Saturday, December 07, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/9/1963 to 12/15/1963

West Rome faced off against East Rome at Memorial Gym on December 13th in the sports event of the week in Rome and Floyd County.  West Rome won handily, defeating the Gladiators 62-45, putting them in great position for the 10th Annual Northwest Georgia Invitational Basketball Tournament, which was slated to begin on December 17th. Alas, the girls team didn't fare as well, falling to East Rome 40-30.

Today, we take it for granted that polio is all but eliminated--but in 1963, it was still a very real threat, which is why the Floyd County Medical Society, led by Dr. C.J. Wyatt, launched plans for  a series of "Stop Polio" Sunday immunization clinics. The clinics were to be held in the spring at area schools, including West Rome High School, to make the Sabin oral vaccine available at no charge to anyone who had not been previously immunized.

Rome City School Superintendent M.S. McDonald reminded parents that students were scheduled to be dismissed after lunch on Friday, December 20th, for the Christmas holidays, returning to class on Thursday, January 2nd.

Garden Lakes scheduled their annual Santa Claus Parade and Christmas home decorations contest, which was slated for Saturday, December 21st. While Garden Lakes was in the county and not a part of West Rome proper, it was close enough that more than a few of us probably went to school there for a year or two before moving into the city, and many of us had friends who we would visit on the Santa Parade day in order to get a shot at some of the candy that Santa tossed from his parade vehicle as he rode down Garden Lakes Boulevard!

HO-scale electric trains were popular in the hobby market in 1963, as the Rome News-Tribune noted in their story on West Roman JW Clement of North Elm Street and his massive collection of electric trains.

West Rome High School's annual Christmas program took place on Wednesday, December 11th. The program, sponsored by the National Honor Society, began with a devotional delivered by Al Fletcher. Next, the girls' ensemble from the Chieftains chorus sang "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and "When Christ Was Born of Mary Free." After their performance, Honor Society president Leigh Whittenburg introduced Father John McDonough, who spoke on the importance of understanding and enjoying the Christmas season.

West End Elementary presented its annual Christmas program on Thursday, December 12th, at 7pm, at the West Rome High School Auditorium. The theme was "Christmas Eve Journey Around the World."

The retail marketplace was so good in 1963 that businesses across the country were complaining of a coin shortage, noting that customers were making purchases at such a high rate that they were running out of almost all coins other than silver dollars. Even banks were asking people to put any saved coins back into circulation to help resolve the shortage.

Remember when fountain pens were a sure sign that you were growing up? Well, Wyatt's, Brocks, and even Enloe's had a full selection of fountain pens from Parker and Sheaffer, ranging in price from $7.95 to $15.00--and some of them even used cartridge ink rather than bottled ink! I still remember those pens, with the little lever that you'd lift upwards to draw ink into the pen… and as a left-hander, I still remember the ink smears on the edge of my left hand from dragging my hand across the still-wet lines of ink…

Georgia Power offered customers a chance to add a brand-new state-of-the-art 14 cubic foot frost-free Westinghouse refrigerator for only $319.95--and you could finance it through Georgia Power for only $11.07 a month!  (And yes, in 1963, a 14 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer was considered enormous!)

Piggly Wiggly had Sally Southern ice milk for 29¢ a half-gallon, Swift's beef stew for 45¢ a can, and fresh coconuts for 19¢ each. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound (no one noted the lean-to-fat percentage back in the 1960s), bananas for a dime a pound, and a 16-ounce jar of dill pickles for 29¢. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Kroger canned biscuits for a nickel a can, and 12 ounces of Heinz ketchup for 19¢. Couch's had Nabisco saltines for 31¢ per one-pound box, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and spareribs for 39¢ a pound.

For the first half of the week, moviegoers could choose from Lawrence of Arabia at the First Avenue Theater and The Main Attraction (with Pat Boone & Nancy Kwan) at the DeSoto.  The weekend brought Elvis Presley's Fun in Acapulco to the DeSoto, while The First Avenue went low-class with a double feature of The Maniac and The Old Dark House. The West Rome Drive-In continued their weekend-showings-only policy with a double-feature of Donovan's Reef (with John Wayne) and The Traitors (with Patrick Allen).

The number one song fifty years ago this week was "Dominique" by the Singing Nun. Other top ten hits included "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen (#2); "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" by the Caravelles (#3); "There! I've said It Again" by Bobby Vinton (#4); "Since I Feel For You" by Lenny Welch (#5); "Be True to Your School" by the Beach Boys (#6); "Drip Drop" by Dion DiMuci (#7); "I'm Laing It Up To You" by Dale & Grace (#8); "Everybody" by Tommy Roe (#9); and "Popsicles and Icicles" by the Murmaids (#10).

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