Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/15/1968 to 1/21/1968

After a couple of snowy false starts, “snow day” was the call of the day for January 15th, when an inch of snow and a layer of sleet made Rome roads too dangerous for school traffic. “If there’s any water on the road, it’s going to be ice,” a Georgia State Patrol officer warned travellers. With highs not getting out of the 20s for the first part of the week, very little melting took place--but it was just enough to make it possible for students to return to school on Tuesday, although attendance for that day was only about 88%.

Both Citizens Federal and Rome Bank & Trust reported record years for 1967, while Home Federal paid its largest dividend ever based on 1967 earnings. All three institutions reported significant growth in savings and a strong home loan market as factors in the growth.

West Rome High School won first place in the Region 6AA one-act play competition portion of the Region Literary Meet with their performance of “One Upon a Playground.” The cast, coached by Mrs. Judy Woody, consisted of Elaine Byars, Debbie Cole, Daye Davis, Cherrie Dixon, Bill Doster, Beverly Hall, Baxter Joy, and Kippy Scarbrough.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and yellow corn for 7¢ an ear. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, canned biscuits for a nickel a can, and bananas for 9¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Armour chili with beans for 39¢ a can. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Couch’s had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Duncan Hines cake mixes for 33¢ a box, and fresh strawberries for 39¢ a basket.

The cinematic week began with Tony Rome (starring Frank Sinatra) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Ambushers (starring Dean Martin) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Valley of the Dolls (starring Susan Hayward) to the DeSoto Theatre, Biggest Bundle of Them All (starring Raquel Welch) to the First Avenue, and A Man Called Dagger (starring Jan Murray) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1968 was “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred and the Playboys, knocking the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” out of first place. Other top ten hits included “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#2); Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#5); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#9); and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#10).

College sports are a vital part of television nowadays, but this week in 1968 saw the first-ever prime-time televised college basketball game. Houston defeated UCLA 71-69 at the Houston Astrodome. At the time, many were unsure that there were enough college sports fans to justify a prime-time showing; extremely high ratings for the game made it very clear that tdhe audience was definitely large enough.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/8/1968 to 1/14/1968

The Braves Caravan paid a visit to Rome--and to West Rome High School--on Monday, January 8th as their first stop on a whirlwind tour of numerous Georgia cities and schools. Eddie Glennon, the area sales manager for the Braves, set up the Caravan, bringing Phil Niekro, Pat Jarvis, Pat Carroll, Bob Uecker, Milo Hamilton, Ernie Johnson, Lee Walburn, Wayne Minshew, and Milt Browning to town to promote the upcoming baseball season. Caravan participants signed autographs, posed for photos with students, and talked baseball with eager students (and a few faculty members, too!).

Rome began the week with sub-freezing highs and lows in the low teens, with a little freezing rain and sleet moving through on Tuesday, January 9th. Students were sad to see that the icy precipitation was not enough to call of school for the days, although almost every surrounding county did close schools for the day.  A second round of freezing rain came through on Saturday, January 13th—but all the ice was gone by Monday morning, so once again no school holiday...

Romans were also dealing with a flu outbreak, with 90 students absent from West Rome High School on Monday and 107 absent on Tuesday. According to Principal Dick McPhee, typical absentee rates at West Rome were 50-60 students per day. 15% of West Rome’s faculty was also out of school on Monday due to the flu. 

First National Bank raise their savings account interest rate to 5% to kick off the new year, with most other banks offering within .25% of that rate. Today, a 5% interest rate sounds like some sort of fantasy, but back in 1968 anyone could walk into a bank with a $10 deposit and started earning that return on their investment!

After taking a holiday week off, burglars were back in action: the safe at Brackett Pharmacy was broken open in the early morning hours of January 9th and $1800 was stolen. A branch post office in the same building was also broken into an an undisclosed amount of cash and stamps were stolen . The burglars also broke a water pipe during the commission of the crime, flooding both the pharmacy and the post office.

Four teenagers were arrested on Thursday night after they siphoned off gasoline from a truck belonging to the Garden Lakes Company. An alert officer caught the four in mid-crime. 

