Friday, May 03, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 4/29/63 to 5/5/63

The economy continued to grow in the spring of 1963, with sales tax collection exceeding expectations by more than $5 million--and that pushed the total sales tax collection to $43 million and change, which meant that the windfall was more than 10% above expectations. Oh, what state and local governments would do today with revenues that exceeded expectations by more than 10%!...

Sir Winston Churchill announced his departure from politics on May 1st after sixty years. Having been a part of the British government since well before WWII, Churchill WAS England to a lot of us back in 1963.

Heavy rains in Rome--almost 7 inches in a five-day period ending on May 1st-- led to widespread flooding in Floyd County, leaving lots of farmers with swamps instead of planted fields. Since many crops had already been planted, Rome's farmers were looking at a difficult and costly spring of re-planting once the fields dried out. Many roads also experienced washout conditions, and the underpass on Division Street remained closed for almost a full day until water levels dropped sufficiently to make it safely passable.

This was the week in 1963 that Rome and Floyd County began working with the State Highway Department (the precursor to today's Department of Transportation) to develop plans for an east-west expressway to parallel Shorter Avenue and offer an alternative route through downtown Rome. Ultimately, the idea proved too costly and was abandoned, replaced instead by the East Rome bypass and the widening of Redmond Road to offer another alternative route from East Rome to West Rome.

Remember those Romans who staged a sit-in back in March of 1963? (We told you about their case in an earlier "Fifty Years Ago" column, in case you need to refresh your memory.) Well, four of those arrested appealed their convictions at the end of April, claiming that they were arrested solely on the basis of race and color.

The Chieftains baseball team defeated Calhoun 11-0 on May 2nd, led by pitcher Jimmy Brewer, who hurled a perfect game. The Chief followed that up with a May 3rd 4-1 win over the Darlington Tigers, led by the pitching of Eddie Hailton.

On May 3rd, East and West Rome faced off in a track meet at Barron Stadium; alas, the Gladiators defeated West Rome 66-61 in a "down to the wire" confrontation that saw West Rome take eight first places in the event.

West Rome's student body elected four young men to serve on the 1963-64 Student Council; this was the first time that West Rome had a male class president. The winners were Tim Key, President; Zeke Dawson, Vice-President; Jerry Coalson, Secretary, and Len Williamson, Treasurer.

You could tell that summer was on the radar: Sealtest began advertising their Lemonade, "The Cooler Summer Drink," for 29¢ per half-gallon.

Rome had a Popcorn Store? How the heck did I miss out on this?! Not only was the Popcorn Store doing business at 333A Broad Street, but they had things popping on May 3rd-5th with a three-day "buy one, get a second one for a penny" sale that included their regular popcorn, caramel corn, cheese corn, garlic corn, and more. So which Chieftains knew about this store and kept it a secret from me?...

If you were really hungry, then the Shrimp Boat was the place for you: they were offering their Combination Fisherman's Special (with fish, shrimp, deviled crab, scallops, clams, hush puppies, and french fries) for $1.94. So how did they come up with that price? Well, remember that Georgia was a 3% sales tax state in 1963, and there was no such thing as a local option sales tax, so the total price with tax would be exactly $2!

Emmy nominees were announced on May 1st; The Defenders, with E.G. Marshall, led the field with nine nominations, inclduing best series, best actor, and best dramatic series. Lucille Ball and Irene Ryan (aka Granny on Beverly Hillbillies) were nominated for outstanding actress, along with Mary Tyler Moore (The Dick Van Dyke Show) Shirley Booth (Hazel), and Shiri Conway (The Nurses). Best Actor nominees included Ernest Borgnine (McHale's Navy), Paul Burke (Naked City), E.G. Marshall (The Defenders), Vic Morrow (Combat), and Dick Van Dyke (you can probably figure out which series...). Back in the 1960s, dramatic and comedic talents competed against one another, although dramatic and comedic programs were nominated in separate categories.  The Best Comedy Series nominees were The Beverly Hillbillies, The Danny Kaye Show with Lucille Ball, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and McHale's Navy. Best Drama nominees included  Alcoa Premiere Theater, The Defenders, The Dick Powell Theater, The Eleventh Hour, and Naked City. Don't know about you, but I remember very little about any of the Best Drama nominees; my guess is they aired past this then-nine-year-old's bedtime!...

Kroger had applesauce for a dime a can, chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, and watermelons for $1 each. Piggly Wiggly offered center-sliced ham for 69¢ a pound, russet baking potatoes for a nickel a pound, and sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound. Coch's offered sirloin steak for a bargain 79¢ a pound, pork and beans for 13¢ a can, and their own specially-seasoned country sausage for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple was offering Lenox Park peanut butter for 33¢ per 12-ounce jar, Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢ for a five-pound bag, and a frozen pizza for 9¢. A&P had corn for 4¢ per ear, creamed corn for 17¢ a can, and the ever-popular ice milk for 39¢. (Whatever happened to ice milk, anyway? Did it eventually become reduced-fat ice cream?)

The DeSoto was showing Love Is a Ball (with Glenn Ford and Hope Lange) for the first half of the week, while the First Avenue had To Kill a Mockingbird (held over for an almost-unprecedented second week!) and the West Rome Drive-In had Tarzan Goes to India. For the weekend, The DeSoto brought in a double-feature of It Started With a Kiss and The Gazebo (both starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds… apparently Glenn Ford was a bigger deal than I remember), while the First Avenue had a double-feature of The Pleasure of His Company (with Fred Astaire and Debbie Reynolds) and All in a Night's Work (with Dean Martin & Shirley MacLaine) and the West Rome Drive-In offered It's Only Money (starring Jerry Lewis). The DeSoto was already building up interest in the new Alfred Hitchcock film opening on May 6th--an unforgettable movie called The Birds

The number one song this week in 1963 was "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March; other top ten songs included "Can't Get Used to Losing You" by Andy Williams (#2); "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#3); Pipeline" by the Chantays (#4); "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons (#5); "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul (#6); "Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)" by the Cookies (#7); "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys (#8); "On Broadway" by The Drifters (#9); and "Watermelon Man" by the Mongo Santamaria Band (#10).

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