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Call Box: From colored construction flags to a famous early restaurant – Florida Times |

Call Box: From colored construction flags to a famous early restaurant – Florida Times

Dear Call Box: There was a restaurant in Jacksonville called Harry Howell’s Famous Restaurant with a cute slogan. What do you know about it?

J.M., Jacksonville

Dear J.M.: We had to go pretty far back for this one and wade through some misinformation. Contrary to some internet accounts, this Howell was not the famed major league baseball pitcher who played from 1898 to 1910. A Florida Times-Union article from 1924 said Howell was born in Asheville, N.C., in 1886 and came to Jacksonville in 1906.

Howell entered the restaurant business after meeting Thomas Jenks of Hamilton, Ontario. Jenks had read a brochure about Jacksonville and came here to escape the “rigors of Canadian winters,” according to a 1975 Times-Union article. The two men opened Howell and Jenks Restaurant on Main Street, between Forsyth and Bay streets, in 1911. At some point, they moved their restaurant one block north on the east side of Main.

When they dissolved their partnership, Howell opened his own restaurant at 228 W. Adams St. called Harry Howell’s Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. It first shows up by that name in the 1931-32 city directory. By 1945, it is no longer listed.

The only slogan we could find was on an old postcard calling it “The Home of Real Coffee.” The postcard also called it the “Sea Food Center” featuring Todd’s Old Virginia Hams. The restaurant’s logo was a marlin and palm tree, and it can be seen on vintage restaurant dinnerware sites offering such items for sale as a tumbler and a “rare” plate from the restaurant.

In Times-Union archives, we came across a 1938 photo of former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey eating breakfast with friends in what’s described as Howell’s “popular Adams Street restaurant as passers-by stare through the plate-glass window.”

The 1924 article says Howell was “always found contributing enthusiasm and his other talents to any movement that has as its end the advancement of Jacksonville or Florida.”

Among the organizations he was involved in were the Morocco Temple Band, the Knights of Pythias, the Jacksonville Hotel and Restaurant Men’s Association, the Kiwanis Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Believers in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Motor Club and the First Presbyterian Church.

If anyone has other information on the restaurant, we would be glad to do an update.

Dear Call Box: During construction projects, you see these small colored flags along the side of the road. What do the colors mean?

S.T., Jacksonville

Dear S.T.: Utility color codes are used for identifying underground utilities in construction areas to protect them from damage during excavation.

The American Public Works Association Uniform Color Codes for temporary marking of underground utilities are:

Red: electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables

Orange: telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit

Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or other gaseous or flammable material

Green: sewers and drain lines

Blue: drinking water

Purple: reclaimed water, irrigation and slurry lines

Pink: temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities

White: proposed excavation limits or route

Gerri Boyce, JEA spokeswoman, confirmed that the color codes as listed are correct.

Update: In a recent Call Box column, we wrote about the Floridan Hotel. Barbara Sealey-Coll recalled that her mother used to go to the Floridan Beauty Shop on the side of the hotel site. She recalled that it was a very busy place that always had lots of customers. The woman who did her mother’s hair became a longtime friend, she said. There also was a barbership on the property.

Submit questions by calling (904) 359-4622 or mailing to Call Box, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL 32231. Please include contact information. If you have a picture to offer with your question, feel free to send it.

Sandy Strickland: (904) 359-4128

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