Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/27/1964 to 8/2/1964

Seventh District congressman John W. Davis, a Democrat, discussed with Romans the many positive effects of the 1964 tax cuts. "Present indications are that the lightening of the tax burden, along with the general state of good health of the nation, is producing results of a most beneficial nature," Davis said, adding that "federal government spending is running well below earlier official estimates," while "federal tax collections are running well above earlier official projections. Rising business activity has resulted in higher collections from more prosperous taxpayers." Davis went on to reveal that the Treasury's cash balance as of June 30, 1964, was 22% higher than had been anticipated because of the solid economic growth. (If only today's politicians--particularly members of John W. Davis's party--would take a look back to 1964 in their search for a solution to economic torpor and malaise!...)

Meanwhile, Rome banks showed a 23% gain in bank debits (which included checks and other withdrawals from demand deposit accounts); the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said that growth in bank deposits was considered one of the most reliable indicators of a growth in business activity. (Low unemployment, lower taxes, increased revenues, decreased federal spending, escalating business growth and activity... 1964 continued to shape up as a very good year indeed!)

Chieftains Nelson Payne, Tony Baker, and Derell Brookshire were selected to attend Brevard Music Center's Transylvania Music Camp during the summer of 1964. They were the only Romans who took part in the invitation-only music camp.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and half-gallons of Borden's sherbet for 39¢ each. Kroger had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and a 12-ounce can of Spam for 39¢. Big Apple had ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, watermelons for 39¢ each, and whole fryers for 25¢ a pound. A& P had a 24-bottle case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit, canned biscuits for 6¢ a can,and round steak for 79¢ a pound. Couch's had Wilson's pork sausage for 29¢ a pound, sardines for a dime a can, and a ten-pound bag of potatoes for 49¢.

The cinematic week began with The Patsy (with Jerry Lewis) at the DeSoto Theater, Zulu at the First Avenue, and Fun in Acapulco (with Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The mid-week movie changeout brought Walt Disney's The Moonspinners to the DeSoto, The Carpetbaggers (with George Peppard, Bob Cummings, & Alan Ladd) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Gunfight at the OK Corral and Legend of Sleepy Hollow to the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1964 was "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles. Other top ten hits included "Everybody Loves Somebody" by Dean Martin (#2); "Where Did Our Love Go?" by the Supremes (#3); "Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)" by Jan & Dean (#4); "Rag Doll" by the Four Season (#5); "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield (#6); "Under the Boardwalk" by the Drifters (#7); "Dang Me" by Roger Miller (#8); "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" by the Jelly Beans (#9); and "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#10).  The Beatles also held on to the top two album positions with A Hard Days Night at #1 and Something New at #2.

A Little Bit of Sole...

Time to retire another pair of Rockport Pro Walkers...

For the past fourteen years plus, I have walked about five miles a day, sometimes more. It was the first form of exercise I seriously engaged in after my heart surgery back in 2000; I began walking once a day, a couple of miles, but by mid-summer of 2000, I expanded that to twice a day walking. Sometimes I walk a third time late at night, after most everyone has gone to bed, just to enjoy the quiet.

As a result, I wear out a lot of shoes. A pair of Rockports is usually good for about 2000 miles. That means that I wear out a pair about once a year, more or less. My shoes have a great way of informing me that they're ready to be retired: when I step into a minor puddle and my socks get wet because the water is forced through the holes in the shoes, then I know that it's time to move on to the next pair.

I usually keep two or three pair of size 11 Pro Walkers in reserve--some in white, some in white, some in wheat. Color really doesn't matter that much (even though white always looks extremely bright when I first put them on, it dulls somewhat after I put a little wear and tear on the shoes), but comfort does. I've tried other shoes, and the Pro Walkers are right for me--no pain, no blisters, no discomfort. That's all I can ask for in a shoe, I guess.

Each time I retire a pair of shoes, I think of it as a sort of accomplishment: another 2000 miles walked, another year of life enjoyed. When you've died once, you tend to appreciate each extra year, I guess. These worn-out shoes are mundane proof of extra life well-lived, and I am thankful for the chance to wear out another pair.

