Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/24/1964 to 3/1/1964

Just when we thought we were in the clear... a surprise snowfall began Monday night, February 24th, continuing into Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't enough to close schools, however, much to the dismay of many hopeful students!

West Rome's Class Favorites were announced this week in 1964. Seniors Van Gray and Linda Lippincott were chosen Mr. and Miss West Rome High School. Junior class favorites were Derrell Brookshire and Esther Ransom; sophomore favorites were Stan Dawson and Debby Jordan; freshman favorites were Tommy Sapp and Holly Bellinger; sub-freshman favorites (yes, that's what they called eighth graders!) were Dale Ross, Mary Gilbert, and Lee Davenport (tie); seventh grade favorites were Robert Blaylock and Beverly Brookshire.

Leigh Whittenburg and Jeannie Maxwell were chosen as West Rome's Youth Commissioner representatives for Civic Youth Day, joining an elite group of students from across Rome and Floyd County  to learn about the career and political opportunities available in our area.

The West Rome National Junior Honor Society held a rummage sale on Saturday, February 29th, to raise funds for various service projects.

Rome's off-again-on-again campaign to win a junior college for the Rome-Floyd County area was on again this week in 1964 after Judge J.D. Maddox and a committee he headed made a presentation to the State Board of Regents. Rome had been eliminated in late 1963, but the community commitment reflected in the presentation was so impressive that the Board of Regents said that they were considering Rome once again for a junior college location.

The Rome Little Theater put out an odd casting call: they were looking for a cat that could play the role of Pyewacket in their production of Bell, Book, & Candle. They needed a cat who could be trained to perform several tasks on command... and one that wouldn't run and hide when confronted with an audience of theatergoers!

Romans were pleased to hear that President Johnson signed into law the tax cuts proposed by President Kennedy before his assassination; the cuts averaged about 20% for 80 million American taxpayers, while business taxes were cut by 9%. And whaddaya know, we saw a real economic boom for several years thereafter!...

It may have been winter still, but Chieftains were already looking ahead to the fall: Coach Paul Kennedy announced that West Rome had reached an agreement to start their 1964 football season with a game against Coosa on Saturday, August 29th, at Barron Stadium. In order to make this happen, both schools had to sign off on an agreement to start there season a week earlier to fit the game into their schedules.

McCullough's Restaurant on Avenue C celebrated their official grand opening of their new, modern, redecorated location with a special on their broasted chicken. "We serve the same fine food for which the McCullough name is famous," they said in their ad--and from what I remember about their chicken, that was no brag, just fact.

Electronics continued to improve, although most of us couldn't afford them: Chastain Radio and TV was offering RCA's new Vista Color Television, a $595.00 19" color set that included not one but two tuners--both VHF and the hot new UHF tuner as well. Adjusted for inflation, that's almost the same cost as a 4K 65" flat-screen today... and back then, it was about 40% of the cost of a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle!

Grocery shoppers could save at Piggly Wiggly, where whole fryers were 23¢ a pound, Swift's premium franks were 33¢ a package, and bananas were a dime a pound. Kroger had fully cooked picnic hams for 29¢ a pound, carrots for 8¢ a pound, and pork & beans for a dime a can. A&P had hen turkeys for 37¢ a pound, apples for a nickel a pound, and 16 ounces of dill pickle slices for 23¢. Big Apple had sardines for 10¢ a can, Hormel bacon for 49¢ a pound, and the (n)ever popular sliced beef liver for 19¢ a pound (I joke, but I really enjoyed those frequent meals of fried liver with onions that Mom made when I was growing up!). Couch's had Underwood deviled ham for 39¢ a can, chicken livers for 29¢ a pound (we had those a lot, too!), and JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound.

If you wanted to catch a movie, your early-week choices were Four for Texas (a Western with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, and Ursula Andress) at the DeSoto or The Victors at the First Avenue. The late-week lineup change brought Soldier in the Rain (with Steve McQueen) to the DeSoto and The Brass Bottle (with Tony Randall, Burl Ives, and Barbara Eden; even though Ives plays the djinn, or genie, in the bottle, it was Eden's performance in this film that was pivotal in winning her the part of Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie a year later) at the First Avenue. On the weekend, the DeSoto also hosted a special one-showing-per-night presentation of the Sonny Liston Vs. Cassius Clay world heavyweight championship bout; in the days before pay-per-view, this was the only way most Americans could see a heavyweight boxing match! The West Rome Drive-In's weekend offering was Irma La Douce (with Jack Lemmon & Shirley MacLaine).

Monsters were bigger than ever in 1964 thanks to the popularity of late night syndicated monster movies, trading cards, model kits, toys, and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, so Marvel Comics tried to tap into the Monster trading cards market (which used movie photos with funny captions or word balloons) with their magazine Monsters to Laugh With. Alas, the contents weren't very laughable...

The Beatles' hold on the Top Ten continued as they took first, second, and fourth place with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," and "Please Please Me" respectively. Other top ten hits included "Dawn (Go Away)" by the Four Seasons (#3); "Java" by Al Hirt (#5); "California Sun" by the Rivieras (#6); "Navy Blue" by Diane Renay (#7); "Stop and Think It Over" by Dale & Grace (#8); "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys (#9); and "See the Funny Little Clown" by Bobby Goldsboro (#10... and I keep wanting the lyrics to continue "See the funny little clown, how big he's grown, but friend, it hasn't been too long, he wasn't big...")

Meanwhile, Vee-Jay Records took advantage of their rights to the material included on Introducing the Beatles and repackaged it to produce yet another Beatles record: Jolly What? The Beatles and Frank Ifield On Stage. It was deceptive in every regard: none of the material was recorded live and on stage, the Beatles cuts were just reissues of four songs from that already-released Introducing the Beatles, and no one in the US really cared about Frank Ifield. But that didn't stop people from buying this sorry excuse of an album--after all, you probably didn't find out you already had the material until you got it home and listened to it (that's what happened to me, at least).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/17/1964 to 2/23/1964

It's always nice when academic prowess earns recognition, isn't it? Leigh Whittenburg was announced as West Rome's STAR Student for the 1963-64 school year; Leigh named Mr. Ronald Midkiff as her STAR teacher.

West Rome's girls basketball team lost to Dalton 52-42 in the Region 3-AA tournament on Tuesday, February 18th, while the boys defeated Dalton 64-59 on Wednesday, February 20th.

The West Rome Library Club (I didn't remember that we had a library club!) made a trip to the Shorter Avenue library on Saturday, February 22nd, for a tour of the facilities.

The West Rome Senior Tri-Hi-Y conducted a survey to determine what percentage of students in grades seven through twelve were smokers. The results were as follows: 8 of 143 7th graders smoked; 11 of 166  8th graders; 5 of 163  10th graders; 9 of 182 10th graders; 14 of 172 11th graders; and 13 of 106 twelfth graders. So while shows like Mad Men may give the idea that everyone was lighting up at every opportunity, this survey showed that the urge to smoke hadn't spread too far into the student population.

Science Fair exhibits were set up during sixth period and after school on Friday, February 21st, with the Science Fair open to the public from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, February 22nd. ( I still have fond memories of those science fair projects, presented on the three-piece folding display boards--even though not all of my entries into the fair were as serious as I think the judges might have hoped.)

Burglars with an eye for electronics broke into Mac's Radio & Television Service on February 22nd, stealing $2500 in color televisions, stereos, and transistor radios. (Of course, at $500+ for a color television back then, they didn't have to steal many TVs to rack up $2500 in merchandise thefts!)

