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.
• Ivey’s of Jacksonville, a six-story Downtown department store, opened to the public.
It was located in what was called in 1962 “Downtown Center.” The building is now the JEA building along Church Street at Laura Street.
One of the revolutionary aspects of the store’s design was a merchandise warehouse on the top floor. It was noted that there would be no need to send a truck across town for an item that was out of stock on any of the sales floors. A telephone call would have the desired item delivered to the floor “in a matter of minutes” via a conveyor belt.
Ervin Jackson Jr., executive vice president and general manager, said merchandise could reach the floors within three hours after it arrived on the sixth floor. That included time required to unpack and price the items.
“Merchants have always been several years behind the times and have only recently begun borrowing ideas from industry to streamline their operations,” he said.
The first floor displayed merchandise in departments, including men’s clothing, furnishings and perfume.
The men’s department had its own entrance so that male customers could enter and leave the store without ever entering a department that catered mainly to women.
Another revolutionary feature of the store was a “meditation room,” complete with padded pews, an open Bible and stained glass windows.
• The new Ivey’s department store and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Building were added to the route of the Downtowner, a free shuttle service sponsored by the Downtown Council of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The buses carried passengers from the riverfront municipal parking lot, now the Landing site, to Downtown’s many department stores and other retailers.
• The Jacksonville Beach City Council voted to remove Porter W. Ingram as municipal judge and appoint Raymond L. Simpson to replace him.
The Council notified Ingram July 2 of its intention to remove him from office on charges of conduct unbecoming of a municipal judge and not in the best interest of the City. Ingram did not contest the action during the appeal period.
Only Council member Justin Montgomery, Simpson’s law partner, did not participate in the voting on Ingram’s ouster or Simpson’s appointment.
Montgomery explained that the firm had not, and would not, practice in the Municipal Court as long as either he or Simpson held any official connection with the City.
Simpson had been serving as substitute judge since Ingram was relieved and would serve the remainder of Ingram’s unexpired term to end Feb. 1, 1964.
• The Duval County Zoning Board rezoned 205 acres of Meadowbrook Farms dairy land on the Southside so the property could be used for business, industrial and residential purposes.
The rezoning was part of a plan for development of the pasture land owned by the estate of Arthur Chester Skinner. The land had been zoned for agricultural purposes.
Included in the plan, explained at the meeting by Bryant Skinner, a family member, was the location of a 3,000-pupil high school on a 30-acre plot in the middle of the rezoned parcel.
Skinner said the family was offering an 80-foot-wide, 1-mile-long strip of land as right of way for a road that would connect the school with Old Kings Road, which bordered the dairy property.
Attorney John E. Santora Jr. appeared before the board and said he represented more than 300 residents of the area who opposed the rezoning. However, he said the objections had been removed by learning no industrial or business rezoning was sought for those sections of the dairy land close to homes in the $40,000-$50,000 price range.
The land affected by the board’s action was bordered, besides Old Kings Road, by Old St. Augustine Road and the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.
• City Finance Commissioner Dallas Thomas said he was “extremely impressed” with the reception that Jacksonville’s proposed $7.65 million municipal improvement bond issue was receiving in New York City financial circles.
Thomas and other City officials were in New York to visit rating bureaus and investment houses in connection with the bond issue. Bids were scheduled to be opened Aug. 15.
“I believe we will have more bidders on our bonds than we’ve ever had before for a general obligation issue,” said Thomas.
• The local 4-H Clubs inaugurated a new program for young girls, the Duval County Junior Leaders Club.
Members were required to be at least 14 years of age and to have completed at least two years of 4-H Club work. Their assignment was to host meetings for younger girls in their respective communities.
Subjects on the curriculum were cooking, homemaking, poise, personal care and “other such womanly pursuits.”
An example cited was the group led by 15-year-old Dell Hall, who was a member of the Paxon Junior High School 4-H Club.
Hall had recruited 46 girls ages 10-12 who met every other Monday afternoon at the Mary Hammond Civic Center on 12th Street. She had given demonstrations in egg cooking, instructions about social graces and dating, and advice on personal grooming and posture.
“This is more fun than anything I have ever done. It keeps me jumping trying to keep up with my own club work at the same time, but I don’t know of anything I have gotten more real pleasure from,” Hall said.