Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/29/63 to 8/4/63

The widening of Shorter Avenue west from Burnett Ferry Road westward past West Rome High had an impact on pizza lovers: the road construction required Pizza King (located at 1822 Shorter Avenue, in an area strongly impacted by the expansion) to change its hours and eliminate lunch service. For the duraiton of the construction Pizza King was forced to go to 4pm to midnight hours (1am on Friday and Saturday). Of course, with school starting up in mid-August, most of us weren't going to be able to pick up pizza for lunch anyway. (This didn't mean much to me at the time, because I don't believe I ever had pizza in the first ten years of my life. I think the first time I tried pizza was in 1964, when my parents got a pizza from Pizza Roma. I didn't hate it but I also didn't fall in love with it right away. That's strange, considering how much I enjoy pizza now...)

Fifty years ago, the city and the county were talking seriously about consolidating the two school systems into a single system, with the Rome Board of Education favoring the proposal. As we know, it never worked out... but this possibility was resurrected again and again in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s as a way of improving schools and reducing costs.  While it might succeed in the latter, I'm not sure it would ever accomplish the former...

Nowadays school systems bring students back to the classroom in early August, but in 1963 the starting date for West Rome High (and other city schools, of course) was August 29th (which meant that this was one of those years when we were still enjoying summer vacation on my late-August birthday!); students had to come by sometime on August 27th to get their schedule cards. The school system was rushing to finish up the "Alabama Road Elementary School" (don't worry if that sounds unfamiliar: the city renamed it West End Elementary before the school year started) before classes began, while the newspaper ran almost daily reminders to ensure that none of us forgot that we our summer was coming to an end…

Saving was much more rewarding in 1963: both the National City Bank and Rome Bank and Trust were advertising 4% annual interest on savings certificates of one year or more, with the National City Bank offering 4.5% on savings certificates of 3 years or longer.  Oh, if we could only find those rates today!...

Just as is the case this year, 1963 was a very wet year, with July closing out at 8.28" above average rainfall; even more notable was the temperature average, which was a full 11.9 degrees below normal.  As I've said before, however, summers were generally cooler in the 1960s than they are now, which is why so many of us who grew up in Georgia in the 60s had no trouble enjoying Georgia summers even in those days when all too few homes had air conditioning.

Rome's professional football team, the Bisons, kicked off its season on Saturday, August 3rd, with a game against Tuscaloosa, who also had a team in the Southern Professional Football League. Alas, it wasn't an auspicious beginning for the Bisons, who lost the game 42-0. Take that as an omen, if you will...

Rome and Floyd County weren't ready to give up on Floyd Junior College quite yet; even though the Board of Regents had chosen Dalton/Whitfield County as the site of one junior college and had favored Cobb County (near North Cobb High School) for the other location, Rome's political leaders complained that the decision had been made due to some underhanded political pressure, and pushed for reconsideration.

Do you remember when Georgia Power sold appliances? They most definitely did, and they offered their own financing as well, addding monthly installments onto your electric bill. This week in 1963, they were offering a massive 13 cubic foot refrigerator for only $258.  (Today, manufacturers are pushing into the 30-33 cubic foot range for a large family refrigerator; how did people ever get by with a 13 foot refrigerator/freezer?)

Fish got a little bit cheaper as the Shrimp Boat kicked off their Tuesday-Thursday 85¢ fish dinner special that included fries and hush puppies!

Kroger was advertising tomatoes for a dime a can, pork and beans for 12¢ a can, and pork chops for 39¢ a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 95¢ a pound, NuTreat ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and cabbage, cucumbers, or green peppers for a nickel each. Piggly Wiggly had sugar for 49¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and chuck roast for 39¢ a pound. Couch's had chuck wagon steaks for 79¢ a pound, okra for 15¢ a pound, and those fish sticks that all kids love for a quarter per half-pound box.

Flipper was making waves at the DeSoto Theater during the week, with Irma La Douce continuing its run at the First Avenue (minus the rather suggestive advertising graphic mentioned last in last week's column… apparently the Rome News-Tribune and/or the management of the First Avenue decided it was a little too much for a Rome newspaper!), and a double feature of Billy Budd and Raymie at the West Rome Drive-In. Th weekend brought Jerry Lewis's Nutty Professor to the DeSoto, Drums of Africa to the First Avenue, and Follow the Boys to 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 2" 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, & Mary (#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 (#9); and "Just One Look" by Doris Troy (#10).

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