The next night, burglars broke into Quick Service store on South Broad, stealing $50 in cash; Rome Warehouse on East 12th, making off with some tools that they used in an unsuccessful attempt to break into the safe; Adams Grocery on East 12th, where about $10i in cash and a .38 caliber pistol were taken; and Maple Street Cafe, where  four vending machines were ransacked. 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, cabbage for 9¢ a pound, and Merico butter-me-not biscuits for 13¢ a can. Big Apple had perch fillet for 33¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and pole beans for 23¢ a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Poss chili with beans for 39¢ a can. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can.Couch’s had Armour Star hot dogs for 49 a pound, medium eggs for 35¢ a dozen, and Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with The Comedians (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto Theatre and House of 1000 Dolls (starring Vincent Price) at the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout had a Rat Pack feel, with Tony Rome (starring Frank Sinatra) at the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In,  and The Ambushers (starring Dean Martin) at the First Avenue.

The Beatles maintained their grip on the number one slot with “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#2); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#5); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#9): and “Skinny Legs & All” by Joe Tex (#10). 

This week in 1968, Johnny Cash paid a visit to Folsom State Prison in California, performing a concert that would inspire the most successful live album of his career. 

The Hulk got a second chance at stardom this week in 1968 with the release of Incredible Hulk #102, the first issue of his new ongoing series (it wasThe Incredible Hulk #102 because Marvel continued the numbering of the old Tales to Astonish series that the Hulk had shared with the Sub-Mariner). The Hulk’s first solo series, which launched in 1962, only ran for six issues before it was cancelled; in spite of quality creators that included Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, and Steve Ditko, the first series never managed to achieve any real success.


Green Lantern Guy Gardner made his premiere in Green Lantern #59, this week in 1968. After many years as a footnote in Green Lantern history, Guy returned in the 1980s and has gone on to become a popular member of the Green Lantern team.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/1/1968 to 1/7/1968

Chieftains were surprised by the announcement of a major coaching change this week in 1968: Coach Paul Kennedy was promoted to coordinator of athletic activities and elementary physical education. Kennedy had been head coach at West Rome since the school’s opening in 1958; prior to that, he was line coach at the old Rome High School for three years. During his West Rome head coaching career, Kennedy compiled a record of 66 victories, 32 losses, 7 ties, and one incredible state championship.

To fill the vacancy left by Kennedy’s departure, Rome City Schools superintendent M.S. McDonald announced that Nick Hyder would be promoted to head coach and athletic director for West Rome High School. Both promotions were slated to take place with the beginning of the 1968-69 school year, although Coach Kennedy would be splitting his time between West Rome and the Board Office effective immediately and Hyder would be in charge of 1968 football spring training. “I consider it a privilege to have coached under Paul for ten years,” Hyder said. “Needless to say, it’s a real challenge to carry on the program that Paul has developed."

Most of West Rome was without power for a couple of hours on Wednesday night, January 3drd, when a substation failed. Most of Shorter Avenue from Horseleg Creek Road to Redmond Road were left in the dark, along with many residential streets that fed off the Shorter Avenue lines. The power failure also affected parts of Broad Street and the area around Floyd Hospital, although tdhe hospital itself went to backup generator power a few minutes after the power failed. 

1967 was another good economic year for Georgia, with thirty thousand new jobs created and unemployment hitting record lows of 3.8%. Average weekly earnings for Georgia manufacturing workers reached $89.50, an increase of $3.50 over 1966 levels. The Georgia Department of Labor predicted similar improvements throughout 1968. 

1968 began with an almost crime-free week; the only reported theft for the week was a burglary at the office of Dr. Norton and Hortmann, where a cashbox containing $63.00 was taken. 

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Double Q salmon for 45¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 19¢ a jar, and eggs for 37¢ a dozen. A&P had Allgood bacon for 49¢ a pound, perch fillets for 43¢ a pound, and cabbage for 8¢ a pound. Couch’s had country sausage for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a can. 

The cinematic week began with Fitzwilly (starring Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Family Way (starring Hayley Mills) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The Comedians (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto Theatre and The House of 1000 Dolls (starring Vincent Price) at the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. 

The Beatles held on to number one this week with “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band (#2); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “Storybook Children” by Billy Vera & Judy Clay (#9); and “Honey Chile” by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (#10). 


