Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week - 1/7/63 to 1/13/63

Fifty years ago this week, James Meredith told the world that he wouldn't register for another semester at th University of Mississippi unless steps were taken to end the harassment that made his college life difficult. As we know now, Meredith's courageous determination to study at Ole Miss paved the way for blacks to benefit from an educational system that had until this time been largely closed to them.

A new year, a new Congress, but the same political disputes: in January of 1963, a group of senators called for tighter curbs on filibusters, the President's proposed tax cuts were criticized because they weren't accompanied by spending cuts, labor disputes threatened to close American docks, the government struggled to agree on a ($99 billion) budget… Everything old really is new again, apparently!

Rome's growth took a setback when Eastern Airlines announced that it had filed an FAA request to suspend its air service to Rome, less than a month after the Rome Chamber of Commerce had announced that it hoped to bring more air service into Rome.

Rome officially approved the mid-block crosswalks on Broad Street in spite of opposition from Police Chief Ted Peacock. Both local businessmen and residents were very enthusiastic in their support for the crosswalks--and as we know, they proved to be both popular and safe, and have remained a downtown feature ever since.

Floyd Hospital made public its plans to add a psychiatric hospital unit to the growing medical facility. Hard to believe, but until this time, psychiatric patients were held in the county jail because there was no hospital space in Rome authorized to house them!

In January 1963, first class postal rates increased by 25%, jumping from 4¢ to 5¢.

If you wanted to escape your troubles with a good movie, you could catch Jerry Lewis's It's Only Money at the DeSoto, the classic Oklahoma at the First Avenue, or The Music Man at the West Rome Drive-In (apparently Rome was in a very musical mood!). First Avenue brought in Barabbas for the weekend, the DeSoto added both The Honeymoon Machine and The Horizontal Lieutenant in alternating screenings, and the West Rome Drive-in screened the double-feature of Say One For Me and Ten North Frederick. (And yes, the West Rome Drive-In was open for business every week of the year, even in the chill of winter!)

Piggly Wiggly offered a number of items as part of their dime sale, including Libby potted meat, Bush's Mexican Beans, Aunt Jemima Grits, or cans of assorted vegetables. Sirloin steak could be had for 89¢ a pound. A&P was running their Bean-O-Rama sale, with canned beans for 13¢ to 20¢ a can. Big Apple was advertising their 5¢ margarine, 37¢ per pound picnic ham, and 19¢ fatback (how come no one runs specials on fatback nowadays?).

The Top Ten Songs for this week in 1963 included "Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence (#1), "Telstar" by the Tornadoes (#2), "Limbo Rock" by Chubby Checker (#3), "Hotel Happiness" by Brook Benton (#4), "Pepino the Italian Mouse" by Lou Monte (#5), "Tell Him" by the Exciters (#6), "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee (#7), "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah" by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans (#8), "Two Lovers" by Mary Wells (#9), and "My Dad" by Paul Petersen (#10). (Remember Paul Petersen, the son from The Donna Reed Show? He did indeed have a top ten song as well!)

A couple of thousand miles away from West Rome, the Beatles released their first single, "Please Please Me," in the UK, while an unknown named Charlie Watts was joining a local band known as the Rolling Stones.  Neither group ever paid a visit to West Rome, but all Chieftains would soon know who they were...

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