Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/30/1964 to 12/6/1964

Rome officially began the Christmas season with the Monday evening arrival of Santa, who landed at Barron Stadium via helicopter before joining the 28-unit Christmas parade up Broad Street to the Rome City Auditorium, where he officiated the lighting of the Christmas Tree and all the Christmas lights along Broad Street. The West Rome Junior High Band and the West Rome High Marching Band, as well as the homecoming queen, were a part of the parade.

The weather was perfect for a Christmas event: it was dry and clear, but very, very cold, with highs in the upper thirties and low forties during the day on Monday and Tuesday and lows in the upper teens.

Christmas season also saw the premiere of the three-day Christmas show sponsored by the Floyd County Home Demonstration Clubs. The event, held at the Rome Civic Center, was developed around the theme "An Old Fashioned Christmas at Home," with participants from around the area, including West Rome.

The holiday sales season got off with a rip-roaring start, with Rome and Floyd County merchants reporting record sales for the first week of the Christmas season. Of course, there was good reason: Rome was also reporting an all-time record high payroll in 1964, banks were reporting record savings account balances, and more Romans participated in Christmas Club savings accounts than ever before. Estimates indicated that spending for the early part of the Christmas season was running 20% to 30% higher than the year before, which had set its own records.

And here's a real season opener: NBC presented the television premiere of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Sunday, December 6th. The show became an annual tradition on NBC, appearing there every year until it moved to CBS in 1972.

In honor of the holidays, Redford's 5¢ and 10¢ on Broad Street "Christmased up" its menu, adding cranberry sauce to its 50¢ fried chicken dinner that included two pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a roll. None of that stuff with berries in it, either: this was the 1960s "real deal" jellied cranberry sauce that still carried the shape of the can! (No, they don't say that in the ad, but I remember it well... at the time, I had no idea there was any other type of cranberry sauce, in fact!)

The West Rome Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs took part in a countywide "Operation Goodwill" program to collect food and toys for Christmas; the toys would go to the Marines Toys for Tots program, while the food would go to the Salvation Army for distribution to needy families. Homerooms were urged to begin collecting food and toys in preparation for "Goodwill Week" on December 7th-11th.

It was a good week for Chieftain athletes: West Rome's wrestlers defeated East Rome 29-26 on Thursday, December 3rd. Then West Rome opened its basketball season on Friday, December 4th, with a game against Chattooga—a game that the Chieftains won 49-30, led by the outstanding performances of Donnie Hill and Stan Dawson. Perhaps they were spurred to victory by the pep rally that preceded the season opener...

Changes were proposed for Battey Hospital: a state commission studying mental health problems in Georgia recommended that Battey be used for overflow from the Milledgeville State Psychiatric Hospital.

Eastern Airlines was eager to get rid of its Rome flight service, and Southern Airlines was willing to take the routes, if the Civil Aeronautics Board approved the transfer. They listened to both airlines present their requests, then postponed any decision until they could hold public hearings on March 16, 1965.

Nelson Brothers Service Station at 618 Shorter Avenue suffered a break-in on Monday night; the thieves gained access to the service station through an unsecured garage door at Pettyjohn's Body Shop at the rear of the service station. The thieves made off with $230, two retread tires, and three inner tubes (they might have taken more, but they got tired...).

The Imperial Service Station at 2205 Shorter Avenue celebrated the holidays with a special "buy eight gallons or more of gasoline and get two extra gallons for free" promotion. With 94 octane regular at 29.9¢ and 100-octane ethyl at 31.9¢, the price was already pretty cheap, but this made it as much as 20% cheaper! And if that wasn't enough, they gave you a one copper penny bonus refund for each gallon purchased!

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's premium bacon for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and fully baked fruit pies for 59¢. Kroger had an eight-ounce can of tuna for 27¢, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and pit-cooked barbecue sandwiches for a dime each. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 55¢ a pound, and tangerines for 15¢ a pound. A&P had pork loin for 49¢ a pound, a five-pound Jane Parker fruitcake for $3.99, and an 18-ounce can of fruit cocktail for 27¢. Couch's had 18 ounce jars of Blue Plate jelly in assorted flavors for 39¢, veal chops for 59¢ a pound, and the never-popular Libby's potted meat for a dime a can.

The cinematic week began with Elvis Presley's Roustabout at the DeSoto and Bikini Beach at the First Avenue. The midweek change-up brought Fail Safe to the DeSoto and a double feature of Witchcraft and The Horror of It All to the First Avenue, while West Rome Drive-In offered a weekend double feature of Pepe and Zotz.

