Friday, February 05, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/7/1966 to 2/13/1966

As if finances weren’t enough of a concern regarding a city-county school system merger, political power was also an issue. Floyd County Board of Education chairman C.O. Landers announced that he would oppose any such merger because he didn’t feel it would give adequate representation and authority to the county. By the end of the week, the proposal was falling apart, with the Rome City Board of Education voting to oppose the merger as well, because they too were unwilling to give up a full measure of control over the schools.

Nowadays hardly anyone relies on an antenna to watch television; most of us depend on cable TV for our programming. A half-century ago, however, Rome had no cable television… but that situation was about to change. On May 7th, the City Commission agreed to receive applications and bids for a cable TV franchise in Rome. The decision came about after FCC rulings made it clear that communities could set up a franchising system and charge cable TV companies a fee to offer cable TV in their community. Rome pitched the benefits of a cable TV system: since Rome was midway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, a local cable system could use multiple antennas to capture the signals from both cities, doing away with the need for an antenna rotor for Rome viewers (or the need for a loud voice to yell out the window and tell the poor antenna-turner to stop turning). There was no talk of movie channels or cable-only channels or the like, of course; none of that would come into existence until the 1970s. All a cable TV system could do in 1966 was provide the clearest possible signal for the over-the-air signals. Rome city officials estimated that the total monthly cost to the consumer would be about $4 or $5. (That’s a small fraction of what we pay today… but we’re getting  a lot more than the nine channels that Rome officials estimated a cable TV system would carry in 1966!)

Four Chieftains were nominated for the 1966 Governor’s Honors program this week in 1966: Sherry Canada and Baxter Joy were nominated in English; Anita Smith, in social studies; and Dianne Massey, in music. West Rome guidance counselor Owen Blanton coordinated the special Governor’s Honor program at which the nominees were announced. Previous Governor’s Honors attendees (including Tom McMahon, Mary Ann Witte, Phil Jenkins and Jane Cox) discussed what the program was like and how it benefited them.

The Chiefs beat Cass 68-58 in the first game of the Region 3-AA South tournament. West Rome was behind by two points with four minutes to go, but the team pulled ahead to win by ten points, helped in large part by eight points scored by David Garrett in less than two minutes. The girls’ team didn’t fare quite as well, however: they lost to Cass 47-44.

West Rome’s second tournament game pitted them against Dalton; the boys squeaked out a narrow 47-45 victory, thanks to four points scored by Mike Souder near the very end of the game. The girls had a much easier time of it, winning 40-33. Diane Bell scored 17 of West Rome’s 40 points, while Ann Peery scored 16.

Mrs. James N. Finley, a beloved teacher at West Rome High, was also the organizer of the annual science fair. This was the week that she announced that planning for the annual event was about to begin. Mrs. Finely had scheduled a Tuesday afternoon meeting of science teachers to work out the details of the Science Fair, which was scheduled for February 26th and 27th, with winners from the eighth through twelfth grades going on to compete in the Seventh District Science Fair at Berry. What did that mean for most of us? Well, it meant that it was time to start assembling those three-part hinged display boards so that we could try to make our humble science projects look as impressive as possible…

McDonald’s lowered the price of their chili dog to 19¢ this week in 1966—or you could splurge and get a chili dog, a shake, and an order of french fries for 57¢. Meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated their one-year anniversary in Rome with a nine-piece chicken box for $1.69 and a two-piece fried fish dinner for 89¢.

Rome also got its first full-line delicatessen with the opening of DeLie’s Party Shoppe on Avenue C. “Now you don’t have to go to Atlanta, New York, Chicago, or Switzerland for fine foods!” the ad touted, stressing the fact that the new store would offer a full selection of continental and domestic foods. (I don’t remember ever visiting DeLie’s, and don’t even recognize the name; apparently my family fit in much better with the bologna and Vienna sausage clientele at the local grocery store!)

Piggly Wiggly had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Libby’s Vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon. Kroger and Sea Glo salmon for 49¢ a can, red delicious apples for 17¢ a pound, and Hormel chili with beans for 29¢ a can. Big Appl head chuck roast for 47¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and four pounds of lard for 49¢. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and avocados for 19¢ each. (I’m still surprised to see avocados in a 1960s grocery store ad; I never remember seeing or hearing about avocados until the last 1970s.) Couch’s had ground sirloin for 69¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Derek Flint (played by James Coburn) doing his super spy thing in Our Man Flint at the DeSoto Theater and James Bond (portrayed by Sean Connery) saving the world from lost nuclear warheads in Thunderball at the First Avenue. The weekend switchover was nonexistent, as both Our Man Flint and Thunderball stuck around in Rome theaters for another week. The West Rome Drive-In offered a non-espionage alternative on the weekend with showings of Do Not Disturb (with Doris Day and Rod Taylor).

