Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/1/1964 to 6/7/1964

Most millennials have no idea what the Selective Service was, but all of us who grew up in the 1960s are quite familiar with "the draft," as we knew it. Fifty years ago this week, the Georgia Selective Service System announced that they had implemented new procedures to more quickly inform potential draftees if they had qualified for military service or had been found unacceptable for physical, psychological, or educational reasons.

Rome Police Chief Nelson Camp warned out-of-school students looking for fun that BB guns were outlawed in the Rome city limits. "It is strictly against city ordinances to shoot a BB gun in the city," Chief Cap said. "In case of an accident, the boys' parents are responsible and cases can be made against them for this infraction of the law." Notice that he assumed that all BB gun shooters were boys! I have to admit that I was a regular lawbreaker as far as this ordinance was concerned—but so was my good friend Rhonda, who often went BB gun shooting with me when we were kids.

My family never made the drive to Chattanooga to spend the day at Lake Winnepesaukah, but I nevertheless knew of it because of their relentless advertising on Chattanooga television. They must have felt like Rome was in their audience market, though, because they were advertising regularly in the Rome News-Tribune, promoting the fact that they were "Chattanooga's complete amusement park," with a large lake for swimming and boating, an arcade, 16 rides, miniature golf, and more. For the summer, they rolled out their Teen Time promotion every Friday night from 6pm to 11pm: for only $1.50 per person, teenagers could enjoy unlimited rides and swimming.

If you didn't want to travel that far to go swimming, then Saturday, June 6th was a day worth marking on your calendar, because that's the day that the city of Rome opened the municipal pool near Barron Stadium. I remember spending many a day getting waterlogged in that pool, and I know I saw many of my friends there, too.

Another sign that the economy in Northwest Georgia was improving: Arrow Shirts announced plans to open a 500-employee facility in Cedartown. The company had conducted a site study in 1963 and determined that Northwest Georgia offered the skilled labor it needed. Plans called for the plant to open in 1965. And while this plant was 22 miles away from West Rome High School, many Romans would be hired on at Arrow once the facility opened.

Piggly Wiggly had pork chops for 35¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Borden's sherbet for 49¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had T-Bone, porterhouse, sirloin, or cubed steaks for 79¢ a pound (cubed steak really did cost as much as porterhouse!), strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Kroger catsup for a dime a bottle. Big Apple had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢  pound, and cantaloupes for 29¢ each.  A&P had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, whole pineapples for 29¢ each, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound (and as you know if you grew up in the 1960s, "Everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it"). Couch's had large eggs for 35¢ a dozen, fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, and Pillsbury biscuits for 8¢ a can.

Forget what the calendar says: when you're in school, summertime officially begins on the first day that you don't have to get up and go to class! Apparently the folks at the West Rome Drive-In realized that, too, because they went from weekends-only to seven-days-a-week screenings beginning this week in 1964. Oh, the movies weren't very good on weeknights—they were showing a double feature of 55 Days in Peking (with Charlton Heston & Ava Gardner) and Summer Holiday (with Cliff Richards) for the first part of the week. Things got a little better on the weekend,with a  double feature of PT109 (with Cliff Robertson) and Spencer's Mountain (with Henry Fonda & Maureen O'Hara), the film that later gave birth to the television series The Waltons. The drive-in realized that their money was in concessions, as they ran a 25¢ a carload special every Tuesday night for the summer. As for the regular theaters—well, they started off with Tom Jones at the First Avenue Theater and The Thin Red Line at the DeSoto, but the mid-week switch brought James Bond back to Rome as From Russia With Love, the second Bond film (with Sean Connery, of course), came to the DeSoto Theater, while Tom Jones continued for a second week at the First Avenue.

The number one song this week in 1964 was "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups. Other Top Ten hits included the Lennon-McCartney tune "A World Without Love" performed by Peter & Gordon (#2); "Love Me With All Your Heart" by the Ray Charles Singers (#3); "Love Me Do" by the Beatles (#4); "My Guy" by Mary Wells (#5); "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick (#6); "Little Children" by Billy J. Kramer (#7); "Hello Dolly!" by Louis Armstrong (#8); "People" by Barbra Streisand (#9); and "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#10).

Meanwhile, another British music group set out to make its mark in the States as the Rolling Stones began their US tour on June 5th. It wasn't a rousing hit, and they never came any closer to Rome than San Antonio, Texas, but the group was destined become a major hit maker in less than a year.

And for those of us who were hooked on comic books, the first week of June was quite eventful. DC recognized the value in their back catalog, leading them to launch their 80 Page Giant series with a Superman-themed first issue. Dell recognized the monster movie boom, releasing a second printing of The Creature, which featured a Creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon cover reminiscent of Aurora's monster model kit. Archie brought back the 1930s pulp hero The Shadow in an all-new comic series, pitting him against his long-time adversary Shiwan Khan. The singing chipmunk was so popular that he ran for the highest office in the land in Dell's Alvin For President. Vincent Price made the jump from film to comics in The Masque of the Red Death, also from Dell. Giant-Man battled the Hulk in Tales to Astonish #59—and at the end of the issue, Marvel gave us the good news that the Hulk would return to comics every month starting in the next issue. And all that was released in the first week of the summer... I was really going to have to mow some lawns if I wanted to afford all those great comics every week!

No comments: