Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week - 12/21/1964 to 12/27/1964

After a cold snap dropped temperatures into the teens the in the final week of autumn, Rome warmed up for the beginning of winter, with temperatures rising into the 50s for highs and dropping into the 40s for lows during Christmas week. All those dreams of white Christmases melted away with the warmer weather—but at least it was great weather for testing out new Christmas bicycles!

Since the Chieftains lost in the early rounds of the Rome News Tribune Winter Basketball Tournament, it was a week off for all West Romans, including our high school athletes.

The Rome City School System offered a little glimpse into its costs of operation, and what probably seemed pretty steep in 1964 seems amazingly inexpensive by today's standards. For example, the total cost to operate the Rome City Schools (including West Rome High) for one year was $1.63 million, or a total amortized cost of  $243.73 per student per year just for salaries and instructional costs. Even allowing for the $7.54 inflation multiplier, I suspect that we're spending a lot more than that in 2014... and getting much less impressive results!

Belk-Rhodes was touting what they claimed would be the Christmas gift of 1964: the Insta-Brewer coffee maker, with a special pressure plunger that forces all the coffee through all the water all at once, thereby making an entire pot of real coffee (not instant) in thirty seconds. Since I don't recall too many people making coffee in this $9.95 wonder back in the 1960s, my guess is that Belk was slightly overestimating the impressiveness of this half-minute marvel...

Piggly Wiggly had tom turkeys for 35¢ a pound, a 24-bottle case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 89¢ plus deposit, and Mrs. Filbert's mayonnaise for 59¢ a quart. Kroger has smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, Country Club ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Chase & Sanborn coffee for 69¢ a pound. A&P had pork roast for 49¢ a pound, raisins for a quarter a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had hen turkeys for 37¢ a pound, already-cooked fruit pies for 59¢ each, and oranges for 15¢ a pound. Couch's had pork sausage for 29¢ a pound, Campbell's tomato soup for a dime a can, and Aristocrat ice cream for 39¢ a half-gallon.

As was normal for the time, Rome pretty much shut down on Christmas Day, with even the Rome News-Tribune taking the day off. The post office went one step further, taking off both Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th, leaving Romans without mail for three days in a row.

The cinematic week began with a double feature of Flipper (starring a dolphin) and Gold For the Caesars (a year old grade B film starring Jeffrey Hunter) at the Desoto and a double feature of  What a Way to Go (with Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, & Robert Mitchum) and Move Over, Darling (with Doris Day & James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Topkapi (with Melina Mercouri & Peter Ustinov) to the DeSoto and Pajama Party (with Tommy Kirk & Annette Funicello) to the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In's weekend films were 1001 Arabian Nights  (with Mister Magoo) and Barabbas (with Anthony Quinn) at the First Avenue--and that just may be the strangest double-feature in Rome cinematic history!

The Beatles held the number one and number four positions on the top ten charts this week in 1964 with "I Feel Fine" and "She's a Woman" respectively. Other top ten hits included "Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#2); "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton (#3); "Love Potion Number Nine" by the Searchers (#5); "Goin' Out of My Head" by Little Anthony & the Imperials (#6); "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#7); "Amen" by the Impressions (#8); "The Jerk" by the Impressions (#9); and "The Wedding" by Julie Rogers (#10).

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