Friday, September 04, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/6/1965 to 9/12/1965

West Rome began the school year without an industrial arts building, but the folks in charge of Rome City Schools construction were doing everything they could to get the building open in September. Building construction wrapped up this week in 1965, but Superintendent M.S. McDonald said that it would take a week or two to move the industrial arts equipment into the new shop and get it set up.

The Rome City School system also announced the development of a kindergarten program for students who were gauged to be unprepared to enter the first grade. Plans called for the program to be developed during the 1965-1966 school year and actually launched in the 1966-1967 school year. The kindergarten program was not for all students; instead, it was only for those who were not ready to go into the first grade. The program would be coordinated with Operation Head Start, but it would not be free to participating parents; instead, they would have to bear some of the cost of kindergarten for their children unless their incomes were so low that they qualified for local assistance.

West Rome's first home game of the season pitted the Chiefs against the Chattooga Indians—but the home advantage apparently wasn't enough, as Chattooga won 13-12.

As the Coosa Valley Fair opening day neared, fair officials announced a major improvement: pavement! In years past, the fairgrounds were packed dirt with straw and/or gravel in some of the more heavily travelled areas, and CVF president Dean Morgan said that they had dealt with many complaints over the years regarding the dust and (when it rained) mud. To alleviate the problem, fair officials paved the paths near the concession booths, the exhibits building, the offices, and many of the rides. (I guess we take things like paved walkways for granted; I had forgotten that the fairground were unpaved dirt during much of my childhood! I guess I was too busy looking at the Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides to notice the ground I was walking on.)

And speaking of the fair, officials also announced an actual Mercury spacecraft would be on display at the fair. The hatch would be removed and the opening enlarged slightly to make it easier for Romans to get into the capsule and experience first-hand the not-so-luxurious accommodations that John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, and others enjoyed as they orbited the Earth.

McDonald's rolled out its new McDouble Cheeseburger this week in 1965. For only 38¢, you could get the burger by itself—or for 69¢, you could get it with an order of fries and a shake.

Nowadays, gyms and exercise facilities are ubiquitous, but they were far less common in 1965, which is why it was such big news that Rome Health Studios was opening a facility at 623 Shorter Avenue. For only $7 a month, members could use their exercise equipment, steam baths, and sun lamps.

Color television prices began to drop a bit in 1965 as stronger sales led to higher volume. Sears was offering a 21" Silvertone tabletop unit for only $326, while a 21" color console TV in a maple cabinet could be had for only $396. Rome Radio & TV had a 23" GE color television for only $399 or a 21" RCA for only $349; those with bigger budgets could spring for a "giant-sized 25" RCA color console TV with Mediterranean styling for only $750. With a new television season set to begin in a couple of weeks, viewers were undoubtedly looking into color televisions, since more than 80% of the networks' offerings would be in full color. (Yes, there were still a few shows produced in black and white in 1965!)

Piggly Wiggly had Fig Newtons for 33¢ a box, Maxwell House Instant Coffee for 79¢ a jar, and white grapes for 15¢ a pound. Kroger had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, honeydew melons for 45¢ each, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme Coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Showboat pork & beans for a dime a can. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, Bartlett pears for 25¢ a pound, and a one-pound bag of Jane Parker potato chips for 49¢. Couch's had smoked cured picnic hams for 35¢ a pound, white corn for a nickel an ear, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart.

The cinematic week began with The Sons of Katie Elder (with John Wayne & Dean Martin) at the DeSoto, Lord Jim (with Peter O'Toole) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Mister Hobbs (with Robert Mitchum & Carroll Baker) and The Satan Bug (with George Maharis, Richard Basehart, & Anne Francis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Sergeant Deadhead (with Frankie Avalon) to the DeSoto,  Genghis Khan (with Omar Sharif, Stephen Boyd, & James Mason) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Red River (with John Wayne) and The Glory Guys (with Tom Tryon & Senta Berger) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to the number one slot for a third week with "Help!" Other top ten hits included "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (#2); "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#3); "You Were On My Mind" by We Five (#4); "Catch Us If You Can" by the Dave Clark Five (#6); "The 'In' Crowd" by the Ramsey Lewis Trio (#6); "Hang On Sloopy" by the McCoys (#7); "It Ain't Me Babe" by the Turtles (#8); "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#9); and "Heart Full of Soul" by the Yardbirds (#10).

One of the best Spider-Man two-part stories in history began this week with the release of Amazing Spider-Man #31. The story, "If This Be My Destiny," kicked off the two part Master Planner/Doctor Octopus story arc that features one of Spidey's most iconic scenes as he struggles to free himself from beneath tons of destroyed machinery.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/30/1965 to 9/5/1965

The school year started without a hitch on Monday, August 30th, and there were no problems with the first day of integrated schools. A total of 59 black students enrolled in Rome City Schools, including seven at West Rome High and two at Elm Street Elementary. Superintendent M.S. McDonald said that late enrollment was continuing throughout the week, and it was likely that more students would be integrated into city schools as the week progressed. Rome's total enrollment at all schools was approximately 7500 students, an increase of more than 200 students over the previous school year.

Chieftain Benny Padgett was named the Rome News-Tribune's Lineman of the Week for his outstanding performance in the season opener against Coosa. Padgett was credited with 11 individual tackles and recovered a key fumble to stop Coosa from scoring.

This week's football game pitted the Chieftains against the Dalton Catamounts. West Rome Coach Paul Kennedy downplayed West Rome's chances, saying that "Dalton will undoubtedly win the region championship again this year," while Dalton Coach Bill Chappel said that "West Rome was the most likely contender to win the title."  This is one time when we wish the other team's coach had been correct: unfortunately, West Rome lost to the Catamounts 21-0.

Nowadays we're accustomed to see blue lights on police cars, but red flashing lights were the norm until this week in 1965. This is the week that Floyd County began switching over to blue flashing lights to distinguish police cars from ambulances and other emergency vehicles. The Rome City Police Department confirmed plans to switch to blue lights as well, but they weren't sure when the transition would occur.

The Coosa Valley Fair began their pre-fair publicity push this week in 1965 with the announcement that a new Sky-Liner ride would join the list of Coosa Valley Fair attractions this year. The Sky-Liner was really nothing more than a chair life that ran on a five-hundred-foot-long steel cable above the fairgrounds.

The numbers were finally tallied, and it turned out the retail sales in Rome and Floyd County jumped more than $2 million in the second quarter of 1965 compared to the same quarter in 1964. Total retail sales were more than $32,697,000, putting Rome and Floyd County near the top of Georgia's retail growth curve.

We talk about Christmas season kicking off too early nowadays, but apparently the problem has existed for quite a while: The Discount House at 7 North Division Street in West Rome announced that Santa would be at the store on Labor Day, and parents could have their kids' photos taken with Santa. They were also kicking off a major toy sale over the weekend leading up to Labor Day.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, baking potatoes for 6¢ a pound, and Snax brand potato chips for 39¢ a bag. Kroger had Wilson's four-pound canned hams for $2.99, fresh eggs for 37¢ a dozen, and Country Club ice cream for 45¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Van Camp's potted meat for 16¢ a can, and a carton of Pepsi-Cola for 29¢ plus deposit. A&P had hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and Chef Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli for 39¢ a can. Couch's had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and Double Cola for 69¢ a case plus deposit,.

The cinematic week began with A Very Special Favor (with Rock Hudson & Leslie Caron) at the DeSoto Theater; H. Rider Haggard's She (with Ursula Andress) at the First Avenue; and a double feature of The Thrill of It All (with Doris Day & James Garner) and Art of Love (with Dick Van Dyke & Elke Sommer) at the  West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Sons of Katie Elder (with John Wayne & Dean Martin) to the DeSoto; Lord Jim (with Peter O'Toole) to the First Avenue; and Shenandoah (with James Stewart) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to first place in the Billboard charts with "Help." Other top ten hits included "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#2); "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (#3); "You Were On My Mind" by We Five (#4); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#5); "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (#6); "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#7); "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown (#8); "It Ain't Me Babe" by the Turtles (#9); and "The 'In' Crowd" by the Ramsey Lewis Trio (#10).

The Beatles also reclaimed the number one album slot with Help! this week in 1965. knocking the Rolling Stones' Out of Our Heads off its three-week stint in first place.  (The Stones, in turn, had knocked off the prior Beatles album, Beatles VI, which held the number one slot for six weeks.)

Superhero fans had a new comic book choice this week in 1965: THUNDER Agents #1, the premiere offering from Tower comics. A striking Wally Wood cover graced the first issue of this 64-page 25¢ comic that introduce Dynamo, No-Man, and Menthor to the comic-book-reading world.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/23/1965 to 8/29/1965

The West Rome Marching Band was having to deal with extreme heat and high humidity during its band practices, leading the Rome News-Tribune to speculate that band practice might actually be tougher than football drills in terms of the toll it took on the participating students. The article went on to explain that Rome never had a marching band prior to the fall of 1938, when Rome High band director AW Derrick organized Rome's first marching band for the 1938 football season. Band director Clyde Roberson said that the band began marching practice on August 16th; prior to that date, they had played inside for two weeks. All 110 members of the band were on the field from 9am until noon every weekday. The good news? They weren't practicing in full uniforms—because the new uniforms that had been ordered for the 1965 football season hadn't come in yet (they weren't due to arrive until mid-September).

Registration took place without incident on August 26th, marking the end to summer vacation. The only glitch that occurred was caused by unexpectedly high freshman and sophomore registrants; West Rome had more than two dozen new Chieftains show up, pushing registration times back slightly as the counselors scrambled to find classes for the new arrivals. Students had August 27th off to buy school supplies and otherwise prepare for the start of the school year bright and early on Monday, August 30th.

School wasn't even scheduled to start until August 30th, but West Rome had their first football game of the season on August 27th, taking on Coosa at Barron Stadium. The game ended with a rare 0-0 standoff, as both teams' outstanding defense stopped their opponents from scoring (even though West Rome came close when Richard Camp's 29-yard field goal attempt with 36 seconds left in the game was partially blocked by a Coosa defender).

