Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 11/12/1962 Through 11/18/1962

        On November 12, 1962, Governor-elect Carl Sanders probably caused students’ hearts to skip a beat when he announced his support for a plan to add a 13th and 14th grade to high school. As we all know, those plans went nowhere... (Or did they? Now that we have pre-K and kindergarten as part of the public school system, we do indeed in effect have a 13th and 14th grade—we just call ‘em 11th and 12th grade!)

    If you felt like catching a movie in the first half of the week, you had a choice of Two Tickets to Paris with Joey Dee and Gary Crosby at the DeSoto Theater, Guns of Darkness with Leslie Caron and David Niven at the First Avenue, or a Jerry Lewis double feature—The Sad Sack and The Delicate Delinquent—at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend saw the Rome premiere of The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh at the First Avenue Theatre; The Firebrand and The Loves of Salammbo at the DeSoto; and House of Bamboo and Freckles at the West Rome Drive-In.

    The Four Fellows performed for the West Rome Chieftains Club on Monday, November 12th; the business half of the meeting involved a discussion of an upcoming band trip to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

    Apparently there just wasn’t as much in the local news in 1962: WSB-TV 2 offered only 15 minutes of local news every night (compared to the three hours of local news they run every afternoon/evening nowadays!).

    Piggly Wiggly was promoting a new Del Monte product, Mexicorn, which could be had for only 14 cents a can. Five pound bags of potatoes, apples, and/or grapefruit were 3/$1; Butterball turkeys were on sale for Thanksgiving for 39 cents a pound. Kroger was promoting Morton’s pumpkin or mincemeat pies for a quarter each, or a fresh pecan pie from the deli for only 39¢. (Those who wished to expand their vocabularies as well as their waistlines could also pick up a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary for only 99¢ at Kroger.)

    People apparently ate pickled peaches in 1962, since Sunshine Pickled Peaches actually ran a display ad promoting their pickled peaches as a part of every Thanksgiving meal. Somehow my family never got the message...

    Pepsi Cola was promoting their new lemon-lime drink Teem, “the crystal clear drink in the bright green bottle.” Turns out that Rome was one of the test markets for the drink, which wasn’t rolled out nationally until two years later.

    If you were willing to drive across town for a bargain, you could pick up one of  the new king-size barbecue sandwiches with dill pickles and potato chips for only 50 cents at Troy’s Barbecue—twice the size of the regular barbecue sandwich for only 15 cents more!

    The Dinner Bell Cafe at 612 Shorter Avenue had a new owner, Mrs. Riley, and she was encouraging everyone who knew her from her years at Enloe’s to visit her restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner all month long.

    C&S Jewelers suggested the perfect Christmas gift for a high school student: a Remington typewriter for only $79.50—and you got a free metal filing desk to go along with it!

    We’re spoiled by icemakers, but Harper Nichols Furniture was pushing the predecessor fifty years ago: the Frigidaire Ice Ejector, a box that would hold up to eighty ice cubes and spit them out one at a time when you pressed a lever. Since you still had to open the freezer to get it out, though, how was this an improvement on an ice tray or an ice box?...

    The other high-tech item for the holiday season was the automatic electric blanket with a thermostat and dual controls; it was available at Sears for $28.00. Sears also had  a Silverstone Console Stereo for $99 and an Enfield MK 3 military rifle for $12.88 (yes, you could buy military rifles at Sears!).

    West Rome kicked off its basketball season on November 15th with a home game against Cave Spring. The Boys won 35-33, while the girls lost 33-30. Jimmy Walden earned 17 of the Chief’s points in the boys’ game, while Emma Bray racked up 17 points in the girls’ game. The boys played their second game on  November 16th against the Berry Falcons, winning 45-39. Wesley Jenkins was the star of the night, accounting for 25 of those 45 points.

    Rome’s growth—much of which was occurring in West Rome—led to the expansion of Floyd Hospital, with the opening of its first additional wing on November 15th. The new addition expanded the hospital’s capacity from 143 beds to 249 beds.

    Seventh district congressman John W. Davis spoke in Rome, stressing that schools needed to help prepare students to use new high-tech “computers” (quotes were the newspaper’s, not mine) in order to win the Cold War. 

    The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry” held on to the number one position on Teen Beat’s Top 20 record survey; other songs in the top ten included “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley, “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals, “Telstar” by the Tornadoes, “Bobby’s Girl” by Marcie Blane, “The Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett and the Crypt Kickers, “Surfin’ Safari” by the Beach Boys, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” by Sammy Davis Jr., and “Only Love Can Break a Heart” by Gene Pitney.

    (The Beatles were still unknowns in Rome in 1962; in fact, this week fifty years ago they were 4579 miles away from Rome, performing at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, before returning home to perform in the Cavern Club on Sunday, November 18th.)

    We loved to laugh in 1962: comedies dominated the highest-rated television shows, with The Beverly Hillbillies holding a lock on first place. Other top ten series in November included The Red Skelton Hour, The Lucy Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Danny Thomas Show, and Candid Camera, while Bonanza, Ben Casey, and Gunsmoke filled out the list.

We Get Mail (And a 4 cent stamp wasn’t necessary to deliver it!)

A pleasant surprise arrived in our mailbox as Ellen Sosbe, class of ‘66, dropped me an email regarding the column:

    “Thanks for your articles for the Drumbeat; they bring back a lot of memories of Rome from that time.
     “You mentioned the Shrimp Boat in East Rome.  Do you happen to remember the other Shrimp Boat in West Rome?  I can't remember exactly when it was there, but it was shaped like a boat. It seems that it was located across the road from West Rome High, in the shopping center parking lot.”

    --(I have to confess that I don’t remember it; was that the location where Big K opened their Rome store in the mid-1960s? Anyone remember more about this?)--
     “Another thing I've been trying to remember is exactly where the old ice house was located on Glen Milner Blvd. That may have been a bit before your time, but I remember going there with my parents to purchase ice and dry ice blocks for special events.  Seeing all those blocks of ice was fascinating to me as a kid.”
    --(I remember the existence of an ice supply house in Rome, but didn’t recall its precise location; how many of our fellow Chieftains have cool memories of the ice house?)--
     “Thanks again for your entertaining articles.”
    --(And thanks to you for taking the time to write, Ellen! I hope that other Chieftains will share their memories here!)--

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