Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/15/1964 to 6/21/1964

Rome's heat wave continued into the last half of June 1964, with temperatures regularly hitting the 90s almost every day and very little precipitation to break the heat. I'm sure we'd all have felt more miserable if this wasn't a time when air conditioning in homes was relatively rare, so we were forced to seek the comfort of shade and open windows and fans and didn't realize how oppressive the weather actually was... Turns out we were luckier than we realized, though: temperatures were hitting 100 degrees regularly in Savannah and other parts of South Georgia!

Outdoor chefs interested in moving beyond charcoal could have Atlanta Gas Light Company install a natural gas grill and gas light (so that you could see what you were grilling, I guess) for only $2 down and $5.75 a month for 16 months—and that included the grill, the light, and the installation. Apparently there was an upside to a utility monopoly back then—low prices and no-interest financing!

If you were a summer reader, then Wyatt's was the place to shop: their bookstore not only was discounting young adult mystery/adventure series like Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Dana Girls, Tom Swift Jr., and The Bobbsey Twins from $3.75 to $2.50 a book, but they were also implementing a summer special "by two and get one free" offer on these series. I think this is when I first developed my interest in both Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (although, truth be told, Nancy Drew always had the better mysteries).

Julian Harrison Ford was pushing its new Ford Mustang, which first made its way into the showroom this week in 1964. To be fair, the car had been released almost two months earlier, but demand had been strong and Julian Harrison was only getting enough to fill customer orders for the first couple of months. By mid-June, though, we could all drive to the dealership and check out this vehicle that had become the automotive success story of the year. (I don't know anyone who picked up a Mustang in its premiere year, but two friends of the family became Mustang owners a year later.)

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and whole watermelons for 99¢ each. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, large cantaloupes for 29¢ each, and Showboat pork & beans for 15¢ a can. Big Apple had Swift bacon for 49¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and lettuce for a dime a head. A&P had whole hams for 39¢ a pound ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and a five-pound bag of sugar for 39¢. Couch's had pork steak for 49¢ a pound, Blue Plate peanut butter for 29¢ a jar, and four rolls of Northern bathroom tissue for 29¢.

Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret continued to rock moviegoers as Viva Las Vegas continued at the DeSoto for the first half of the week, while William Holden & Alec Guinness reminded us that the Japanese were too big for their bridges as Bridge On the River Kwai continued at the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In entertained with the unlikely double feature of Soldier in the Rain and King Kong Vs. Godzilla. The last half of the week brought Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau to Rome as The Pink Panther opened at the DeSoto, while How the West Was Won (with "24 great stars and 3 top directors!") opened at the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In gave us a weekend double feature of Pillow Talk (with Doris Day & Rock Hudson) and Operation Petticoat (with Cary Grant & Tony Curtis).

The number one song this week in 1964 was the Lennon & McCartney-written "A World Without Love" by Peter & Gordon. Other top ten hits included "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#2); "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups (#3); "My Boy Lollipop" by Millie Small (#4); "People" by Barbra Streisand (#5); "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers (#6); "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#7); "Love Me With All Your Heart" by the Ray Charles Singers (#8); "Bad to Me" by Billy J. Kramer—another Lennon & McCartney-written song (#9); and "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick (#10).

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