The number one song this week in 1964 was "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton. Other top ten hits included "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#2); "Ringo" by Lorne Greene (#3); "Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#4); "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles, making their return to the charts after a record-setting summer (#5); "Time Is On My Side" by the Rolling Stones (#6); "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks (#7); "Baby Love" by the Supremes (#8); "I'm Gonna Be Strong" by Gene Pitney (#9); and "Dance, Dance, Dance" by the Beach Boys (#10). Four British Invasion groups on the Top Ten charts was quite impressive, but the fact that the Supremes had two of the Top Ten was even more outstanding!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/23/1964 to 11/29/1964

it was a short school week for Rome City Schools students: students attended school on Monday, November 23rd, then took the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving. Teachers weren't quite as fortunate--they had to endure all-day teachers meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, which undoubtedly made them particularly thankful once Thanksgiving day arrived!

The West Rome Junior High Student Council, under the guidance of sponsor Miss Kitty Alford, decorated the West Rome cafeteria on Monday. The annual Thanksgiving meal was served in the lunchroom after a blessing was given over the intercom at the beginning of each lunch period.

The day after Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in 1964 just as it does today. The term "Black Friday" wasn't used back then, however; instead, Rome marked the beginning of the shopping season with a two-day "Rome Days" event in which almost every merchant offered sales to launch the holiday season. 23" black and white console TVs for $218.88 at Western Auto, a seven-piece living room suite for $149.95 at Harper Nichols, an electric hand mixer for $9.88 at Enloe's Rexall Drugs, a Philco stereo radio-phono for $99 at Economy Auto, all-wool sport coats for $19.97 at Wyatt's, women's high heeled shoes for $5.99 at Higgins, a 45-piece Melmac dinnerware set for $15.84 at Murphy's, a box of 25 shotgun shells for $1.59 at Doc Elliott's Discount House... all this and so much more!

Talk of Floyd Junior College began anew this week in 1964, although some civic leaders said it was premature to discuss too many specifics. "The Board of Regents is moving as rapidly as possible to provide colleges in every community where the population economically justifies it," Dr. Harry Downs of the Board of Regents said.  He assured Romans, however, that Rome was in the running for a new junior college, and decisions would be made "very soon."

Kroger had Swift's butterball hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, canned biscuits for a nickel a can, and coconuts for 15¢ each. Big Apple had tom turkeys for 33¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and fully cooked cherry pies for 39¢ each. A&P had rib roast for 69¢ a pound, apples for 6¢ a pound, and 3 pounds of JFG coffee for $1. Piggly Wiggly had whole hams for 39¢ a pound, Coca Cola or Tab for 89¢ a case plus deposit, and pumpkin pies for 33¢ each. Couch's had smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 12¢ a pound, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 19¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with Send Me No Flowers (with Rock Hudson & Doris Day) at the DeSoto and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Roustabout (with Elvis Presley) and Bikini Beach (with Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello) to both the First Avenue Theater and the West Rome Drive-In. Apparently theater owner had low expectations for Thanksgiving weekend...

Bonanza star Lorne Green took the number one slot this week in 1964 with his Western ballad "Ringo." Other top ten hits included "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton (#2); "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-Las (#3); "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#4); "Baby Love" by the Supremes (#5); "Time Is On My Side" by the Rolling Stones (#6); "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks (#7); Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#8); "Mountain of Love" by Johnny Rivers (#9); and "I'm Gonna Be Strong" by Gene Pitney (#10).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/16/1964 to 11/22/1964

Economic good times continued in Rome in the last quarter of 1964: all of Rome's department stores posted an increase of 4%+ above sales levels for the same period in 1963, while charge account balances dropped by 3% or more. That meant that Romans were spending more money, but were able to pay for their purchases in cash rather than financing them--two signs of a growing economy. And even those who charged purchases were paying their bills off more quickly--in an average of 62 days, which was 4 days shorter than the average finance period in 1963.

The West Rome Junior High Library Club was organized under the direction of Mrs. Martha Hurst, school librarian; the club members, who called themselves the Book Worms, were involved in several service projects to benefit the library. Club officers included Edwin Dodd, president; Tommy Horton, vice-president; Robert Smiderski, secretary-treasurer; and Celeste Green, reporter.

This was the final week that students could place orders for their very own copy of the 1965 Watanyah, the West Rome yearbook. (Wish I could find a record of how much a yearbook cost in 1965... my guess, trying to retro-calculate from today's prices, would be $10, but I'm just not sure.)

