Saturday, March 08, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/9/1964 to 3/15/1964

In March 1964, Georgia law was changed to require that all drivers have minimum liability insurance of $10,000.00 injury/$5,000 property on any and all motor vehicles they operated on the public roads of Georgia. Any driver who did not have such insurance would lose his/her license if he was involved in an accident unless there was a bond of equal value on the vehicle or the driver. However, there was no proof-of-insurance requirement in order to get a license tag for a vehicle; that didn't come into effect for a few more years.  McGhee-Hall & Hogg Insurance Company advertised that they offered such liability policies for as low as $26 a year (but you can bet that this was not the rate for a family with a teenage driver!). For a lot of teenage drivers, this was a new expense involved with owning a car, which made the teenage dream just a bit more expensive.

Fourteen Chieftain wrestlers were awarded the green-and-white WR  this week in 1964. The lettermen included Greg Quinton, Gary Fuller, Mike Murphy, Joey McGee, Jerry Callan, Tommy Sapp, Billy Harris, Lane Warner, Bill Bishop, Dennis Greer, Jerry Coalson, Craig Brewer, Billy Mellon, and Wayne White.

West Rome initiated its daily flag-raising program in March 1964, inspired by a similar program depicted in each weekly episode of the Mr. Novak television show. (In case you've forgotten—or never watched it—Mr. Novak was an NBC drama the starred James Franciscus, who played a compassionate and involved first-year English teacher in a Los Angeles high school.) At the same time the flag was raised, The Star-Spangled Banner was played over the intercom; afterwards, each homeroom would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. West Rome's Tony Ledwell said that "the new idea has created a more patriotic atmosphere at West Rome." I will always remember the morning anthem and pledge, and had no idea that it wasn't a part of Chieftain tradition from the day the school opened!

The next phase of Northwest Georgia's war against polio took place on Sunday, March 15th, as Sabin oral polio vaccine clinics were set up at West Rome High School and many other schools in Rome and Floyd County to distribute type III vaccine absolutely free of charge, thanks to the sponsorship of the Floyd County Medical Society and the Floyd County Pharmaceutical Association, who worked with PTA groups to make the clinics a success. The vaccinations were administered to almost 50,000 people of all ages.

Piggly Wiggly had Duncan Hines cake mixes for 33¢ a box, 3 pounds of Crisco for 49¢, and 24-ounce cans of Swift's Spaghetti for 33¢. Big Apple had five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 49¢, ground beef for 33¢ a pound, and winesap apples for 15¢ a pound. Kroger had pork loin roasts for 35¢ a pound, fruit cocktail for 19¢ a can, and Starkist tuna for 25¢ a can. A&P had boneless round steaks for 75¢ a pound, cabbage for 7¢ a pound, and boneless stew beef for 59¢ a pound. Couch's had Swift's premium fryers for a quarter a pound, 4 pounds of lard for 39¢, and Cudahy's Bar-S hot dogs for 39¢ a package.

The cinematic week began with The Prize (with Paul Newman, Elke Sommer, & Edward G. Robinson) at the DeSoto and Critic's Choice (with Bob Hope & Lucille Ball—and in spite of the title, this film was not a critic's choice) at the First Avenue. The last half of the week brought one of 1964's biggest films to the First Avenue: Cleopatra, with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton. The First Avenue ran ads warning that "no seats reserved," which piqued my curiosity, since I never remembered the First Avenue having reserved seats for any films.  It's also worth noting that the ticket price for this film was $1.50 per person, with no discounted tickets and no passes. Furthermore, the First Avenue announced that they would offer an unprecedented 2pm matinee of Cleopatra every day, both weekends and weekdays--and in a small town like Rome, weekday matinees were almost unheard of! The DeSoto Theater, meanwhile, was showing The Sword in the Stone (the Walt Disney animated Arthurian film based on the novel by T.H.White) and ticket prices were a more affordable 75¢ for adults and 25¢ for children. The West Rome Drive-In offered weekend showings of Charade (the 1963 film starring Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn).

The Beatles' hold on the Top Ten strengthened in mid-March 1964 as a fourth Beatles song leapt into the Top Ten. "She Loves You" took first place, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" held on at second, and "Please Please Me" pleased a lot of listeners at third place--but "Twist and Shout" popped up out of nowhere to take seventh place. Other top ten hits included "Dawn (Go Away) by the Four Seasons (#4); "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys (#5); "Navy Blue" by Diane Renay (#6); "Java" by Al Hirt (#8); "I Love You More and More Every Day" by Al Martino (#9); and "Hello, Dolly" by Louis Armstrong (#10). Meanwhile, on March 14th, Billboard Magazine reported that the sales of Beatles records made up 60% of the entire singles market—which might explain why Broad Street's Record Shoppe was advertising that they had Beatles records in stock!

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