The Chieftain cheerleaders made page three of the Rome News-Tribune, with a photo showing Janet Amspoker, Cheryl Lanier, Elaine Freeman, Sylvia Brumbelow, Susan Sprayberry, Susan Wade, Charline Lamb, Debbie Shannon, and Dixie Moore showing off their school spirit as they prepared for the first game of the year.

The federal government just couldn't make up their bureaucratic minds regarding Rome and Floyd County's desegregation plans... but in this case, the change came about because they hadn't been careful enough in scrutinizing the county's earlier plan. After telling the two school systems that their plans were approved a week earlier, the government changed their minds and said that the plans were not "fully accepted" after all. The federal government mandated a change whereby any black students living outside of the city limits (but within Floyd County) could attend a Rome City School during the 1965-1966 school year without paying any out-of-system tuition; instead, Floyd County would reimburse the city for the proportionate costs of those students. The reason for this change? The federal government had overlooked the fact that Floyd County had never had any school facilities for black students (except for one small school in Cave Spring); instead, they had always transported those students to Rome's schools. The federal plan approved a week earlier had specified that those students would now attend county schools—but there were insufficient county classrooms for those students. This change allowed the county one year to prepare extra classroom facilities for these students in the next school year. (It's hard to believe that, until 1966-1967, the county offered absolutely no educational opportunities for black students in any of its schools, but that's the case: they contracted with Rome City Schools instead. It's hard to imagine how much time those students had to spend on school buses getting back and forth to school every day.)

Rome received bad news regarding I-75: representatives of Bartow County's government and Chamber of Commerce asked the US Bureau of Roads to choose the eastern path for I-75 (that's the path that was ultimately built, lying to the east of US 41). Rome had pushed for a western path instead, taking the interstate to the west of 41, where it would intersect with US 411 between Rome and Cartersville.

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 43¢ a pound, Fox frozen pizza for 79¢, and red delicious apples for 12¢ a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Diet-Rite cola for 19¢ a carton (plus deposit), and Sealtest ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had prime rib roast for 79¢ a pound, Round the Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and the ever-popular Van Camp vienna sausages for 20¢ a can. A&P had Cap'n John's perch fillets for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 29¢ each, and Poss's Brunswick Stew for 49¢.  Couch's had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, JFG mayonnaise for 25¢ a pint, and fresh okra for 15¢ a pound.

The cinematic weekend began with Shenandoah (with James Stewart) at the DeSoto, Ensign Pulver (with Robert Walker & Burl Ives) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Joy House (with Jane Fonda) and The Yellow Rolls Royce (with Rex Harrison) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought A Very Special Favor (with Rock Hudson & Leslie Caron) to the DeSoto,  H. Rider Haggard's She (with Ursula Andress as She Who Must Be Obeyed) to the First Avenue, and Von Ryan's Express (with Frank Sinatra) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles returned to the top slot this week in 1967 with "Help." Other top ten hits included "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#2); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#3); "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (#4); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops (#5); "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#6); "You Were on My Mind" by We Five (#7); "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown (#8); "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (#9); and "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" by Mel Carter (#10).

Those of us who read comics had no idea how important Green Lantern #40 would become insofar as DC Comics history was concerned: this is the issue that introduced the villainous Krona, whose actions gave birth to the DC Multiverse. Of course, the multiverse would become a vital part of DC continuity in years to come, elevating Krona to a position of prominence that creators John Broome, Gil Kane, and Sid Greene most likely never envisioned.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/16/1965 to 8/22/1965

Rome City Schools publicized their final desegregation plans this week in 1965. Under the revised plans (which had been approved by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare), grades 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, & 12 were slated to be desegregated during the 1965-1966 school year, with all grades to be desegregated during the 1966-1967 school year. Students who wished to attend schools outside of their local area would be offered free transportation to their school of choice. Not only were students to be desegregated, but so were faculties, with teachers to be considered for their preferred schools based entirely on seniority.

Coach Paul Kennedy was probably dealing with some sleepless nights in August of 1965: not only did star halfback Richard Camp suffer a head injury that made it doubtful that he would play in the season opener against Coosa on August 30th, but sixteen of his players were stricken with a severe stomach virus. As a result, the Chieftains had so few healthy players that there weren't enough for a full scrimmage, so Coach Kennedy had to bring the team home early from their two-a-day practices at Lookout Mountain Camp for Boys. "I'm just hoping we have enough healthy players to take on Coosa," Coach Kennedy said. "Coosa has everything to gain by beating us, and I hope our players realize that."

Coach Kennedy said that West Rome would still attempt to field their twilight scrimmage during Parents' Night at West Rome High School on Monday, August 23rd. Even if the scrimmage had to be cancelled due to illness, Coach Kennedy said that he would still offer parents of varsity players a tour of the gymnasium and dressing rooms, along with a display of the football uniforms and protective padding and a discussion of the rules.