Meteorological history repeats itself: on November 20th, a strong cold front moved through Rome, dropping temperatures from lows in the mid-40s to lows in the low 20s.

Did you remember that I-75 was far from complete back in 1964? This week in '64, the state announced that three more sections of I-75 were slated to open before the end of the year: 10 miles from the Tennessee line to Ringgold, 16 miles between Dalton and Georgia 53, and 9 miles from US 41 above Tunnel Hill to US 41 north of Dalton. From there, travelers were routed back onto US 41, which remained a major north-south route in Georgia through the 1970s. (Anyone remember the Christmas season backups from Cartersville to Marietta during the Christmas season? Hundreds of cars would make a rest stop at Stuckey's in Acworth every day, just to get a break from the traffic.)

Piggly Wiggly had 10-14 pound turkeys for 35¢ a pound, 5 pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 29¢, and a quart of JFG mayonnaise for 39¢. Kroger has Wishbone turkeys for 38¢ a pound, pumpkin pies for 33¢ each, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had Butterball hens for 39¢ a pound, grade A large eggs for 47¢ a dozen, and ice  milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. A&P had pork loin for 43¢ a pound, five pounds of grapefruit for 33¢, and a one-pound box of saltines for 31¢. Couch's had whole or half hams for 33¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound, and Double Cola for 89¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with the Hank Williams Sr. biography Your Cheating Heart (with George Hamilton) at the DeSoto and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (with a true all-star cast) at the First Avenue. The midweek movie switch-out brought Send Me No Flowers (with Rock Hudson, Doris Day, & Tony Randall) to the DeSoto and The Notorious Landlady (with Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, & Fred Astaire) to the West Rome Drive-In, while It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World continued at the First Avenue for another week.

The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" took first place this week in 1964, bouncing the Supremes "Baby Love" down to the number two position. Other top ten hits included "Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay & the Americans (#3); "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#4); "Ringo" by Lorne Greene (#5); "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton (#6); "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks (#7); "Time Is On My Side" by the Rolling Stones (#8); "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers (#9); and "Mountain of Love" by Johnny Rivers (#10).

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/9/1964 to 11/15/1964

West Rome High School class favorites were announced on Thursday, November 12th. Judy Wessinger and Dickie Sapp were chosen from the senior class; Ann Perry and Mike Murphy from the junior class; Sylvia Brumbelow and Tommy Sapp from the sophomore class; Penny Andrews and John Berry from the freshman class; Debbie Joyner and Matt Oldham from the eighth grade class; and Vickie Duffey and Larry Thomas from the seventh grade class.

The West Rome National Junior Honor Society, under the direction of faculty sponsor Mrs. Jean Smiderski, began collecting old books to distribute to various organizations throughout Rome and Floyd County.

West Rome football star Dickie Sapp was chosen as one of the two captains of the All-Star Football Team. The only other Chieftain who made the list was Gerry Law (all-area end).

Celestine Sibley made an appearance in Rome on Thursday, November 12th, signing copies of her book Christmas in Georgia, which was of course available for sale through Wyatt's at $2.50 per copy for the hardcover.

The Etowah Indian Mounds in Bartow County were designated a national historic landmark this week in 1964. How many of my fellow Chieftains were lucky enough to make a field trip to the Indian Mounds? It was one of the first field trips I remember that took us not only off campus but out of town, and I still remember it as being one of the most amazing school days of my elementary school years.

Georgia's proposed state budget for 2015 was the first ever to top $1 billion, but the governor and the House Speaker said that it could be done without a tax increase. (And it turned out they were correct!)

The Milwaukee Braves made it official on November 10th, signing a 25-year contract with the city of Atlanta. "Tell them they just made the best trade they've ever made," Mayor Ivan Allen told Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium chairman Arthur Montgomery. Milwaukee continued to grumble about the deal, making threats of lawsuits and against the Braves and the city of Atlanta and anti-trust action against the National League.

Sterchi's had a dining table and six chars in the trendy-in-the-sixties White Danish Modern for only $99 delivered. A more traditional maple table with six chairs cost $129.

Showing that meanings of words change with time, the headline announcing the beginning of the Christmas Seals campaign was "Gay Christmas Seals Aid War Against TB."