(And yes, I do wear through the outer edge of each heel more than any other part of the shoe. One site tells me I'm an over-pronator, hitting hard on the outer heel before I roll my foot inward; another tells me I'm a supinator, rolling my foot outward.  I don't know for sure which is correct, since they both indicate this wear pattern as proof of their diagnosis. All I know is this is the way I wear out shoes, and this is the way I've always worn out shoes. I'm not looking to change now, so I refuse to try to modify my gait.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/20/1964 to 7/26/1964

The series of weeklong summer camps at Glen Holla Boys' Camp came to an end this week in 1964. These weeklong sessions were sponsored by the Rome Boys Club (located in the heart of Chieftain territory); counselors at the camp included Chieftains Jerry Coalson and Ronnie Kennedy. The camp, located off Walker Mountain Road, offered attendees a chance to enjoy a five-day camp experience not too far away from home, under the watchful supervision of camp director Max Bass, four senior counselors, and six junior counselors.

A group of West Rome girls, including Jeanie Maxwell, Jackie Lupo, Patti Tolbert, Donna Mayne, Becky Wood, Yvonne Housch, Nelda Myers, Susan Wade, Jan Nutt, Susan Penn, Barbara Helie, Ann Holbrook, and Gail Rogers, spent their summer volunteering at the hospital and the Floyd County Health Department as a part of the Candy Stripers volunteer program during the summer of '64. The girls worked in pairs for approximately five hours every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; some of the girls indicated that their experience in the program had inspired them to pursue post-high-school careers or courses of study in medicine.

Rome's first Soap Box Derby was held on Saturday, July 25th, with more than two dozen entries from Rome and Floyd County. Almost 4000 people were on hand to watch the event.

Seven years after Rome lost its WROM-TV station to Chattanooga, the State Board of Education approved funding to establish a new educational TV station to Rome. Alas, by the time Channel 18 went on the air, it was located not in Rome but in Chatsworth/Dalton instead... Rome just wasn't destined to have a television station, apparently!

By popular demand, The Shrimp Boat brought back its shrimp and fish combo dinner (with hush puppies, tartar sauce, and french fries) for only 97¢. Why 97¢? Because in 1964, sales tax was still 3%, so that made it exactly a dollar with tax.

McDonald's was attracting people to their relatively new Rome location with their 47¢ All-American Meal, which included a hamburger, french fries, and a milkshake. As a special prize, kids received a Golden Arches bank--and if they filled out a birthday club card, they'd get a postcard good for a free All-American Meal on their birthday.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, canned English peas or green beans for 20¢ each, and whole watermelons for 49¢. Kroger had smoked ham for 35¢ a pound, Kroger bread for 8¢ a loaf, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had 7 ounce cans of tuna for a quarter each, round roast for 69¢ a pound, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. Big Apple had spare ribs for 29¢ a pound, baking potatoes for a dime a pound, and bell peppers for 7¢ each. Couch's had T-bone steak for 69¢ a pound, canned peaches for a quarter a can, and Scott bathroom tissue for a dime a roll.

For the first half of the week, moviegoers had a choice of The Three Lives of Thomasina at the DeSoto, Wild & Wonderful at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Last Train from Gun Hill and Walt Disney's Grand Canyon at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch up brought Zulu to the First Avenue, The Patsy (with Jerry Lewis) to the DeSoto, and Walt Disney's Summer Magic (with Hayley Mills) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles were back on top as "A Hard Day's Night" took the number one spot on the Top Ten charts. Other top ten songs included "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons (#2); "The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)" by Jan & Dean (#3); "Everybody Loves Somebody" by Dean Martin (#4); "Where Did Our Love Go?" by the Supremes (#5); "Wishin' & Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield (#6); "Dang Me" by Roger Miller (#7); "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#8); "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers (#9); and "The Girl from Ipanema" by Getz/Gilberto (#10).