Rome's economy continued to shine, with retail sales soaring, paychecks increasing, and unemployment plummeting. Retail sales in Rome and Floyd County rose to $28,338,000 in the first quarter of 1965 (in the pre-computer days, it took several months to compile quarterly data), an increase of more than $1.25 million over the same quarter a year earlier. Building permits showed that new construction had increased by more than $1 million over the same period a year earlier, while unemployment fell to 3.9%. Banks said that deposit had increased more than 7% over the same period a year earlier. "Business seems to look good, sales seem to be flourishing, and plants seem to be operating at capacity," Rome Bank & Trust President J.B. Dodd said. "All in all, I would say things look good for Rome!"

Rome was in a mid-August heat wave in 1965, with temperatures hitting the mid-90s for most of the week. Juanita Lester of the US Weather Bureau at Russell Field reminded people that this was normal for the region, however, and that we were not setting records, even though the 96 degree reading recorded on August 16th was Rome's hottest day of 1965 thus far.

Kids were starting to think about school: registration was finalized for August 26th for Rome City Schools, with elementary school students registering between 9am and noon, junior high and freshmen  at 9am, sophomores  at 10:30 am, juniors at 1pm, and seniors at 2:30 pm. The first full day of school was slated for August 30th. Students new to the Rome school system had to take placement tests beginning at 9am on August 23rd to determine their best class options.

Slot cars were big in 1965, which meant that there was an eager customer base to support Rome Raceways when they opened their 24 slot car tracks at 119 Broad Street. Their grand opening included free Cokes for all and thirty minutes of free track time with the purchase of any slot car kit.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, cantaloupes for a quarter each, and ten pounds of Rome Beauty flour for 89¢. Big Apple had a three-pound can of Crisco for 69¢, a 32-ounce jar of Mrs. Bell's peanut butter for 69¢, and cut-up fryers for 39¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and Kroger ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon. A&P had turkeys for 49¢ a pound (yes, they sold turkeys in August!), seedless grapes for 19¢ s pound, and StarKist tuna for 31¢ a can. Couch's had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Coke or Tab for 99¢ a case plus deposit, and ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with Shenandoah (with James Stewart) at the DeSoto Theater; The Glory Guys (with Tom Tryon) at the First Avenue; and a double feature of The Wheeler Dealers (with Lee Remick & James Garner) and Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Morituri (with Marlon Brando & Yul Brynner) to the First Avenue and Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Shenandoah hung around at the DeSoto for another week.

Sonny & Cher held on to the number one spot for the third week in a row with "I Got You Babe." Other top ten hits included "Help" by the Beatles (#2); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#3); "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (#4); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops (#5); "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#6); "Save Your heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" by Mel Carter (#8); "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal (#9); and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown (#10). Boy, that's one impressive talent roster, isn't it?...

And the Rolling Stones earned the number one  slot on the album charts with Out of Our Heads, their fourth US album, which included the hits "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Play With Fire," and "The Last Time" on the American release (the UK version had a totally different track lineup).

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/9/1965 to 8/15/1965

Mid-August is usually a lazy time (or at least it was in the bygone days when school didn't actually start until the last week of the month), and August 1965 was no exception. Kids were enjoying their last couple of weeks of freedom from class, and there was very little happening in the local news.

Coach Kennedy talked with the Rome News-Tribune about the upcoming football season, saying "I don't want to be a pessimist, but I certainly can't see how I can be an optimist... We have a lot of work to do in a short time."  The Chieftains lost twenty lettermen off the 1964-1965 team, leaving only nine returning players with any significant experience. Kennedy planned to take the team to the Lookout Mountain Camp For Boys near Mentone, Alabama, for pre-season practice to get them ready for their August 28th season opener against Coosa.

In hopes of getting desegregation plans approved before the 1965-1966 school year began, Rome and Floyd County officials met with representatives of the Health, Education, and Welfare Department on Wednesday, August 11th. The meeting went well, and both school systems worked out an agreement for HEW to approve the plans as submitted with only minor changes for the upcoming school year. However, HEW asked for additional changes for the 1966-1967 school year to speed up desegregation in all schools and all grades.

Rome photographers had a new shopping choice as Camera & Craft held its Broad Street grand opening on August 13th and 14th. The store offered photography classes, one-on-one photo instruction, and a huge selection of cameras, projectors, and accessories, all of which came with a one-year unconditional written guarantee. The shop also carried a selection of tape recorders and other small electronics.

Piggly Wiggly had Lady Alice ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, medium eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and chuck roast for 49¢ a pound. Big Apple had Swift Premium bacon for 79¢ a pound, Irvindale sherbet for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Wesson oil for 49¢ a quart. A&P had hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, seedless grapes for 19¢ a pound, and home-grown tomatoes for 13¢ a pound. Couch's had five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 29¢, pork chops for 59¢ a pound, and Showboat pork & beans for a dime a can.

Rome commemorated the upcoming return to school with its annual Rome Days sales on Friday and Saturday. Almost every retailer in Rome offered specials for those two days, with a special emphasis on back-to-school supplies and clothing.

The cinematic week began with The Sandpiper (with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto; How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (with Annette Funicello & Dwayne Hickman) at the First Avenue; and a double feature of Good Neighbor Sam (with Jack Lemmon) and The Family Jewels (with Jerry Lewis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Shenandoah (with James Stewart) to the DeSoto; The Glory Guys (with James Caan & Tom Tryon) at the First Avenue; and a double feature of The Chapman Report (with Jane Fonda) and Sex & the Single Girl (with Tony Curtis & Natalie Wood) at the West Rome Drive-In.

Sonny & Cher held on to the number one spot for a second week with "I Got You Babe." Other top ten hits included "Save Your Heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#2); "Help" by the Beatles (#3); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#4); "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (#5); "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (#6); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops (#7); "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke (#8); "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits (#9); and "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal (#10).

The big album release this week in 1965 as Elvis For Everyone, an album consisting mostly of unused tracks recorded between the late 1950s and the mid-1960s. While it did make it into the Top Ten albums chart, it was the first Elvis Presley 1960s album to sell fewer than 300,000 copies.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/2/1965 to 8/8/1965

On August 4th, GL Sutton announced that West Rome was getting a major shopping center—and it was going in directly across the street from West Rome High School! Gala Shopping Center (so named because it served Georgia and Alabama—GA and ALA) was a go, with a 45,000 square foot Big K Department Store serving as the shopping center's anchor. "The Rome Big K store will be our first location in Georgia," Jack Kuhn, President of Big K's parent company, said. "We are extremely impressed with the progressive, dynamic atmosphere of Rome, and we look forward with keen anticipation to bringing this modern concept of mass retailing to the people of Rome." (And I still remember that Big K jingle that I must have heard a thousand times: "Let's shop Big K / The King of Values / It's Your One Stop Shopping Center / It's Big K!") Big K would employee 75 people at opening, with more staff possibly being added as the store grew. It was believed that the shopping center, when fully occupied, would feature approximately two dozen stores and would offer job opportunities for more than 300 people.... and it would offer Chieftains a tempting reason to cut class and head across Redmond Road for many years to come! Plans called for the shopping center to open in the fall of 1966. Before Rome ever got a Kmart or a Wal-Mart, Big K would be Rome's first bargain-priced chain department store.

A young burglar broke into West Rome High School on Saturday night; the burglar, who was believed to be a teenager, attempted to break into the Coke machines and the trophy cases, but got away with virtually nothing when the police showed up after noticing the broken window the burglar used as his entry point.

Rome and Floyd County got the news that their desegregation plans submitted in the spring didn't go far enough; the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare said that even the plan was virtually identical to the Fulton County plan that was accepted, US Education Commissioner Frances Keppel had decided to "make things tougher" and that they would need to see a new plan before they could approve anything. With registration and the start of school less than a month away, this left school officials scrambling.

The Rome City Commission announced plans to annex the Old Airport Road area and the Nanellen-Payne Road area of West Rome into the city. The city was concerned that the overflowing septic tanks and the prevalence of raw sewage in those areas was a health hazard; if they annexed the areas into West Rome, they could upgrade the homes to city sewage and clean the area up. Nearby city residents had complained about overflowing sewage running into their yards, which is what motivated the city to get involved.

McDonald's had a chili dog? Yes, they did! the new McDonald's Chili Dog (what a clever name!) was introduced this week in 1965 at a bargain price of 20¢—or you could upgrade to a chili dog, fries, and a milkshake for only 57¢.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound (yes, people used to cut up their own chickens!), white corn for a nickel an ear, and Shurfine fruit cocktail for 20¢ a can. Kroger had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon, and a quart of Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢. Big Apple had ten pounds of potatoes for 59¢, a six-bottle carton of Diet Rite or Royal Crown Cola for 29¢, and a three-pound bag of fish sticks for $1. A&P had chuck steak for 79¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and a can of Ann Page tomato-rice soup for a dime.  Couch's had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Post Toastems (a precursor to the ever-popular Pop Tarts) for a dime a box, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with What's New Pussycat? (with Peter Sellers & Peter O'Toole) at the DeSoto Theater; Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) at the First Avenue Theater; and a double feature of Fluffy (with Tony Randall & Shirley Jones) and To Kill a Mockingbird (with Gregory Peck) at the West Rome Drive-In... and that may win an award for one of the most incongruous double features in history!  The midweek switchout brought The Sandpiper (with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) to the DeSoto; How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (with Annette Funicello and Dwayne Hickman) to the First Avenue; and Harlow (with Carroll Baker) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Sonny & Cher scored their first number one this week in 1965 with "I Got You Babe." Other top ten hits included "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (#2); "Save Your Heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#5); "Unchained Melody" by Tom Jones (#6); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Temptations (#7); "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke (#8); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#9); and "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal (#10).

The Beatles released Help!, the tie-in album for their second film, this week in 1965. This was their seventh Capitol album in a year and a half (and their ninth album in less than two years) for the US market—an incredible output, considering that one or two albums a year was considered the norm at the time!

Dell Comics made publishing history with the release of Don Arneson & Tony Tallarico's Lobo #1 this week in 1965. This Western series was the first mainstream comic to star an African-American hero as the title character; Lobo was described as "an honest man blamed for a crime he did not commit" and "a fugitive on the side of the law." His gimmick? On the forehead of the bad guys he brought to justice, he would leave a calling card of a gold coin with the image of a wolf and the letter L. Writer Arneson said that he got the idea for the book from the book The Negro Cowboys. Alas, the book only lasted for two issues...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/26/1965 to 8/1/1965

This was news that no high school senior wanted to hear: President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would be doubling the military draft beginning in the fall of 1965, increasing the call-up from 17,500 to 35,000 draftees each month. (Those of us who lived through the draft can confirm just how much influence it had on the lives of all of us who weren't sure what the future would hold.)

There was also better news for students: summer would go on for a little bit longer! The Rome City School System reminded students that school wasn't scheduled to start back until August 30th, giving students another full month of summer vacation (and since school got out in early June, this was one of those years where students really did get almost three months off!).

The Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce announced that Battey State Hospital land located between Division Street and Lavender Drive in West Rome would be repurposed into a juvenile detention home by July, 1966, pending approval from the Department of Family and Children's Services. Several West Rome residents expressed concern about having a juvenile detention center located so close to established residences, but the officials at the meeting were not inclined to consider another location. Residents said they would take their concerns to their representatives and to state officials.

The Rome Jaycees announced an air show, complete with skydivers, to be held on Sunday in a large area just off Highway 27 across from Berry College's Gate of Opportunity. Planes would take off from  Russell Field and fly over the area so that skydivers could drop into the field, performing stunts during their fall. Almost 3500 people attended the air show; all proceeds were used for the purchase of a school bus for the Floyd County Cerebral Palsy School.

And speaking of planes, Russell Field announced that Eastern Airlines would resume daily flights from Rome to Chattanooga in August. This meant that Rome offered commercial air flights every day to Chattanooga and to Atlanta, where Romans could make connections for flights to other cities across the US. (Hard to imagine that Rome ever had any sort of commercial air travel, isn't it?)

The whole school system merger issue came to a head when both the Rome and Floyd County School Boards called for a referendum to determine if residents even wanted a merger of the two systems. The proposal asked that the systems conduct a referendum in February of March of 1967.

Piggly Wiggly had tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Chicken of the Sea tuna for 29¢ a can (in oil, of course—tuna in water was pretty much unheard of in the 1960s). Big Apple had center cut pork chops for 79¢ a pound, Round the Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Campbell's tomato soup for 12¢ a can. A&P had shrimp for 69¢ a pound, watermelons for 59¢ each, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger and sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, cantaloupes for a quarter each, and Country Club ice cream for 47¢ a half-gallon. Couch's had fryer breasts for 25¢ a pound, Armour's potted meat for a dime a can, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 29¢.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney's The Monkey's Uncle (with Tommy Kirk & Annette Funicello) at the DeSoto,  Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda & Lee Marvin) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of The Tomb of Ligeia (with Vincent Price) and The Terror (with Boris Karloff) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought What's New, Pussycat? (with Peter Sellers & Peter O'Toole) to the DeSoto, Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) to the First Avenue, and an Elvis Presley double feature of Girls! Girls! Girls! and Fun in Acapulco to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herman's Hermits added another number one song to their list when "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" took the top slot this week in 1965. Other top ten songs included "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (#2); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#3); "Save Your Heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#4); "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#5); "Yes, I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "I Like It Like That" by the Dave Clark Five (#7); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#8); "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#9); and "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke (#10).

Not only did Sonny & Cher have a song in the top ten this week in 1965, but their first album, Look at Us, was also released. The non-mustached, furry-vest-wearing Sonny Bono is barely recognizable, but Cher was distinctively Cher from the very beginning of her musical career...

Animal Man, the Man with Animal Powers, made his first appearance in the pages of Strange Adventures #180 this week in 1965 in a story by Dave wood & Carmine Infantino. This was also the week that Warren Magazines ventured far afield from their normal horror comics fare with the release of Blazing Combat #1, featuring grim war tales from some of the same creators responsible for Creepy and Eerie, all packaged behind a Frank Frazetta cover.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome – 7/19/1965 to 7/25/1965


West Rome’s million-gallon-capacity Watson Street water tank was officially dedicated on July 21st. The tank was officially named the S.L. Hancock water tank (I had no idea it had a name!), and cost a then-hefty $156,000 to build; it was totally dedicated to meeting the water needs for the rapidly growing West Rome area within the city limits, with no water going to the surrounding county areas.

The city paved the way for a lot more students to attend West Rome High School when they annexed 74 acres of property off Burnett Ferry Road (not too far from Fellowship Baptist Church) into the city, which meant that the future residents of the planned $3 million subdivision would be West Rome Chieftains, not Coosa Eagles. Harry Butler, developer of the subdivision, said that it would consist of 180 homes when complete.

Even the State of Georgia was pushing for Rome and Floyd County to merge school systems: the state’s Peabody Report called for the merger, along with other educational changes; Rome and Floyd County were among 27 systems in nine areas that were studied, with recommendations that several of them should merge.  The report offered no insight regarding the financial challenges of such mergers, though, so its suggestion went nowhere.

