HOPPING A TIME MACHINE
WITH CHUCK HANKINSON
(Source of image: Florida State Archives)
It seemed like an overcast day in September 1970 when this photo was snapped. These kids, now middle-age, were meeting the critters at the Jacksonville Zoo. Local native Chuck Hankinson, a former navy man, fondly recalls his own zoo visits. In fact, he has kindly emailed some of his babyboomer memories to JacksonvilleStory.com. See below for his First Coast flashbacks, which may prove similar to your own!
Are you wondering about the wild-looking Art Deco building on the picture's left? Erected in 1935, it originally housed a popular pachyderm named Miss Chic, who had lived at the zoo since 1926. Thanks to her, Jacksonville became one of America's first cities to boast of a municipal elephant. A jumbo-size door allowed the pachyderms to enter their mansion, while two bands of glass bricks near the tile roof shone sunlight into the interior. The structure's architect, Roy Benjamin, was a local architect best known as a designer of Southern theaters, such as the San Marco Theatre, which still stands, and the downtown Center (Arcade) Theater, which finally collapsed in 2002. The octagonal elephant house was torn down a few years ago and replaced by a more natural-looking pachyderm exhibit.
CLICK HERE for another peek into yesteryear's zoo.
CLICK HERE for more about Miss Chic from the late, great Bill Foley of the Florida Times-Union.
HEY! Would you like to contribute some of your own Jax memories? JacksonvilleStory.com would love to hear from you! Please CLIKE HERE for a questionnaire.
Q & A WITH A FIRST COAST NATIVE
QUESTIONS 1 & 2 ~ How long have you lived in Jacksonville?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I was born at the old St. Lukes Hospital in downtown Jacksonville on January 12, 1960. I lived in the Jacksonville area until I went into the Navy in May of 1980. My parents, brother, 4 of 5 sisters, and many other relatives still live in Jacksonville. I was stationed on the USS Forrestal in Mayport in 1990, and I come back from North Carolina to visit often.
3 ~ Which neighborhoods have you resided in?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I lived on the Northside in the Sherwood Forest subdivision from age 3 (when it was first being developed) until about age 14. I attended Sherwood Forest Elementary School and Highlands Junior High during those years. My family then moved to Spring Park on the Southside. I attended Landon Junior High that year. The next year we moved to Orange Park, and although my parents moved back to Southside (Windy Hill area), I stayed with friends in Orange Park and finished high school at Orange Park High. I then moved in with my parents in Windy Hill, until joining the Navy in 1980.
4 ~ OPTIONAL ~ What is your name?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Charles "Chuck" Hankinson, Jr.
5 ~ OPTIONAL ~ What is your sex & race?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Male, Caucasian
6 ~ What are your favorite memories of yesteryear’s Jacksonville?
MR. HANKINSON ~ The boardwalk at Jax Beach with the carnival rides, drive-in theatres, Christmas time shopping at Gateway Shopping Center, the fountain across from downtown, the old AM WAPE 690 (including "The Greaseman"), WJAX, the Mayport Ferry, et. al.
7 ~ How did you have fun in your neighborhood? What are your favorite recollections?
MR. HANKINSON ~ The Maypole Dance at Sherwood Forest Elementary when we selected a Robin Hood & Maid Marion; Summer School with games and activities (not the three R's); walking to the Minit Market for treats; hanging out at the Biff-Burger; Dapper Dan's Ice Cream; playing in the sand pit across from Sherwood Forest Elementary (it seemed like the Grand Canyon to us kids); playing neighborhood soccer when nobody knew what it was; watching Little League ballgames; etc.
8 ~ Where else did you enjoy yourself on the First Coast?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Gold Head State Park (every summer), Hanna Park, Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville Fair, Boardwalk (stated earlier), Suns ballgames, Little Talbot Island, Jacksonville Zoo,
9 ~ What do you recall about yesteryear’s entertainment in Jax?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I remember HATING "The Lorenzo Show" on Channel 4. For some reason, they thought that was better than "The Batman/Superman Hour" on CBS. Also, I remember WJXT showing "The Waltons" on Saturday afternoons and not on Thursday nights, when CBS aired it. Skipper Ed, Ranger Hal, George Winterling, Dick Stratton, Virginia Keys(?), Phyllis Foreacker, and I can't remember the man's name at WJKS in its infancy, Annie Tiques, Nichol's Alley, Big Daddy's, Driscoll's, Ribault Drive-In Theatre, Main Street Drive-In Theatre, Blanding Drive-In Theatre, Midway Drive-In Theatre, Fox Drive-In Theatre, Playtime Drive-In Theatre, Norwood Twin Theatre, Normandy Twin Theatre, Northside Twin Theatre, Regency before & when it was a "Twin," Orange Park Five Theatres, Village Cinema Theatres (Orange Park), St. John's before & when it was a "Twin Theatre," Neptune Theatre, Philips Mall Theatre (& other theatres I just can't recall right now); I remember some kind of Christmas carnival in the Civic Auditorium one year in the 60's; The Malabar, Jax Liquors,
10 ~ Have you met any well-known River City residents?