The number one album? A Hard Day's Night soundtrack by the Beatles (on the United Artists label) of course! The number two album? Something New by the Beatles (on the Capitol label), which included several A Hard Day's Night songs that weren't on the soundtrack album in the US, along with some odds and ends such as German versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/13/1964 to 7/19/1964

Rome and Floyd County continued to show strong economic growth in the summer of 1964, with Rome unemployment coming in at only 4.4% for the summer, almost a full percentage point below the national average of 5.3%. This wasn't as bad as it sounds, though, because students looking for summer jobs routinely registered as unemployed every summer in order to take advantage of the employment office's job listings. Adult unemployment remained steady at about 3.1% in Floyd County... a number we all consider almost unattainable today. And remember, back in 1964 a much higher percentage of the working-age population was participating in the work force, making that figure even more impressive.

Ledbetter Construction Company was chosen to complete the Rome/411 Interchange project, building one of the most ambitious non-interstate interchanges in Georgia  right across the site previously known as "Goat Hill." Rome had ambitious hopes that this interchange would lead to commercial growth on 411 between Rome and Cartersville and on 27 between Rome and Cedartown—and it eventually did, just not as quickly or as thoroughly as civic leaders anticipated back in 1964.

West Rome High School's beloved Mrs. Smiderski was one of 57 social studies teachers in the Southeast—and the only one in Rome—who successfully completed the University of North Caroline Summer Fellowship Program in Economic Education.

And the economic good news continued as Rome's department stores reported 2% sales growth over the first half of 1963.  This was less than the statewide growth average of 9%, but Rome's lower growth was due in part to the fact that it saw higher-than-the-state-average growth between 1962 and 1963 (maybe the rest of the state was just catching up).

This'll have you in stitches: a top-of-the-line Kenmore sewing machine could be had for only $53 at Sears—and that included an all-wood cabinet/sewing console with a folding top that opened out into a spacious work area.

Piggly Wiggly had Delmonico steaks for 99¢ a pound, watermelons for 69¢ each, and Sunset Gold biscuits for a nickel a can. Kroger had ground beef for 29¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound,and whole pineapples for 49¢ each—and to make them more attractive to price-conscious shoppers, they also became a Top Value Stamps store effective this week in 1964. Big Apple had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of Domino sugar for 39¢, and fresh okra for 19¢ a pound. A&P had seedless grapes for 29¢ a pound, Porterhouse steak for 89¢ a pound, and Red Rock canned soft drinks for 9¢ each. Couch's had Duke's mayonnaise for 39¢ a jar, sirloin steak for 79¢, and white corn for a nickel an ear.

The DeSoto Theater began the week with special Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday matinee showings of Puss 'n' Boots ("all seats only 50¢"). The week of evening screenings began with Bedtime Story (with Marlon Brando, David Niven, & Shirley Jones) at the DeSoto, Good Neighbor Sam (with Jack Lemmon) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Lady & the Tramp and Almost Angels at the West Rome Drive-In. The mid-week new movie switch out brought Walt Disney's Thomasina to the DeSoto, Wild and Wonderful (with Tony Curtis) at the First Avenue, and Savage Sam at the West Rome Drive-In.

They're baaaack... After a few weeks out of the Top Ten, the Beatles made their return this week as "A Hard Day's Night" entered the charts in the number two position, right behind "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons. Other top ten hits included "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#3); "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers (#4); "The Girl from Ipanema" by Getz/Gilberto (#5); "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena" by Jan & Dean (#6); "Can't You See That She's Mind" by the Dave Clark Five (#7); "Dang Me" by Roger Miller (#8); "Wishin' & Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield (#9); and "Keep on Pushing" by the Impressions (#10).

The Beatles soundtrack album A Hard Day's Night  also jumped to number three on the charts this week in 1964—and this Beatles album appeared on yet another label, as United Artists had acquired the US rights to the film and its soundtrack. As a result, the  album, featuring a mix of eight Beatles songs and four instrumental tracks arranged by George Martin, would not be available on Capitol Records for another sixteen years, when EMI acquired United Artists and transferred the rights to the soundtrack to Capitol.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/6/1964 to 7/12/1964

Several Rome businesses—including some restaurants, drive-ins, and motion picture theaters—ended their policies of segregation this week in 1964 in keeping with the recently-passed civil rights bill. The DeSoto and the First Avenue were the first formerly-segregated businesses to open the doors to all regardless of race. This marked the long-overdue beginning of the end of segregation in Rome, in Georgia, in the South, and in the nation as a whole. It seems hard to believe that we're only a half-century removed from a time when segregation was still an accepted practice, isn't it?

