Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/26/1967 to 7/2/21967

West Rome residents living on and near Watson Street picketed Minge Inc. to protest the presence of a Minge-owned concrete mixing plant adjacent to their homes. The residents asserted that a concrete mixing plant should qualify as heavy industrial, while the area where the plant was located was only zoned for light industrial. Part of the problem was that any suit had to work its way through the legal system in Rome, and one of the owners of Minge Inc. was none other than Judge Jerry L. Minge, who had very unflattering things to say about the residents and their protests. He stressed that he was speaking only as a company owner and not as a judge… but oddly enough, he had no trouble finding judges who were willing to help him work the legal system against the homeowners. The case was supposed to be heard in the May term of the court, but for unknown reasons, that case number was never brought up (gee, I wonder how that happened?). Homeowner W.C. Patterson submitted photos showing piles of gravel within seven feet of a Watson Street home, explaining that the continual noise and dust was destroying the quality of life for the Watson Street residents and negatively impacting property values. Patterson said that the Rome City Commission and the courts “have given us the runaround—they’ve put off everything." 

Summer school students were complaining about the heat in their summer school classes at East Rome High School. “It’s hard to focus when it’s so hot,” one unnamed student said. Of course, we all knew exactly what they were talking about, since neither West Rome nor East Rome High School was air conditioned; the only cooling came from the banks of windows that could be tilted open,but that did little good during summer heat or humidity. Needless to say, the complaints seemed to have generated little sympathy in the community… (I remember being very pleased when I found that one of my classes was held in one of West Rome’s trailers—because the trailers had air conditioning!)

Work on the second phase of the East Rome Interchange, which would extend the interchange connector from East Rome to US 27 at Walker Mountain Road, got underway this week in 1967, with road grading and other construction scheduled from June ’67 to the spring of 1968. Eventual plans called for four-laning with a median all the way to Cedartown (but anyone who drives that area now knows that eventual plans never came to pass—while some widening has been done, the four-lane-with-median plan was abandoned).

Piggly Wiggly had lamb shoulder for 29¢ a pound, JFG mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and Shurfine peanut butter for 33¢ a jar. Kroger had Swiss steak for 69¢ a pound, Country Oven potato chips for 39¢ a bag, and whole watermelons for 47¢ each. Big Apple had spare ribs for 47¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 49¢ each, and Chase & Sunburn coffee for 59¢ a pound. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and large grapes for 39¢ a pound. Couch’s had chicken breast for 45¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and large eggs for 35¢ a dozen.

The cinematic week began with Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre, A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, and Caper of the Golden Bull (starring Steven Boyd & Yvette Mimieux) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought the new James Bond film You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery) to the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow) to the First Avenue, and A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Association took number one this week in 1967 with “Windy.” Other top ten hits included “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#2); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#3); "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#5); “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#7); “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#8); “Come on Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#9); and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#10).

This week in 1967, Leonard Nimoy made his first venture into the field of recorded music with Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space. The album combines Nimoy’s Spock-like narrations with sound effects and music. The album, which includes such tracks as “Music to Watch Space Girls By,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Earth,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and “A Visit to a Sad Planet,” actually climbed to 83 on the Billboard album charts.

 Daredevil was one of the Silver Age Marvel heroes to earn his own annual, but at long last Daredevil Annual #1 was released this week in 1967. The lead story forced Daredevil to confront Electro and his Emissaries of Evil (think of them as Daredevil’s five-man version of Spidey’s Sinister Six—the Emissaries consisted of Electro, Stilt-Man, the Matador, the Gladiator, and Leap-Frog) in a story written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Gene Colan.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/19/1967 to 6/25/1967


Construction began on a $50 million expansion at Plant Hammond this week in 1967; Georgia Power intended to add a fourth generating unit to the plant; the new unit would give Plant Hammond an 8000,000 kilowatt generating capacity, making it the second-largest generating station in Georgia. Plans called for at least 300 new jobs to be added once the construction was completed, while the construction itself added brought in almost 400 jobs.

