Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/21/13 to 1/28/13

A surprise announcement destined to please West Rome shoppers (and West Rome High School students looking for a convenient place to spend time and money after school): The Rome City Commission announced that a $1.7 million shopping center had been proposed for West Rome-- a center that would be opened directly across the street from West Rome High School and would house several national retailers as well as some local stores. The shopping center developer had already acquired some of the necessary land, but he hoped to buy some land owned by the city to fully develop the shopping center. Surprisingly, the board of education opposed the plan, stating that they had hoped to keep the land available for a possible West Rome Junior High School if needed; either way, they opposed major retail development near the high school. (Of course, we know that the board of education's request was ultimately denied and Gala Shopping Center was indeed developed, with Big K occupying the anchor position in the center. And the board of education also lost out on the whole "keep retail away from our schools" concept, since a Kmart eventually opened just across the parking lot from East Rome High School.)

The Georgia Highway Department announced that they were ready to begin the log-awaited widening of Shorter Avenue and Alabama Road from Burnett Ferry Road  to Georgia Route 20. This would expand the road from two to four lanes for the entire 2.7 mile stretch; at the same time, the city was hopeful that they could work with the state to repave Shorter Avenue from the underpass to Burnett Ferry Road.

The cold winter kept an icy grip on Rome, with temperatures falling to five degrees below zero in the early morning hours of Thursday, January 24th. It was the coldest temperature recorded in Rome since a seven degrees below zero temperature measured way back in January 1899. The weather was so cold that traffic lights froze in downtown Rome, rendering them non-functional, and water pipes froze in homes and businesses across Rome and Floyd County.

Three teenagers were arrested on Sunday, January 27th, for breaking into West Rome High School and stealing change from ten vending machines. A fourth teenager was held as an accessory. The burglars had nothing against the Chieftains; it turned out they had also broken into East Rome High School and ransacked the vending machines there as well.

West Rome played Lafayette on Friday, January 25th. Alas, Lafayette's boys defeated the Chieftains 67-48, but the girls won handily with a 49-33 victory.

Sears unveiled its new bargain-priced 23" Silvertone console television for only $179 and its 14,800 BTU window air conditioner for $199. Of course, with temperatures below zero, there weren't too many Romans looking for air conditioners that week…

A&P had hickory smoked hams for 33¢ a pound; 21-ounce frozen pizzas for 10¢ each; and 10 pounds of potatoes for 39¢. Big Apple offered ground beef for 39¢ a pound, a one-pound bag of Maxwell House coffee for 39¢, and sliced bacon for 45¢ a pound. Couch's had stew beef for 29¢ a pound, Saltine Crackers for 31¢ a package, and the ever-popular Libby's Potted Meat for 10¢ a can. Piggly Wiggly offered whole fryers for 25¢ a pound; large eggs for 49¢ a dozen; and a two-pound carton of Kraft American Cheese for 59¢.

If you wanted to catch a movie, you had a choice of Gypsy (with Rosalind Russell & Natalie Wood) at the DeSoto, Escape from East Berlin at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Son of Robin Hood and the Diary of Ann Frank at the West Rome Drive-In. (And doesn't that sound like one of the strangest double-features in drive-in history?) On Saturday, January 26th, the DeSoto offered a family-friendly double feature: The Tunnel of Love with Doris Day and Bachelor in Paradise with Bob Hope and Lana Turner. (We're so accustomed nowadays to movies lasting for several weeks that we forget how it was in the days when a town the size of Rome only had two indoor theater screens: double features were more common, and movies often ran for just a few days before another film took their place on the schedule.)

Finallly, some new music moved into the  top of the Billboard charts for this week in 1963 as "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers took first place. Other Top 10 songs included "Hey Paula" by Paul and Paula (#2); "Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence (#3); "Tell Him" by the Exciters (#4); "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee (#5); "My Dad" by Paul Petersen (#6); "Two Lovers" by Mary Wells (#7); "Telstar" by the Tornadoes (#8); "It's Up to You" by Rick Nelson (#9); and "Limbo Rock" by Chubby Checker (#10).

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