Did you remember that Atlanta briefly had a semi-professional football team, the Mustangs, run by the former owner of Rome’s semi-professional team The Bisons? Did you know that it went away after the team’s owner was charged with counterfeiting after he paid the team off with phony $20 bills? The owner was W.E. Westcott, who wsa arrested by the Secret Service after several players, including some who lived in Rome, discovered that they money was no good around here… literally!  Westcott made things worse for himself when he assaulted reporters and photographers who tried to cover the arrest and arraignment.

Rome Lincoln Mercury was offering a free tag, title, and ten gallons of gas with the purchase of any new Comet through the end of July. The tag and title might have saved a little bit, but with gas selling at an average of 31¢ a gallon, that was only a three dollar discount, which doesn’t really seem like that much, even then!

Piggly Wiggly had chuck steak for 59¢ a pound, a half gallon of Borden ice cream for 49¢, and a ten pound bag of potatoes for 89¢.. Kroger had sirloin tip roast for 99¢  pound, Kroger ice milk for 37¢ a half-gallon, and white corn for 4¢ an ear. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, a ten pound bag of White Lily flour for 99¢, and watermelons for 59¢ each.  A&P had a four-pound Marhoefer canned ham for $3.29, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and Ann Page tomato soup for 13¢ a  can. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound,  lettuce for 13¢ a pound, and Seven Hills bacon for 49¢ a  pound.

The cinematic week began with  Harlowe (with Carroll Baker) at the DeSoto, McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force (with Ernest Borgnine & Tim Conway) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of I’ll Take Sweden (with Bob Hope) and The World of Suzie Wong (with Sylvia Syms) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Walt Disney’s The Monkey’s Uncle (with Tommy Kirk & Annette Funicello) to the Desoto, while the First Avenue brought in Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda & Lee Marvin) and the West Rome Drive-In added a double feature of Those Calloways (with Brian Kieth & Vera Miles) and Rio Conchos (with Richard Boone & Stuart Whitman).

The Rolling Stones held on to number one this week with “(I Can’t Get No) Satifaction.” Other top ten hits included “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits (#2); “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones (#3); “Cara Mia” by Jay & the Americans (#4); “Yes I’m Ready” by Barbara Mason (#5); “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops (#6); “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Jackie DeShannon (#7); “Save Your Heart for Me” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#8); “I Like It Like That” by the Dave Clark Five (#9); and “Seventh Son” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

This week’s prominent new album releases include The Magnificent Moodies by the Moody Blues (their first album, featuring the hit “Go Now”) and More Hits by the Supremes by… well, you know.

While there were no noteworthy comic book releases this week in 1965, this was the week that I picked up a copy of HP Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward at Liberty Newsstand on Broad Street, triggering my fifty-year literary love affair with HPL’s prose. In retrospect, I have no idea why that unattractive Belmont cover caught my eye; I have to assume that it was because it was shelved at about the same eye level as Warren’s Creepy and Eerie magazines, a few racks away from the regular sized comics.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/12/1965 to 7/18/1965

West Rome's varsity basketball cheerleaders headed to Mercer University for a cheerleading camp this week in 1965. Attendees included Brenda Burrell, Celeste White, Pam Callaway, Belinda Whitter, Cathy Robinson, and Penny Andrews.

West Rome principal Dick McPhee was appointed by Governor Carl Sanders to serve on a Georgia State Alcoholism Study Committee. McPhee was Rome and Floyd County's only representative on the committee; his particular field of expertise was teenage drinking and its relationship to adult alcoholism.

The East Rome interchange to Highways 411 and 27 was ahead of schedule this week in 1965. Bob Ledbetter said that the interchange was already 50% complete, which put them a full month ahead of where they should have been. Ledbetter had already moved more than 80,000 tons of earth, and they still had another 100,000 tons of earth to move from the "Goat Hill" area.

Back in the 1960s, Rome was still a manufacturing center, which is why 35 new industries located to the Coosa Valley from mid-1964 to mid-1965, with 41 existing plants expanding their facilities. The Rome News-Tribune estimated that one quarter of all Rome jobs were in the manufacturing sector, so the growth was great news for Romans looking for work.

West Rome got its very own Buy Wise Discount Center at 1924 Shorter Avenue this week in 1965. The grand opening featured such bargains as light bulbs for a nickel each, Listerine for 59¢ a bottle, and a 100-count bottle of Bufferin for 93¢.

Something was fishy at McDonalds: the fast food restaurant was promoting its fish sandwiches this week in 1965, offering a Filet o' Fish sandwich and a small order of french fries for only 39¢. (When I was a kid, the fish sandwich was my favorite thing at McDonald's, so this was definitely good news as far as I was concerned!)

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, five pounds of Colonial sugar for 49¢, and cantaloupes for 20¢ each. Kroger had smoked sugar-cured ham for 45¢ a pound, lemons for 33¢ a dozen, and a 6 pack of RC or Diet Rite Cola for 25¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had spare ribs for 39¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme Coffee for 59¢ a pound, and the ever-popular Spam for 45¢ a can. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and Van Camp's pork & beans for 12¢ a can. Couch's had Mann's Golden Harvest bacon for 59¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and Aristocrat ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon.