MR. HANKINSON ~ No.
11 ~ Which memories of local schools would you like to share?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I remember all of my teachers from Sherwood Forest Elementary. First through sixth grade, they were as follows: Mrs. Fender, Miss. Key (I remember her giving us a pool party at the end of the year at her apartment complex), Mrs. Gonzalez, Ms. Fedders, Mr. Tabb, and Ms. Griffith. (See also the answer in Question # 3.)
12 ~ What are your work-related recollections?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I worked at the Orange Park Five Theatres from opening day in the summer of 1976 ("The Omen," "Logan's Run," "Food of the Gods," and Disney's "Peter Pan" played the first week; "The Outlaw Josey Wales" opened the second week) until late 1979. I defected to the Cinemas of Orange Park (now a Toys R Us) for a few weeks in '79. I also worked at Empire Video and Finley Electronics. Also, one week at Pic N' Save, Sav A Stop, and UPS.
13 ~ Where did you go grocery shopping?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Piggly Wiggly, Food Fair, Colonial, Big Star, Pantry Pride, Winn-Dixie, Setzers, Banner, and Publix. Also, little neighborhood place downtown near where my dad worked that we just called "Grannies" (don't know if that is the correct name or not).
14 ~ Where else did you shop?
MR. HANKINSON ~ W. T. Grant, G C Murphy, Penneys, Montgomery Wards (also Jefferson Wards), Cohen's (my mother actually worked for Mr. Cohen) (May-Cohens, May Florida, Maison-Blanche), Sears downtown, Western Auto, Woolco, Woolworth's, Arlans, Atlantic Mills, Ivey's, Zayre, JM Fields, Pic N' Save, Phillips Mall, Normandy Mall, Roosevelt Mall, Regency Square, Orange Park Mall, Moon Furniture, Sherwood Shopping Center, Harbour View Plaza?, Minit Market, Jiffy, 7-11 (when it's hours were 7 to 11).
I was reading on JacksonvilleStory.com about the old downtown Sears and how some Jax residents do not realize that one was there. I remember when the Orange Park Mall opened in the mid-seventies with a brand-new Sears. Because the downtown Sears had 'paid' parking, the parking areas around the Orange Park Mall Sears had signs that read "Free Parking."
15 ~ Where did you eat out?
MR. HANKINSON ~ LUMS, Biff Burger, Krystal, Nick's Pizza, Beach Road Chicken?, Embers (revolving restaurant on top of Ivey's?), A&W, What-A-Burger, Jack in the Box, Milligan's, Dapper Dan's Ice Cream, W T Grant, G C Murphy, O'Steens, Big Top Deli, Orphan Annies/Annie Tiques, Valle's, Morrison's,
16 ~ Did you ever ride Jacksonville’s streetcars? Ferryboats? Riverboats? “Orange Blossom Special”? The expressway system when it was new? Other ways & means of transport?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Have ridden the Mayport Ferry.
17 ~ What local events do you remember?
MR. HANKINSON ~ I remember our family staying with my mom's sister's family for Hurricane Dora. I remember that I was upset that there were no kids with Skipper Ed on Popeye & Pals during this event. I remember when Jacksonville tried to get the Baltimore Colts. I remember when Jacksonville became "The Bold New City of the South." I seem to remember police cars prior to this with a green flashing light on top - Were they Duval County sheriffs?
18 ~ Which Jax things are either going or gone with the wind?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Jax Liquiors; small town southern hospitality (it's too big city now); boardwalk rides; shopping downtown; the Charles Potato Chip delivery man; downtown train station; downtown farmer's market.
19 ~ What landmarks do you remember?
MR. HANKINSON ~ Sinclair Gas Stations, the old draw bridge over to Fernandina, USS Forrestal, Philips Mall.
A SPECIAL THANKS GOES TO MR. HANKINSON
FOR TAKING US BACK IN TIME!
FOR VISITING THE JACKSONVILLE STORY
-- Suggestions? Comments? Broken links? Need research assistance?
FOR VISITING THE JACKSONVILLE STORY,
YOUR TIME MACHINE TO THE PAST