Rome’s crime wave, which began in November ‘62 with a daring heist at the Fahy’s Department Store in downtown Rome, continued in early December with a number of home break-ins as well as break-ins at the Redford 5 & 10 in Westdale Shopping Center on Shorter Avenue, Piggly Wiggly on Shorter Avenue, The Safari on Shorter Avenue (I must confess that I don’t remember the Safari--who can clue me in here?), Miller Bros Department Store on Broad Street, Huff’s Pharmacy on East 2nd Avenue, the Hardin-Holder Store on Alabama Road, and Cooper Service Station on Cave Spring Road. While the home break-in thieves were apprehended at the scene, the wily business burglars remained at large, completely unseen as they entered every business through the roof. In mid-week, DiPrima’s Steak House on Summerville Road suffered a break-in. Police weren’t sure what was causing the rash of crimes in the Rome/Floyd County area.
In more upbeat business news, Rome’s brand-new Holiday Inn on Turner McCall Boulevard opened to guests for the first time this week in 1962; this was a “soft opening,” with the formal grand opening planned for January 1963.
NASA proudly announced the fact that its Mariner 2 spaecraft had received a radio command to begin scanning the planet Venus--the first US spaceraft to receive commands and send back telemetry from another planet.
Different time, different attitudes: President John Kennedy announced plans to push for a tax cut in 1963, but he was having to deal with resistance from Democrats and Republicans, who preferred to wait until 1964 for the tax cut, figuring that voters would be more likely to remember the cut come election time. (Kennedy won that round, gaining bipartisan support for his tax cut.)
Eastern Airlines was advertising their 15% weekday round trip discount on daytime flights. (It’s hard to imagine a time when airlines actually advertised in the Rome newspapers, isn’t it?)
Chieftains who wanted to catch a film this week fifty years ago could choose from The Pigeon That Took Rome (Italy, not Georgia, of course), starring Charlton Heston and Elsa Martinelli; Requiem for a Heavyweight, starring Anthony Quinn, Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason, and Julie Harris; or Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, starring Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O’Hara. The weekend brought The Count of Monte Cristo with Louis Jourdan at the DeSoto; a double-feature of Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table at the First Avenue; and Hatari with John Wayne at the West Rome Drive-In. On Saturday, December 15th, the Marine Corps sponsored a special matinee showing of Tarzan Fights for His Life at the DeSoto, with all proceeds going to their Toys for Tots drive.
Enloe’s was eager to help us get ready for Christmas, with Christmas cards for 29¢ per 10-pack, an aluminum tree marked down to $7.77, the requisite rotating color wheel that accompanied thealuminum tree for $3.99, decorative glass ornaments for 88¢ per dozen, 8-foot rolls of wrapping paper at 3/59¢, a Chatty Cathy for $9.88 “(“pull on her magic string and she talks!”), a Tiny Tears Doll for $11.88--and for the boys, a shoe shine box for $2.49 (apparently Enloe’s thought our careers were destined to be rather limited!). And if you wanted to preserve those Christmas memories, you could do so with a Brownie Starflash Camera for $9.44 at Murphy’s, or a Bolex 8mm movie projector capable of slow-motion playback for only $159.50 at Brock’s. A Zenith shirt-pocket AM radio was available for only $24.95 at Rome Radio Company (it’s amazing how much “cheap” entertainment cost back in 1962).
And for those with a less-than-limited budget, Rome Radio Company advertised its brand-new RCA Victor Vista Home Entertainment Center, which combined a 23” black and white television, a four-speed record changer, a six-speaker stereo system with both woofers and tweeters, an AM-FM radio, and a solid wood Early American cabinet. The cost? $800... about 2/3 the price of a new car from several Rome dealers.
To prepare for the holidays, Wyatt’s announced that it was staying open until 8:30pm Monday through Friday beginning on December 13th and continuing through December 21st. Back then, that was considered extended shopping!
Alas, Christmas controversies are nothing new: public schools in Massachusetts were in the news in 1962 for banning Christmas trees because they thought they might violate the separation of church and state.
A&P got into the Christmas spirit with 8 foot trees for $2.69, while 4 foot live trees, balled in burlap were priced at $4.98. (There are probably several West Rome yards today with large evergreens that got their start as 1962 live trees!...) Piggly Wiggly offered 10 foot trees for $2.99... but that would have required that we cut a hole in our ceiling so that the tree could extend into the attic... Piggly Wiggly also advertised their oranges, grapefruit, and apples (“perfect for holiday fruit baskets!”) for only $33$ per 5-pound bag.
Of course, if you wanted to support Chiefttain Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y members, you could buy your tree at the YMCA Christmas tree sale on Second Avenue, where club members from all Rome area schools sold trees to fund service projects for all Y clubs.
Big Apple lowered their ground beef to only 37¢ per pound, while they had lots of sliced beef liver for 19¢ per pound. Colonial ran their Maxwell House Coffee on sale for 49¢ a pound (“the perfect Christmas coffee”), while Couch’s offered whole turkeys for 25¢ a pound.
It was an appropriately cold December back in 1962, as the temperature in Rome dropped to six below zero on Wednesday, December 12th at a home reporting station off Coosawattee in West Rome. According to an article in the Rome News-Tribune, many weather forecasters were concerned that our weather was getting colder with each passing year; on December 13th, the Rome News-Tribune ran the front-page headline “Rome Weather Getting Cold, Colder, Coldest” in which they point out that we were seeing significant temperature declines with each passing year. This led to the “global cooling” fears of the 1970s, which culminated in the best-selling book The Coming Ice Age. (As you probably noticed, it didn’t come to pass...)
The varsity team played East Rome on Friday, December 14th, which was touted as “the biggest game of the season for both teams.” West Rome’s boys won 43-38, but the girls lost 55-31. Gary Law won top socring honors with 17 points.
On December 15th, West Rome played the North Fulton Bulldogs; alas, the Bulldogs outplayed both of our teams, with the Chieftain boys losing 57-50 and the girls losing 25-21.
West Rome’s JV boys didn’t fare so well against Model, losing 35-5 (yes, that is a 30-point spread), but at least the girls won 22-18 thanks to Jane Smallwood, who scored half of West Rome’s points.
West Rome’s wrestling season began on December 13th with a match against Rockmart; the Chieftains won 28-27. Larry Lippincott, Jerry Coalson, Jack Barnes, Lane Warner, Richard Edwards, Bill Bishop, Doug DeDeurwarder, Billy Harris, and Gilbert Espy won their individual matches.
Those of us with a little bit of Garden Lakes in our heritage might remember the annual Garden Lakes Santa Claus Parade; in 1962, that parade was held on December 16th, with Santa tossing candy from his float as it proceeded down Garden Lakes Boulevard.
The West Rome Freshman Tri-Hi-Y, led by Jeannie Maxwell, won top honors in the regional “Club of the Month” competition. Their monthly service projects included devotionals given over the intercom each morning; a food drive to help needy families; holiday baskets; and a fundraiser for the Salvation Army and for Radio Free Europe.
West End students performed their annual Christmas Program on December 11th, with the six grades presenting a blend of music, drama, and holiday poetry.
At long last, the Four Seasons relinquished first place on Teen Beat’s Top 20, as the Tornadoes’ “Telstar” took first place, pushing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” down to #2. The remaining Top 10 included “Bobby’s Girl” by Marcia Blane (#3), “The Lonely Bull” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (#4), “Limbo Rock” by Chubby Checker (#5), “Go Away Little Girl” by Steve Lawrence (#6), “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley (#7), “Don’t Hang Up” by the Orions (#8), “Two Lovers” by Mary Wells (#9), and “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans (#10).