Friday, May 03, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 4/1/63 to 4/8/63

We take automobile seat belts for granted today, but they were options in 1963--and weren't always available for every car! That's why the Rome Jaycees and H. Dean Morgan Oil Company joined forced in early April 1963 to launch a month-long Safety Belt Campaign. For $5.95 per seat, they would install safety belts in any car. Of course, these were lap belts only; it would be a few more years before safety engineers would make us all aware of the extra benefits of shoulder and seat belt combinations.

Another thing we take for granted in today's era of iPhones and unlimited long distance: almost free calling across the country. Back in 1963, this wasn't the case; rates dropped on April 4th to a mere $1 for three-minute person-to-person telephone calls placed between 9pm and 4:30am to numbers out of state. Add in your inflation multiplier and that's about $2.50 a minute!

Burglars who robbed Ledbetter Construction Company didn't have to put too much effort into gaining entrance to the building--they just crawled in through the large dog door that was left for a watch dog who, it appeared, did little more than watch as the burglars took about $7 in change from various vending machines on the property. This was the beginning of an Easter-week crime spree that led to nine break-ins over the weekend; in every case, vending machines and petty cash drawers were ransacked, but nothing else was taken.

On April 5th, Rome and Floyd County officially unveiled their coordinated bid to win a junior college for Floyd County. Their bid, which had the support of Governor Carl Sanders, led to the creation of Floyd Junior College a few years later.

And speaking of cars, annual automobile safety inspections became the law in Georgia in April 1963 when Governor Carl Sanders signed the bill into law. The new law made inspections optional in 1963 and 1964; beginning in 1965, though, they became mandatory, and remained so for almost all cars for many years.

A group of 30 volunteer mothers set up health clinic at West Rome High on April 1st, 1963. All 30 volunteers too part in a Red Cross first aid course before volunteering at the clinic, which was located in an area of the school previously designated as the "sick room." The clinic was equipped with beds, first aid kits, chairs, a desk, and a stretcher. The Junior Tri-Hi-Y, working with the Inter-Club Council, raised money to help stock the clinic. Principal Dick McPhee praised the parents for the time they put into preparing the clnic and training for its operation.

The Chieftains were defeated by Darlington in a track meet on Monday, despite some rapid running by Jerry Coalson, who broke the school record with a 2 minute 9.4 second 880-yard run, breaking Randy Watkins' 1961 West Rome record by a tenth of a second.This was  followed by another victory in a Wednesday meet against Trion and Armuchee during which Dickie Sapp won the 100 and 220-yard dashes as well as the broad jump, while Steve Rush won both hurdle events.

West Rome golfers took first place in a four-way Calliers Club confrontation with Cedartown, East Rome, and LaFayette on Tuesday, led by Buddy Copeland's 75 and David Cox's 76, helping West Rome rack up a 330 team score, which was 11 stories better than 2nd place Cedartown, 16 strokes better than East Rome, and 54 strokes better than LaFayette.

West Rome's 100-member marching band hit the road at 5:45 PM Thursday, April 4th, heading to Washington DC to take part in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The band members took a bus to Atlanta, where they departed by train for Washington; while there, they toured the Bureau of Printing and Engraving to see how money is printed (alas, no free samples), the Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institute, the Washington Cathedral, the Washington Zoo, Ford's Theatre, the Lincoln Museum, and a Franciscan monastery.

Grocery bargain hunters could find chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound at Piggly Wiggly, along with cabbage for a nickel a pound or a carton of 6 regular or king-size Cokes for 19¢. Kroger had smoked picnic hams for 29¢ a pound, potatoes for 39¢ for a ten-pound bag, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, sugar for 39¢ for a 5 pound bag, and sirloin stark for a bargain price of 23¢ for a 5 ounce steak. Couch's had spareribs for 39¢ a pound, the ever-popular Armour Treet for 39¢ a can (am I wrong, or is this imitation Spam?), and bacon for 33¢ a pound.

New Diet-Rite Cola was the subject of a heavy marketing push this week in 1963. "Only 1 calorie per serving! Full, rich cola flavor! No sugar at all! No extra cost! It's the stay-slim refreshment! Drink All you like--like all you drink!" Coke would follow suit later in the year with Tab, their cola soft drink. (Both Diet-Rite and Tab were sweetened with cyclamates way back in the 1960s; when that artificial sweetener was banned in 1969, saccharin took its place.)

Romans' cinematic options in the first half of the week included The Courtship of Eddie's Father at the DeSoto; Boccaccio '70 at the First Avenue; and a double feature of Hero's Island and The Best of Enemies at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend movie options included Love in a Goldfish Bowl and Breakfast at Tiffany's at the DeSoto; Cairo at the First Avenue; and a quadruple feature of Red Hot Wheels, Deadly Duo, Checkpoint, and Excuse My Dust  (all racing movies) at the West Rome Drive-In.

Some great music made the Top Ten this week in 1963, including "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons (#1--and it was so good that George Harrison unwittingly "borrowed" from it 6 1/2 years later for "My Sweet Lord"), "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics (#2), "The End of the World" by Skeeter Davis (#3); "South Street" by the Orlons (#4); "Can't Get Used to Losing You" by Andy Williams (#5); "Baby Workout" by Jackie Wilson (#6); "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison (*#7); "You're the Reason I'm Living" by Bobby Darin (#8); "Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades (#9); and "Young Lovers" by Paul and Paula (#10).

No comments: