Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/22/63 to 7/28/63

Does anyone remember Romeo Floyd? The Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce created this cartoon character to promote Rome and Floyd County; he was depicted as a wide-eyed youngster wearing a beanie cap, shorts, and a T-shirt with the Chamber of Commerce's emblem. If he lasted very long at all, I never noticed it; I have no memories at all of this character, and I'm the sort of person who's actually likely to remember cartoonish mascots!

Construction on the Alabama Road Elementary School (which we know as West End Elementary) was running so far behind that the school board was worried that the facility might not be ready for the 1963-64 school year. The board began making contingency plans just in case the school wasn't finished on time.

Ceramics classes were so popular in Rome in the summer of 1963 that the Rome City Recreation Department had burned through its entire 1963 budget by mid-July. The city had ordered what they thought would be sufficient supplies for the entire year in early January to take advantage of bulk buying; in order to stretch out their remaining supplies as much as possible, they cut back on classes and limited new participants. The problem it turned out, was made worse by the fact that the funds that students paid to take part in the classes did not go back to the recreation department; instead, they went into the city's general funds. I remember my mother taking part in these classes, and I still have some of her hand-painted ceramics that she made in those classes; if the program was as popular as it sounds, there's a good chance that many other Chieftains have some vintage ceramics in their homes as well!

Sterchi's advertised its big maple furniture sale this week in 1963; it included a 3-piece master bedroom suite or a five-piece teen's bedroom suite, both in the then-popular Golden Harvest finish. Maxwell Brothers was also advertising a sale on maple furniture, with a five-drawer chest for $26.50. Maple may not be as popular for furniture today--and the Golden Harvest finish is definitely a 1960s trend--but it was the wood of choice in the early 1960s, supplanting the blonde wood modern look that had been a part of so many furniture store ads in the late 1950s and the early 1960s.

Kroger had ice cream (Country Club brand) for 49¢ a half-gallon, Clover Valley peanut butter for 99¢ for a 3-pound jar, and chuck roast for 49¢ a pound. Piggly Wiggly had a sale on whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, cantaloupes for a quarter each, and a 2-pound can of Maxwell House coffee for 99¢. A&P advertised it's Swift's Premium ham for 33¢ a pound, Sealtest Ice Milk for 49¢ a half-gallon, and banquet frozen meat dinners for 33¢ for an 11-ounce dinner (and it included that ever-popular salisbury steak!). Big Apple had leg o' lamb for 59¢ a pound, lettuce for 15¢ a head, and tomatoes for a dime a pound. West Rome's own Couch's Grocery had pork chops or ground beef for 39¢ a pound, DuBuque potted meat for a dime a can, and Oscar Mayer wieners for 59¢ a pound.

(One thing you notice from looking at the grocery ads from this time: brand names were much less important back then. Hot dogs, breads, ice cream, canned goods… many of them bear brand names that are unknown today, and there seemed to be very little difference in price between the major brands and the lesser-known names. Were these store brands? Were they locally produced regional brands? What happened to them?)

The developers continued to prominently advertise the new Beverly Heights subdivision, off Paris Drive in West Rome; on July 28th, they brought in Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers to sign autographs for those who came to look at new houses. It seems strange today to use sports stars to promote real estate, but the 60s were a different era…

Frank Sinatra starred in Come Blow You Horn, showing at the DeSoto Theater for the first half of the week. The First Avenue continued with 55 Days of Peking starring Charlton Heston & Ava Gardner, while the West Rome Drive-In was screening a double feature of The Magnificent Seven and Studs Lonigan. The weekend brought Irma la Douce (with Jack Lemmon & Shirley MacLaine) to the First Avenue ("No children's tickets will be sold," the ad stressed above the cartoony image of a policeman and a prostitute); Snow White and the Three Stooges and the low-budget "psycho shocker" Third of a Man at the DeSoto (obviously this is where the kids were expected to go!); and Period of Adjustment at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "So Much in Love" by the Tymes. Other top ten hits included "Fingertips (Part II)" by Little Stevie Wonder (#2); "Surf City" by Jan & Dean (#3); "You're the Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley (#4); "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris (#5); "Blowin' In the Wind" by Peter, Paul, & ary (#6); "Easier Said Than Done" by the Essex (#7); "Judy's Turn to Cry" by Lesley Gore (#8); "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" by Rolf Harris (#); and "Just One Look" by Doris Troy (#10).

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