Sunday, June 02, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/12/63 to 5/18/63

The Rome City Schools board of education took under advisement a plan to establish an industrial arts shop at West Rome  High School; as Superintendent M.S. McDonald pointed out, only one half of the high school college graduates went on to attend college, and the other half might benefit from the industrial arts program. West rome was the only high school in the system which did not have such a program in 1963. The board also took under consideration proposed expenditures for new classrooms in West Rome's junior high department, since the school was growing by 60 to 75 students each fall in the early 1960s; landscaping, including top soil and trees for the West Rome campus; stage curtains for the auditorium; and painting of interior rooms that had bee left unpainted since the school opened in 1958-59.  There was also a proposal to expand the "Alabama Road School" (later officially named West End Elementary) from eight classrooms to twelve classrooms.

Rome's fiscal boom continued, with Rome department stores reporting the largest annual sales gains of any area in Georgia, posting an impressive 14% increase in business over 1962. Yes, Rome was growing even faster than Atlanta!

The growth in Rome meant that the old post office was rapidly proving inadequate, so the General Services Administration began looking for a new location for a modernized post office that could be opened by 1968 or earlier. We know that such a location was found, and the post office did abandon its historic downtown Rome site just a few years later.

West Rome's growth continued with the grand opening of Beverly Heights Subdivision, located off the south end of Paris Drive (which ran next to the Dairy Queen on Shorter Avenue). A full-page ad announced the grand opening of the subdivision, with refreshments served by the West Rome cheerleaders. Even better, one lucky attendee would win a free Shetland pony! (I know Beverly Heights well, because this was more or less my subdivision. That is, I lived in the area that became Beverly Heights, but it had no such name when we moved there in April of 1962. It grew to include new homes constructed on Paris Drive, Marchmont Drive, Norcross Drive, and Beverly Drive, and was at one time the home neighborhood for me and many of my fellow Chieftains, including the Greshams, the Terhunes, the Masons, the Boyds, the Rohners, and many others.)

Here was news that caused all sorts of confusion for my family over the years: Dan Biggers became the new headmaster of Thornwood School. Dan Biggers came to Rome from the University of Georgia, where he had served as the counselor to freshmen. As far as we determined, Dan Biggers was no relation to me or to my father, Don Biggers, but their names were only one letter apart, leading to frequent confusion. Later, Dan Biggers went on to become dean of students at Berry College, where he was known as Dean Biggers. As it so happened, my mother's name was Dean Biggers. And as you might suspect, this led to even more confusion... and may have worked to my benefit when I attended Berry College in the early 1970s!

Remember the Rome Bisons? Neither do I, but they were Rome's team in the Southern Professional Football League--and they signed former All-State Chieftain Butch White to their team this week in 1963. The Bisons played at Barron Stadium; anyone have any memories of watching the Bisons back in the early 1960s?  Just three years later, the owner of the team would be arrested for his involvement in burglaries in Atlanta and Marietta, so it appears the team wasn't very profitable!…

Shorter Avenue's days as a two-lane road west of Burnett Ferry Road came to an end when Ledbetter Brothers Construction began grading and preliminary work to widen the road to four lanes from Burnett Ferry all the way out to the railrroad crossing at Rice Springs. The road improvement also included money to ad sidewalks from Burnett Ferry to Wsest Rome  High--a decision that was certainly appreciated by those of us who occasionally walked to school! (It's worth noting that, at this time, Shorter Avenue actually ended at Burnett Ferry Road, and the name changed to Alabama Road at that point. Once the four-laning was completed, Shorter Avenue was extended all the way to West Rome High School.)

Scholastic letters were awarded at an assembly program in the West Rome Auditorium on Monday, May 12th.

Chieftains coach Paul Kennedy was chosen to serve as camp director for the Boys Club for their five-week camp scheduled for mid-June through late July, marking the second summer in a row that he has held the post.

The Chieftains lost to the Model Blue Devils 9-3 on Thursday, May 16th, knocking them out of the running in the City-County Tournament.

The West Rome Chorus, under the guidance of director Ronald Midkiff, presented its spring concert, "An Hour With Rodgers and Hammerstein," at 8pm on Monday, May 13th, at the meeting of the West Rome Chieftain's Club. The Chieftain's Club also installed new officers at the meeting, including President  Bill Garrett; executive vice president Mrs. Halsted Payne; academic vice president AW Dawson; athletic vice president Calvin Law; music vice president Charles Godfrey; secretary Mrs. Howard Fountain; and treasurer Mr. harry Warren. New board members for the 1963-64 school year included Robet Scherer, Fred Sapp, and Dolph Kennedy, with Mrs. Martha Payne serving as director. Obviously there were many parents who were quite interested in the school!

Rhodes Furniture celebrated its 88th anniversary with a big sale that included a three-piece Early American bedroom group for $119.00, an 8-piece maple dinette set for $149, and a full-sized sofa bed for $168.00. All of this included free delivery--and if you weren't happy with the furniture, they'd pick it up and take it back at no charge! Sterchi's marked their 75th anniversary with a 7-piece living room suite for $199.75, a chromed steel and formica dinette ensemble that included six chairs for only $75.75, and a full-sized Sealy mattress and box springs for $58.75.

Kroger had a case of 24 Pepsi Cola for 89¢ plus deposit (remember when drinks actually came in returnable bottles?), center cut pork chops for 45¢ a pound, and pork and beans for a dime a can... and they offered Top Value Stamps, which promised quicker redemptions with up to 10 % fewer stamps required than the S&H Green Stamp redemption levels. Piggly Wiggly countered with 24 cokes for 89¢ plus deposit, ground beef for 33¢ a pound, and a ten pound bag of potatoes for 49¢. Big Apple was touting the benefits of S&H Green Stamps' larger selection of merchandise (uh oh--stamp wars!), while offering beef roast for 37¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and the ever-popular-and-always-enigmatic "lunch meats" for 29¢ a package. A&P had ham for 29¢ a pound, watermelons for 79¢ each (summer really was getting closer!), and Chase & SAnborn coffee for 49¢ a pound. Couch's offered saltines for 19¢ a package, Double Q salmon for 59¢ per tall can, and fresh squash for 9¢ a pound.

The big movie in Rome for the first half of the week was The Birds, held over once again at the First Avenue. Debbie Reynolds' My Six Loves was showing at the DeSoto, while the West Rome Drive-In offered Walt Disney's Moon Pilot. The weekend brought Wonderful to be Young (with Cliff Richard and the Shadows) to the DeSoto in a double feature with Hercules; Some Came Running (with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Shirley MacLaine) and A Little Hut (with Ava Gardner, Stewart Granger, and David Niven) to the First Avenue, and White Slave Ship and Journey to the Seventh Planet (both of which had no one you ever heard of or cared about) to the West Rome Drive-In, proving our assertion that no one went to the drive-in to watch a movie.

Jimmy Soul had the number one song this week in 1963 with "If You Wanna Be Happy." Other top ten hits included "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March (#2); "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#3); "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys (#4); "Foolish Little Girl" by The Shirelles #5); "Pipeline" by the Chantays (#6); "Losing You" by Brenda Lee (#7); "Reverend Black" by The Kingston Trio (#8); "Can't Get Used to Losing You" by Andy Williams (#9); and "I Love You Because" by Al Martino (#10).

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