And speaking of construction, the first girders and concrete blocks began going up at Gala Shopping Center this week in 1967. The builders hoped to finish the shopping center (which was right across Redmond Circle from West Rome High School) in time for the Christmas 1967 shopping season, but they warned that any significant weather delays could push the opening into 1968.

Seventh District Congressman John Davis unveiled plans to extend the Blue Ridge Parkway from Blue Ridge all the way south to the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park, offering easy access to the north Georgia mountains. As we now know, the plan didn’t develop quite the way John Davis foresaw it, but it was pretty close geographically speaking: the proposed extension eventually became the Zell Miller Parkway and I-575, which terminates within a few miles of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park.

Funny how history repeats itself: fifty years ago this week, Kroger advertised that they were slashing prices on thousands of items, offering lower-across-the-board prices, and re-establishing themselves as a low-price leader in Rome’s grocery market. “Watch Kroger for the most revolutionary food news in Rome history,” they advertised. Alas, the price changes were a bit less impressive than the advertising implied: while Kroger insisted that they lowered prices on 2149 items, most price drops were a nickel an item or less. 

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, potatoes for 12¢ a pound, and Pepsi Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had rump roast for 79¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 19¢ a can, and grapes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Maxwell house coffee for 69¢ a can, and lettuce for a dime a head. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for a quarter a pint, and Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and Blue Plate peach preserves for 35¢ a jar. 

The cinematic week began with The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog (both starring Fred MacMurray) at the DeSoto Theatre, A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, and Devil’s Angels (starring John Cassavettes) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto and The Countess From Hong Kong (starring Marlon Brando) to the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons refused to release ites grip on tdhe First Avenue Theatre.

The Young Rascals took number one this week in 1967 with their laid-back “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#2); “She’d Rather Be with Me” by the Turtles (#3); “Windy” by The Association (#4); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#5); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#6); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#7); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli (#8); “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” by Spanky & Our Gang (#9); and “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#10).

Less than a month after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles performed their newest song, “All You Need Is Love,” for the worldwide broadcast of the Our World television special on June 25, 1967. If you ever get a chance to watch the film of the event, keep a lookout for the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Who mixed in among the backing singers.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/12/1967 to 6/18/1967

The Rome Board of Education approved a change in the marriage policy for high school students. For several years, the rule had required that a high school student receive permission from his or her principal to marry 30 days prior to the wedding date, or else the student would e forced to withdraw from school. The board voted to waive that rule in the case of a high school student whose fiance was being sent to Vietnam as a part of military service. (Today, it’s hard to imagine anyone even considering a policy that would require a  student get permission from his or her principal in order to get married.)

Three teenagers were apprehended after a crime spree that includes burglaries at several Rome grocery stores, convenience stores, churches, and schools, including both East and West Rome High School. The thieves had stolen cash, merchandise, tape recorders, record players, and other electronic items; some of the stolen merchandise was recovered in Rome, while some of it was recovered in Atlanta, where the teens had transported the merchandise in order to sell it.

Rome’s crime spree wasn’t over, though: at 4am on Tuesday, June 13th, a 15 year old boy was apprehended after breaking into Skelton’s Motorcycle Shop on Shorter Avenue, where he stole a motorcycle, a helmet, a jacket, and a shirt (apparently he wanted to be fashionable while riding). They also found wallets in his possession that belonged to West Rome residents whose cars had been broken into earlier that evening.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, okra for 29¢ a pound, and Luzianne coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had whole fryers  for 25¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Armour pork & beans for a dime a can. Kroger had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, White Lily Flour for 49¢ for a five-pound bag, and angel food cakes for 49¢ each. A&P had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Double Cola for 89¢ a case plus deposit, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.  Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Georgia peaches for 15¢ a pound, and the ever-popular pork brains (beloved by pig zombies everywhere) for a quarter a pound.

The cinematic week began with War Wagon (starring John Wayne & Kirk Douglas) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (with Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought a double feature of The Absent Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog (both starring Fred MacMurray) to the DeSoto Theatre and Devil’s Angels (starring John Cassavettes)  to the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons seemed destined to spend at least one full season at the First Avenue Theatre.

