Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/23/63 to 9/29/63

The new television season rolled out in mid-September; the networks continued to hold on to black and white technology, with only about 25% of the programs offered in color. Of course, it wouldn't matter much, since most of us only had black and white televisions anyway! For me, the most memorable debut of the 64-64 television season was The Outer Limits; as an avid science fiction and horror fan, this was a must-see, even though my parents thought it might be a little bit too intense for a ten-year-old. I still remember watching that first episode, with its "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission..." introduction, and wondering for a few minutes if they might be correct! Other series debuts included The Fugitive, Burke's Law, The Farmer's Daughter, The Patty Duke Show, The Judy Garland Show, and Petticoat Junction. It as also historic for what was not on network television: for the first time since the networks launched in 1946, there was no prime time boxing on the schedule. Other noteworthy television premieres: General Hospital made its premiere, as did the competing soap opera The Doctors. And we said farewell to a few favorites, including Laramie, The Real McCoys, Leave It To Beaver, and Hawaiian Eye, all of which ended their runs to make room for neew shows.

Representative John W. Davis announced that he was seeking a federal grant to move to downtown post office from its longtime location in the Federal Building (located at Fourth Avenue and East First Street) to a more accessible location. This was the first step in the process that led to the relocation of the main post office to its location several blocks away from downtown Rome--a move that would soon be followed by relocations of many shopping and dining establishments, leading to the dilution of downtown Rome as a hub for activity in Floyd County. (I remember that downtown post office in the Federal Building, and feel lucky that I got to make a few trips there. The post office had a dignity, a gravitas, a sense of history that the flat, sterile replacement building could never muster; there was heritage and history within those walls.)

West Rome's troubled season continued as the Chieftains lost 6-0 to the LaFayette Ramblers on Friday, Septemwe 27th. This left the Chiefs 1-3 for the season thus far and 1-1 in subregion competition.

Pat Merrell and Leigh Whittenburg were named National Merit Semi-Finalists; Pat was an active member of the National Honor Society, the Tri-Hi-Y, the Glee Club, and the Pep Club, and was editor of the West Rome Watanyah; Leigh was president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Tri-Hi-Y, Future Teachers of America, and Pep Club, and the editor of The Drumbeat.

The Junior Tri-Hi-Y elected Jan Ross as president, Carole Sewell as vice-president, Judi Burns as secretary, Barbara Helie as treasurer, and Suzanne White as chaplain.

The sophomore class elected its officers; Pat Barna was chosen as president, Stan Dawson as vice president, Charlene Lamb as secretary, and Connie Love as treasurer. The junior class also elected its officers, with Esther Ransom chosen as president, Jerry Coalson as vice-president, Gerry Law as secretary, and Judy Whitaker as treasurer.

West Rome senior David Childers was chosen as co-president of the East Rome-West Rome DECA. (In case you forgot, DECA was a part of the Distributive Education Program, a work program that offered part time school training and part-time job experience to qualified juniors and seniors.)

The week ended with an early-autumn monsoon, as Rome received more than 5" of rain on September 28th, continuing through Sunday with an additional inch of rain. Many creeks and streams in the area overflowed, and the rivers neared flood stage briefly, but there were no major problems.

Sears was pushing their big 23" console television for $168, just in time for the new television season. They also had a brand-new 14 cubic foot refrigerator for $298--and it was one of the trendy new frost-free models (I remember Mom defrosting our refrigerator in the early and mid 1960s, and Susan and had to defrost our refrigerators in the early 1970s after we got married; we take frost-free for granted nowadays, but it really was a big thing back then!).

Piggly Wiggly had a six-bottle carton of Coke or Tab for 19¢, four pounds of apples for 33¢, and whole fryers for 23¢ a pound. Big Apple satisfied our soft drink craving with RC Cola or Diet-Rite for 89¢ a case; they also offered strawberries for 33¢ a pint and those ever-popular fish sticks for 49¢ for a one pound box. Kroger had five pounds of Colonial sugar for 39¢, sausage for 39¢ a pound, and pork and beans for 12¢ a can. Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Poss Brunswick stew for 39¢ for a 16 ounce can. Kroger had round steak for 89¢ a pound, corn for a dime an ear, and a loaf of ever-popular white bread for 25¢. And here's a sure sign that groceries were cheaper back then: JFG ran a quarter-page ad promoting their new "easy open no-key can with a resealable flip-top" and they included a whopping 7¢ coupon. (When you adjust for the inflation multiplier, that's the equivalent of a 55¢ coupon today, so it's not as cheap as it sounds.)

Autumn was new car season, with both Julian Harrison Ford and Bonnie Davis Chevrolet running large ads touting their 1964 model year vehicles. Julian Harrison was promoting the '64 Fairlane, the Falcon, and the Super Torque Ford, which they touted as one of their heaviest cars "by hundreds of pounds." Bonnie Davis was pushing the "jet-smooth luxury" Impala and Bel Air and the all-new Chevelle, which was offered in the Malibu, the Malibu Super Sport, and the 300 series. If you remember the sportier Malibu of the late 60s, though, think again: the '64 Chevelle still looked a lot like a land yacht...

For the first half of the week, moviegoers could choose from Spencer's Mountain at the DeSoto, Irma La Douce at the First Avenue, or The Nutty Professor at the West Rome Drive-In (as a Jerry Lewis fan--what ten-year-old doesn't love slapstick comedy and goofy faces?--I pestered my parents to go see The Nutty Professor, and absolutely loved it. Thankfully, Mom and Dad also had a tolerance for such zaniness, and seemed to get a laugh or three from the film, which remains one my favorite Jerry Lewis movies). For the weekend Rome moved a mountain... well, they moved Spencer's Mountain to the First Avenue Theater. Other films included Gidget Goes to Rome at the DeSoto and Huk (no, I didn't misspell Hulk... Huk is the film's name, and it was a seven-year-old retread that was presumably brought back because it was cheap) at the West Rome Drive-In, in a double feature with Running Target (two eminently forgettable films, believe me).

The number one hit this week in 1963 was "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton; other top ten hits included "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#2); "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#3); "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs (#4); "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#5); "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels (#6); "Wonderful! Wonderful!" by the Tymes (#7); "Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas (#8); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#9); and "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals (#10).

No comments: