Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/10/63 to 6/16/63

On a local level, summer 1963 began with a slow, lazy June; of course, that's pretty much the way high school kids like it, isn't it?

Civil rights made national headlines this week in 1963. On June 11th, Alabama Governor George Wallace's stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to protest against integration, before stepping aside and allowing two black students to enroll That same day, President Kennedy promised that there would be a civil rights bill during his Presidency. Then, on June 12th, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Rome Dairy Festival took place on June 11th and 12th, highlighted by the crowning of the Floyd County Dairy Princess at the Memorial Gymnasium. (Alas, Rome's contestant did not win this prestigious honor--the crown instead went to an entrant from Americus, who was no doubt udderly… err, utterly delighted to be chosen.)

Rome's employment rates continued on course, with teenagers looking for summer jobs faring much better in Rome than in the rest of the country, according to A.E. Hutchison, manager of the Rome office of Georgia State Employment Service. Rome's unemployment rate was .4% lower than the rest of the state, coming in at 3.6%. (Yes, you read that right--less than 4% unemployment!).

Rome got its official 30161, 30162, and 30163 zip codes for Rome were announced on June 14th by Postmaster Leo J. Russell; 30161 was the zip code for Rome home delivery, 30162 was the zip code for a post office box at the main post office downtown, while some designated areas outside of the city of Rome were initially designated as 30163. The postmaster urged residents to get used to these zip codes, as the post office would put the zip code program into effect beginning July 1st. The postmaster stressed that mail would still be delivered without zip codes, but delivery would be much slower. (I know that our zip code was 30161, and I thought that all of West Rome's zip code was 30161; did anyone have a 30163 code?)

Rome's newspaper, the Rome News-Tribune, won first place for general excellence among daily newspapers of less than 20,000 circulation; the honor was bestowed by the Georgia Press Association. Since Dad worked for the Rome News, I was particularly proud of this... and still am, since I'm gazing at one of Dad's many Georgia Press Association Awards that's hanging over my desk even as a type this!

Father's Day was celebrated on June 16th; it's amazing how many different stores sold Old Spice back in 1963!

The Rome Board of Education approved driver's training programs for East and West Rome High this week in 1963, operating under the direction of Don Unsworth (how many of us remember Mr. Unsworth and those gruesome driver's training films?). They also limited official school dances to five: homecoming, the Junior-Senior Prom, two senior dances, and one informal dance for sophomores and freshmen; and they voted to eliminate all floats in school homecoming parades except for the Queen's float.

With summer heat building up, it's no surprise that everyone was advertising air conditioners. A Gibson single-room window AC was advertised for $329.00; a Kenmore AC from Sears was a bargain at $299.99 (and remember, the inflation factor for 1963 is 7.52--so that $329 would equal $2800 in 2013 dollars!). Even Atlanta Gas Light was in the AC business, advertising their natural gas powered air conditioners (although they offered no pricing information). It's no wonder that most of us got by with fans during the summer of 1963!

Piggly Wiggly was pushing summertime grilling with sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, hot dogs for 49¢ a pound, and kielbasa for 39¢ a pound. Kroger countered with ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Bob White hot dogs at the bargain rate of 59¢ for a two-pound package, and a 16-ounce bottle of Kraft barbecue sauce for 29¢. A& P had top round steak for 75¢ a pound, t-bone steak for 89¢ a pound, and the ever-popular summer beverage Coca-Cola for 18¢ for a six-bottle carton. Couch's had pork steak for 49¢ a pound, spareribs for 39¢ a pound, and Oscar Mayer hot dos for 55¢ a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 83¢ a pound, chicken breasts for 42¢ a pound, and watermelons for 59¢ each.

The big film of the week was Mutiny on the Bounty, which was showing at the First Avenue during the week; the DeSoto was screening Miracle of the White Stallions (a Walt Disney film), while the West Rome Drive-In was showing Big Red (another Disney film).  The weekend brought Fall of the House of Usher to the DeSoto and Operation Bikini to the West Rome Drive-In, while Mutiny on the Bounty hung around at the First Avenue.

In comic books, Janet Van Dyne (aka the Wasp) made her first appearance, joining the Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #44.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Sukiyaki" by Kyo Sakamoto. Other top ten hits included "It's my Party" by Lesley Gore (#2); "You Can't Sit Down" by the Dovells (#3); "Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)" by The Crystals (#4); "I Love You Because" by Al Martino; "Blue on Blue" by Bobby Vinton (#6); "Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole (#7); "Still" by Bill Anderson (#8); "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis (#9); and "Yellow Roses" by Bobby Darin (#10).

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