The Young Rascals took number one this week in 1967 with “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#2); "She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck (#4); “Somebody to Love” by the Jefferson Airplane (#5); “Little Bit o’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#6); “Windy” by the Association (#7); “All I Need” by the Temptations (#8); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#9); and “Mirage” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#10). 

Once again, the Monkees had two albums in the Top Ten Charts this week in 1967 (More of the Monkees at #4 and Headquarters at #6). This meant that the Monkees had two albums charting higher than Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Greatest Hits (#9) and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (#10). People forget just what a pop powerhouse the Monkees were in their first two years!

This was the week of the Monterey Pop Festival, which featured The Who, Simon & Garfunkel, Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Byrds, the Association, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Booker T & The MGs, and Ravi Shankar—but it was Jimi Hendrix who became a rock star as a result of the Festival. It was here that he did his legendary bit of setting his guitar on fire, which made him a shock-rock sensation (yes, this was what passed for shock-rock in 1967!).

Friday, June 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/5/1967 to 6/11/1967

Two fifteen-year-old juveniles were arrested and charged with larceny after they broke into newspaper racks at the Johnny Reb Food Store on Shorter Avenue. The youths successfully made off with a total of $9.20 in cash. Based on statements made by one of the boys, the police were also looking at them as likely culprits in recent break-ins of vending machines at East Rome High School, which netted the criminal masterminds an addition $6.20. Seems like a lot of work and risk for fifteen bucks, doesn't it?...

Much like May of 2017, May of 1967 was a cool, rainy month—and as a result, Floyd County’s cotton crop was hard hit. More than 500 acres of cotton had to be plowed under because of weather damage, reducing the  Rome area’s cotton production by almost a third. (And back in 1967, when Floyd County and northwest Georgia had a number of textile mills who relied on that cotton crop, that was a big financial hit for the area.)

Those students who spent too little time focusing on their schoolwork had a chance to atone for their scholastic sins: registration for summer school took place on Friday, June 9th, from 8am to noon at East Rome High School, with classes starting on Monday, June 12th. Summer school students were required to pay $50 per unit for high school courses (junior high courses were only $25 per unit--which seems only fair, since junior students only pay half as much attention as high school students).

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 28¢  a pound, watermelons for 99¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 59¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Southern Maid barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and five pounds Dixie Crystals sugar for 59¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 15¢ a can, and cantaloupes for 35¢ each.Couch’s had stew beef for 33¢ a pound, butter beans for 15¢ a pound, and Showboat pork and beans for a dime a can.

The cinematic week began with Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope & Phyllis Diller) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The War Wagon (starring John Wayne & Kirk Douglas) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons stayed around for another week at the First Avenue.

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” took first place yet again this week in 1967. Other top hits included “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#5); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#6); “She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#7); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#8); “All I Need” by the Temptations (#9); and “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas (#10). 

The first pop festival was held at Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, this week in 1967, beating the more famous Monteray Pop Festival by a week. Performers included The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Country Joe & the Fish, Canned Heat, and more.

Back in the 1960s, TV had usually reverted to reruns by June—but CBS went against the trend and aired a brand-new Peanuts special on June 10th. You’re In Love, Charlie Brown had a spring theme—so while a June airing seemed a little bit late, it was still spring according to the calendar, so there you go….


Spider-Man met the X-Men in X-Men #35, on sale this week in 1967. Marvel knew which character was going to sell the book, too: while it was the X-Men’s book, Spider-Man is more prominently featured on the front cover, and is positioned just below the logo, where part of his costume would still be visible on spinner racks and waterfall racks that were so common in grocery stores and drugstores in the 1960s.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/29/1967 to 6/4/1967

This was the final week of the 1966-1967 school year—and it was a full week for most students, since Rome City Schools didn’t observe Memorial Day as a holiday in the 1960s. The only exception were seniors, who finished up their final exams on Wednesday, May 31st, so that teachers could get exams graded and report cards finished in preparation for graduation. Seniors prepared for the baccalaureate service, which was held in the West Rome Gym, while the graduation ceremonies moved to the City Auditorium to provide extra room for attendees. For those students who needed an extra course or two, summer school was slated to begin on June 12th, which meant that those unlucky students had a one-week “summer vacation."