Rome's cinematic week began with The Art of Love (with James Garner, Elke Sommer, Dick Van Dyke, & Angie Dickinson) at the DeSoto, The Train (with Burt Lancaster) atd the First Avenue, and a double feature of GI Blues (with Elvis Presley) and Crack in the World (with Dana Andrews) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Harlow (with Carroll Baker) to the DeSoto, the TV-goes-to-the-movies film McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (with Ernest Borgnine & Tim Conway) to the First Avenue, and a b-movie horror triple feature with The Horror of Party Beach, The Curse of the Living Corpse, and The Horror of It All at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Rolling Stones were probably very satisfied to have the number one song this week in 1965 with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Other top ten hits included "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits (#2); "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#3); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#4); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#5); "Yes, I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon (#7); "Seventh Son" by Johnny Rivers (#8); "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds (#9); and "You Turn Me On" by Ian Whitcomb (#10).

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/6/1965 to 7/11/1965

Every week in 1965 brought news of another indicator reinforcing Rome's economic growth. This week, it was a $1 million increase in the value of building permits over the first six months of 1964, marking the fourth consecutive year of an increase in the cost of building in Rome. Fifty of those permits were for new houses, with 27 of those houses being located in the West Rome area.

Economic growth also spurred Rome to begin enforcing a more rigorous housing code in an effort to rid the city of slums, some of which were listed as existing  in the West Rome area. However, we were doing much better than other parts of the city: West Rome only had 53 homes deemed below standard out of 1795 total housing units registered with the city, while 569 of Eighth Ward's 1410 homes were classified as slums.

The Rome City School system went public regarding its dispute with the Floyd County Health Department, criticizing them for failing to prove any medical assistance or care for the children involved in the the then-new Project Head Start program. Superintendent McDonald said that the Health Department was "avoiding the responsibility of the county, claiming that the Health Department refused to offer any help unless the city paid $1 per child in advance. Superintendent McDonald praised Trend Mills for contributing 192 sleeping mats to Head Start that the children could use for resting and napping.

Do you remember having to defrost the freezer? If so, you will fully appreciate why Georgia Power's $279.95 13.5 cubic foot frost-free freezer was such a big deal in the 1960s.  Frost-free systems were introduced for refrigerators a few years earlier, but it was rare to find a frost-free freezer... which is why this baby would have set you back more than $2100 in today's dollars adjusted for inflation!

Piggly Wiggly had ten pounds of Domino sugar for 89¢, 24 ounce bottles of Shurfine ketchup for 20¢, and chuck roast for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had ground beef for 47¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and fresh squash for a dime a pound. Kroger had Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and eggs for 39¢ a dozen. A&P had boneless stew beef for 79¢ a pound, watermelons for 79¢ each, and a peach or lemon pie from the bakery for only 39¢. Couch's had veal cutlets for 99¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 39¢ each, and Van Camp's pork & beans for a dime a can.

West Rome got its very own dining and dancing venue with the opening of The Steak Pit at 2417 Shorter Avenue. The new restaurant offered dining and dancing nightly on "one of the largest dance floors in this area," with opening week music provided by Randy Myers and the Shades. (So just how many dance floors were there in Rome in 1965, anyway?)

The cinematic week began with Von Ryan's Express (with Frank Sinatra & Trevor Howard) at the DeSoto, The Train (with Burt Lancaster) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Tobacco Road (with Gene Tierney) and What A Way To Go! (with Shirley MacLaine & Paul Newman) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Art of Love (with James Garner, Elke Sommer, Dick Van Dyke, & Angie Dickinson) to the DeSoto, while The Train stayed on track at the First Avenue. The oh-so-naughty West Rome Drive-In brought in the bawdy  La Bonne Soupe (with Marte Bell) for the weekend. I always wonder how many people slowed down on Shorter Avenue to get a free look at scantily-clad people on the big drive-in screen?

The Rolling Stones had the number one hit this week in 1965 with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Other top ten hits included "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#2); "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds (#3); "Wonderful World" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#5--and it seems like this song was on the charts forever, doesn't it?); "Yes I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "Seventh Son" by Johnny Rivers (#7); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#8); "You Turn Me On" by Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville (#9); and "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon (#10).

The week's big album release was Summer Days (and Summer Nights) by the Beach Boys, which featured two great Beach Boys hits: "Help Me Rhonda" and "California Girls."

TV Guide spotlighted Jimmy Dean this week in 1965, explaining how he had taken a network flop variety series and turned it into a hit by just being himself. Dean explained that the network wanted to put him in suits and have him try to appeal to New York sophisticates. Once he got to just be himself, complete with a country angle and a down-home attitude, the show turned around and became successful enough that it was renewed for a total of three seasons.

Great news for fans of the master of duck adventures: Carl Barks had oodles of material in the 96-page Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck #1, on sale this week in 1965. These Gold Key giants, offering 16 more pages than DC's ever-popular 80-Page Giants for the same price, were among the best entertainment bargains on the comic book spinner racks in the summer of 1965.