Sears was ready for the Christmas season with a 10% off sale on all bicycles; for only $29.66, parents could get a boys or girls bike to go under the tree--and that was the "fully assembled" price, so no time was wasted trying to figure out where those five leftover parts were supposed to go.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Stokely's cream corn for 16¢ a can, and 2 pounds of JFG coffee for $1.19. Kroger had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, tomatoes for a dime a pound, and Kroger or Country Club ice cream for 19¢ a half-gallon. Big App[le had pork steak for 39¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and tall cans of Double Q salmon for 49¢.  A&P had sliced bacon or 39¢ a pound, Fireside brand saltines for 19¢ a box, and ten pound of red delicious apples for 59¢. Couch's had center cut pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Lay's potato chips for 59¢ for a twin-pack bag, and Morton's chicken pot pies for 19¢ each.

The cinematic week began with Woman of Straw (with Gina Lollobrigida & Sean Connery) at the DeSoto and The Seventh Dawn (with William Holden & Susannah York) at the First Avenue. The midweek change up brought the Hank Williams bio-pic Your Cheatin' Heart (with George Hamilton and Red Buttons) to the DeSoto and the all-star film spectacular It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In brought back The Bridge On the River Kwai, pairing it up with the forgettable Johnny Cool ("the international murder machine they couldn't turn off!").

The number one song this week in 1964 was "Baby Love" by the Supremes. Other top ten hits included "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-Las (#2); "Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay & the Americans (#3); "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers (#4); "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#5); "Ringo" by Lorne Greene (#6); "Have I the Right?" by the Honeycombs (#7); "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks (#8) "The Door Is Still Open to My Heart" by Dean Martin (#9); and "Time Is On My Side" by the Rolling Stones (#10).

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/2/1964 to 11/8/1964

Celanese announced a major two-year expansion of the Rome plant to increase its acetate filament production by 25%; Celanese fibers were used in clothes, automotive upholstery, carpet, furniture coverings, and much more. Of course, a major expansion meant more manufacturing jobs for Rome, which pumped even more money into the area's fast-growing economy.

Don Biggers of the Rome News-Tribune talked to West Rome Coach Paul Kennedy and East Rome Coach Larry Muschamp about the East Rome-West Rome game, the final game of the regular season for both teams. Both coaches came to the same conclusion: the school whose played made the fewest mistakes was going to win that game. Turned out that West Rome was that school as the Chieftains came back from being down 10-9 at halftime to end the game with a 23-10 victory thanks to two touchdown runs by Dickie Sapp, who carried the ball 20 times during the game, accounting for 129 net yards for the Chiefs. 6500 people packed Barron Stadium to watch the game, which by 1964 had become the biggest sports event of the year in Rome.

While the real election was going on across the nation (Goldwater took Georgia, but Johnson carried the nation by a landslide) West Rome's civics classes participated in a mock election. West Rome's Presidential voting mirrored the national results.

Those who missed the first picture day at West Rome--or those who, like me, always held out the vague hope that the next picture might look a little less goofy--could try again on Wednesday, November 4th, when picture retake day was held.

This was also the first week of West Rome Watanyah sales for the 1965 yearbook.

A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, winesap apples for a dime a pound, and Marvel ice milk for 39¢. PigglyWiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Swift's bacon for 33¢ a pound, and avocados for 19¢ each. Kroger had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, bananas for a dime pa pound, and a 3-pound can of Crisco for 69¢. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and Libby's infamous potted meat for a dime a can.  Couch's had Fleetwood coffee for 59¢ a pound, Duffey's red hot franks for a quarter a pound, and a box of Nabisco Saltines for 29¢.

During the first half of the week, moviegoers had a choice between Rio Conchos at the DeSoto Theater and a double feature of Hootenanny Hoot and Elvis Presley's Kissin' Cousins at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought The Young Lovers (with Peter Fonda, Nick Adams, and Sharon Hugueny) to the First Avenue and Station Six Sahara (with Carroll Baker) at the DeSoto. The West Rome Drive-In's weekend feature was Who's Got the Action? (with Dean Martin & Lana Turner) and The Boy Who Stole a Million (such a grade B film they didn't even list a cast member).

The Supremes' "Baby Love" held the number one position this week in 1964. Other top ten hits included "Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-Las (#2); "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers (#3); "Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay & the Americans (#4); "Have I the Right?" by the Honeycombs (#5); "The Door Is Still Open to My Heart" by Dean Martin (#6); "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann (#7); "Let It Be Me" by Betty Everett & Jerry Butler (#8); "She's Not There" by the Zombies (#9); and that unforgettable Western ballad "Ringo" by Bonanza patriarch Lorne Greene (#10).