Now here’s a custom that should have continued: the Rome and Floyd County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Newcomers to Rome and Floyd County Rooster Boosters Breakfast at 7:45 on May 30th at the Aloha Restaurant. National City Bank hosted the breakfast, which was open to all newcomers to the area—parents and children as well—and absolutely free of charge. The breakfast consisted of country ham, red-eye gravy, eggs, grits, coffee, biscuits, water, and milk for kids. Cap Hicks and Milton S. McDonald spoke at the event, and various businesses had representatives on hand to introduce themselves to folks who were new to Rome.

Heavy thunderstorms came to Rome on Monday evening, May 29th, dumping hail on West Rome. The other side of town got it a lot worse, though: two homes in Lindale burned to the ground after begin struck by lightning, and Klopman Mills sustained lightning damage as well.

Floyd County Tax Commissioner Sarah Keown announced that 35,050 vehicle tags were issued in Floyd County (back in the 1960s, all car tags and taxes had to be paid by May 1st, rather than being spread out through the year), bringing in $528,674 in tax revenues and tag fees. 

Mrs. Ann Spears took leading academic honors as she graduated summa cum laude from Berry College on Saturday, June 3rd. So what does graduating from Berry College have to do with West Rome High School? Well, Mrs. Spears went on to become an outstanding English teacher at West Rome after her graduation before taking an administrative position in the Rome City Schools office. (Many of us were lucky enough to have class from Mrs. Spears during her Chieftain years, and I know that her skills as a teacher factored into my decision to teach English once I graduated from Berry.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, eggs for 29¢ a dozen, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had baking hens for a quarter a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 58¢ a pound. A&P had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and German chocolate cakes for 65¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for a quarter a can, and strawberries for 32¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Nabisco vanilla wafers for 39¢ a box, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with For A Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Casino Royale (starring Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope & Phyllis Diller) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (with Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, 

Everyone respected Aretha Franklin after her song “Respect” took the number one slot this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Groovin’” by the Young  Rascals (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas (#5); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & The Raiders (#6); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#7); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#8); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#9); and “All I Need” by the Temptations (#10). 


David Bowie released his self-titled first album this week in 1967, but it  was all but overlooked in the musical supernova that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Considered by many to be The Beatles’ finest album (although I’d bestow that honor on Abbey Road), it changed rock music—and the Beatles—suddenly, the studio was an instrument in itself as rock took on more complexity and more sophistication.  (I have to confess that I was one of those who didn't "get it" the first time I heard the album; it was so different from anything the Beatles had done before that it struck me as pretentious and a bit self-indulgent. I grew to love the album, but it was not an instant hit for me--I guess my 13-year-old tastes weren't quite ready for it...)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/22/1967 to 5/28/1967

West Rome announced that 138 seniors would take part in graduation exercises on June 6th at the Rome City Auditorium. Atlanta television announcer Jerry Psenka was chosen to be graduation speaker (I remember Jerry Psenka--or at least his name--but had no idea that he was a speaker at any high school's graduation ceremonies).

The Rome Board of Education reviewed the findings of a special state study committee looking into the school system facilities. The study committee recommended a total overhaul of the elementary school facilities and a phaseout of neighborhood elementary schools in favor of fewer schools housing 500+ students in each school. The plan recommended, among other things, the merging of West End Elementary and Elm Street Elementary into one larger school. If all recommendations had been carried out, the cost would have been $2.5 million (that’s about $18 million in today’s dollars)Thankfully, all of these recommendations were not implemented; the board recognized the value of neighborhood/community elementary schools with smaller student populations and a faculty who knew almost almost all the students in their school.

Rome got almost 3” of rain on May 22nd, causing flooding on Paris Drive near the creek that overflowed into the backyards of homes on Conn Street. Fifteen auto accidents were reported due to the heavy rains, including a six-car accident on Shorter Avenue near Burnett Ferry Road. Fortunately, none of the accidents resulted in serious injuries.

