Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 6/24/63 to 6/30/63

America's position as a global leader was in the news when President Kennedy paid a visit to Berlin, delivering his famous "ich bin ein Berliner" speech on June 26th in support of a united Germany.

Two of our most fondly-remembered shows from the early 1960s ended their runs in late June; both The Real McCoys and Leave It to Beaver saw their final first-run airings this week in 1963. Of course, both series would continue for many, many years in syndication, which is why many people who weren't even born in 1963 still remember both series with such fondness.

The push to bring a junior college to Rome and Floyd County continued as the Board of Regents had everyone on edge awaiting the word of their decision. Once the Board of Regents announced that Dalton had been given priority over Rome and Calhoun and that Floyd had NOT been chosen as a site for a new junior college, the continuing committee was already planning out its next move, which would include another bid for a junior college in 1964. The main reason given was that Rome already had two colleges--Berry and Shorter--and a junior college was thus unneeded. This was a startling setback for the area, and those who had prepared the bid were stunned, but they swore that this was far from a settled matter. By the end of the week, the Board of Regents had agreed to offer a further look at the Rome bid.

It truly was the end of an era: The old Rome High School on Third Avenue was torn down this week in 1963, after having been used for educational purposes for 90 years. The structure was built in 1873 as the Cherokee Baptists Female College (the predecessor of Shorter College). I must confess that don't even remember this building; like so much of Rome history, it fell by the wayside before I even realized its significance.

Rome's break-in spree resumed, highlighted by a break-in and burglary at Tilly Apothecary. Nowadays, the robbers would most likely go for drugs, but in 1963, the only thing they wanted was the $800 in a lock box. Two service stations were also victims of break-in burglaries.

If you wanted an electric typewriter, you apparently needed a healthy bank account: DavCo Office Supplies on Shorter Avenue was running an electric typewriter special for $249 after a $50 trade-in allowance on any typewriter. ("If you don't have a trade-in," they advertised, "we will sell you one for $2." So why not just advertise a $48 discount instead?…) Remember, with our inflation multiplier, $249 in 1963 dollars would be the equivalent of $1872.48 today, which means that an electric typewriter would cost proportionately more than a modern well-equipped computer!

No-Frost refrigerators were the order of the day at Rome Appliance Center; for only $299.50, you could enhance your kitchen with an 18.2 cubic lot Hotpoint frost-free refrigerator. (In 1963, 18.2 cubic feet was an enormous family-sized refrigerator/freezer; today, most economy refrigerators are larger than that!)

Couch's was offering Tip Top chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Dempsey's ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound. Piggly wiggly had 5-8 pound watermelons for 35¢ each, whole fryers for 19¢ a pound, and sugar for 63¢ for a five-pound bag. A&P offered seedless grapes for 33¢ a pound, ground beef for 37¢ a pound, and cantaloupes for a quarter each. Big Apple offered real Dempsey's ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, spare ribs for 29¢ each, and 10 pounds of baking potatoes for 39¢. Kroger offered sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, lettuce for 16¢ a head, and Oscar Mayer wieners for 49¢ a pound.

The first half of the week was marked by big lizard vs. big ape as King Kong Vs. Godzilla was on the marquee at the First Avenue. The DeSoto offered Paul Newman's Hud, while the West Rome Drive-In was showing Brigitte Bardot's Female and Flesh (far less titillating than it sounds). Then, in recognition of the upcoming D-Day commemoration, the First Avenue Theater began showing The Longest Day on Thursday, June 27th. The DeSoto was offering Walt Disney's The Castaways, while the West Rome Drive-In was showing Barabbas (that's quite a change of subject matter from what they were showing the first half of the week!).

The number one song this week in 1963 was (for the second week in a row) "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto. Other top ten hits included "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore (#2); "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis (#3); "Blue on Blue" by Bobby Vinton (#4); "Eaiser Said Than Done" by The Essex (#5); "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole (#6); "One Fine Day" by the Chiffons (#7); "You Can't Sit Down" by the Dovells (#8); "Memphis" by Lonnie Mack (#9); and "Surf City" by Jan & Dean (#10).

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