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 1963. The items were compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library's periodical archives by Staff Writer Max Marbut.
• Following a dockworkers strike that shut down Atlantic and Gulf ports for 37 days, Jacksonville's longshoremen went back to work.
The more than 500 striking members of the International Longshoremen's Association who returned to the riverfront found 16 vessels waiting for them, including two tankers that did not require their services.
"The union couldn't supply enough men to meet our requirements," said one shipping agent.
• Roger L. Main was re-elected president of the Jacksonville Symphony Association at the organization's annual meeting in the auditorium of the Independent Life Building. Also re-elected were Hugh Abernethy, vice president; Mrs. Hugh Abernethy, president of the Women's Guild of the symphony, vice president; H.K. Smith, secretary; and Charles Hoffman Jr., treasurer.
A resolution was adopted at the meeting commending the South-Central Home Office of the Prudential Insurance Co. of America for its "deep interest in the cultural development of Jacksonville and the Florida Crown."
Charles Campbell, vice president of the South-Central office, was presented a plaque of appreciation and named to a life directorship of the symphony association.
Others named to "serve until eternity" as life directors were Mrs. Alfred I. duPont, W.W. Cummer, Carl Swisher, Giles Patterson, Hugh Dowling, S.H. Berg, Mrs. Ross Parkhill, P.N. Coleman, Mrs. Roger Waybright, Olin Watts and Herbert Panken.
Main announced that 2,620 season tickets had been sold for the symphony's 1962-63 concert series and that 3,200 season tickets should be sold for the 1963-64 season.
"I believe the people of Jacksonville have finally accepted the symphony association as an important asset to the cultural life of this area. We have a fine orchestra, an able director and a fine interpreter of great music in John Canarina and fine artistic programs to offer the public," main said.
The treasurer's report showed the association had $74,162 in total receipts as of Dec. 31, 1962, and expenses of $37,798, leaving cash balance in the bank of $36,364.
• Duval County was prepared to call for bids in March on $4.5 million in certificates of indebtedness to finance construction of a new Juvenile Court facility, plus a bulkhead and 700-car riverfront parking lot at the courthouse along East Bay Street.
County Attorney J. Henry Blount said all obstacles were removed with the expiration Jan. 8 of a 20-day period for appeals from Circuit Judge Charles Luckie's validation of the bonds.
Blount said the bonds, dated Jan. 1, 1963, would be issued in denominations either of $1,000 or $5,000 each. They would mature serially from 1964 through 1983 and would be secured by ad valorem taxes.
A group of private citizens, represented by attorney Victor Raymos, had objected to issuing the certificates. Raymos said they had dropped any thoughts of appealing Luckie's ruling.
The engineering firm of Register and Cummings had drafted plans for the riverfront project. Blount said construction could begin in April or May. George R. Register of the engineering firm said it should be completed within one year after the work began.
•A 22-year-old Jacksonville woman was chosen as Florida's princess for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival April 28 in Washington, D.C.
The winner was Beatrice Anne Moore, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Moore of 3585 Pine St., and a member of U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett's office staff.
Moore graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and attended the University of Florida, where she was a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
• Jacksonville area directors of the Florida Traffic Safety Council were working to reduce the state's traffic accident numbers.
Paul Holsten, president of H&S Trucking Co., was selected chairman of the Northeast Florida district and announced a campaign to solicit funds from local contributors.
"Traffic deaths are taking an alarming toll in Florida. The 135,000 automobile accidents last year resulted in 1,335 fatalities – or one every six-and-a-half hours," he said.
The council, composed of business and civic leaders throughout the state, was solely financed by private contributions from business and industry.
• The Jacksonville Beach Lions Club was sponsoring the Sea Scouts Ship 300, a group of young men being trained to assist residents in an emergency.
The Sea Scouts were learning to operate all types of watercraft in the Intracoastal Waterway. It was noted that their nautical experience could save many lives during an evacuation of the beaches that could easily clog highways.
The 26 Scouts had 22 adult advisers, many of whom were members of the Lions Club.
The Jacksonville Beach Lions Club was chartered April 18, 1938, and would celebrate its 25th anniversary April 22. Fred Merkel was president of the club's 30 members.
• City police reported a number of valuable antique coins were stolen from a house at 6543 Sunset Drive.
Detective Sgt. R.E. Barker said the coins, valued at $1,500, were stolen from the home of Frederick Hughes while Hughes and his wife were in Macon, Ga., attending a coin collectors meeting. Barker said they had with them a number of other valuable coins they owned.
Barker said the house was ransacked and a camera also was listed as missing.
• A fire of undetermined origin destroyed an auto parts firm along Lenox Avenue, resulting in damage estimated between $30,000 and $40,000. No one was injured in the blaze.
The fire was believed to have started in the rear of Lenox Auto Parts at 4015 Lenox Ave.
It took volunteer firefighters from Lakeshore and Marietta almost 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
M.E. Candler, owner of the business, said his loss could be as much as $40,000, including $10,000 for the single-story concrete-block building. The structure was 24 feet wide and 100 feet in length.
Chandler said the loss was only partially covered by insurance.