Rapid residential and business growth in West Rome led to the City Commission "fast-laning" the four-laning of Shorter Avenue at the Underpass. In addition, City Manager Bruce Hamler reported that the City Commission had approved bids for two water storage tanks in the West Rome area to make sure that immediate water needs were met.

Rome Police Chief Nelson Camp announced that, in response to concerns from residents and businesses, the city would actively enforce the 11pm curfew for all residents under the age of 21. Chief Camp said that officers would allow for reasonable extensions for people coming home from work, a movie, etc.

The Rome City and Floyd County school systems continued to discuss a merger of the two systems, with State Board of Education chairman James Peters saying it was the only only path to progress. Today, no one remembers James Peters and the two systems remain un-merged...

We're accustomed to seeing cheaper prices from a half-century ago, but interest rates that banks were paying were certainly much, much higher--more than 16 times today's rates for a standard savings account. Citizens Federal was paying 4.25% interest on all savings accounts this week in 1964... and today, most banks are barely paying the .25% part of that! 

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 39¢ each, bananas for a dime a pound, and Pillsbury flaky biscuits for a nickel a can. Kroger had ham for 39¢ a pound, cream style corn for a dime a can, and a 24-bottle case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, watermelons for 33¢ each, and ice cream for 39¢  a half-gallon. A&P had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, potato salad for 29¢ a pound, and smoked sausage for 59¢ a pound. Couch's had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 29¢ each, and a 16-ounce jar of JFG Peanut Butter for 49¢.

Rome's cinematic week began with The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the DeSoto, How The West Was Won at the First Avenue, and The Dream Maker at the West Rome Drive-In. The mid-week movie switch up brought Good Neighbor Sam (with Jack Lemmon) to both the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In and Bedtime Story (with Marlon Brando, David Niven, and Shirley Jones) to the DeSoto.

The number one song this week in 1964 was "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons. Other top ten hits included "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers (#2); "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys (#3); "Can't You See That She's Mine" by the Dave Clark Five (#4); "The Girl from Ipanema" by Getz/Gilberto (#5); "The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)" by Jan & Dean (#6); "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#7); "Dang Me" by Roger Miller (#8); "My Boy Lollipop" by Millie Small (#9); and "Keep On Pushing" by the Impressions" (#10).

Comic book readers were happy to see that the Hulk became a regular feature in Marvel Comics' Tales to Astonish beginning with #60, which went on sale this week in 1964. Meanwhile, Captain America and Iron Man were slugging it out on the cover of Tales of Suspense #58, also on sale this week in 1964... and their face-off was the precursor to an ongoing Captain America feature in Tales of Suspense beginning in the next issue.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Lucky Thirteen

Today's mail was noteworthy in that it contained a copy of the 1959 Watanyah, the first West Rome High School yearbook. I've been searching for the 1959 and 1960 yearbooks for quite a while, and only this week did I acquire the final volume to complete my set of the first thirteen yearbooks. These thirteen books cover West Rome High from the year the school began until the year I graduated. It's not the sort of thing that many people are likely to place high on their book-collecting priority list, but I find it fascinating to go through these books, looking at familiar names from the years before my time at West Rome, as well as classmates from my years there.

West Rome was a relatively small community--fewer than 400 students when the school opened in 1959, growing to about 600 students by the time I graduated--and many of the students in the early yearbooks were siblings of my classmates. It's also interesting to check the advertisers and sponsors list and see businesses that were a part of my childhood--businesses that have been gone for decades now. It's a nostalgic look at a community I was proud to be a part of, and a community that will always be a part of me. I will always believe that Rome lost a wonderful sense of community when West and East Rome High Schools were closed in 1992 and merged into Rome High (a school located so far on the outskirts of Rome that it isn't close to any significant portion of the student body). Rome thrived when these two schools existed, and its decline began soon after they were closed an demolished to make way for a Walmart and a Kmart, respectively. These books preserve a much better era in Rome's history.