50 years ago this week

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  • | 12:00 p.m. June 18, 2012
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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.

• The appointment of Major B. Harding as a third assistant County solicitor was announced by County Solicitor Edward M. Booth.

Harding was named to the $6,600-a-year post after Harry Gaines resigned as second assistant and third assistant R. Baker King was promoted to succeed Gaines.

The day after Harding’s appointment was announced, he was sworn in before Criminal Court Judge A. Lloyd Layton. Booth and his assistants served as prosecutors before Layton and Criminal Court Judge William T. Harvey.

Harding, who was 26 years old in 1962, received his law degree at Wake Forest College in 1959 and then passed the North Carolina Bar examination.

He moved to Jacksonville the same year and was employed in the law office of Lewis & Lewis until he entered the Army in April 1960.

Harding passed The Florida Bar examination in 1960. He was discharged from the Army a week before he was appointed assistant prosecutor.

• City Commissioner Louis H. Ritter said he would make an announcement in about two months revealing whether he would be a candidate for mayor in 1963.

Ritter promised the public announcement “in the cause of harmony on the City Commission,” which was headed by Mayor-Commissioner Haydon Burns, who had previously stated he would be a candidate for re-election.

Ritter said he was urged by many people to seek the City’s chief executive post after Burns announced in 1960 that he would not run again, but would devote his time to being elected governor in 1964.

Burns later reversed his position and said being mayor of Jacksonville would aid his candidacy for governor.

Ritter explained the procedure whereby, under the provisions of the City Charter, the City Commission would appoint a replacement for Burns as mayor should Burns be re-elected and then elected governor.

“I don’t think the people of Jacksonville want an appointment to the City’s highest office,” he said.

Ritter said under the charter, the appointee had to be someone other than an incumbent City official.

• The discovery of a 3,000-year-old piece of pottery in Duval County near Atlantic Boulevard had an archaeological significance equal to the unearthing of a Grecian statue dating back to the time of Pericles, according to the curator of the Florida State Museum in Gainesville.

Ripley P. Bullen said he could not describe the find as a “breakthrough” in state archaeology, but did recognize its importance.

“If they found a statue dating back to Pericles’ time, they wouldn’t rewrite the history books, but people would ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ a lot,” he said.

Bullen said the pottery was made between 1650 B.C. and 1000 B.C. The only decorated pottery found in Florida such as the one found was made during that period, he said.

“We didn’t think much about it when my husband found the pottery,” said Mrs. Milton Tooke of 6903 Eaton Ave. “We found it about two and a half months ago. My husband was throwing marshy ground on the bank and the cup was in a shovel of mud. We thought it was about 200 years old,” she said.

The artifact was found while clearing out a portion of a canal in front of their home.

“We went to the Children’s Museum and the woman couldn’t tell us too much about it, so we took it to Fort Caroline Park. The supervisor said we should take it to Mr. Bullen,” said Tooke.

The bowl was about five inches in diameter. It was made of either Spanish moss or shredded palmetto fibers with a coating of clay.

Bullen said the bowl was made by baking the clay around a fiber mold. Indians who inhabited North Florida were originators of the pottery. Fibers were used to keep the pottery from cracking while it was being baked, he said.

The couple planned to donate the pottery to the museum in Gainesville.

“I hope they do. It would be nice to get a complete vessel. For this period, there aren’t half a dozen known complete vessels,” Bullen said.

Bullen said it was difficult to imagine what the world was like in the period the vessel was made.

“It was made long before Caesar lived in Rome –– roughly the time of the Israelites. The English people were going around carrying bows and arrows and wearing bear skins on their backs,” he said.

• The elimination of a Jacksonville landmark to make way for a new office building was announced by Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co.

J.J. Daniel, president of the real estate and mortgage firm, said a five-story building would replace the company’s existing headquarters at 100 W. Bay St.

Part of the firm’s operations would be moved into the Atlantic Coast Line Building pending completion of the new building.

Daniel said cashiers would be moved to 50 W. Bay St. the weekend of July 6 and would be ready for business July 9.

Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co. in 1962 was the third-largest mortgage company in the United States with $510 million in its portfolio.

Saxelbye & Powell, architects, would design the building. It would be erected by The Auchter Co.



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