Captain America graduated to his own series this week in 1968, although the book was listed as Captain America #100 on the cover, since it continued the numbering from the Tales of Suspense title that Cap had shared with Iron Man since 1965. Because Marvel had a half-issue Iron Man story ready to go (as well as a half-issue-length Sub-Mariner story from the end of the Tales to Astonish split-title that Sub-Mariner shared with  Hulk), this week also saw the release of the one-and-only Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fifty Years Ago in West Rome - 12/25/1967 to 12/31/1967

A sixteen-year-old’s grand theft auto career came to an early end on December 26th when he was arrested for stealing two cars—one from C&M Motors in Rome and the other from a dealership in Cedartown.  And that wasn’t the only incidence of juvenile crime: on Christmas night, five Floyd County teenagers were arrested after destroying thirty mailboxes—some with fireworks, some with baseball bats. If found guilty, all five faced jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to $1000 per mailbox. Then, on Thursday night, two juveniles were arrested for opening up fire hydrants in North Rome, greatly reducing water pressure in the area. Apparently, too much time off from school wasn’t always a good thing!...

Postmaster Leo Russell announced that this was the last week to mail letters at the old 5¢ rate before first-class postage jumped by 20% to 6¢ beginning in January 1968. Postal rates for newspapers and magazines jumped 24% while junk-mail (that is, advertising mail) rates jumped 34%. The lower 4¢ rate for unsealed greeting cards was also scheduled to come to an end, and they would cost the same as a first class letter beginning on January 1st. (I never realized that the post office offered a penny discount for unsealed greeting cards for many years--and I'm still not sure I understand the logic behind it.)

Big K announced that holiday season sales in Rome had exceed predictions by more than 20%, making the West Rome store the most successful store in the chain. The company said that they anticipated even more sales growth once Gala Shopping Center was fully built out and all spaces were occupied.

Piggly Wiggly had hog jowl for 23¢ a pound, cabbage for 7¢ a pound, and dried blackeyed peas for 10¢ a pound. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, collard greens for 19¢ a bunch, and vienna sausages for 19¢ a can. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, bananas for 12¢ a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 77¢ a pound. Big Apple had ham for 39¢ a pound, seedless grapes for 19¢ a pound, and sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound. Couch’s had Southern Maid bacon for 49¢ a pound, Bama blackberry preserves for 39¢ a jar (and you could use the empty jar as a drinking glass once you ate all the preserves!), and five pounds of Stiver’s corn meal for 39¢. 

The cinematic week began with Battle of the Bulge (starring Henry Fonda) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Triple Cross (starring Christopher Plummer) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought Fitzwilly (starring Dick Van Dyke) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and The Family Way (starring Hayley Mills, with a soundtrack scored by Paul McCartney) to the First Avenue.

The Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” held on to number one for a second week as the year ended. Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#2); “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#5); “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#6); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#7); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#8); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#9); and “Skinny Legs and All” by Joe Tex (#10).


Apparently some musical artists hadn’t heard that it was supposed to be bad business to release a new album just after Christmas: the week after Christmas in 1967 saw the release of John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden by Donovan, Mr. Fantasy by Traffic, The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield, Thirteen Smash Hits by Tom Jones, Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen, Pandemonium Shadow Show by Harry Nilsson, and Sorcerer by Miles Davis. Maybe they figured a lot of music fans got cash for Christmas...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/18/1967 to 12/24/1967

West Rome students had a very short two-day school week, with Christmas break starting on Wednesday, December 20th and continuing through New Years. School was scheduled to start back on Tuesday, January 2nd.

A rare December tornado struck the Maple Street area of Rome on Monday afternoon, causing some building damage but no injuries. A two ton pickup truck was lifted off the ground and deposited fifty yards away in a field, while twelve building suffered severe roof damage.

Keller Industries announced plans to build an 80,000 square foot carpet plant on the north side of Redmond Road, just east of the Lavender Drive intersection (almost directly across the street from Trend Mills). The plant was expected to provide a hundred full-time jobs once it was fully operational.

More burglaries across Rome: early Monday morning, burglars broke into Tilly Apothecary and stole an undetermined amount of morphine, demoral, and other drugs. Shortly after that, burglars broke into Garner Brothers Construction Company on Shorter Avenue and stole office equipment, clothes, a purse, a portable television, and a number of Christmas gifts intended for staff and family. Someone also broke into West Rome High School early Monday morning, but prompt police response scared them away before they could steal anything. Burglars broke into the EZ Shop on Shorter Avenue on Wednesday night, stealing an undetermined quantity of cigarettes and about $40 in cash. Early Friday morning, burglars broke into the West Rome Super-Discount store, stealing about $150 in cash.