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 59¢ a half-gallon (the first time ice cream was advertised over the 50¢ a half-gallon mark). Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Southern Maid barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Kroger white bread for 17¢ a loaf. A&P had sirloin steak for 85¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 15¢ a can, and whole watermelons for 89¢ each. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit,

The cinematic week began with One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought For a Few Dollars More (with Clint Eastwood) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Casino Royale hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals took the number one slot this week with “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect by Aretha Franklin (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#5); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#6); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#7); “Creeque Alley” by the Mamas & the Papas (#8); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank Sinatra & Nancy Sinatra (#9); and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond (#10).

A comedy album cracked the top ten this week in 1967 as Bill Cosby’s Revenge climbed to the third slot, behind More of the Monkees by—well, you know—and I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You by Aretha Franklin. Cosby’s comedy was already very familiar to many of us—Revenge was his fifth album, after all—but his co-starring role in the television series I Spy had put him in the spotlight, creating an eager audience for a new helping of Cosby’s comedy. This album included the first mention of Cosby’s childhood friend Fat Albert and his signature phrase “Hey! Hey! Hey!"

And while their second album was still holding strong in the charts, the Monkees released their third album, Headquarters, this week in 1967. Other releases this week included the 5th Dimension’s debut album Up, Up, and Away and The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart, the last Supremes album before the group was renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Mom

Because I'm in the comic book business, not a week goes by without someone telling me a personal horror story about the incredible comic book collection they had before their mother threw it away.

It always makes me appreciate Mom, whose unwavering support and encouragement of my interest in comics shaped the direction of my life.

I remember childhood friends whose parents were unrelentingly critical of their interest in "funny books," asking them when they were going to outgrow that stuff and why they wasted time and money on such junk. But never, at any time in my life, did my parents denigrate my hobbies and interests. They were amazingly tolerant of my ever-growing collection, sometimes even catering to my whims even though it inconvenienced them. I still remember Mom and Dad venturing to Lee Street in southwest Atlanta in order to take me to Cantrell's Books, the first store in metro Atlanta to devote hundreds of square feet to back issues of comics. Lee Street was most decidedly not a great part of town, but that's where Cantrell's was, and that's where I begged my parents to take me. And they did--not just once, but several times, patiently waiting while I spent an hour or more digging through the comics trying to find the best bang for my very limited bucks.

Soon after I began spending money on back issue of comics from the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, Mom casually mentioned that she had read some comics in the 1950s, shortly after she and Dad got married. She didn't go out of her way to buy them, but friends of theirs had some comics lying around, and Mom read through a number of EC comics--she specifically remembered Haunt of Horror and Tales from the Crypt.  I was stunned. I had never envisioned my parents reading comics, but Mom actually remembered a few stories and told me about them. Years later, I would read those same stories in the Russ Cochran EC Library reprints--and they were just like Mom remembered them.

Not only did my parents support my interest in comics when I was a kid and a teenager, but they continued to encourage me after Susan and I got married. They let me store my collection in their storage room for many years, and never minded when I'd come up there and spend a few hours sorting through books, organizing the collection, and rereading some of my personal favorites.

When I bought Dr. No's in the 1980s, I jokingly asked Mom if she was glad I finally found a way to turn  my interest into comics into a profession. I remember her saying, "Ive always been happy that you're doing something you enjoy--that's all that matters."

Thanks, Mom. Every kid should have had a parent as supportive and encouraging as you were.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/15/1967 to 5/21/1967

Two Chieftains took first place in the annual Georgia State Physical Fitness Contest held in Atlanta on May 15th. Charles Murphy was the pushup champ with 88 pushups in two minutes, while Jerry Hill took first in setups with 86 in two minutes.

The West Rome band (along with the junior high band and the beginners band) held their spring concert on Sunday afternoon at the West Rome auditorium. The band was joined by guest conductor Roger Dancz, director of the University of Georgia band.

