Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/15/63 to 7/21/63

West Rome's continued growth led to the opening of a new bank branch on Shorter Avenue at Division Street. Citizen's Federal announced that John H. Cook Jr. had been chosen as manager of the branch, with Martha Reed and Louise Baldwin assisting at the new branch, which held its grand opening on July 16th.

The Rome Board of Education announced plans for a $793,000 school construction program (hey, that was big money in 1963!) that included the addition of an industrial arts shop at West Rome High School, "to give those students the same type of instruction nd facilities already enjoyed by Main High and East Rome High." The program would also equip the shop, add four more classrooms in the West Rome Junior High wing, and add four new classroom for the high school; it also included funds for landscaping, paving, ground improvements, interior painting and curtains and stage draperies for the auditorium. Construction was also wrapping up on the Alabama Road Elementary School (aka West End Elementary), adding eight classrooms,a  kitchen, lunchroom, library, administrative area, clinic, teacher's lounge, and meeting rooms. Other classrooms were schedule to open in the elementary school's second year. West Rome was definitely in growth mode!

West Rome was also seeing road expansion as work was underway to widen and resurface Shorter Avenue, turning it into a four-lane road from Burnett Ferry Road to the railroad tracks at Rice Springs. (Yes indeed, Shorter was only two lanes from Burnett Ferry to West Rome High School and beyond back in '63!) Work was also underway to widen and resurface Elm Street and Lavender Drive from Shorter Avenue to Redmond Circle, and then to widen Redmond Circle from Shorter Avenue to the General Electric plant. The new Rome Frozen Foods plant expansion near the intersection of Lavender and Redmond Circle was also announced.

1963 had a lot in common with 2013 weather-wise: as of mid-July, Rome was almost 10" above normal for rainfall, and July was already a half-inch above normal. Likewise, it was a mild start to summer, with many days in the low 80s. Those of us who grew up in Rome in the 1960s may wonder why summer never seemed that torrid when we were children--but the truth is, we were in a cooling cycle during the 1960s and the early 1970s, and for the most part it was indeed cooler than average!

One of our most beloved teachers, Miss Kitty Alford, was involved in an auto accident on July 16th. As she backed out of a driveway, 17-month-old Edward Burgess toddled behind her car and was hit; thankfully he was not seriously injured, and Miss Alford was not cited since the accident was deemed unavoidable.

There was a major solar eclipse on Saturday, July 20th, which meant that the media was full of stories warning school-age children not to stare directly at the sun to see the eclipse. (Remember all the instructions for making a pin-hole viewer from a shoe box so as to see the eclipse without blinding oneself?…)

Rome's professional football team, the Rome Bisons, prepared for an August 3rd season opener. And if you don't remember an AFL or NFL team called the Bisons, there's good reason: this professional team was a part of the short-lived Southern Professional Football League, which was one of four leagues in the US in 1963 (the others were the American Football League, the National Football League, and the United Football League).

Kroger had eggs on sale for 33¢ a dozen, baking hens for 29¢ a pound, and Starkist tune for a quarter a can. A&P had Sealtest ice cream for 69¢ a half-gallon, cantaloupes for 25¢ each, and a six-bottle carton of Pepsi for 19¢. Piggly Wiggly had 5 pounds of sugar for 59¢, chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, and Nabisco Saltines for a quarter a box. Couch's had bacon for 39¢ a pound, Van Camp's chili for 29¢ a can, and frozen cream pies for 33¢ each. Big Apple  was serving up ground beef for 37¢ a pound, cabbage for a nickel a head,and bananas for a dime a pound. (Don't let the prices fool you too much, though: when you work in the 7.52 inflation multiplier, that would put many of these items proportionately higher priced than they are today!)

James Bond continued to combat evil at the First Avenue as Dr. No was held over for an extended run. The DeSoto had Tammy and the Doctor (with Sandra Dee and Peter Fonda) the first half of the week, while the West Rome Drive-In was in naughty mode,  screening Sodom & Gomorrah. The weekend brought Come Blow Your Horn (with Frank Sinatra) to the DeSoto; 55 Days in Peking (with Charlton Heston & Ava Gardner) at the First Avenue, and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and The Slave in a double-feature at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Surf City" by Jan & Dean. Other top ten hits included "Easier Said Than Done" by the Essex (#2); "So Much in Love" by the Tymes (#3); "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" by Rolf Harris (#4); "Memphis" by Lonnie Mack (#5); "Fingertips—Part Two" by Little Stevie Wonder (#6); "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris (#7); "Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto (#8); "You're the Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley (#9); and "Pride and Joy" by Marvin Gaye (#10).

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