West Rome was knocked out of the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival Basketball tournament on Monday night with a 90-54 loss to Calhoun. Kenny Stephens was West Rome’s top scorer with 17 points.

Piggly Wiggly had smoked ham for 49¢ a pound, whole coconuts for 19¢ each, and a two-pound can of Maxwell House coffee for $1.39. Big Apple had turkeys for 28¢ a pound, Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton (plus deposit), and mixed nuts for 77¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 25¢ a pound, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 23¢ a can. Kroger had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, and Kroger white bread for 18¢ a loaf. Couch’s had pork roast for 49¢ a pound, English peas for 23¢ a can, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with More Than a Miracle (starring Sophia Loren) at the DeSoto Theatre, Any Wednesday (starring Jane Fonda) at the First Avenue, and Journey to the Center of Time at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Battle of the Bulge (with Henry Fonda) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Naked Runner (starring Frank Sinatra) to the First Avenue.

The Beatles took number on this week in 1967 wit “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight &the Pips (#2); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “Woman Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#5); “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#6); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#7); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#8); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#9); and “Skinny Legs and All” by Joe Tex (#10).

Dean Martin abandoned his usual TV show format of multiple guests and short comic skits for Christmas 1967, instead bringing on his family and the family of his friend Frank Sinatra for a special hour-long episode on Thursday, December 21st. The show was the highest-rated Christmas special in 1967.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/11/1967 to 12/17/1967

Christmas came early to the children of the Open Door Home on December 11th, courtesy of Electrical Workers International Local 613, Unit 2. Local 613 sponsored a shopping excursion to buy clothes for the children of the Open Door Home; each child was individually fitted for the clothes he or she needed. “The children selected their own clothes,” Open Door Home superintendent Lorine Smith said, “with only a little guidance from the staff. This was a wonderful Christmas present for our children.” This was the second year that Local 613 made a generous gift to the children at the Open Door Home; a year earlier, they gave every child a bicycle.

Speaking of Christmas: Rome merchants reported that early Christmas-season sales in 1967 were the best they had seen, topping 1966 by 4% (and 1966 set records as the best Christmas sale season ever). The biggest toy sellers of the year, according to Rome merchants, were hula hoops and pogo sticks, both of which experienced a big comeback in 1967 after several years of reduced interest.

The Chieftains gave East Rome a rare double victory when the Gladiators boys basketball team won 55-30 and the girls won 51-34. Charlie Williams led the Chieftains boys with 11 points, while Elaine Underwood led the Chieftains girls with 14 points.  

The Rome Board of Education approved a $2.8 million budget for the 1968-1969 school year—an increase of $150,000 over the 1967-1968 school year. However, the superintendent said that the budget didn’t reflect proposed pay raises of $550 a year per teacher. Most of the increase went into increased instructional spending, particularly at the elementary school level. 

The Rome Board of Education also revealed the results of an education study that shows, among other things, that the average education level of Romans over 25 was 9.1 years of school; Rome students were slightly above average in reading and language but slightly below average in mathematics; and that Rome City Schools had a total of eight first-grade dropouts in the 1966-1967 school year. (I didn’t know that elementary school kids could drop out!)

Rome’s spate of burglaries continued with a break-in at the Kayo Service Station on Shorter Avenue, where the thieves stole about $52 from the cash drawer as well as several cartons of cigarettes. Two days later, burglars attempted to break in to Henson’s Drug Store, but were scared off after they tripped a burglar alarm.

Talk about big screen TVs! Rome Radio Company was carrying the new 23” rectangular RCA Super-Bright Hi Lite Color TV, with squarer corners for even more viewing area; this was the largest size color television offered by any manufacturer in 1967, and it could be had for only $564.95 (the equivalent of $4250 today—and you can get a 75”-80” TV for that kind of money!). 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound, and ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, angel food cakes for 39¢ each, and five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 44¢. A&P had turkeys for 33¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and five-pound fruitcakes for $3.99. Big Apple had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and four sticks of Parkay margarine for 25¢. Couch’s had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and vine-ripe tomatoes for 15¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Operation Kid Brother (starring Neil Connery) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Fahrenheit 451 ( the Francois Truffaut film starring Julie Christie & Osker Werner, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury) at the First Avenue.  The midweek switchout brought More Than a Miracle (starring Sophia Loren) to the DeSoto Theatre, Corrupt Ones (starring Elke Sommer) to the First Avenue, and Journey to the Center of Time to the West Rome Drive-In. 


