Thursday, February 07, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/28/63 to 2/3/63

Rome's cold winter continued to chill out in Northwest Georgia: the week began with a low of 8 degrees on Monday morning, January 28th. The below-freezing temperatures hung around through Wednesday morning, which led to a few hours of freezing rain problems on January 30th until slowly rising temperatures caused the freezing rain to begin melting, eliminating the threat of a  major ice storm. By the end of the week, however, temperatures soared to 70 degrees.

Rome area burglars continued to focus on business safes, stealing the large safe from Yarbrough Grocery in Armuchee and the Ideal Service Station in Cave Spring, leading one to wonder if the word "safe" was a misnomer.

We all read his work in American literature classes, but we forget that he was still very much with us until this week fifty years ago: Robert Frost passed away at the age of 88 on January 29th; his miles long since travelled, it was finally time for his eternal sleep. Frost, along with Carl Sandburg, had been praised as an eloquent poet of the common man, writing about real-world subjects many of us were likely to experience. A half-century after his passing, his poetry still seems fresh and contemporary.

James Meredith ended weeks of speculation by confirming his intention to return to the University of Mississippi for the spring 1963 semester. (James Meredith was the first black man admitted to the University of Mississippi in a time when segregation was the norm; his bold pursuit of equal rights in education was a strong influence on the many Southern school systems' decision to move away from segregated schools, paving the way for the integration of West Rome and East Rome and expanding educational opportunities for all people regardless of race.)

Governor Sanders confirmed his interest in establishing Battey State Hospital as the official Georgia center for cancer care; alas, those plans never came to pass (but just think how it might have changed Rome's economy over the years!).

The Rome City Commission continued to study the proposal that they sell a tract of land near West Rome High School for construction of a $1.7 million shopping center--and the Rome City Board of Education continued to express its strong opposition, pointing out that they were already building West End Elementary on the other side of Alabama Road from West Rome High, and the land on the other side of Redmond Circle would be perfect for a planned junior high school.

West Rome band director Clyde Roberson announced that the Chieftain Band would hold three concerts on February 18th, March 8th, and March 15th  to raise enough money for the band to participate in the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

West Rome's boys lost to Cedartown 76-68 on February 1st, but they soundly defeated Coosa the next night 55-40. The girls also lost to Cedartown on February 1st by a score of 73-40 (apparently Cedartown had a great basketball program in 1963!), but they too defeated Coosa 57-40.

West Rome's JV boys defeated Armuchee 43-18 in the opening night of the Floyd County Junior Varsity Basketball Tournament on January 28th. Donnie Hill was then top scorer with 10 points.

West Rome's wrestlers fell to the Brainerd High team 41-13 (were we really playing teams from the Chattanooga area?).

Kroger offered large boxes of Fab detergent for 25¢ each this week in 1963, while cans of yellow corn were a dime each, fruit cocktail 20¢ each, smoked hams were 29¢ a pound, and chicken breast were 49¢ a pound. Piggly Wiggly competed with boxes of Cheer for a quarter each, chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, bananas for 12¢ a pound, and whole barbecue chickens for 89¢ in their deli. Big Apple had ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, bacon for 45¢ a pound, and coffee for 59¢ a pound.

Virtually every retailer in the Rome area participated in the Rome Dollar Days sale on February 1st and 2nd; with each retailer pretty much doing his own thing nowadays, we forget that the retail community at one time worked in tandem to create special events like this back on a regular basis.

The DeSoto Theater offered Gigot with Jackie Gleason during the week, followed by a special double feature of North by Northwest (with Cary Grant) and Hound Dog Man (with Fabian) on February 1st and 2nd. The First Avenue Theater screened The Premature Burial during the week, followed by a weekend showing of Young Guns of Texas with James Mitchum, while the West Rome Drive-In offered a double feature of Parrish and Splendor in the Grass during the week and a double feature of The Interns and The Underwater City on the weekend.

The Top Ten songs for this week in 1963 included "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers, which held on to #1 for a second week, followed by "Hey Paula" by Paul and Paula (#2), "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee (#3), "Go Away LIttle Girl" by Steve Lawrence (#4), "Loop de Loop" by Johnny Thunder (#5), "It's Up To You" by Rick Nelson (#6), "Up on the Roof" by the Drifters (#7), "Tell Him" by The Exciters (#8), "Two Lovers" by Mary Wells (#9), and "My Dad" by Paul Petersen (#10).

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