Sunday, December 02, 2012

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 11/26/62 - 12/2/62

The Christmas holiday season began in earnest on November 26th with the Broad Street Santa Parade, which drew more than 20,000 spectators. And what a Christmas 1962 was shaping up to be: payrolls and savings were at record highs for Rome, and stores were reporting the best first week holiday sales in Rome history, more than 5% up from 1961. Yes, 1962 was a banner year in many ways!

West Rome held its 1962 Football Banquet at the Rome Restaurant (anyone remember where this was located?). Coach Paul Kennedy presented four trophies—top back, top lineman, most improved player, and sportsmanship—in commemoration of the Chiefs’ 5-4-1 record for the season. (No list of trophy recipients was ever reported in the Rome News-Tribune.)

West Rome’s basketball team took on Lafayette on Friday, 11/30, and Coosa on Saturday, 12/1. Lafayette defeated West Rome’s boys (53-43) and West Rome’s girls (29-20), but West Rome’s boys and girls team both won against Coosa (43-36 for the boys, thanks to 11 points scored by Wesley Jenkins and 10 points by Gerry Law; 33-25 for the girls, led by Linda Lippencott’s 16 points).

The West Rome Future Teachers of America Club chose its officers in late November; Leigh Wittenburg president; Camille Baker, vice president; Tina Edge, secretary; and Sheryll Andrews, treasurer. (Did any of the members of the club ultimately go into teaching? It would make for an interesting story, wouldn’t it?)

The West Rome Tri-Hi-Y was busy in 1962: they took magazines to Floyd Hospital, children’s books and games to the Ope Door Home, Thanksgiving baskets and cards to local shut-ins; and personal care items to patients in a local convalescent center, living up to their motto of “Create, Maintain, Extend.”  The club was led by president Mary Evans and vice-president Gwen McLeod.

Meanwhile, the West Rome Hi-Y sponsored an assembly on safe driving; distributed magazines and scrapbooks to hospitalized children and adults; and organized a volleyball team. The club’s officers included Frankie Plemons, president; John Payne, vice-president; Howard Fountain; secretary; Bill Babb, treasurer; and Alan Preiss, chaplain. Sounds like both groups took their role of community service very seriously!

Think we have a graduation rate problem now? Rome City Schools Superintendent Milton McDonald revealed that more than 60% of Rome’s students failed to finish high school. This was 50% worse than the national average.

A deer was struck by a car on Shorter Avenue in front of Westdale Shopping Center on November 26th. The deer fled the scene and was never seen again, so the damage must have been worse for the driver’s car than for the deer. (Apparently it was a very slow news week in West Rome...)

High quality stereo was the big thing at Rome Radio Company on Broad Street, as they promoted the Zenith Scherzo, a walnut stereo console with AM/FM radio, 8 speakers, and the all-new Micro-Touch 2G tone arm. (Of course, for $485.00 in 1962, it had better be one heck of a stereo! Don’t forget, the 1962-to-2012 inflation multiplier is 7.52, so every $1 in 1962 equals $7.52 in 2012 dollars.)

Of course, you could go cheap as well: Enloe’s had the Explorer Space Radio, complete with earphone, for only 99¢.

For our family, it wasn’t Christmas without a Whitman’s Sampler; we all had our candy favorites, and I learned quickly that it was most definitely against the rules to take an experimental bite to discover if the candy center was something I wanted or not. Those Whitman’s Samplers could be purchased for 99¢ for one pound, all the way up to $3.69 for a four-pound box, at Arrington-Ingram Drug Company or at Enloe’s Drugs.

Fahy’s announced the expansion of its book department under the management of Miss Mary Beal, making Fahy’s Books Department the largest source for books in Rome. (Of course, at this time, Rome had no dedicated new bookstores and only one dedicated used and out-of-print bookstore, Coosa Valley Books.)

Sears suggested that an 8mm Electric Eye Camera and Projector would make a perfect Christmas gift for only $99.88.

Both te First National Bank of Rome, National City Bank, and Rome Bank and Trust were urging members to plan ahead for 1963 by starting their 1963 Christmas Club account this week fifty years ago. (And in case you forgot about these, Christmas Club accounts were non-interest-bearing accounts that required you to make a small weekly deposit; you could then withdraw all the cash the week of Thanksgiving and use the cash for Christmas shopping. It would seem you could also just stash it in a coffee can in the kitchen, but apparently people didn’t trust themselves not to raid the can during the year...)

Kirkland Motors was running an $1846.00 special on a brand-new Rambler American (produced by Rambler under the leadership of George Romney) 220; for $290 more, you could upgrade to the luxurious Rambler American 440 hardtop. Apparently we didn’t buy enough, though, because Nash faded away by the end of the decade.

The Shrimp Boat reminded us that seafood was great for all seasons; their December promotion was a fish and shrimp dinner for 97¢ (and since sales tax was only 3% back then, that would make it exactly a dollar with tax!).

Kroger was touting its 49¢ pork chops and its 10¢ cans of applesauce for the week of November 26th, while A&P was offering chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound. Couch’s Super Market, our West Rome favorite neighborhood supermarket, had pork steak, bacon, sausage, or chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, while bananas were 10¢ a pound and grapefruit were a nickel each. Piggly Wiggly offered cut-up fryers for 25¢ a pound and Fleetwood Coffee for 49¢ a pound.  Those ever-popular TV Dinners (salisbury steak, chicken, or turkey only) could be had at Kroger for 3/$1, while Big Apple was offering sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound.

Three very different movies were showing in Rome: Elvis Presley’s Girls! Girls! Girls! at the DeSoto, Brigitte Bardot’s A Very Private Affair at the First Avenue, and Walt Disney’s Pinocchio at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought The Savage Guns at the First Avenue, Wild River  and Journey to the Center of the Earth at the DeSoto, and Walk Tall at the West Rome Drive-In.

It seemed that the Four Seasons owned the fall season of 1962: their “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was number one in the Rome Teen Beat Top 20 list yet again for the last week of November, 1962. “Telstar” by the Tornadoes climbed to second place, while Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender” dropped to third. “Bobby’s Girl” by Marcia Blane took fourth place, Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock” climbed to fifth, the Orlon’s “Don’t Hanks Up” jumped to sixth place, “Lonely Bull” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass climbed to seventh; “He’s a Rebel” bu the Crystals slipped to eighth; “Ride” by Dee Dee Sharp held on to ninth place; and the Bobby Sox’s “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” jumped to tenth place.

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