The Monkees took number one this week with “Daydream Believer.” Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#2); “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#5); “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#6); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#7); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#8); “In and Out of Love” by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#9); and “You Better Sit Down Kids” by Cher (#10). 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/4/1967 to 12/10/1967

Rome’s burglary trend continued as thieves broke into Walraven’s Service Station, Lathem Plumbing, West Rome Christian Church, and Matthews Service Station in the early morning hours of December 4th. The sheer number of thefts in such a short period of time led police to conclude that more than one group of burglars was responsible for the crime spree. The service station burglaries netted a selection of tools and a small amount of cash from vending machines; about $40 in cash and more tools were stolen from Lathem Plumbing; and nothing of value was taken from the church, although the pastor’s office was ransacked and furniture was damaged. In addition, a half-dozen pay phones in West Rome, Garden Lakes, and North Rome were shot open on the same day and an undetermined number of dimes were stolen; Southern Bell representatives estimated that total cash losses were no more than $50, but the damage to the phones amounted to almost six times that much.

West Roman S/Sgt. Jack Harwell Jr. of 811 Shorter Avenue--son of Emma Conn Harwell and Jack Harwell Sr., the folks who made Conn’s a West Rome mainstay for several decades—was injured when his jeep ran over a land mine in Vietnam. Thankfully, the injury was reported as “not serious.”

The first challenges to Georgia’s blue laws (which required most businesses to close on Sunday) began this week in 1967, and it was Zayre’s department store in Cobb County that began the trend, which soon spread to Big K in West Rome and other stores. The impacted businesses charged that the the law was discriminatory because it was not being enforced against radio stations, theaters, car washes, laundromats, and other services; additionally, grocery stores were taking advantage of the exception for sale of food and drugs to sell other products such as magazines, household cleaners, cosmetics, etc.

Remember decoupage, the craft of decorating objects with paper cutouts and paint effects? Well, it was becoming trendy in Rome in late 1967—so much so, in fact, that Sherwin Williams was scheduling a series of decoupage classes throughout the month of December. (I remember several friends decoupaging boxes, plaques, pencil cups, and other objects as gifts during the late 1960s and early 1970s; like many trends, it seemed to fall out of favor by the mid-70s. Does anyone still do decoupage today?)

Piggly Wiggly had Armour Star bacon for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 35¢ a box, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and five pounds of Domino sugar for 39¢. Big Apple had baking hens for 35¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 25¢ a can. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound, and a five-pound Claxton fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, Bama blackberry preserves for 39¢ a jar (and you could use the jar as a drinking glass once you finished the preserves!), and spruce Christmas trees for 99¢ to $9.99 each. 

The cinematic week began with Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Jack of Diamonds (starring George Hamilton) at the First Avenue, and The Glory Stompers (starring Jody McCrea) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Operation Kid Brother (a James Bond spoof starring Neil Connery--the kid brother of James Bond actor Sean Connery—as a British secret agent's civilian brother who is unavailable to save the world when his double-O brother is unavailable) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Hotel (starring Rod Taylor) to the First Avenue. 

The number one song this week in 1967 was “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. Other top ten hits included “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#2); “Incense & Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#3); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#4); “I HeardIt Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#5); “To Sir With Love” by Lulu (#6); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#7); “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#8); “In and Out of Love” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#9); and “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” by Victor Lundberg (#10). I( have to confess that I have absolutely no memory of “An Open Letter,” which was a spoken-word reading of a letter by a father to his teenage son, played over an instrumental version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The record ends with Lundberg declaring that, if his son burns his draft card, he should “burn [his] birth certificate at the same time. From that moment on, I have no son.” While it only made it to tenth place before moving back down the charts, it is one of the twelve fastest-climbing singles in Billboard history).

Otis Redding died on December 8th in a plane crash, along with four members of his backing band, the Bar-Kays.

Six months after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Rolling Stones released their own psychedelia-influenced concept album, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, on December 8th. 


