Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/2/63 to 9/8/63

Rome's growth spurt continued: Rome/Floyd County retail sales in the second quarter of 1963 showed a growth of 3.5%, or more than a million dollars (and this was a time when a million dollars actually meant something... cue dr. Evil...). Not only is the growth noteworthy, but it's also interesting to note that it took the state until early September to tally all the figures for April-through-June sales in those pre-computer days. It's easy to forge tthat information access wasn't always instantaneous!

West Rome launched their football season on September 6th by confronting Rossville, the George Class AA Champions, on their home turf. "You can't accuse West Rome of hunting for a breather! The plain fact is that, on paper, we're just outclassed in this one," Coach Paul Kennedy said. Nevertheless, West Rome fought 'til the very end, though: Rossville barely won in a 14-12 game that wasn't decided ntil the very end of the game. "I think they just happened to relize they were bout to lose their first ball game at home in five years," Kennedy explained regarding the fourth-quarter touchdowns that put Rossville ahead (West Rome was winning 12-0 as the fourth quarter began). "I really think that tradition is what beat us." The Chieftains may have lost, but the game was so close that everyone had to consider West Rome a real contender as the season began.

One more sign that high school football season was here: Pure Oil stations in Rome were selling 69¢ stadium cushion seats--you know, those cheapo vinyl-covered fiber-filled seats that provided some comfort and insulation from cold bleachers or concrete seats. I certainly remember that we had a couple of those, and I suspect we weren't the only ones...

And apparently hunting season was pretty big in 1963: Economy Auto was advertising Springfield shotguns from as low as $23, all the way up to $106 for a Springfield automatic five-shot rifle. Don't see too many ads like that today!

The Rome City School System launched its new driver education courses under the direction of Don Unsworth; students spent 3 hours in the classroom and 6 hours behind the wheel of a car. West Rome students attended class from 6pm until 8pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. I presume everyone who took the course from Mr. Unsworth still remembers those gory driver's ed films that were intended to scare us into being careful drivers.

A new school year meant new club meeting schedules. The Tri-Hi-Y and Hi-Y met every Tuesday at 8:10 AM; the Pep Club met every Wednesday at 8:10 AM; the Jets and Science Club met every Thursday at 8 AM; and the Honor Society met every Friday at 8:10 AM.

Lynda Hill was selected to represent West Rome in the Miss Coosa Valley Fair contest.

In 1963, those of us who rode a bus to school may remember that we rode city transit buses, not traditional school buses. The bus schedule was published in the Rome News-Tribune on September 4th (apparently it took them that long to finalize the schedules), and it obviously took a look of finagling to work out a schedule for all the city schools with the limited number of buses that the City Transit Department had on hand! Student population growth accounted for much of the scheduling difficulty; West Rome had 925 students enrolled for the 1963-64 school year.

Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Peter Pan chunk tuna for 29¢ (and no, that's not a typo--apparently there was a Peter Pan canned tuna in 1963!), and four rolls of Northern toilet tissue for 35¢.Kroger had medium fresh eggs for 39¢ a dozen; fryers for a quarter a pound; and catnaloupes for 19¢ each. Piggly Wiggly had seedless grapes for 15¢ a pound, Tab for 89¢ a case ("Just 1 calorie per 6 ounce serving... but brimming with flavor!"), and Fig Newtons for 35¢ a box. A&P had all meat bologna for 49¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon. Big Apple had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, yams for 8¢ a pound, and turkeys for 39¢ a pound.

The first half of the week brought The Thrill of It All (with Doris Day & James Garner) to the DeSoto; A Gathering of Eagles (with Rock Hudson) to the First Avenue; and It Happened at the World's Fair (with Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought Lady and the Tramp and Almost Angels to the DeSoto; The Trojan Horse (a Steve Reeves sword-and-sandal flick) and The Mongols (with Jack Palance & Anita Ekberg) to the First Avenue; and Duel of the Titans (yet another Steve Reeves sword-and-sandal flick!) to the West Rome Drive-In. Then, beginning Sunday, both the First Avenue Theater and the West Rome Drive-In showed Brigitte Bardot's Please, Not Now ("the most provocative comedy of the year")--showing that sexy sold quite well, even back in 1963!

The number one song this week in 1963 was "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels. Other top ten hits included "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton (#2); "If I Had a Hammer" by Trini Lopez (#3); "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" by Allan Sherman (#4); "Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas (#5); "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals (#6); "Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys (#7); "Monkey Time" by Major Lance (#8); "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#9); and "Mockingbird" by Inez Foxx (#10).

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