Back in 1964, we still celebrated Washington's Birthday rather than Presidents' Day--and Rome celebrated the day of George's birth with their city-wide two-day Washington's Birthday Sale, organized by the Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce. The markdowns included such highlights as a 23" mahogany console TV for $199 at Sears; a four-piece maple bedroom suite for $99; men's dress pants for $4 a pair at Esserman's; a GE washer and dryer set for $348 at Goodyear; dresses for $5 each at Belk-Rhodes; Royal typewriters for #39.95 at Miller's; and half-price shoes at Poplin's. But Miller Bros. had the best offering of all: a $3 Beatle wig ("But hurry! They won't last long!" the ad proclaimed. I don't know if that referred to the sales velocity or the poor quality of the wigs...)

Chrysler made auto history this week in 1964 when they unveiled their second generation hemi racing engine in the Daytona 500 on February 23rd. The 426 hemi-powered Plymouth driven by #43, Richard Petty, won the race, while other hemi-powered Plymouths finished second and third... and suddenly, every teenager dreamed of a car with a hemi!

Piggly Wiggly had bacon for 39¢ a pound, a dozen eggs for 39¢, and a 5-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 49¢. Big Apple had bananas for a dime a pound, cabbage for 7¢ a pound, and Swift's Premium Canned Ham for $2.99 for a 4-pound can. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, canned biscuits for 6¢ a can, and sweet potatoes for a dime a pound. A&P had 10 pounds of red delicious apples for 49¢, sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, and baking potatoes for 59¢ for a 10-pound bag. Couch's had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, Old Favorite ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and chili for quarter a can.

The week's cinematic offerings started with Man's Favorite Sport (with Rock Hudson & Paula Prentiss) at the DeSoto and The Cardinal (with Tom Tryon, Romy Schneider, & Carol Lynley) at the First Avenue. The weekend  brought Four for Texas (with the unlikely cowboy duo of Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin) to the DeSoto and The Victors (with George Peppard, Romy Schneider, & George Hamilton) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Bye Bye Birdie and Harbor Lights at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to the top two spots again this week in 1964, with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in the number one position, while "She Loves You" held on to second place--but in a surprise a third Beatles song, "Please Please Me," leapt onto the charts in the sixth place position! Other top ten hits included "Dawn (Go Away)" by the Four Seasons (#3); "Java" by Al Hirt (#4); "California Sun" by the Rivieras (#5); "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore (#7); "Navy Blue" by Diane Renay (#8); "Stop and Think It Over" by Dale & Grace (#9); and "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance (#10).

Meanwhile, trying to cash in on the Beatles craze, MGM realized that they had the rights to The Beatles With Tony Sheridan & Guests, the album produced by Bert Kaempfert in Germany that included "My Bonnie," "The Saints (Go Marching In)," "Cry for a Shadow," and "Ain't She Sweet," among other less-than-memorable songs. So in late February of 1964, American listeners could buy three different Beatles albums (Introducing the Beatles, Meet the Beatles, and The Beatles With Tony Sheridan & Guests) on three different labels (VeeJay, Capitol, and MGM).

And on Sunday, February 23rd, the Beatles made an unprecedented third weekly appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (the performance was actually filmed a week earlier, but didn't air until the night of the 23rd), performing three songs: "Twist and Shout," "Please Please Me," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Other guests for the evening included Cab Calloway, Dave Barry, and Gordon & Sheila MacRae... but the only guests that anyone remembers from evening are the Fab Four, of course.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/10/1964 to 2/16/1964

The Rome Board of Education continued to talk with the Floyd County School System about merging the two systems. However, in an almost unheard-of move, the board decided to get input from teachers to see what they thought before going any further. The School Board also talked about ending its individual teacher retirement program (which was administered as part of the city's retirement system) and instead havng the teachers join the state retirement system.

Fifteen members of the West Rome High School band attended the Seventh District Band Clinic in Cartersville on Saturday, February 15th. The attendees included Derell Brookshire, Travis Payne, Lucia Oldham, John Butler, Virginia Freeman, Jean Jackson, David Godfrey, Betty Bright, Nelson Payne, Kay Doss, Henry Kennedy, Dick Thompson, Franklin Stover, Patti Tolbert, and Len Willingham.

