Saturday, August 09, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/10/1964 to 8/16/1964

On August 10th, the Rome News-Tribune shared the news that most students were just as happy not knowing: the final two weeks of summer vacation had arrived! School was scheduled to start back on August 27th, beginning the 1964-65 school year that would continue through June 1st. And yes, that meant that back in the mid-1960s, we did get almost three full months off for the summer... and we didn't back to class during what is traditionally the hottest part of the summer.

West Rome High School was allocated $65,000 for the construction of an industrial arts shop, contingent on the the school system receiving the scheduled funding from the Georgia Department of Education. Plans called for the shop to be up and running by the 1965-1966 school year.

Coach Paul Kennedy talked with the Rome News-Tribune about his prospects for the 1964 football season, and he was (as usual) cautious in his comments. "We think we're going to have a pretty good team, but you can never really tell," Coach Kennedy said. "Right now all we're concerned about is Coosa," the team that West Rome was set to play in their season opener on August 29th. "We certainly don't want to go into that game over-confident. We realize that Coosa is going to be a strong club, and against us, we expect them to become super-human." Coach Kennedy had good things to say about quarterbacks Ronnie Kennedy and Ronnie Parker, along with returning players Jerry Coalson, Gordon Walden, Ken Payne, Dickie Sapp, Donnie Hill, and Richard Camp.

Low unemployment and a strong emphasis on education (complete with lower class sizes) left many school systems—including Rome's—with a teacher shortage as the school year began. The state estimated they would have 1,000 unfilled positions at the start of school, while the Rome school system had eight unfilled positions, including one at West Rome. School superintendent M.S. McDonald said that the shortage "won't prevent the opening of any schools, but we may have to double up in some classes."

The start of a news school year meant back to school shopping, and Miller's Department Store cashed in on new clothes shopping with a Seventeen Fashion Show on Wednesday, August 12th, hosted by Pat Sadowsky, editor of Seventeen Magazine. Door prizes included a Magnavox stereo system, a Bulova Caravelle watch, and (of course) clothes from Bobbie Brooks and other manufacturers. More than 300 teenage girls showed up for the event. Meanwhile, Sears announced extended hours, staying open until 9pm for the two weeks leading up to school's start. And everyone got in on the act for the weekend as Rome merchants celebrated "August Dollar Days" on Friday and Saturday with their biggest bargains of the season on clothes, school supplies, and more.

Merchants had every reason to be excited about the sales season: the Federal Reserve released June's department store sales numbers in mid-August, and it showed that Rome sales were up 15% over the same month in 1964, while furniture stores reported a 2% growth. Charge account balances were 12% higher, but Romans were paying off those accounts in an average of 68 days, compared to 77 days in 1963.

After two weeks of extremely hot weather with temperatures reaching the mid and upper 90s, Rome got a break in mid-August when a cool front dropped highs to the low 80s and lows to the mid-50s. Considering how few homes had central air conditioning in 1964, this was undoubtedly appreciated by many of us in West Rome!

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Plymouth coffee for 69¢ a pound, and ten pounds of potatoes for 49¢. Kroger had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and (no, I'm not making this up) Cantaloupe a la Mode for 25¢ each—and yes, that was a half a cantaloupe with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center of it!  (I'll wait while you make the appropriate ewww sounds...) Big Apple had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 59¢, and Georgia peaches for 19¢ a pound. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, canned biscuits for 8¢ a can, and corn for a nickel an ear. Couch's had Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 49¢ a pound, Blue Plate jelly for 33¢ a jar, and fresh okra for 15¢ a pound (and I can almost smell Mom's fried okra...).

The cinematic week began with the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night at the DeSoto, The Carpetbaggers at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Come Blow Your Horn (with Frank Sinatra) and Hud (with Paul Newman) at the West Rome Drive-In. McHale's Navy set sail from television to the big screen at the DeSoto for the last half of the week, while The New Interns (with Dean Jones, Telly Savalas, Barbara Eden, and Stefanie Powers) made its Rome premiere at both the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In.

The Supremes took the number one position this week in 1964 with "Where Did Our Love Go?" Other top ten hits included "Everybody Loves Somebody" by Dean Martin (#2); "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles (#3); "Under the Boardwalk" by the Drifters (#4); "The House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals (#5); "C'mon and Swim" by Bobby Freeman (#6); "Because" by the Dave Clark Five (#7); "Walk—Don't Run '64" by the Ventures (#8); "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield (#9); and ""How Do You Do It?" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#10).

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