Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/27/1964 to 2/2/1964

Today, we give little thought to polio, but it was still a significant health issue in 1964, with "Stop Polio" Sundays scheduled to offer mass immunizations for Rome and Floyd County residents. Dr. C.J. Wyatt, president of the Floyd County Medical Society, urged parents to ensure that their children received the Sabin oral vaccine; to make it easy, the mass vaccinations were scheduled on Sundays in February, March, and April, with vaccination clinics set up in schools (including West Rome High School).

Did you know that Battey State Hospital once had its own thousand-acre farm to raise crops and livestock to feed patients at the facility? After almost two decades, Battey announced in 1964 that it was closing down the farm (located on the Oostanaula River north of Rome) and the related pasteurization plant; the farm employed more than a dozen farmers, who lived with their families in housing provided on the facility. "We believe it will be more economical for the state to purchase the milk, beef, and pork for the hospital than to continue production on the farm," Battey Hospital superintendent Dr. Raymond Corpe said. He said the primary reason for the closing was the reduced patient load at Battey's tuberculosis treatment center, which had been steadily dropping since the 1940s.

Rome shoppers found bargains galore during Rome's Jubilee Days, held on  January 31st and February 1st. The program was so successful that parking spaces were hard to come by in downtown Rome because of the influx of shoppers from as far away as Huntsville, Alabama.

We weren't big enough for the Harlem Globetrotters, apparently--instead, Rome got the Harlem Magicians (starring former Globetrotter Marques Haynes) taking on the New York Olympians in an exhibition game at the Memorial Gym on Friday, January 31st. For $2 (or only $1 for students), you could watch the sort of basketball skill and silliness for which the Magicians (and their inspiration, the Globetrotters) were famous.

West Rome's basketball team defeated Calhoun on January 31st in a 65-40 rout. Alas, Rockmart ended the Chieftains' winning streak, defeating West Rome 45-40 February 1st.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, Stokely's canned corn for 17¢ a can, and tall cans of pink salmon for 50¢ each (and at that price, I now understand why pan-fried salmon patties were a regular menu item at our house!). Kroger had sirloin steaks for 89¢ a pound, fresh tomatoes for 25¢ a pound, and a large box of Tide detergent for 25¢. A&P had Jane Parker white bread for 20¢ a loaf, center cut pork chops for 59¢, and Armour's chili with beans for a quarter a can. Big Apple had a 6-bottle carton of 10 ounce Pepsi Cola for 19¢, Cudahy Bar S bacon for 57¢ a pound, and lamb shoulder roast for 39¢ a pound. Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound.

We're so spoiled by cable television and Netflix that we forget how few movie choices we had a half-century ago! If you wanted to catch a film during the first half of the week, your Rome theater choices were limited to McLintock! (with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara) at the DeSoto or I Could Go On Singing (a year-old film with Judy Garland and Dirk Bogarde) at the First Avenue. The weekend brought The Running Man (with Laurence Harvey and Lee Remick--and no, it's not connected to the Stephen King film, since it would a couple of decades before King would write that novel under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman) to the First Avenue and Charade (with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn) to the DeSoto, while the West Rome Drive-In continued its weekends-only showings with two relatively unknown films, Term of Trial and Island of Love.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles held on to first place in the musical Top Ten for a second week--but that was only one of two Beatles songs in the top ten this week in 1964, as "She Loves You" rocketed to #7 on the charts. Other top ten hits included "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore (#2); "Out of Limits" by the Marketts (#3); "Hey Little Cobra" by the Rip Chords (#4); "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance (#5); "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen (#6); "For You" by Rick Nelson (#8); "Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Dionne Warwick (#9); and "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton (#10).

And on Sunday night, February 2nd, Ed Sullivan reminded viewers that the Beatles would make their US performing debut on his show the next Sunday, February 9th, to the delight of most kids and teenagers (and the consternation of our parents, I imagine).

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