At least the holdup man was well-dressed: A Thriftway service station at Avenue C and North Fifth Avenue was robbed at gunpoint by a well-groomed man dressed in a dark suit and tie. The robber then forced the service station attendant to drive him just past West Rome High School on the Alabama Road, where he met up with an acomplice and escaped. The robber got away with $2300.00... (Apparently service stations did better than I thought back then!)

After tallying all the numbers, the Floyd County Medical Society announced that almost 47,000 Rome and Floyd County residents received the first in a series of three polio oral vaccines administered at area schools (including West Rome High School). Today, we think of polio as an illness from a bygone era, but in 1964 it was still a significant concern. And of course, the use of area schools as "clinic sites" for administering the vaccines just underscores the important community role played by schools at this time.

Murphy's brought back their fried chicken breast dinner on Friday and Saturday nights; the 69¢ dinner included mashed potatoes, peas or green beans, a minted pear half on lettuce, and hot rolls with butter.  (Pear halves... another regular addition to our menu back in the 1960s, both at home and in the school cafeteria.  Wonder why they fell out of popularity?) Meanwhile, the Holiday End brought back their Sunday smorgasbord, where residents could "eat all you want as long as you want!" for $1.94 per person (half-price for children under 12), choosing from over a hundred varieties of food.

Marshall Jackson Motors announced their big winter sale,which included a 1964 Dodge 330 two-door for only $2135.00; for this price, the buyer got a car with a heater and a defroster, two seat belts, and anti-freeze in the radiator (I had no idea that these weren't always included!). In addition Marshall Jackson included a one-year $100 deductible comprehensive insurance plan!

Piggly Wiggly had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, Coca-Cola for 89¢ per 24-bottle case (plus deposit, of course!), and Ritz crackers for 33¢ a box. Kroger had Starkist tuna for a quarter a can, cabbage for a dime a head, and Campbell's tomato soup  (one of my favorites back in 1964, and still one of my favorites today!) for a dime a can. A&P had shank portion hams for 29¢ a pound, ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢, and Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon (Why do we never see ice milk nowadays? Is the old ice milk the same think as today's reduced fat ice cream?). Big Apple had Dixie Crystals sugar for 59¢ for a five-pound bag, grapefruit for 9¢ each, and fresh fryer breast for 39¢ a pound. Couch's had Southern Maid all-meat wieners for 39¢ a pound, Green Giant creamed corn for 15¢ a can, and Uncle Tom's Brunswick Stew for 49¢ a can.

The cinema week began with The Incredible Journey (the Disney dogs-and-cat film) at the DeSoto and A New Kind of Love (with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward) at the First Avenue. The weekend brought Strait-Jacket (with Joan Crawford) to the First Avenue, Man's Favorite Sport (with Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss) to the DeSoto, and a double feature of Black Gold and The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Ed Sullivan Show was once again on everyone's  Sunday night must-view list as the Beatles made their second live appearance on February 16th. The Beatles performed six songs: "She Loves You," "This Boy," "All My Loving," "I Saw Her Standing There," "From Me to You," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." While the February 9th performance took place in the Studio 50 Theatre in New York, the second performance was broadcast from the Deauville Hotel in Miami. The show, which one again drew 70 million viewers, was so popular that it was rerun on Thursday night, February 20th.

The Beatles took the top two positions in the musical Top Ten this week in 1964 with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in first place and "She Loves You" in second. Other top ten hits included "Dawn (Go Away)" by the Four Seasons (#3); "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore (#4); "Java" by Al Hirt (#5); "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance (#6); "Hey Little Cobra" by the Rip Chords (#7); "California Sun" by the Rivieras (#8); "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" by the Tams (#9); and "Navy Blue" by Diane Renay (#10).