Musical lightning struck for Lou Christie when his song “Lightnin’ Strikes” took the number one slot this week in 1966. Other top ten hits included “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra (#2); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#3); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#4); “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#5); “Crying Time” by Ray Charles (#6); “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#7); “Don’t Mess With Bill” by the Marvelettes (#8); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)" by the T-Bones (#9); and “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler (#10).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/31/1966 to 2/6/1966

Fifty years ago this week, Rome’s very first Medicare card was officially presented to Fire Chief Emeritus WT McKinney. He was chosen by the Rome Social Security district manager to receive the first health insurance identification card given out in the Coosa Valley area because of his 39 years of service in the Rome Fire Department (28 years as chief).

Rome was still a manufacturing town in 1966: Celanese announced plans for a multi-million dollar expansion of their Rome facility, expecting to add another 125 employees to their workforce.

Rome’s weekend cold, snowy weather was followed by a couple of days of extreme cold and freezing rain,  creating even more hazardous conditions in Northwest Georgia. And finally, Rome City School students got one day out of school due to weather conditions! Overall, January’s average daily temperature was 6.6 degrees below normal, with a record-setting four degrees below zero  on January 31st.  For the last two days of January, the temperature never exceeded 30 degrees.

And speaking of bad weather, Georgia’s groundhog saw his shadow and scurried back into his hole, meaning that we were due for six more weeks of winter.

West Rome defeated Berry Academy 64-50 on February 1st, making the Chiefs 10-6 overall for the season. Rusty Oxford scored with a ten-foot jumpsuit that put the Chieftains ahead 5-4 with 4:48 to go in the first quarter, and from that point, West Rome never fell behind. Rusty went on to score 25 points in the game, while Stan Dawson scored 15 points and Mike Souder scored 11 points.

Becky Wood of West Rome High was chosen to represent the Rome-Floyd County Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs at the YMCA World Youth Conference in Norway. Len Wiliingham was chosen as an alternate in case Becky was unable to attend. Becky was chosen to be art of a 224-person United States delegation; each delegate was responsible for working with their local Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs to help raise funds to cover the $895 cost of the trip. (In today’s money adjusting for inflation, that would be about $6750!).

Piggly Wiggly had smoked picnic ham for 49¢ a pound, Swift’s beef stew for 49¢ a can, and Sealtest ice-cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had pork roast for 59¢ a pound, Stokely catsup for a quarter a bottle, and Banquet individual frozen meat pies (no specific kind of meat was specified, which makes me a little nervous) for 17¢ each. Kroger had tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, round steak for 99¢ a pound, and a ten-pound bag of Idaho potatoes for 49¢. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Star-Kist tuna for 31¢ a can, and various Campbell’s condensed soups for 18¢ a can. Couch’s had Peach brand bacon for 73¢ a pound, Luzianne coffee for 53¢ a pound, and an 18-ounce jar of Blue Plate peach preserves for 89¢.

The cinematic week began with a double feature of Irma La Douce and Tom Jones at the DeSoto Theater and the James Bond film Thunderball at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brough a touch of culture to our little town as Shakespeare’s Othello (with Laurence Olivier) premiered at the DeSoto Theater. This wasn’t a standard film adaptation of the Shakespeare play; instead, it was a filmed performance of the play at the National Theater of Great Britain. Apparently, Rome could only take so much culture, though: after two days, Othello was replaced with the spy spoof Our Man Flint (with James Coburn). Meanwhile, James Bond continued his aquatic adventures in Thunderball at the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in yet another spy film, Agent for H.A.R.M, which shared the bill with the surf film Wild Wild Summer.

Petula Clark took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “My Love.” Other top ten hits included “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#2); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#3); “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#4); “we Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#5); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#6); “Crying Time” by Ray Charles (#7); “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#8); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#9); and “Don’t Mess with Bill” by the Marvelettes (#10).

It was also a great week for albums, with the release of Gordon Lightfoot’s eponymous first album; Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler’s dramatic Ballad of the Green Berets, featuring the hit title track; The Orbison Way by Roy Orbison; Where the Action Is by the Ventures; and the Spencer Davis Group’s Second Album.

The Viet Nam War was such a part of their lives that ABC retooled its news program ABC Scope to focus exclusively on developments in the war beginning this week in 1966.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/24/1966 to 1/30/1966

Rome got just under an inch of snow on January 26th, but it wasn’t enough to close schools for the day—much to the dismay of students, I’m sure! It was close, though: both Polk County school and Gordon County schools were closed because of the weather. After a couple of warm days, a second snowstorm brought 4” of snow to Rome on Saturday, January 29th, dropping temperatures to 4 degrees. Once again, though, school wasn’t affected, since the snow came in on a Saturday; by Monday morning, roads were fine and school was in session. (Is there anything more disappointing to a student than a weekend snowfall? It’s such a waste of perfectly good snow…) Even more frustrating, Floyd County Schools were closed for two days because of the snow, ice, and cold!

