Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/20/1964 to 1/26/1964

Owen Blanton (well known by all Chieftains for his many years as an educator, a coach, and a guidance counselor) visited the West End PTA on Tuesday, January 21st, where he delivered the keynote speech to commemorate "Lights On For Education." The program, which emphasized community support of and involvement in local education, was quite a success, with almost 50% of the West End parents attending.

Rumors that Battey State Hospital might be closed were emphatically denied by Governor Carl Sanders, who assured Romans that "as long as I am governor, Battey will not be moved from Floyd County," in spite of a Georgia Department of Public Health recommendation that the Rome facility be closed and the hospital relocated to a site near Emory in Atlanta.

Rome still held on to hope that the Coosa River might become a major waterway when President Lyndon Johnson approved more than $14 million to upgrade various locks and dams so that large barges could traverse unimpeded from Mobile to Rome. Alas, these plans were never fully implemented--but in 1964, it looked quite promising, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, which counted many prominent Rome businessmen among its members.

Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School added a number of business classes to its offerings for the quarter beginning January 29th, including accounting, shorthand, typing, business math, business law, and office machine technology. Back in 1964, there was no tuition cost at all to attend Coosa Valley Tech either full-time or part-time, although students had to pay a registration and supply fee of $11 per quarter and were required to buy books, which could cost up to $4 each.  (And it doesn't matter how you adjust  for inflation, that was an amazing educational bargain compared to today's prices!) The school, which began operation in 1962, was proving quite popular indeed, with more than 3000 people touring the facility during its January 26th open house, and more than 800 students filling every available classroom spot.

West Rome's Chieftains faced off against Chattooga on Friday, January 24th, and defeated them handily 67-34. The next night, they won against Dalton 41-32, forcing all of Northwest Georgia to admit that the underrated West Rome basketball team was a real contender!

It might not have been fine dining, but it was sure to be good food: Murphy's added a fried fillet of haddock dinner to its Friday and Saturday offerings; for 59¢ you got fish, french fries, cole slaw, rolls, and tartar sauce. This inspired The Shrimp Boat to cut the price on their fried fish dinner to 50¢ on Friday and Saturday as Rome's winter fried fish war was on!

Piggly Wiggly had five pounds of sugar for 19¢, turkey breasts for 69¢ a pound, and your choice of celery, radishes, carrots, or green onions for 12¢ a bunch--and they also announced that they were expanding their hours and staying open until 9pm every Friday night for shopping convenience. Kroger had fresh fryers for a quarter a pound, Spotlight coffee for 49¢ a pound, and navel oranges for a nickel each. A&P had sirloin tip roast for 89¢ a pound, Oscar Mayer bacon for 59¢, and Foremost ice cream for 79¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had pork roast for 43¢ a pound, canned pineapple for 49¢ per flat can, and your choice of a dozen different American Beauty brand canned vegetables for a dime each. Couch's had fully cooked hams for 49¢ each, tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Bama apple jelly (in the ever-popular jelly-jar that could be used as a drinking glass when all the jelly was gone) for 19¢.

For the first part of the week, moviegoers could choose from Move Over Darling (with Doris Day and James Garner) at the DeSoto or Kings of the Sun (with Yul Brynner & George Chakiris) at the First Avenue. The weekend brought McLintock! (with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara) to the DeSoto and The Vampire & the Ballerina (with nobody anyone has ever heard of) and Tower of London (with Vincent Price) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In continued its weekends-only winter schedule with a forgettable double feature of Cairo and Seven Seas to Calais.

The Beatles had their first #1 record in the US this week in 1964 when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" took the primo position. Other top ten hits included "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore (#2); "Out of Limits" by the Marketts (#3); "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen (#4); "Hey Little Cobra" by the Rip Chords (#5); "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen (#6); "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton (#7); "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance (#8); "Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Dionne Warwick (#9); and "For You" by Rick Nelson (#10).

And on January 20th, one of the best-selling albums in US history hit stores when Capitol Records officially released Meet the Beatles in both mono and stereo. (Back then, stereo albums cost a dollar more, so many of us ended up with the mono version instead. My mono copy--which I still have, albeit in very worn condition--was purchased at Redford 5 & 10¢ store at Westdale shopping center--close enough to my house that I was able to walk there and buy it once I had saved enough allowance money!)

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