Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/14/63 to 10/20/63

West Rome students enjoyed a five-day "weekend" thanks to teacher in-service days; studnets got to sleep late beginning on Wednesday, October 16th, and they didn't return to class until Monday, October 24th. (Having taught school for more than a quarter-century, I can assure you that teachers enjoyed these breaks in the classroom schedule almost as much as students! It may not have been a full holiday for teachers, but it was a change in the daily routine, at least!)

Just up Redmond Road from West Rome, a forty-acre tract of land across from General Electric was undergoing development as an industrial site. Rome's rapid growth of new businesses and small industries made the development necessary, and the four-laning of Shorter Avenue to Redmond Road and beyond made the area readily accessible. We tend to forget how many small industries found homes in Rome during the 1960s--would that it were the same situation today!

Coach Paul Kennedy admitted that he was a little worried about the October 18th clash against Rockmart--particularly since Dickie Sapp had missed two days of practice after suffering an injury in the Cedartown game. Turned out that Coach Kennedy's worries were unnecessary, however: West Rome defeated Rockmart 33-7, led by Steve Holland, who scored twice in the game and made a stunning 70-yard punt return. Dickie Sapp recovered in time to play in the game. The Chieftains were so far ahead by the second half that Coach Kennedy put in the reserve team, who immediately scored a touchdown under the guidance of quarterback Ronnie Kennedy (Coach Kennedy's son). Perhaps the victory was inspired at least in part by the Thursday night bonfire that the Pep Club sponsored.

West Rome's chemistry classes experimented with a new approach to the study of chemistry as the launched the CHEM study, which was a laboratory-centered course that emphasized controlled experiments and careful record-keeping. Mr. Graham Stevens was the CHEM study facilitator at West Rome, working with his cross-town colleague Miss Addie Jim Rollins at East Rome to ensure that the new curriculum ran smoothly.

The Rome News-Tribune got a little smaller fifty years ago: the newspaper changed its trim size, making the paper a full inch narrower than it had been before. They also changed the font, or typeface, of the paper to a more contemporary style. This change resulted in a paper that looked much more like the Rome News-Tribune that most of us know, bringing an end to the older mid-centuiry look that strikes today's readers as "old timey." It may seem like a minor change today, but in the pre-Internet era, the paper was a much more important source of news for all Romans, so any change of this sort was a big thing.

Diners who wanted to get a head start on Thanksgiving feasting could stop by Murphy's every Friday and Saturday to enjoy a 79¢ turkey dinner that included dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, rolls, and jello.

"Buy-Wise is coming" ads began popping up in the Rome News-Tribune this week in 1963, which meant that another discount shopping alternative was on its way to Rome.  Many of us grew up with the "Be wise: Buy-Wise" slogan, so it's a bit surprising to realize that until 1963 there was no Buy-Wise in our town!

Piggly Wiggly was running their big pork chop sale, with center cut chops for 59¢ a pound; they also offered 5 pounds of sugar for 39¢ and an 18-ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.09. Big Apple offered smoked picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and strawberries for 33¢ a pound. Kroger had ribeye steaks on sale for 99¢ a pound, apples for 9¢ a pound, and a two-pound package of Velveeta cheese for 79¢. A&P had grapefruit for a dime each, shrimp for 69¢ a pound, and leg o' lamb for 59¢ a pound. Couch's had country style backbone for 49¢ a pound (okay, I'm stymied--what made backbone worth as much as a center-cut porkchop?), Bama jelly for 25¢ in a 16-ounce container that could be repurposed as a drinking glass, and baking potatoes for a nickel a pound.

In a rather unusual promotion, Van Camp's ran a coupon in the paper that offered a $10 discount on an electric blanket with the purchase of two cans of Van Camp's pork and beans. (Not sure that spending time under a blanket after eating a heaping helping of beans was necessarily the best idea...)

The West Rome Drive-In continued its newly-implemented policy of closing on weeknights, which meant that Romans had only two choices if they wanted to catch a movie. For the first half of the week, the DeSoto Theater was showing 55 Days at Peking (with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner), while the First Avenue was screening Captain Sinbad (with no one who mattered--although that didn't stop me from seeing the movie, of course! in the pre-Indiana Jones times, Sinbad movies offered similar thrill-a-minute adventures, albeit on a much lower production budget). The weekend brought a double-feature of Sergeants 3 and Rommel's Treasure to the DeSoto; First Spaceship on Venus and Varan the Unbelievable to the First Avenue; and The Last Days of Pompeii and Sharkfighters to the West Rome Drive-In. To say it was a rather uninspired cinematic weekend in Rome would be an understatement…

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs. Other Top Ten hits included "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#2); "Deep Purple" by Nino Temple & April Stevens (#3); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#4); "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton (#5); "Donna the Prima Donna" by Dion Di Muci (#6); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#7); "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers (#8); "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#9); and "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#10).

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