Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fifty Years Ago in West Rome (The Week of 10/22/62 to 10/28/62)

The entire world was in legitimate crisis mode this week fifty years ago as the Cuban Missile Crisis was on the front page of every paper, including the Rome News-Tribune.  Area grocery stores, including A&P, Big Apple, and Kroger, reported that customers were purchasing extra supplies of canned goods, water purification tablets, transistor radios, and batteries, while stocks in local civil defense shelters (including the one in West Rome High School’s auditorium) were being inspected to make sure they were ready in case of emergency evacuations. (And on a personal note, I can still remember the serious tone that Dad took when he discussed possible evacuation plans, and how I should go where the teachers told me to go, and how he and Mom would find me, no matter what. It was the only time I ever heard that tone in Dad's voice, and it made me very aware of just how significant all this was. Even though I was only nine years old at the time, I knew that nothing had ever made Dad talk that way before.)

West Rome took on the Cartersville Hurricanes at Barron Stadium on Friday, October 26th.  The Chief won in the final 30 seconds, posting a 34-33 victory.  Coach Kennedy was grateful for the win, but in his own outspoken way he added, “I don’t know what’s happened to our defense.” Kennedy praised Chris Warren for his passing game.

Meanwhile, the West Rome JV team beat East Rome’s JV team 14-0 on Thursday, October 25th--the eighth consecutive win for the JV team.  Steve Holland and Donnie Hill were credited with the first touchdown, while Gilbert Espy made the second TD possible with a fubmle recovery.  Coach Namon Wiseman also credited Ken Payne, Robert Graham, Malon Baxley, Ronnie Parker Parker, & Todd Zeiger for their efforts.

West Rome’s cheerleaders made the trek to McEachern High School (and this was in the pre-I75 days, when getting to Cobb County actually took a while!) for a cheerleading clinic; among the attendees were Mary Bryan, Parthenia Chastain, Donita Womack, Angela Howard, Janet Beard, Betty Lewis, Alice Evans, and Judy Wessinger.

John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature this week 50 years ago, only the sixth American to win the award, paving the way for many of us to read Travels With Charley, The Grapes of Wrath, and other Steinbeck classics during our years at West Rome High.

Romans could witness “the personal story behind the sex survey... for the controversial best-selling novel” if they bought a ticket to The Chapman Report, showing at the Desoto Theatre 50 years ago (but you had better be 16 years old or they weren't letting you in!).  The First Avenue was offering more family-friendly fare: Lad—A Dog was showing, accompanied by "The Adventures of the Road Runner: A Brand New Cartoon Featurette!"  The West Rome Drive-in offered up The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with John Wayne & James Stewart.

National City Bank was advertising a very competitive 4% interest rate on savings accounts (if only we could get that high a rate today!), with a minimum deposit of $5.00.

Don Kennedy, better known to 1962’s children as Officer Don, paid a visit to Rome on October 27th, making an appearance at Kessler’s Toy Department from 9am until 11am.  Anyone recall if he re-enacted his famous Oooey Gooey Bag bit while he was there?

Elm Street Elementary held its annual Fall Festival on Friday, October 26th, with supper served in the lunch room, followed by movies and a visit to the “country store,” along with a fortune teller, a clown, pony rides, and more. (Remember when these elementary school Fall Festivals were a big thing, and many of us insisted on dragging our parents to them?)

I must confess that I didn't even know that Rome had a Rambler dealer!...   Kirkland Motor Company on West 3rd Street was proudly promoting the Rambler American as the newest model for the fall of 1962. Meanwhile, Andrews Motor Company was advertising their full line of 1963 Plymouths that had arrived, complete with a 5 year/50,000 mile warranty.

Just in time for Christmas savings stamp redemptions, the “Bright New S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center” opened on October 25th in the Fahy Store in downtown Rome.  If your family bought groceries at Big Apple or shopped at Enloe’s Rexall Drug Store, you may remember them diligently sticking these stamps into savings booklets that they could redeem for a wide array of merchandise.

The Rome Radio Company was advertising a bit of cutting-edge entertainment technology: the “tape cartridge recorder” from RCA Victor.  Neither an 8-track or a cassette, it was much larger than either--think of it as a reel-to-reel in an oversized cartridge.  Big surprise: it didn’t catch on, so if you took advantage of the special $99 holiday 1962 sale, you got to invest in a bit of abandoned entertainment technology (you can put it next to the cassette deck, the 8-track player, the Betamax, the VHS recorder, the Laserdisc player, and all those other entertainment media that faded away over the years).

If you wanted to invest your entertainment money in something a little less cutting-edge, there was the Silvertone Stereo Console with AM-FM and record player for only $118.00 at Sears, or the 19” Silvertone TV with handy roll-about cart for $128.00. (I don't think we ever owned anything with the Silvertone brand name on it, but the ads make it clear that Silvertone was a respected name in entertainment in 1962, with multiple retailers promoting the Silvertone line.)

If your family’s budget didn’t allow for Encyclopedia Britannica, then perhaps your family took advantage of Kroger’s offer of The New Masters Encyclopedia for $3.99 for the entire eight-volume set. While they were there, they could get a 10 ounce box of Post Corn Flakes for 30 cents, 10 pounds of Domino Sugar for 89 cents, Gorton’s Frozen Fish Sticks for 59 cents a pound, or Oscar Mayer Franks  for 65 cents a pound.
Head over to Big Apple, and your family could add sliced beef liver to the menu for 19 cents a pound, with onions going for an addition 10 cents per pound (anyone else have meals of liver and onions when they were growing up?).  Those 1960s junk-food staples of Vienna Sausage and Potted Meat could be had at a price of 5/$1 and 8/$1 respectively, while chicken breasts were available for 47 cents a pound.

One of West Rome’s most fondly remembered locally owned grocers, Couch’s on Shorter Avenue, was offering chuck steak for 59 cents a pound, sliced bacon for 49 cents a pound, grapefruits for a nickel each, and 10 pounds of potatoes for 29 cents.

For those young enough to go trick or treating, Goodyear had you covered, with over 200 costumes available for only 98 cents each, including a vinyl mask and a costume made from the latest in flame-retardant fabrics.

A home for only $9100? You got it!  Quality Homes of Rome would build a 3 bedroom 1 1/2 bath home on your lot for only $63.38 per month (12 years of payments) fully finished, or a bargain $8500 cash.  And if you wanted something a little more customized, the builders of Paris Heights in West Rome were advertising new houses for sale for $10,200 to $14,000. (Yes, our parents really could buy an entire house for less than we’d have to pay today for the cheapest new car...)

And finally, we all got to enjoy an hour’s extra sleep as daylight saving time came to an end on Sunday, October 28th.

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