West Rome lost to Darlington 6-3 in the first round of the Floyd County Baseball Championship on Thursday, May 18th—and since it was a single-elimination tourney, that knocked them out of the running.

The Boys Club Choir performed two concerts at the City Auditorium on Thursday, ,May 18th, and Friday, May 19th. This was their first Rome concert since the choir was named Best Boys Club Choir in the Country in a national talent search. While they had performed in more than two dozen concerts around the country since then, they had not performed n their home town for almost three years.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had run roast for 79¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Dixie Crystals sugar for 37¢ for a five-pound bag, and Pillsbury biscuits for a dime a can. A&P had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell house coffee for 69¢ a can, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and white corn for 6¢ an ear.

The cinematic week began with Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) at the DeSoto Theatre, Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgraves) at the First Avenue, and Endless Summer (“with an all-surfing cast!”) at the West Rome Drive-In.The midweek switch out brought One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch, who changed our view of prehistoric human beings forever) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and the zany James-Bond-but-not-the-James-Bond-you-were-expecting film Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and many more) to the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’” took the number one slot this week in 196. Other top ten hits included “The Happening” by the Supremes (#2); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#3); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#4); “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#6); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “Don’t You Care” by the Buckinghams (#9); and “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#10)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/8/1967 to 5/14/1967


The Chieftains won 4-0 against Cass on Tuesday, May 9th, thanks in large part to pitcher Steve Harwell’s three-hitter. Then, on Wednesday, West Rome defeated Chattooga 7-2, led by the pitching of Charlie Williams. The twin victories pushed West Rome’s overall season record to 11-7.

The Rome Board of Education approved $17,000 for a summer reading program to be held at Elm Street Elementary to assist economically deprived students. The program was designed to run from8:30am until 2:30pm June 19th through July 28th; participating students would receive a free lunch and free transportation to Elm Street from each student’s local elementary school. .

The board also voted to raise tuition for out-of-system students from its old rate of $25 per month to a new rate of $35 per month. (This is the cost that any student living in in Floyd County outside the city limits would have to pay to attend a city school.)

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons almost performed in Rome this week in 1967, but Valli’s illness and hospitalization forced the group to cancel their scheduled appearance. So instead of spending a weekend in Rome, Valli got to spend his weekend in a hospital bed in Detroit, Michigan.

Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle have been four-lane roads between Shorter Avenue and Alabama Road for so long that I almost forgot that there was a time when they weren’t—but fifty years ago, they were just two lanes. This week in 1967, though, the plans for widening the roads were submitted to the state and federal highway authorities for approval, and local officials said that they could finish the entire four-lane widening by late 1967 or early 1968. Why such a rush? Well, it had a lot to do with the scheduled opening of Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School. The developers had asked the city to four-lane Redmond Circle in front of the shopping center, while Trend Mills and General Electric had asked that Lavender Drive be widened, so the city combined them into one fast-tracked project.

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound (people must have eaten a lot more beef liver in the 1960s than they do now—not a week went by that someone wasn’t advertising beef liver), cantaloupes for 33¢ each and corn for 7¢ an ear. Big Apple had round steak for 77¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and iceberg lettuce for a quarter a head. Kroger had chuck roast for 49¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Tetley tea bags for 89¢ a box, and five pounds of White Lily flour for 59¢. Couch’s had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, small eggs for 20¢ a dozen, and Blue Plate grape jelly for a quarter a jar.  

The cinematic week began with Hombre (with Paul Newman) at both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) to the DeSoto Theatre and Women of Straw (with Sean Connery & Gina Lollobrigida) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Blow Up hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

The Supremes took the number one slot this week with “The Happening,” knocking Frank & Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” to third place. Other top ten hits included “Sweet Soul Music’ by Arthur Conley (#2), “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#4); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#5); “Don’t You Care” by The Buckinghams (#6); “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#9); and “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells (#10). 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut album, Are You Experienced, this week in 1967; this was the same week that Country Joe and the Fish released their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. One album sold significantly better than the other, although both were considered influential in the psychedelic rock movement.









