Thursday, February 07, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week - 2/4/63 to 2/10/63

Rome's cold snap appeared to be ending, with temperatures creeping into the 50s for the first week of February. While Rome schools remained open, the sudden warming forced Gordon County and other North Georgia systems to close their schools, as the thawing ice and frozen dirt roads turned into swampy quagmires that school bus drivers could not safely maneuver. Floyd County schools scattered sand and gravel on some of their muddier road to avoid having to close schools for the same reason. (Rome City Schools had no such problems, since almost all roads in the city were paved by 1963.) However, winter wasn't ready to say goodbye to Rome quite yet… but you'll hear more about that NEXT week...

Rome and Floyd County business groups were in an uproar about a proposed state plan for mandatory Sunday closing of most businesses; Senator Battle Hall of Floyd County said that he doubted it would pass (and thankfully, it didn't!).

Someone was setting grass fires across Rome in February 1963, including a location at 214 Burnett Ferry Road near Conn Street in West Rome. Oil and gasoline were found at the sites, but there was no sign of the arsonist.

Highwaymen in 1963? It sounded like it when a West Rome man reported that he was robbed of $4,000.00 on his way to Atlanta. He said that two men stopped him on US 41 near West Paces Ferry Road and hit him with a "judo blow to the right side of the neck" (does that move really work anywhere other than on television or in movies?) and stole $2000 in small bills and 2 $1000 bills. (Did you even know that they MADE $1000 bills? The government quit printing them in 1945, but they remained in circulation and in use until 1969; the $5000 and the $10,000 bills were also officially in use until that year, although I don't know that there were many people in Rome who carried either one!)

In spite of objections by the Rome City School System, the City Commission approved the sale of land across from West Rome High School for what would become Gala Shopping Center.

A committee studying the operations of the Rome City School Systems took a look at 4 1/2 year old West Rome High School as part of its overall review, commending the school for its student involvement, for its state of the art construction (well, state of the art for the time period--although I'm sure many of us even then were wondering why air conditioning wasn't a part of the plan!), the quality of its teaching aids, and its classroom equipment (although they did feel that more blackboard space, more opaque projectors, and more tape recorders were needed, particularly for the foreign language program).

The committee suggested that the school use its lunch program as a way to teach students proper nutrition and proper dining etiquette; their only criticism was the fact that only about 65% of West Rome's students purchased a school lunch each day, versus a 75% purchase rate at East Rome (even in our lunch programs, we were apparently competitors!). The committee felt that the main problem was the length of time that students had to spend in line. They also suggested that the schools consider removing their vending machines--a suggestion that many of us were glad to see ignored by the school administration. The committee was very complimentary of the school newspaper, The Drumbeat, as well as the Student Council, but saw a few deficiencies in the library, where the reference material was not sufficient for a school of West Rome's size.

A twenty-piece dance band made up of West Rome High School band students played for Battey State Hospital patients on February 6th; this was the band's third concert at Battey in two years--and they were the only high school group invited to perform there!

The 1963 Miss Rome Pageant was shaping up as the biggest in the history of the beauty contest; the committee was accepting entries for the big event. The Miss Rome would go on to compete in the Miss Georgia Pageant, and the winner of that contest would advance to the Miss America competition in Atlantic City.

West Rome played its arch-rival East Rome in basketball on Thursday, February 7th, in a  game held at the Memorial Gym because neither school's gymnasium would be large enough for the crowd.  Over a thousand people attended the game, where they saw Emma Bray lead the Lady Chieftains to a 34-33 victory over East Rome, and the boys team followed suit with a 69-52 victory, led by the strong play of Wesley Jekins, Van Gray, and Buddy Copeland.

East Rome's wrestlers fell to West Rome 34-23 on February 4th as West Rome's mat men  won eight of the thirteen matches. Mike Murphy, Doug De Deurwarder, Bill Cameron, Richard Edwards, Jim Lamb, Jerry Coalson, Lonnie Phillips, and Larry Lippencott all won matches for the Chiefs.

West Rome basketball teams played Calhoun on Friday, February 8th, with the boys winning 68-56, while the girls lost in in a 45-30 rout.

TV prices began to come down in early 1963: Sears was advertising a 23" black-and-white console TV for only $168, while the price of a portable 19" black and white TV dropped to $118. (The inflation factor, if you're trying to calculate what that would be in today's dollars, is $7.52, so the $168 TV in 1963 dollars would equal $1263.16 today, while the $118 portable would equal $887.22 in today's dollars… not that much of a bargain after all, huh?)

Nylon, rayon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers were making their move into clothing stores in 1963; news reports indicated that for the first time, cotton sales were declining as manufacturers began moving to synthetics. (Ironically, in the very same edition of the Rome News Tribune, Miller Brothers was advertising cotton madras skirts for $6 each, while they were advertising polyester dresses for $3.99 each!)

Rome Lincoln-Mercury was pushing the struggling Mercury Meteor in February 1963, and with good reason--sales for the  entry-level Mercury had been dismal, and car dealers were trying to push the car with sales incentives and lower prices. Alas, the push achieved nothing, and the car was discontinued later in 1963, just two years after its debut.

Piggly Wiggly was advertising its fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, 10 pounds of flour for 99¢, and a 16-ounce can of salmon for 59¢. Kroger had leg o' lamb for 59¢ a pound, and fatback for 19¢ a pound (when was the last time you saw anyone advertising fatback at any price?). A&P had whole chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, cheddar cheese for 45¢ a pound, and then-trendy instant coffee for 99¢ for a 10-ounce container. Big Apple offered Porterhouse steak  for 99¢ a pound,  squash for a dime a pound, and canned biscuits for a nickel per 10-biscuit can. And West Rome favorite Couch's Grocery had sirloin stark for 69¢ a pound, ice milk (for those of us who couldn't afford ice cream!) for 39¢ a half-gallon, and onions for 6¢ a pound.

The DeSoto Theater turned to the dark side as they screened Sodom and Gomorrah for the first part of the week; The First Avenue Theatre ran Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Terror with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, while the West Rome Drive-In was showing The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Only Two Can Play (which, according to the ad, starred "Peter Seller." Apparently he wasn't famous enough in 1963 for the paper to spell his name correctly!) The weekend brought The Day Mars Invaded Earth and Beauty and the Beast to the DeSoto, A Child Is Waiting (with Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland) to the First Avenue, and The Three Stooges in Orbit and Belle Sommers to the West Rome Drive-In.

"Hey Paula" by Paul and Paula was the number one song this week in 1963. The rest of the Top Ten included "Walk Right In" but he Rooftop Singers (#2); :The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee (#3); "Loop de Loop" by Johnny Thunder (#4); "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters (#5); "Walk Like a Man" by the Four Seasons (#6); "Ruby Baby" by Dion (#7); "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" by the Miracles (#8); "Rhythm of the Rain" by The Cascades (#9); and "Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence (#10). And of course, you could buy those singles at Redford's in West End Shopping Center, at Murphy's on Broad Street, or at the Record Shop on Broad Street.

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