This week in history
From the pages of the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent.
100 years ago - 1909
May 4: The Independent encouraged readers to view a tree in bloom at the home of Dr. Jno. D. Peabody on Third Street N. It was "a mass of long clusters of beautiful purple flowers" that reached to the second story. The South American native was "a species of acacia, the botanical name being jacaranda mimosa foliata, and it is the only one of the kind in the city."
May 6: Yearend school exercises were held at the Fair Auditorium. Earlier, Dr. Edward Conradi, head of St. Petersburg Normal, Industrial and High School, was presented a commemorative silver spoon. Conradi was leaving to become president of Florida State College for Women, a position he held until 1941. (Originally co-ed, the college became a women's school in 1905. In 1947, it returned to co-ed status and was renamed Florida State University.)
May 8: Mr. G. Harod was appointed chief of police. Harod managed the Fountain of Youth boat dock and bathhouse but felt his new duties would not permit him to continue there. Chief Sims was fired for insubordination by Mayor Murphy after he refused to release a prisoner who could not pay the $25 bail demanded by the arresting officer.
75 years ago - 1934
May 5: Sixty-five contestants entered to win trips to Europe or the Chicago World's Fair in a contest sponsored by the Times and local merchants. They were competing to get the most votes from friends, merchants (who distributed votes for each 20-cent purchase), schools, clubs or anyone won over by the contestant's campaigns and vote-getting activities, such as talent shows or "stunt nights."
May 7: The City Council ordered foreclosure proceedings to enforce collection of delinquent taxes. Costs for the next five months were expected to be $375,000. Revenues other than property taxes would be about $110,000. Of the $700,000 in property taxes allotted for the operating budget, less than $300,000 had been collected.
50 years ago - 1959
May 3: City officials were taking a "wait-and-see" approach toward segregated Spa Beach. Black residents had used the beach twice the previous week, but police reported no incidents. Spa Beach and the indoor pool had reopened Jan. 9 after being closed since September. It was closed in June when blacks used the facility. It reopened in September but was again shut when blacks reappeared. A federal court ruled in 1956 that blacks should have equal use of the city-owned facility. (The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeal by the city in 1957.)
May 9: With no rain having fallen since April 22, the city's water superintendent again requested residents limit lawn sprinkling. He suggested residents north of Central Avenue water on odd number days and those south on even number dates.
25 years ago - 1984
May 3: The city proposed to ban the sale and planting of three "garbage trees" encroaching on native habitats: Australian pine, Brazilian pepper and the paperbark punk, or melaluca. In addition, property owners in 1,500 acres of preserved lands would be asked to remove the trees.
May 6: The Gulfport City Council wanted some respect. Despite hosting the Little League Southeastern tournament and S&H Golf Classic, no one ever mentioned Gulfport. Even Stetson College of Law advertised it was in St. Petersburg.
May 9: A bomb threat closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, four years to the day after the southbound span was toppled by a freighter, killing 35 people. Traffic was diverted between 7:10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. after a call to the north tollbooth saying a bomb would go off before noon. All boat and ship traffic was kept a half mile away.