Friday, April 28, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/1/1967 to 5/7/1967

Apparently those Garden Lakes folks were hard to please: a week after voting down the proposal to annex Garden Lakes into the city and make them part of the Chieftain family, a delegation of Garden Lakes residents went to the county to complain about the condition of the roads, the inadequacy of the street lights, the quality of the water service, and the facilities at Garden Lakes Elementary. Not too surprisingly, the county said that it had no funding to address any of these issues.  (Too bad these folks didn’t think about negotiating some of these requests with both the city and the county prior to the vote!)

Maybe these thieves should have spent more time attending school and less time breaking into school: would-be burglars broke into West Rome High School on Saturday, May 6th, and then attempted to open the front hall Coke machine in search of quick cash. Unfortunately for them, it was Saturday, when school was not in session, and the Coke machines had been emptied at the end of the day on Friday, so there was no cash to steal. They also attempted to open the cooler section of the Coke machine to steal a couple of drinks, but were unsuccessful at that, so they gave up and left before the police arrived.

West Rome’s track team racked up another victory, this time defeating Cedartown and Coosa in a 3-way track meet on May 2nd. West Rome picked up eleven first-place honors, more than twice the total number of first-place finishes for Cedartown and Coosa combined.

McDonald’s celebrated its third anniversary in Rome by offering a free hot apple pie with the purchase of The All American dinner (a hamburger, french fries, and a shake) for 55¢. Even better, they were bringing in Ronald McDonald on May 6th from 2pm to 7pm, so you could get a cheap meal and entertainment! (Oddly enough, they promoted the fact that Ronald MacDonald would be autographing--not sure how many kids really care about autographs, and of those who do, how many of them would want an unknown performer to sign the name of the character he was portraying?)

Piggly Wiggly had Cudahy’s Bar S bacon for 49¢ a pound, Swift’s potted meat for a dime a can, and 10 pounds of Domino sugar for 99¢, Kroger hd pork chops for 59¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 29¢ a six-pack plus deposit. Big Apple had perch for 39¢ a pound, watermelons for 89¢ each, and Libby beef stew for 49¢ a can. A&P had Delmonico steaks for $1.59 a pound (and that’s why my family never ate Delmonico steaks), prunes for 29¢ a canister, and Alabam Girl dill pickles for 33¢ a quart (and no, I didn’t misspell Alabama—Alabam Girl is indeed the name of the company).  Couch’s had fresh ground sausage for 49¢ a pound, Hunt's ketchup for 29¢ a bottle, and grapefruit for a nickel each.

The cinematic week began with Monkeys, Go Home (with Dean Jones) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Hot on Sunset Strip (with Aldo Ray) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Hombre (with Paul Newman) to the DeSoto and Masquerade (with Cliff Robertson) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Blue Max hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra maintained their grip on first place in the top ten for another week with “Somethin’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “The Happening” by the Supremes (#2); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#3); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by The Monkees (#4); “Happy Together” by The Turtles (#5); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells (#6); “Don’t You Care?” by the Buckinghams (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches and Herb (#8); “You Got What It Takes” by The Dave Clark Five (#9); and “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group (#10).

It was an eventful week in popular music: on May 1st, Paul McCartney told the world that all four members of the Beatles had used LSD; Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas; and a frustrated Capitol Records finally pulled the plug on the Beach Boys mysterious Smile project when Brian Wilson was unable to deliver a finished album more than a year after starting work on it.

One of the shorted-lived television networks in history began operation on May 1st when the United Network unveiled its first (and only) television program, The Las Vegas Show. A month later, the television station was out of business. Atlanta’s WJRJ Channel 17 (which would officially launch in June of 1967) had plans to carry United Network programming, but those plans changed when the network collapsed after a month.

This week in 1967, Marvel Comics began poking fun at themselves and other comics in the pages of Not Brand Echh #1. Stan Lee & Jack Kirby kicked everything off with their eight-page spoof “The Silver Burper,” but during the book’s too-short run, they would mock their competition as well as their own books.