came out of the meeting.
The gathering came to its highest pitch when Council member Franklin Left and Mayor I.D. Sams, angered over being criticized in print, criticized the former city manager, Buford McRae, for allegedly operating what they said was a secret tape recorder in his office.
Left charged that McRae had a tape recorder hidden in his desk with a microphone concealed in the inkwell and that many conversations were recorded without the visitor’s knowledge.