Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome: 8/19/63 to 8/25/63

Muriel "Miki" McAbee was tapped to serve as the West Rome Chieftains Band's solo twirler for the new school year. In addition to her role as a twirler, McAbee was also a Drumbeat staff member, a Teen Beat correspondent, and a solo flutist in the concert band.

Rome was presented with an ambitious plan to renovate the downtown area, create a central shopping area, change traffic patterns, and establish a government center in order to keep downtown Rome a vital part of the community. The primary goal was to prevent Rome from being bypassed in favor of area shopping centers and shopping malls. Of course, we now know that, while the study was funded, the plan was never implemented, and Rome suffered a loss of business  as shoppers moved to the neighborhood centers and malls that the study's authors, Eric Hall Associates, had predicted.

Rome continued to add jobs: Trend Mills announced plans to open a plant in Floyd Industrial Park, which would create 300 new jobs, and in addition they were moving their company headquarters to the Rome site. Meanwhile, Georgia Kraft put its expanded waste water treatment facility into operation this week in 1963, creating another 20 jobs at the busy facility. Back in the 1960s, Rome was a regional employment hub, offering manufacturing and technical jobs and careers in a number of fields, which is one reason that West Rome saw such growth in economic strength and population in the 1960s.

West Rome Tri-Hi-Y members Jeannie Maxwell, Sara Whitworth, Regina Swinford, Sheryl Fricks, Carol Culp, Anne Hardy, Lee Davenport, Chris Johnson, Mary Virginia Gilbert, and Judy Oxford; and West Rome Hi-Y members John Payne, Don Plants, and Jenny Stewart headed off to Rock Eagle for the summer Officers Training Conference. They were accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bryant, who supervised and chaperoned the group.

The beginning of the school year was rapidly approaching, so the city school board and the Rome News-Tribune were reminding parents and students that they were to report to their schools on Tuesday, August 27th, to pick up their schedule cards.  Students who were new to Rome City Schools had to report to the schools on Wednesday, August 21st, for testing to determine proper class placement and courses of study.

Big televisions were the big thing for the new fall TV season: Sears was offering a "giant" 23" console black-and-white television for only $168 (complete with a "handsome console and a movie square screen"). while Western Auto had a 23" console television and stereo record player AM/FM combination unit for $348.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Kahn's bologna for 49¢ a pound, and Birdseye frozen vegetables for 15¢ a package. Kroger has chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, pork and beans for a dime a can, and Kraft mayonnaise for 49¢ for a one-quart jar. A&P had Swift Premium hams for 33¢ a pound, potatoes for a dime a pound, and yellow corn for 4¢ an ear. Big Apple had boneless round steak for 79¢ a pound, tomatoes for a dime a pound, and Maxwell House Instant Coffee (which, I can attest, did NOT taste like coffee) for $1.29 for a 10-ounce jar. Couch's had lamb shoulder roast for 29¢ a pound, Bama jelly for 19¢ per 18-ounce glass jar ("And when it's finished, the jar makes a wonderful beverage glass!"), and Stiver's Best Flour for 79¢ per 10-pound bag.

The first half of the week offered moviegoers a choice of Bye Bye Birdie at the DeSoto Theater, The Great Escape at the First Avenue, and Hud at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought Hayley Mills' Summer Magic to the DeSoto, Jason and the Argonauts to the First Avenue, and Five Bold Women to the West Rome Drive-In ("They used a weapon no bad man could… sex!").

The song everyone was listening to this week in 1963 was "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels, which took the number one slot. Other top ten hits included "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" by Allan Sherman (#2); "Fingertips (Part II)" by Little Stevie Wonder (#3); "Candy Girl" by the Four Seasons (#4); "Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#5); "If I Had a Hammer" by Trini Lopez (#6); "Judy's Turn to Cry" by Lesley Gore (#7); "Mockingbird" by Inez Foxx (#8); "More" by Kai Winding (#9); and "Denise" by Randy & the Rainbows (#10).

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