Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/11/63 to 2/18/63

While early February was marked by a warming trend that brought its own problems, the cold weather wasn't through with Northwest Georgia. On February 11th, a cold front moved through that dropped the temperature 11 degrees in a half-hour period, bringing back sub-freezing temperatures and snow flurries. Temperatures fell into the teens by Tuesday night, with icy roads presenting more of a hazard that  the snow flurries. Schools stayed open, however, and the weather once again warmed up by the end of the week.

The City of Rome revealed the details on the deal it made with a developer for the land across from West Rome High School, which was  approved for development of the Gala Shopping Center. The City of Rome traded the property for a five-acre tract adjacent to and north of West Rome, extending to the railroad tracks; in addition, they paid the city $27,000. Thus, the deal was finalized that would eventually bring Big K and many other stores to West Rome and turn it into a major retail engine in Rome throughout the last part of the 1960s and the 1970s. (In fact, West Rome dominated Rome's retail sales until the mid-1970s, when Riverbend Mall opened across from East Rome High School.)

Moonshiners were still doing a lot of business in Rome in early 1963, but the State Revenue Department was doing their best to shut it down. On Wednesday, the "revenooers" raided three thousand-gallon stills in Rome's Silver Creek area, and were searching for other stills as they launched a raid on Rome's moonshiners.

The proposed "blue law" bill that would require most merchants to close on Sunday passed the Georgia Senate this week in 1963, but it was stymied in the house as businessmen and residents across the state let their representatives know that they did not like the idea.

In a sign that friendship was stronger than inter-school rivalries, Chieftain band director Clyde Roberson and members of the West Rome marching band showed up to share good wishes with the East Rome Gladiator Marching Band, which was departing for Tampa, Florida, to participate in a parade there. The Chieftain band played some of East Rome's favorite numbers then sent them on their way with a hearty "Go Gladiators!" as the busses pulled out. It was a classy move for Mr. Roberson and the band that was much appreciated by East Rome.

Ellen Marie Payne was named West Rome High School's STAR Student this week in 1963; she chose Mrs. Elliott Evans as her STAR Teacher.

The West Rome Band launched the first in a series of three concerts on on February 15th at the City Auditorium. The band performed nine songs in the concert, ending with a jazz arrangement of "Dixie" (remember, this was the 1960s, and Dixie was a common song at this time--some of you may remember that the Georgia Department of Education would tag a brief credit clip accompanied by "Dixie" on the end of all educational film reels they sent out on loan to schools in the state).

West Rome played Cave Spring on Friday, February 15th. It was a great night for Cave Spring and a not-so-great night for the Chieftains: the boys lost 44-40, and the girls lost 46-23.

Piggly Wiggly offered grapefruit for a nickel each, center cut pork chops for 49¢ a pound, and Maxwell House Coffee for 49¢ a pound. Kroger was running a special on smoked picnic hams at 29¢ a pound, baking potatoes for a nickel a pound, and the ever-popular Chef BoyArDee Beefaroni for a quarter a can. Big Apple offered medium eggs for 43¢ a dozen, round steak for 89¢ a pound, and sliced American cheese for 39¢ a pound. A&P topped that with sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound--and for those with lower food budgets, they had Libby's potted meat for a dime a can. Couch's counted with stew beef for 33¢ a pound, pork roast for 39¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound.

Rome Automobile Company began an aggressive advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle in early 1963, including large ads in the Rome News-Tribune; the ads were mostly amusing and slightly self-deprecating, establishing Volkswagen as a modest, affordable alternative to the American cars that were so common.

The DeSoto Theater began the week with Tony Curtis's Forty Pounds of Trouble, while the First Avenue Theater was showing White Slave Ship and the West Rome Drive-In offered The Horizontal Lieutenant. The weekend brought Pat Boone's Mardi Gras to the DeSoto Theater, Panic in Year Zero to the First Avenue Theater, and a double-feature of Loss of Innocence and Carthage in Flames to the West Rome Drive-In.

Paul and Paula continued to dominate the Top Ten music charts as "Hey Paula" held on to first place for another week. The rest of the Top Ten included "Wal Right In" by The Rooftop Sings (#2), "Walk Like a Man" by the Four Season (#3), "Ruby Baby" by Dion (#4), "Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades (#5), "From a Jack to a King" by Ned Miller (#6), "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee (#7), "You Really Got a Hold on Me" by the Miracles (#8), "Loop De Loop" by Johnny Thunder (#9), and "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters (#10). And here in the US, a single called "Please Please Me" was released by a minor R&B label, Vee-Jay records, this week in 1963. Alas, it didn't chart at all, and it would be almost another year before the Beatles would become superstars in America. This same week, the Beatles were busy in the studio recording the other songs for their "Please Please Me" album.

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