Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/16/1963 to 12/22/1963

Six Chieftain football players were recognized at the Chieftain Banquet, sponsored by the West Rome Chieftain's Club. Ken Payne was chosen most improved player; Richard Edwards, most valuable lineman; Donnie Hill, winner of the annual Sportsman trophy; Chris Warren and AV Gray, most valuable backs; and Jerry Coalson was named as the Captain of the 1964 football team.

East Rome didn't rack up many victories over the Chieftains, but their wrestlers did manage to defeat West Rome's mat team 38-21, thanks in large part to three straight Gladiator pins in the upper weight classes.

West Rome's basketball team managed to pull out a 40-37 victory over Coosa on Wednesday night as they faced off in the 10th Annual Northwest Georgia Invitational Basketball Tournament. As a result, the Chiefs advanced to face off against Pepperell on Friday night. After winning that game 40-19, West Rome moved up to the semifinals, where they were defeated by Rockmart 53-47 in Saturday night's game.

Members of Rome's Senior Tri-Hi-Y went caroling at the Summerville Park Convalescent Home on Wednesday, December 18th, followed by a party for the Convalescent Home's residents sponsored by the Junior Tri-Hi-Y.

West Rome was shivering on Thursday morning, December 19th, as the temperature fell to 8 degrees, with the high never getting above freezing again until Friday afternoon, when it crept up to 35.

What was it that Robert Burns said about "the best-laid plans of mice and men..."? On December 20th, Jim Gillis, director of the State Highway Board assured Rome and Floyd County that they would have a direct connection with Interstate 75 via 411. Rome was so confident that the interstate connection was forthcoming that they added local money to state funding in order to construct the four-lane East Rome Interchange at the Highway 411/Highway 27 intersection so that Rome would be ready for the increased traffic that its promised direct I-75 connection would bring. As we know all too well nowadays, government promises don't mean very much at all, and Rome is still waiting for its direct connection to I-75 a half-century later…

Rome's economy was looking so good that Floyd County approached the end of 1963 with almost full employment; the Department of Labor said that unemployment was well below 5% in Floyd County, while local employment services said that they had more open jobs from area manufacturers and businesses than they had applicants looking for work. Pepperell, Celanese, Fox Manufacturing, General Electric, and Kraft all reported increases in hiring in 1963, and anticipated further growth for 1964.

Rome was moving into the high-tech age with the opening of the Magic Touch Car Wash on North Broad Street--"The South's Most Modern Automatic Car Wash!" Customers were invited to come by and watch a car go in dirty on one end of the facility and come out sparkling clean on the other! The December 17th grand opening included free soft drinks and leather key holders for all customers, and a free car wash with the purchase of 10 gallons of gas (without gas, the cost was $1).

In the era before video camcorders and multipurpose smartphones, 8mm film was pretty much the only way to save motion pictures of family events. With Christmas approaching, Brock's had a a high-quality Bolex home camera for only $330.00--but of course, if you wanted to watch those films afterwards, you'd need that $189.50 projector to go along with it!  It's no wonder that my parents treated their very basic home movie camera as if it were worth its weight in gold!

Meanwhile, Singer was promoting their sewing machines as the perfect gift--and while they had a basic model that started at $59.50, any machine that could do anything more than a straight stitch was $139.50 and up, topping out at $279.40.

If you wanted a gift for the whole family, both Chastain's Radio & TV and Rome Radio Company had a 19" color console television for only $550--or you could take the bargain route and buy a 17" tabletop color television for only $448.  Adjusting for inflation, that's more expensive than a 70" LED 3D Smart TV today!

If you weren't ready for Christmas yet, Sears allowed you to get into the Christmas spirit in the most trendy way with a 201-branch all-aluminum Christmas tree for only $15.54. For a brief time, these were de rigueur… then they were kitschy… and now they're hip collectible relics of a bygone time. The revolving multi-color light unit was an additional $6.99. (If you preferred your artificial tree in green, Sears also had a green vinyl tree for $21.98).

Piggly Wiggly had Christmas grapefruit (I can't say I ever thought of grapefruit as a Christmas fruit, but apparently someone did!…) for only 7¢ each, 2 pounds of Maxwell House coffee for $1.19, and jello for a nickel a box. Kroger had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, squash for a dime a pound, and five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 39¢. Big Apple had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, Stokely canned pumpkin for a dime a can, and Brach's hard candy mix for 39¢ for a one-pound bag. A&P had a four-pound canned ham for $2.99 (somehow, I made it through my entire childhood without ever eating canned ham!), ground beef for 33¢ a pound, and Banquet frozen chicken pot pies for 18¢ each. Couch's had lean pork roast for 39¢ a pound, Oscar Mayer bacon for 59¢ a pound, and fresh whole pecans for 33¢ a pound.

The week started off with a pair of less-than-stellar cinematic choices: Fun in Acapulco (with Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto or Of Love & Desire (with nobody you care about--its only selling point was that it was "not recommended for persons under 18 years old") at the First Avenue. The weekend brought Twilight of Honor (with Richard Chamberlain) to the DeSoto and Black Zoo to the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In regaled viewers with a double feature of The Great Van Robbery and Sergeants 3.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Dominique" by the Singing Nun, for the fourth week in a row. Other top ten hits included "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton (#2); "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen (#3); "Since I Fell For You" by Lenny Welch (#4); "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" by the Caravelles (#5); "Drip Drop" by Dion DiMuci (#6); "Forget Him" by Bobby Rydell (#7); "Popsicles and Icicles" by the Murmaids (#8); "Talk Back Trembling Lips" by Johnny Tillotson (#9); and "Be True to Your School" by the Beach Boys (#10).

And while the Beatles had yet to officially release a record in the US, Walter Cronkite's broadcast of a story on the Beatles and Beatlemania in the UK (a story that was originally intended to air on  November 22nd, 1963, but never made it on the air on that day because of the Kennedy Assassination) convinced Ed Sullivan that the Beatles were going to be big. As a result, Sullivan was inspired to issue a press release in mid-December announcing that “The Beatles, a wildly popular quartet of English recording stars, will make their first trip to the United States Feb. 7 for their American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, Sunday, Feb. 9 and 16…The fantastic popularity of the Beatles in England has received considerable attention not only in British newspapers but also in the American press. Their first record release is scheduled for January.” In late 1963, US music fans had no idea how much popular culture was about to change in just six short weeks…

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