The week of Christmas 1963 got off to an icy start as snow and sleet fell on Monday, December 23rd, with temperatures dropping into the teens by Tuesday morning, rising to the high 20s that afternoon, and falling back to a low of 10 degrees on Christmas morning. Mrs. Juanita Lester at the Russell Field Weather Bureau said that this promised to be the first white Christmas in Rome in decades (even if it was just a light layer of residual snow and ice and not a fresh snowfall). The icy roads led to a few accidents with injuries, but no fatalities, thankfully!
The icy conditions forced a rescheduling of the consolation and championship games of the 10th Annual Northwest Georgia Invitational Basketball Tournament for Monday, December 30th. While West Rome didn't make it to the championship, the Chieftains were slated to face off against the Cedartown Bulldogs in the consolation match.
Meanwhile, West Rome's girls team surprised everyone by winning 44-39 against previously-undefeated West Haralson in the Dave Spring Girls' Invitational Tournament on Thursday, December 26th. Then, on Saturday, December 28th, the girls defeated East Rome 49-46 to win the tournament championship; their victory was largely cemented by Linda Lippencott, who scores 37 points in the championship game.
One of Rome's radio stations, WLAQ, changed ownership on December 28th as the Athens-based Clark Broadcasting Company purchased the station, ending its longtime local ownership. The new owners announced their plans to expand the station's broadcast day from 5am to 1am seven days a week; under its prior management, the station had operated only from 6am to midnight. The new owners also promised that Rome would get the best of CBS national news, more local news, more music, and the best in local sports coverage.
Big Apple had turkeys for 33¢ a pound, Irvindale sherbet for 49¢ a half-gallon, and 17-ounce cans of cranberry sauce for 19¢. A&P had sugar-cured hams for 45¢ a pound, baking hens for 39¢ a pound, and whole coconuts for 12¢ each. Piggly Wiggly was thinking ahead to New Years Day, offering black-eyed peas for 12¢ a pound, hog jowl for 19¢ a pound, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Kroger had turnip greens for 15¢ a pound, pork & beans for a dime a can, and fresh fryers for 23¢ a pound. Couch's had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Planters peanuts for 33¢ for a 7-ounce can.
The week began with a double feature of Don't Give Up the Ship and Rock-A-Bye Baby (both with Jerry Lewis) at the First Avenue and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm ("special limited engagement--uncut & original length!") at the DeSoto. Under the Yum Yum Tree (with Jack Lemmon) came to the First Avenue on Christmas Day, while the DeSoto had a rather strange double feature: A Ticklish Affair (with Shirley Jones, Gig Young, Red Buttons, & Carolyn Jones in her pre-Morticia days) and a sports film compendium entitled, unimaginatively enough, Football Highlights. In spite of the cold weather, the West Rome Drive-In opened on the weekend, showing Walt Disney's Son of Flubber.
The number one song this week in 1963 was "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton. Other top ten hits included "Louie Loui" by the Kingsmen (#2); "Dominique" by the Singing Nun (#3); "Since I Fell For You" by Lenny Welch (#4); "Forget Him" by Bobby Rydell (#5); "Popsicles & Icicles" by the Murmaids (#6); "Talk Back Trembling Lips" by Johnny Tillotson (#7); "Quicksand" by Martha & the Vandellas (#8); "The Nitty Gritty" by Shirley Ellis (#9); and "Midnight Mary" by Joey Powers (#10).
And popular music was about to change forever: On December 26th, in reaction to listener response after an import copy of the song was played on WWDC DJ James Carroll's radio show, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was rush-released by Capitol Records on December 26th, 1963. (The flip-side of the single was "This Boy," still one of the best examples of Beatles harmonies from those early years.)