The Champion

January/February 2003 , Page 42 

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Small-town Florida 1963: Time it was and what a time it was...

By Milton Hirsch

It was August 1963, and readers of the Panama City News or the Panama City Herald could scarcely help but feel a sense of civic pride. The front pages told of a local construction boom: a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on West U.S. 98, Gainer Funeral Home’s building on North Cove Boulevard, and the Florida State Employment Office’s new quarters at Ninth and Magnolia.  

In the advertising supplements, the Cook Motor Company trumpeted the sporty new Ford Falcon for $1795. And on the sports pages, big things were foretold for the Bay High School Tornadoes and junior halfback Joe Wayne Walker. It was August 1963, and Panama City, Florida, was small-town Dixie, an unlikely epicenter for a constitutional earthquake. 

That same month, while the Tornadoes ran their two-a-day drills, Clarence Earl Gideon was tried for the second time — this time with the assistance of counsel — for the burglary of 12 bottles of Coca-Cola, 12 cans of beer, four fifths of whiskey and about $65 in change f

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