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North Pinellas History | A look back

May 22, 1931: Mother becomes hysterical as verdict read

Shrieks went up in the air in the circuit courtroom at 6 o'clock yesterday afternoon when a jury came in with a verdict of guilty in the case of Charlie Rawls, charged with breaking and entering and stealing sugar from the warehouse of the West Coast Fruit Co.'s canning plant.

The mother of another boy jointly indicted for the theft who pleaded guilty when arraigned became hysterical when the verdict against her son was returned. She threw herself across the seats, shrieking that she was going to die, and fighting those who came to her aid.

"The only thing I have to live for is being taken away from me," she screamed. "I'm going to die!"

The court attendants ran for water and others attempted to remove the mother from the room. She was finally taken from the courthouse, gnashing her teeth and hysterically beside herself.

Judge Bird was visibly disturbed by the incident, which is not a rare occurrence in the courtroom. However, he never seems to become accustomed to such outbursts, though he was compelled to issue warnings against demonstrations during court yesterday.

Roy Keen, who acknowledged that he was a sugar thief, testified that he and Rawls loaded six 100-pound sacks of sugar into a car through a window of the West Coast plant on a rainy Saturday night. They transported the loot to a certain establishment in a swamp near Tampa Shores, and received $18 for the stolen material.

May 21, 1931

Judge admonishes jury slackers

CLEARWATER — Circuit Judge John U. Bird told the members of the Clearwater Rotary Club at their noon lunch meeting yesterday that not a single one of the jury panel for the present term asked to be excused. He said he thought that marked an epoch in court history.

Judge Bird declared that jury duty is a sacred duty of citizenship, which no man should shirk.

"In the war, we called persons who sidestepped their obligations slackers," said the judge. "In time of peace, those who seek to shirk their responsibilities are no less slackers in their citizenship."

May 31, 1929

Fly infestation rumors are false

CLEARWATER — Although some alarming rumors have been in circulation and misleading stories have been printed in one or two newspapers, it is stated at the county seat that the nearest infestation of the Mediterranean fly was in a guava grove at Lakeland.

William Gomme, inspector for the state plant board, was quite upset by a report published several days ago that the fruit fly had been found within 30 miles of Clearwater, when the infestation reported at that time was at Weirsdale, well over 100 miles from the Pinellas County line.

Gomme spends much of his time peering through a large microscope at specimens of flies and larvae brought in by his men who are circulating about the county.

He says it is very easy to identify the larvae of a Med fly, as they have a peculiar habit of doubling themselves up and jumping for several inches when held by the hand.

Besides that, they have small horns, intensely black in color. But it is necessary to have a microscope to discern them.

May 30, 1929

Man charged with deserting family

CLEARWATER — After his arrest in St. Petersburg by county officers, John Richard McFee of Salisbury, N.C., is confined to the county jail on a charge of having deserted his wife and two children in North Carolina.

Officials of Rowan County, N.C., were notified by Sheriff Beattie that McFee had been arrested, and they telegraphed that an officer would be sent here to take the man back to his old home to answer the charges against him.

Headlines through the years

A look back at the events, people and places that made North Pinellas the unique place that it is. The information is compiled from past editions of the St. Petersburg Times.

May 22, 1931: Mother becomes hysterical as verdict read 05/26/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:55pm]

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