Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/26/63 to 9/1/63

You could tell that school was beginning, because all sorts of stores were advertising back to school sales. Enloe's, Wyatt's, Brackett's, Murphy's--all of them were advertising specials on school supplies, from your basic pencils and pens and tablets adn carayons to water colors, paints, fountain pens, ball point pens, scissors, construction paper, gym backs, school-mascot-decorated binders, and more. $1.39 could get you everything you needed from the first grade school supply list; 99¢ filled the needs of second and third graders; and $1.89 was al it took to send 3rd through 7th graders back to class fully stocked. No special list for high school students, of course, because our varied schedules meant that no standardized list was possible.

Rome and Floyd County school were packed as the year began, with enrollment up more than 4% in the Floyd County system and 3% in the Rome City system. As we all knew, West Rome saw more growth than East rome, thanks to the number of new homes being built in the West Rome area.

Coach Paul Kennedy was optimistic as the Chieftain's football season was approaching. "The boys' spirits and attitudes are still good, but some injuries and sickness may hurt us in the opening game, Kennedy told Don Biggers, who had recently become the sports editor at the Rome News-Tribune (we were proud of you, Dad!). West Rome's first game was against Rossville, the defending region champions. In typical Coach Kennedy form, he added that "I guess we'll be trying to get out of the game without being humiliated or suffering any serious injuries."

Rome's professional football team, the Bisons, proved that they weren't really ready for prime time as they posted another loss on August 31st, falling to the Chattanooga Cherokee. That left Rome with a 0-5 record, which isn't exactly the way to build a successful football franchise...

Gala Shopping Center came one step closer to reality when land negotiations were completed for the entire corner of Shorter Avenue/Alabama Road and Redmond Circle. The final land deals paved the way (no pun intended... well, not initially, at least!) for a major shopping center with more than a thousand parking spaces. G.L. Sutton announced plans to begin grading in the fall, with construction following soon after; the shopping center was slated to open in the second or third quarter of 1964, and Sutton said that Romans would be very pleased to learn about the new merchants who were coming to Rome (in 1963, most of us had never heard of Big K!).

The Coosa Valley Fair was still a month away, but fair organizers were already touting their celebrity performer. George Hamilton IV (well known in 1963 for his hit "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" as well as his ferequent appearances on network television) was slated to perform at the 1963 fair. And if that wasn't enough, the fair's organizers also said that they were bringing to Rome many of the same fair rides that had been featured at the recent Seattle World's Fair, including the giant Sky-Wheel. (Tilt-a-Whirl, here I come!)

Grocery specials for the week included pickled peaches for a quarter a jar, ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and a case of Coca Cola for 89¢ at Piggly Wiggly. Kroger undercut them by offering that same case of Cokes for 69¢, as well as a large box of Tide detergent for 19¢ and a one-pound can of Kroger coffee for 49¢. Big Apple had 5 pounds of sugar for 55¢. ground beef for 39¢ a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound. A&P countered with tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, whole fryers for a quarter a pound, and bananas for 9¢ a pound. Couch's had watermelons for 33¢ each, sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, and corn for a nickel an ear.

The first half of the week saw Summer Magic airing at the DeSoto; the "rowdy, risqué, rioutous" Carry On, Teacher at the First Avenue (I had no idea the First Avenue was home to so many naughty films!), and the equally tawdry-sounding Nature Girl & the Slaver and The Shame of the Sabine Women at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought The Thrill of It All (with Doris Day and James Garner) to the DeSoto, A Gathering of Eagles (with Rock Hudson) to the First Avenue, and Elvis Presley's It Happened at the World's Fair at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back" was the number one song this week in 1963. Other top ten hits included "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" by Allan Sherman (#2); "If I Had a Hammer" by Trini Lopez (#3); "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton (#4) "Candy Girl" by the Four Seasons (#5); "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas (#6); "Mockingbird" by Inez Foxx (#7); "The Monkey Time" by Major Lance (#8); "Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#9); and "Hey Girl" by Freddie Scott (#10).

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