Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fifty Years Ago This Week: 12/17/62 - 12/23/62

Hard to believe, but those mid-block crosswalks that are an accepted feature of Broad Street were heating things up during December in1962, with the City Commission voting to test them out even though there was a great deal of opposition to the idea. Even Police Chief Ted Peacock was opposed, fearing that they would great increase the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. As we know, they proved to be both safe and popular, and have been a feature of downtown Rome ever since.

The extreme cold of the prior week led to a great many broken pipes and damaged appliances, which led to the Rome Whirlpool Appliance Center advertising their plumbing and appliance repair department. If you had a problem, they’d gladly make a repair housecall for $4.00, while broken pipe repair started at $6.00. (Even allowing for the index, that would translate to $30 for a housecall, $45 for a broken pipe repair... and I don't think any of us could find a professional who'd do the job for that price today!)

We didn’t have DVRs or big-screen TVs in 1962, but we did have the perfect way to share family photos with friends and neighbors: a remote-control slide projector! For only $172.50, Brocks offered a deluxe remote-control (wired, of course--wireless remotes were a few years away yet) slide projector that could project “movie-sized images.”

And if you wanted the ultimate cookware gift “sure to please any housewife,” then Rome Seed & Feed had the special for you: an 11-piece Royal Family Set of Corningware for $24.95.

London Fog, the in-demand coat of the 1960s, was on sale at Esserman’s for $32.50 for their deluxe all-weather coat, tailored to an individual fit.

Murphy's was advertising the must-have holiday fragrances of 1962: for men, there was Old Spice in a cologne/aftershave/deodorant set for $3.50--and for women, there was Tabu spray cologne and powder for $5.00. (And after all these years, I still vividly remember the scent of both!)

Wyatt's Book Department was promoting Out of the Past But Still Alive: 1861-1961 by Sibley Greeg Mooney, a look at familiar locales in the Rome area, written and illustrated by a Rome Native. Among the sites spotlighted in the book was Shorter Avenue, West Rome's main traffic artery. Autographed copies, perfect for holiday gift-giving, were available for $3.

If all the shopping made you hungry, Murphy's was running a fried catfish dinner special for 50¢, including hush puppies, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and bread. (I never knew that Murphy's served fried fish--apparently I never looked at the menu when I was there).

Piggly Wiggly was running a special on the must-have holiday candy treats: 2 pounds of Brach's candy orange slices for 39¢, 2 pounds of coconut bonbons for 49¢, or every grandmother's favorite--2 pounds of individually wrapped hard candy for 99¢.

What a change a week makes: on December 18th, 1962, Rome set a record high temperature of 69 degrees--a temperature 73 degrees higher than the low recorded just one week earlier! By the end of the week, however, temperatures had dropped back to a very cold 10 degrees, and the cold weather was expected to stay around through Christmas 1962.

West Rome played Cave Spring in their opening game of the Ninth Annual Northwest Georgia Basketball Tournament on December 18th, and the Chieftains trounced the Springers 59 to 23. Buddy Copeland and Van Gray were spotlighted for their outstanding performance, with each scoring 12 points. Alas, West Rome didn't fare so well in the second round of the tournament, losing to West Haralson County 40-37; Van Gray scored another 12 points in the game, but it wasn't enough to propel the Chieftains to victory.

West Rome's wrestlers defeated Rockmart 37-36 in a match held on Wednesday, December 19th.

It was nostalgia time at Rome's theaters during the week. The DeSoto Theater took a trip into the past the week before Christmas, showing Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Raymond Burr. The First Avenue offered Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with Jane Powell & Howard Keel, along wtih Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, and Elizabeth Taylor. The West Rome Drive-In offered Wild River with Montgomery Clift and Journey to the Center of the Earth with Pat Bone and James Mason. The weekends brought The Big Show with Cliff Robertson and the Commancheros with John Wayne at the DeSoto Theater, and Elvis Presley's GI Blues at the West Rome, while Seven Brides for Seven Brothers continued at the First Avenue. And on December 23rd, the DeSoto brought back the ever-popular White Christmas, which ran through Christmas Day. (We forget that, in those days before home video made it possible for us to watch classic films any time, theaters routinely brought back popular family-friendly films from the past at holiday time.)

For younger kids, the highlight of the week had to be Saturday morning’s Officer Don Popeye Club Stage Show at the DeSoto Theater (“all seats 25¢!”), one of several in-person appearances Don Kennedy (aka Officer Don) made in Rome in the 1960s to promote his popular Popeye Club show that aired each weekday afternoon on WSB-TV.

On December 20th, it was revealed that Rome and Floyd County had assembled a committee composed of representatives from government, education, business, agriculture, and labor to pursue a junior college for the Floyd County area. In 1962 the Seventh District was the only district in the state without a junior college. We know that the committee did its job well, since Floyd Junior College opened its doors just a few years later!

The West Rome High School Dramatic Club presented a Christmas program chronicling the birth of Christ on Wednesday, December 18th, under the direction of Miss Jean Scales. Participants in the program included Alfred Fletcher, Kay Williams, Howard Fountain, Pat Jackson, Leigh Whittenberg, Edna Moore, Sandra Posey, Betty Lewis, Jan Lewis, Susan White, Allen Preiss, Tony Ledwell, and Donald Plants, along with the girls vocal ensemble from the Chieftains Chorus.

Then, on December 20th, the West Rome dance band (including Butch Mowry, John Payne, Bill Babb, Dick Thompson, Ashely Wiggins, Henry Kennedy, Danny Beard, Don Murdock, John Butler, Sid Skelton, Jan Lewis, Cindy Biglock, Donald Plants, Frankie Plemons, David Godfrey, Jimmy Brewer, Sid Garwood, Derell Brookshire, and Celia Brookshire), the Four Fellows musical quartet (featuring Sid Garwood, Jimmy Brewer, Smitty Cummings, and Butch Mowry), and the senior band presented a Christmas musical program. Band director Clyde Roberson led the band, while choral director Ronald Midkiff led the West Rome Chorus (including Janet Schere, Pat Merrill, Sheryll Andrews, Ginger McLeod, Ann Neal, Sheryll Cole, Margaret Witworth, Diane Leake, Teresa DiPrima, Ann Finely, and Diane Dorsey) in a medley of Christmas songs; afterwards, Santa paid a visit to the school, bringing gift to some of the students, staff, and faculty.

"Telstar" by the Tornadoes half on at the number one spot for the week, followed by "Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence (#2), "Bobby's Girl" by Marcia Blane (#3), "Big Girls Don't Cry" by the Four Seasons (#4), Return to Sender" by Elvis Presley (#5), "Limbo Rock" by Chubby Checker (#6), "Pepino the Italian Mouse" by Louis Monte (#7), "Love Came to Me" by Dion (#8), "The Lonely Bull" by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (#9), and "Up On the Roof" by the Drifters (#10).

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