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/3/1964 to 2/9/1964

The effort to end polio continued with another "Stop Polio Sunday" held at all elementary schools and high schools on Sunday, February 9th (including West Rome High, West End Elementary, and Elm Street Elementary). Free oral Sabin Type 1 vaccines were given to any and all who came to the school on that date; the second round, using Type 3 oral vaccines, was scheduled for March 15th, and the final round, using Type 2 oral vaccines, was scheduled for April 19th. Steve Smith, president of the Floyd Medical Society, said that the greatest immunity was acquired when the vaccines were taken in that order, about a month apart.

Rome's airport suffered a setback when the Civil Aeronautics Board allowed Eastern Airlines to amend its request to temporarily suspend airline service to Rome; instead, the revised request would ask for permanent termination of Rome service. Eastern representatives said that Rome had failed to generate sufficient traffic to qualify for continued service.

West Rome took on Cedartown on February 7th, followed by the biggest game in town--West Rome Vs. East Rome--on Saturday, February 8th. The weekend started off wrong with a 54-50 Cedartown victory, but the Chieftains once again transformed the Gladiators into the Not-So-Glad-iators as West Rome won 47-41.

Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, dry pinto beans for a dime a pound, and D'Anjou pears for 15¢ each. Piggly Wiggly had Sally Southern ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, eggs for 45¢ a dozen, and boneless chuck roast for 69¢ a pound. A&P had round steak for 79¢ a pound, a two-pound bag of carrots for 29¢, and Campbell's tomato soup for 12¢ a can. Big Apple had Hormel vienna sausages for 20¢ a can, a quart jar of Kraft mayonnaise for for 49¢, and a pound of Land o' Lakes butter for 69¢. Couch's had a 12 ounce can of Spam for 39¢, five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 49¢, and vine-ripened Florida tomatoes for 15¢ a pound.

Moviegoers could start the week by catching Charade (with Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn) at the DeSoto or The Leopard (with Burt Lancaster) at the First Avenue. The weekend brought the delightful all-ages animal film The Incredible Journey to the DeSoto,  while the First Avenue brought in the horror film Children of the Damned and the West Rome Drive-In showed Under the Yum Yum Tree (with Jack Lemmon) on Friday and Saturday nights.

At 8pm on Sunday, February 9th, approximately 73 million viewers (and almost 60% of all American televisions) tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show to watch the Beatles in their first US performance. The show opened with "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," and "She Loves You," in their first set, with the Beatles returning at the end of the show to perform "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold You Hand." In spite of George Harrison's illness and John Lennon's low-volume microphone in the second set, the show was considered a phenomenal success. (Also on the show was a young Davy Jones, singing "I'd Do Anything" as part of the Broadway cast of Oliver!  Of course, hardly anyone remembered Davy Jones' performance that night... but they would remember him well a couple of years later when he'd co-star in the Beatles-influenced television series The Monkees.)  I still remember watching that show; while I didn't own any Beatles records at that time, I had heard them on the radio and was eager to watch them perform. The first two songs captured my attention, but the moment they broke into "She Loves You," I was instantly transformed into a die-hard Beatles fan... along with millions of other kids across the country!

Appropriately enough, the show that had to air against Ed Sullivan on ABC, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, aired an episode entitled "The Day of the Lame Duck." With the Beatles on CBS, every other television show in that time slot was a lame duck, indeed!

The number one song this week in 1964 was the song the Beatles chose to end their Ed Sullivan performance, "I Want to Hold Your Hand;" the number three song was the song that ended their first set, "She Loves You." Other top ten hits included "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore (#2); "Hey Little Cobra" by the Rip Chords (#4); "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance (#5); "For You" by Rick Nelson (#6); "Out of Limits" by the Marketts (#7); "Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Dionne Warwick (#8); "Java" by Al Hirt (#9); and "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am?" by the Tams (#10).

Comic books fans were thrilled to discover a new Marvel series, Daredevil, on the comic shop spinner racks at Conn's, Couch's, Candler's, and Liberty Hatworks & Newsstand this week in 1964.(I bought my copy at Conn's!)