This week in 1967, a comic was released that would change my life forever. The comic was Batman #199, a rather forgettable issue with a gimmick cover that featured Batman desperately searching for a copy of the newest issue of Batman Comics. It wasn’t the story that was so significant, though, but the letters column. This issue features a letter that pointed out some flaws in the cover story from Batman #195—and the author of that letter was a young woman from Cedartown, Georgia. A few weeks later, I would take a chance and call her;  the call went well enough, so we would go on to talk regularly, then we met, then we began dating. Three and a half years later, we would get married—and we’ve been married ever since. So thanks, Batman!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/27/1967 to 12/3/1967

Rome manufacturing growth continued with Trend Mills announcing plans to triple their West Rome facility space and add 150 new jobs. The manufacturer planned to spent $3 million to expand the facility; with all work to be completed by mid-1968.

Was Rome a hotbed of crime when I was a kid? it certainly seems that way, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. In the early morning hours of November 27th, burglars ripped open a walk-in vault at the Berry College comptroller’s office and made off with more than $1150.00 in cash. This came just two months after  a Berry College student stole more than $10,000.00 from the comptroller’s office. Apparently Berry needed a more secure comptroller's office!

Rome’s annual Santa Claus parade took place at 6pm on Monday, November 27th. The parade began at West Third Street and Second Avenue, then turned onto Broad Street and headed up Broad to the City Auditorium, where Santa greeted the crowds. Both the West Rome Band and the West Rome Junior High Band participated in the parade.

And in a brilliant strategic move, Big K at Gala Shopping Center hired the Santa Parade’s Santa to go straight from the parade festivities to Big K, where he would listen to children’s Christmas lists until midnight! Not sure who was keeping their little kids up until midnight on a school night, though…

West Rome’s girls started the basketball season off with a 54-20 win over Lafayette, but the boys performed less effectively in their game, losing 55-43. Both Debbie Poarch and Elaine Underwood scored enough points individually to win the game for West Rome (22 and 21 points respectively). Coach Brendel Cox said that the boys team was “simply outplayed” by LaFayette, although he did note that they played to a tie twice in the first half and were briefly ahead before the game fell apart for the Chiefs in the third quarter.

Roger Weaver was named Back of the Year  by the Rome News-Tribune for his outstanding performance during the 1967 football season. Weaver gained more than a thousand yards during the season and more than 2600 yards during his three years of Chieftains football. He also scored 70 points during the season on 11 touchdowns, an extra point, and a field goal. 

Piggly ‘Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Toast’em Pop Ups for 39¢ a box, and blackberries for 39¢ a pint. Kroger had pork roast for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 57¢ a pound, and Kroger doughnuts for 19¢ a dozen (that’s less than 2 cents a doughnut!). Big Apple had perch fillet for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. A&P had fresh fryers for 25¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 61¢. Couch’s had Chuck Wagon bacon for 59¢ a pound, Castleberry’s beef stew for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Clambake (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin) to the DeSoto, Jack of Diamonds (starring George Hamilton) to the First Avenue, and Panic in the Year Zero (starring Ray Milland) to the West Rome Drive-In. 


The Beatles released their album Magical Mystery Tour this week in 1967, a soundtrack to the film of the same name. Well, they released the album here in the US, but in the UK, it was an EP. Capitol Records turned it into an album by including songs the band’s 1967 singles on the album’s B side. Other big releases included Steve Wonder’s Someday at Christmas (one of the finest contemporary Christmas albums ever recorded, with a brilliant title song that really deserves a place in more Christmas playlists), Love’s Forever Changes, and the Chambers Brothers’ The Time Has Come.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/20/1967 to 11/26/1967

Rome City school students celebrated Thanksgiving with a five-day weekend. Students were off Wednesday through Sunday, while teachers used Wednesday as a work day to prepare report cards. 

Governor Lester Maddox began a push to encourage school systems to add Driver’s Training to the curriculum in every high school as a non-fee course. The only school in the Rome area that offered a Driver’s Training class in 1967 was Coosa; the Rome City School System contracted with private instructors (including Don Undsworth, the instructor from whom many of my friends and I took Driver’s Training) to offer fee-based classes after school hours.

Rome and Floyd County agreed to work together in an effort to secure more than a half million dollars in federal and state funds for major improvements to Russell Field, Rome’s airport. Planned upgrades included a longer runway to handle slightly larger commercial flights, additional taxi aprons, improved lighting, and acquisition of extra land for future expansion. The city and the county were optimistic that, with these improvements, Rome would continue to serve as a northwest Georgia hub for commercial commuter flights to Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Birmingham.

