Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/1/63 to 7/7/63

For those of us who grew up in Rome in the 1960s, it seems like the Rome News-Tribune has always been there, but the newspaper actually celebrated its fortieth birthday in the summer of 1963. It turns out that it was also the newspaper's 121st birthday, however. The roots of the Rome News-Tribune trace back to 1842's premiere of  The Courier of Rome, founded by Melville Dwinnell. That newspaper became The Tribune of Rome in 1877; in 1901, that name was modified to the Rome Tribune. In 1904, the paper merged with the Rome Herald and became the Rome Tribune-Herald. Then, in 1923, it merged with the four-yeard old Rome News and became the Rome News-Tribune, the paper that we now know as Rome's local newspaper.  Naturally, the Rome News-Tribune devoted some attention to its 40th and 121st birthday on July 1st, offering a look back at the history of the paper.

Zip Codes went live on July 1st, 1963. They weren't mandatory at that time, but they were functional; it would be several more years before the post office actually required them, so we all had plenty of time to learn our newly-assigned zip code and add it to our mail.

Lots of rain in the Rome area this week in 1963; the creek behind Conn Street flooded many of the creekside back yards and swept over the bridge on Paris Drive due to the torrential downpours, and multiple accidents were reported due to standing water on the roadways, which led to a few minor washouts.

For those of us who enjoyed comics, the first week of July,1963, was a landmark week: Marvel brought together several of their solo heroes in Avengers #1 and introduced comics readers to the first mutant superheroes in X-Men #1. This was also the week that Fantastic Four Annual #1 pitted the team against the Sub-mariner in an extra-length story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (the same team responsible for The Avengers and The X-Men), while Gold Key comics released the first issue of Bambi, based on the Disney film.

Grocery specials seemed to focus on Fourth of July backyard barbecues and family gatherings. A&P had 10 pounds of charcoal briquettes for 45¢, lemonade for a dime a quart, and a one-pound back of potato chips for 49¢. Big Apple had spare ribs for 29¢ a pound, watermelon for 49¢ each, and a case of Coca-Cola for 89¢ plus deposit. Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and watermelons for the bargain price of 39¢ each. Kroger was offering Coca-Cola for 79¢ a case plus deposit, pork and beans for 25¢ for two cans, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. Couch's had pork & beans for only 11¢ a can, ice cream for 47¢ a half-gallon. and watermelons for the best price in town--37¢ each!

The Fourth of July was a slow week for theaters, apparently, so most of the films were holdovers. The First Avenue continued with The Longest Day; the DeSoto offered Come Fly With Me; and the West Rome Drive-In offered Buffalo Bill (with Joel McCrea & Maureen O'Hara) and A Kiss Before Dying (with Robert Wagner & Joanne Woodward). The weekend brought Cry for Happy (with Glenn Ford) and Zotz! (with Tom Poston) to the DeSoto; a continuation of The Longest Day at the First Avenue; and a triple-feature of the B-Films House of the Damned, Air Patrol, and The Racers at the West Rome Drive-In.

"Easier Said Than Done" by the Essex moved into first place this week in 1963. Other top ten hits included "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto (#2); "Blue on Blue" by Bobby Vinton (#3); "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis (#4); "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore (#5); "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons (#6); "Surf City" by Jan & Dean (#7); "Memphis" by Lonnie Mack (#8); "So Much in Love" by the Tymes (#9); and the unforgettable "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" by Rolf Harris (#10).

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