Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/18/63 to 2/24/63

Fifty years ago this week,  the state of Georgia first considered a bill to require annual automobile safety inspections to be administered by the Department of Public Safety. The cost for the annual inspection would be capped at $1.25, according to lawmakers.

The cold weather that dominated most of the winter continued to plague Rome: an official low of 6 degrees was reported on Friday morning, February 22nd, while temperatures of zero were measured on Broad Street and -2 in West Rome. Saturday lows rose to a balmy 8 degrees, with Sunday morning's low coming in at 14.

Lots of Chieftains were absent this week in 1963, as Rome City Schools reported extremely high school absenteeism due to a widespread flu outbreak. Both teachers and students were staying home in record numbers, reaching almost 30% absenteeism at its peak; the culprit was believe to be Asian flu.

West Rome's boys played West Fannin on Monday, February 18th, as a part of the Region 3-AA basketball tournament, while West Rome's girls played Cedartown. Alas, the girls were eliminated when they lost to Cedartown51-38. The boys won their game 44-43; the game's outcome was decided when a West Fannin player who was fouled at the final buzzer missed his one-and-one shot. The boys advanced, playing LaFayette on Wednesday, February 20th; alas, that would end their season as LaFayette won 42-31.

The West Rome High School Band Parents Club sponsored a series of "Go Washington" cake sales on February 22nd and 23rd, with the proceeds earmarked to cover some of the costs of the band's upcoming trip to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. The cake sale was held in three locations: in front of Murphy's on Broad Street, in front of Belk-Rhodes on Broad Street, and in front of Enloes in Central Plaza. (Oddly enough, none of those locations are in West Rome!)

Rome's economic growth continued unabated as department store sales reported a 5% increase in December '62-January '63 over the same months a year prior. That put Rome ahead of every other metro area of Georgia other than Atlanta, which beat it with a 6% increase. This news did not go unnoticed by the the Kuhn's discount department store chain, which began negotiating for a Rome location for its Big K Discount Store chain--a location that would eventually find the store directly across the street from West Rome High School, where it remained until Walmart took over the chain and converted it into West Rome's first Walmart.

And to show you how much North Georgia has changed in a half-century, it was announced fifty years ago this week that Rome's own Ledbetter Brothers Construction had won a bid to construct a significant portion of I-285, which was then referred to as "the Atlanta circumferential expressway." I-285 would not be completed until 1969; of course, I-75 would not be completed until even later than that. Many of us undoubtedly remember when US 41 was the only multi-lane north-south route from Rome to Marietta; I-75 wasn't completed between Marietta's North Loop and Cartersville for several more years.

The Shrimp Boat in Central Plaza was advertising a weekday special: a shrimp and fish combination dinner with hugh puppies, tartar sauce, and french fries for only 97¢.  Redfords brought back their chicken breast with two vegetables and bread for only 50¢

Belk's celebrated Washington's Birthday with a storewide sale that included a Magnavox Record Player for $66, a portable sewing machine for $14, and 50%-75% off winter coats. Sterchi's Furniture had a living room suite for $99.95, while Sears offered a 19% table model television for $99 and a 1 horsepower window air conditioner for $122. Enloe's Drug Store offered such esoterica as a harmonica for 77¢, a 2 transistor radio for $4.99, and a two-slice pop-up toaster for $8.88. And Murphy's offered chocolate covered cherries for 44¢ a box, baseball gloves and mitts for $1.87@, and folding lawn chairs for $3.97 each (I think we had to buy a new set of these every year or so--they weren't particularly strong chairs, as I recall, so even if you replaced the nylon webbing, the metal chairs themselves would buckle in one or two seasons).

Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, 24-ounce cans of chili for 33¢, and Heinz ketchup for 19¢ per bottle. PIggly Wiggly offered sausage for 49¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Bush's Beans for 9¢ a can. Big Apple offered the lowest price on ground beef at 33¢ a pound (back then, no one advertised lean-to-fat ratios), the ever-popular "lunch meat" for 19¢ and fruit cocktail for 20¢ a can. Couch's had hot dogs for 39¢ a pound, hoop cheese for 49¢ a pound, and chicken livers for 49¢ a pound. And A&P offered lettuce for 12¢ a head, cube steak for 89¢ a pound, and pork loin roast for 47¢ a pound.

For the first half of the week, Rome moviegoers could choose between Two for the Seesaw at the DeSoto Theater, Marco Polo at the First Avenue Theater, and Advise & Consent at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought Taras Bulba at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Garden of Evil and Broken Lance at the West Rome Drive-In; Two For the Seesaw continued all week long at the DeSoto. (A friend wrote to say, "I've never heard of most of the movies you list each week!" That's not surprising: in the days before VCRS and DVDs and digital downloads, local theaters had a captive audience, and if they could bring them in with less expensive films, that's just what they did. Furthermore, Hollywood was churning out X number of films a year to fill those theaters, and not all of them were gems, by any means!)

What were we listening to this week in 1963? Well, "Hey Paula" by Paul and Paula continued its hold on the first place spot for the third week in a row. Other top ten songs included "Ruby Baby" by Dion (#2); "Walk Like a Man" by the Four Seasons (#3); "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers (#4); "Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades (#5); "From a Jack to a King" by Ned Miller (#6); "You're the Reason I'm Living" by Bobby Darin (#7); "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" by Eydie Gorme (#8); "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" by the Miracles (#9); and "Wild Weekend" by the Rebels (#10).

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