Rome’s burglary spree continued—but this time, it was spectacularly unsuccessful. Burglars broke into Simpson Grocery Company on E. 2nd Avenue in the early hours of Monday morning and attempted to break into the safe—but not only did they fail in that, they ended up leaving behind almost $100 in equipment in their haste to escape. The burglars did manage to punch out the combination lock and drill one hole into the safe—a process that must have taken hours—but that did not enable them to open the safe. So why did they ultimately leave? Because when they finally drilled through the safe door, they also drilled into a tear gas canister located inside the safe just for in case something like this happened. The pressurized canister pumped tear gas into the office, which caused the thieves to make a tearful retreat without their tools.

Two nights later, two men and a woman, all from Alabama, were arrested with burglary tools after they broke into a Rome laundromat. Hundreds of dollars in tools were confiscated, along with the $26 the thieves managed to steal from the laundromat. While the amount of the theft was small, the damage to the laundromat was sufficient to earn the thieves some pretty serious felony charges.



Judging by advertising from Belk’s, Sears, Penney’s, and Big K, avocado was the hot new color of the year for cookware and kitchen accessories. Every store was pushing avocado kitchen items as Christmas gifts, with Sears also offering appliances in the trendy new color.

Piggly Wiggly had roasting hens for 33¢ a pound, oranges for 33¢ a dozen, and Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had turkeys for 26¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and Morton’s frozen pies for 29¢ each. A&P had smoked hams for 35¢ a pound, a three-pound fruitcake for $2.49, and a twenty-pound bag of russet potatoes for 89¢. Big Apple had pork roast for79¢ a pound, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 29¢ a can, and pole beans for 15¢ a pound.  Couch’s had Hormel fully cooked three-pound canned hams for $2.79 (do they still make three-pound canned hams?), Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon, and large coconuts for 19¢ each. (My parents must have carefully hidden these cheap coconuts from me—because if I had known, we would have had a lot of coconuts and hammers scattered across the patio and driveway…)

The cinematic week began with Bonnie & Clyde (starring Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Clambake (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Grand Prix hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 


The Strawberry Alarm Clock finally knocked Lulu out of first place with their song “Incense and Peppermints,” pushing Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” to second place. Other top ten songs included “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things” by the Cowsills (#3); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#6); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#7); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#8); “I Can See for Miles” by The Who (#9); and “Expressway (To You Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#10). 

Friday, November 10, 2017

I'm a Muddler

Yes, I confess: I'm a muddler.

I've always loved the bittersweet aspect of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"--and in particular, these lines.

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, well have to muddle through somehow

That, to me, is the essence of my love for Christmas. It brings us together--we hope. We never know, though, if we will have an opportunity to share another Christmas. Every year, I know that last Christmas could well be my last Christmas, or your last Christmas, or the last Christmas we will be able to see one another. We don't know what the fates will allow. And all we can do is muddle through like we do every day in our lives, trying to let those future joys carry us through our daily existence. It is a sparkling shard of future joy, but we may never get close enough to fully admire its beauty--and we won't fully appreciate how beautiful it was until that time when it exists in our memories only, and then we'll resign ourselves to muddling through with regrets and wistful pangs.

Reportedly, the lyrics were changed in 1957 at the behest of the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, who was completing a Christmas album entitled A Jolly Christmas. He asked lyricist Hugh Martin, "Do you think you could jolly that up for me?" And thus the revised lyrics were created:

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

But in revising the lyrics, the human longing for a season of joy in a life of turbulence and uncertainty was lost. The song just doesn't work any longer; the lyrics are unfinished, the message itself muddled by the absence of that original line.

(Speaking of original lines--apparently Martin's original original original line was "If the Lord allows." Some might wonder why he took the religious reference out of a song that celebrates a religiously-themed holiday, but I think he had the best reason of all: "allows' doesn't truly rhyme with "somehow" or "bough," and "Lords" or "gods" would have been forced an inappropriate. "Fates" was an inspired change that fully nuanced the song's meaning while allowing for a full rhyme.)

So no matter which version of the song is played, in my mind, we'll all have to muddle through somehow. That's one of the things that make Christmas so wonderful and so solemn at the same time. If you're muddling through right along with me--well, that's pretty much the way life is, isn't it?