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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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