Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/18/1964 to 5/24/1964

Romans were spending more money in 1964, and the local economy was booming as a result. Merchants reported that charge account balances were 17% higher at the end of the first full quarter of 1964 than they were a year earlier. That's not bad news, though, because consumers were, on average, paying off their local charge balances in 67 days, which was two days less than the 69-day average for 1963. Department store sales were up 11% over 1963 and grocery sales were up over 5%; the only retail area that saw a slight decline was furniture, where 1964 sales dropped by 2% over the prior year's numbers. In every category, this put Rome ahead of the region as a whole (and that region included metro Atlanta!). So if Rome seemed like a great place to live in the mid-1960s, that's because it was: our economy was growing, unemployment was low, and there were all sorts of opportunities for students who chose to stay in Rome after graduation.

Cindi Blaylock represented West Rome in the Dairy Princess competition, sponsored by Rome's dairy farmers and bottlers The Dairy Princess competition was a big thing in 1964, with Rome's largest parade serving as a lead-in to the event, which was celebrated with a two-hour program and a gala Coronation Ball.

Sleep was cheap in 1964: a brand new queen size Simmons mattress and box spring set was bargain-priced at $88 at Sterchi's, while an accompanying maple bedroom suite (including headboard, dresser, chest of drawers, and nightstand) could be had for only $169 more. Of course, this was in a time before we could choose between memory foam, sleep number, deluxe pillow-topped, and/or no-flip mattresses--what you got for your money was metal springs, cotton padding, and a durable quilted outer cover, just the way all mattresses were made back then.

Alas, 1964 wasn't West Rome's year as far as baseball was concerned: after making it to the final game, West Rome lost to our arch-rivals, the East Rome Gladiators, 9-4. this was East Rome's second win in a row--and it's even sadder for the Chieftains when you realize that West Rome was actually ahead 4-0 in the top of the third inning.  Alas, it all went wrong from there...

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 69¢ a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for 19¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, Kroger bread for a dime a loaf (forget that whole wheat stuff... it was a white bread world as far as groceries were concerned back then!), and Hydrox cookies for 25¢ per package. (Remember Hydrox? They were to Oreos what Pepsi was to Coca-Cola...) Big Apple had 5 pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 49¢, chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, and an 8 ounce tube of Crest toothpaste for 53¢. A&P had porterhouse steaks for 83¢ a pound tomatoes for a quarter a pound, and yellow corn for a nickel an ear. And West Rome's favorite, Couch's Super Market, had spareribs for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for 12¢ a head, and their very own Couch's country sausage for 39¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Comedy of Terrors (with Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, & Peter Lorre) at the DeSoto and Dark Purpose (with Shirley Jones) at the First Avenue. The weekend saw the Rome premiere of two radically different films: the charming film The Incredible Mr. Limpet (with Don Knotts) at the DeSoto Theater, and the powerful and troubling 8 1/2 (directed by Federico Fellini) at the First Avenue. Meanwhile, at the West Rome Drive-In, John Wayne was taking part in the wildest showdown the West ever saw in McLintock!

The Beatles had the number one song in America this week in 1964 with "Love Me Do." Other top ten hits included "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups (#2); "My Guy" by Mary Wells (#3); "Love Me With All Your Heart" by the Ray Charles Singers (#4); "Hello, Dolly!" by Louis Armstrong (#5); "(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet" by the Reflections (#6); "A World Without Love" by Peter & Gordon (#7); "Little Children" by Billy J. Kramer (#8); "It's Over" by Roy Orbison (#9); and "Walk On By" by Dionne Warwick (#10).

And the Beatles collectibles market continued to expand with the release of The Beatles Flicker Rings, produced for the US by Vari-Vue. There were 24 flicker rings in total—6 for each Beatle—and sold for the then-lofty price of 29¢ each.

1 comment:

paul howley said...

I know what you mean. I grew up in what is now considered a big city but we had a heavily-treed vacant lot next to our house (the neighborhood kids called it "The Woods") we played army, cowboys and Indians, and other games there...running through what seemed like a hundred acres of dense woods. We moved away when I was 9 years old and when I went back, as an adult, those magnificent "woods" turned out to be about half an acre.