Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/22/1964 to 6/28/1964

Rome's summer heat wave continued as high temperatures continued in the upper 90s early in the week, with a 100-degree temperature on June 23rd setting a new record. There were very few thunderstorms to break the heat, so we did the only thing we could: we endured it, with most of us relying on fans and cold drinks to keep cool, since fewer than 10% of all homes had central air conditioning and only 25% of homes had any air conditioning at all.

The second All-Comers track meet took place at West Rome High School on Saturday, June 27th, directed by Coach Paul Kennedy. Among the participants who posted wins in the meet was West Rome's Dickie Sapp.

Rome was the center of excitement as 200 Georgia postal clerks convened in our city for a two-day seminar. No word as to whether they had to stand in long lines to register, only to have someone close the registration window when they got to the front of the line...

West Rome had a bit of a traffic situation when a truck carrying a crane discovered the hard way that the underpass at the east end of Shorter Avenue (near the old Marine Armory) wasn't quite as high as he thought. When he attempted to drive under the underpass, the crane was knocked off the trailer and fell to the pavement, blocking Shorter Avenue access to downtown and East Rome for several hours until it could be removed.

Rome's Carnegie Library added some pretty impressive tomes to its book selection, thanks to Roman Hugh West, who donated eight rare signed books, including The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Mr. Wilson's War by John Dos Passos, Caravans by John Michener, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Flood by Robert Penn Warren, Dorothy and Red by Vincent Sheean, The Best Short Stories by Somerset Maugham, and—the rarest of all—A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway signed a copy of the title sheet for Best a week before he died; however, the books weren't bound until after Hemingway's suicide, meaning that Rome's library had the only known legitimate signed copy of the book. (I wonder if the Rome library still has these books today, or were the sold off or stolen years ago?)

West Rome Baptist Church was celebrating its 20th anniversary at its current Shorter Avenue site in the summer of 1964, complete with open houses, homecoming events, and more. The church actually began on Division Street in 1893, later moving to 606 Shorter Avenue before finally relocating to its current site.

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's hot dogs for 39¢ a pound, watermelons for 79¢ each, and Coca-Cola, Sprite, or Tab for 25¢ plus deposit for a six-bottle carton. Kroger had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, tomatoes for 8¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢, and Lady Alice ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon. A&P had cantaloupes for 29¢ each, rib roast for 65¢ a pound, and Ritz crackers for 33¢ for a one-pound box. Couch's had Shoppers brand bacon for 49¢ a pound, 24-ounce cans of Castleberry's Brunswick stew for 59¢, and 12-ounce cans of Red Rock drinks in assorted flavors for a dime each.

The cinematic week began with How the West Was Won (with Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, and John Wayne, among others) at the First Avenue Theater, The Pink Panther (with Peter Sellers) at the DeSoto, and The Prize (with Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson) at the West Rome Drive-In. Midweek movie change-ups brought Flipper's New Adventure (starring a dolphin, of course) to the DeSoto and a double feature of Panic Button and Fury of the Pagans (no one cares who was in either film, believe me) to the West Rome Drive-In, while How the West Was Won continued at the First Avenue for a second week.

The number one song this week in 1964 was "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys. Other top ten hits included "My Boy Lollipop" by Millie Small (#2); "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers (#3); "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" by Gerry and the Pacemakers (#4); "People" by Barbra Streisand (#5); "A World Without Love" by Peter & Gordon (#6); "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups (#7); "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons (#8); "Bad to Me" by Billy J. Kramer (#9); and "Can't You See That She's Mine" by the Dave Clark Five (#10).

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