The votes were tallied, and West Rome’s Senior Superlatives were announced this week in 1966. The winners were Regina Swinford, Bill Bishop, & Dennis Souder (most dependable—Bill and Dennis tied); Jane Cox & Tom McMahon (most likely to succeed); Cheryl Lanier & Jerry Wiseman (best looking); Jeannie Maxwell & Mike King (best dressed); Donna Ott & Ronney Hall (wittiest); Marsha Morgan & John Brown (friendliest); Ann Peery & David Garrett (most athletic); Patti Tolbert & Travis Payne (most talented); Pat Barna & Mike Murphy (best all-around); and Connie Love & Arbie Lovell (best personality). Jeannie Maxwell was selected as Miss West Rome, while John Brown was chosen as Mr. West Rome. The class favorites were Charlene Lamb & Mike Murphy.

They weren’t making any progress on a direct I-75 link to Rome, so the Rome-Floyd Chamber of Commerce looked west for a new project: an interstate highway from Memphis, TN to Columbia, SC—and the route would take it right through Rome. Apparently they were no more successful with that proposal than they were with the I-75 proposal… but for what it’s worth, the recently-completed bypass from US 27 near Georgia Highlands College to the Alabama Road was built on some of the land originally purchased for the never-constructed interstate, so something came out of the project… fifty years later!

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, collards for 19¢ a bunch, and Bama jelly for 23¢ a jar (and these weren’t the usual jelly-glass jars, but the new Bama server jars that were supposed to be so attractive that you’d want to save them forever!). Big Apple had veal cutlets for 99¢ a pound, pears for 15¢ a pound, and Wesson oil for 49¢ a quart. Kroger had fruit cocktail for 12¢ a can, bananas for a dime a pound, and sirloin tip roast for 99¢ a pound. A&P had Campbell’s soup for 18¢ a can, avocados for 19¢ each, and Star-Kist chunk light tuna for 31¢ a can. Couch’s had stew beef for 49¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and a two-pound jar of JFG peanut butter for 59¢.

That Darn Cat was still hanging around at the DeSoto Theater for the first part of the week, while Thunderball (with the one true James Bond, Sean Connery) was showing at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought a bawdy double feature of Tom Jones and Irma La Douce to the DeSoto, while Sean Connery continued to search for a lost nuclear missile in Thunderball at the First Avenue. Apparently theater-owners were convinced that Rome had a real appetite for risqué films: the Tom Jones-Irma La Douce double feature was also showing at the West Rome Drive-In over the weekend, which meant that while kids couldn’t buy tickets, they could see segments of the film if they were riding down Shorter Avenue heading towards West Rome High School at just the right time of night…

Petula Clark took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “My Love.” Other top ten hits included “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#2); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#3); “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#4); “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#5); “The Men in My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas (#6); “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#8); “A Must to Avoid” by Herman’s Hermits (#9); and “Crying Time” by Ray Charles (#10).

The Beatles’ Rubber Soul held on to the top slot on the album charts, but Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass climbed back to the number two slot… and I’m sure that sexy cover photo of a lovely woman covered in whipped cream had a lot to do with it!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/17/1966 to 1/23/1966

In early January, the draft board announced that childless married men could be eligible for the draft. That got a lot more definite on January 17th, when the draft board announced that childless married men would definitely be drafted. Sixty young men from Rome who had previously been exempt from the draft were added to the call-up list. The draft board also said that you men classified 1-Y because of “minor physical defects” were now being reclassified as draft-eligible and would also be called up. The escalation of the Vietnam War was the reason for the changes in draft policy, of course, as the Rome News-Tribune headline “America Pouring Reinforcements into Vietnam” made quite clear.

Rome got a light dusting of snow on Tuesday, January 18th, with more flurries that night. Rome didn’t get its first true snow accumulation of 1966 until Wednesday night and Thursday morning, however, when almost an inch of snow fell. Alas, it wasn’t enough to call off school…

All that talk about a possible Rome City Schools/Floyd County Schools merger? It pretty much went away on Tuesday Night, January 18th, after county voters overwhelmingly voted against a school bond for educational improvements. The Rome City System had never faced a rejection of a school bond, so the board of education decided perhaps there was an advantage to keeping the system separate after all.

Justice was very swift in 1966: Donald Eugene Kell, the man who committed an armed robbery on December 23rd at the Shorter Avenue Super Discount store, went before the judge on January 18th and was sentenced to ten years in prison. (He did enter a guilty plea, so no jury trial was necessary.) That’s less than a month from crime to punishment—why can’t the courts operate on that sort of a schedule today?

Piggly Wiggly had Swift’s vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, Fleetwood Butternut coffee for 69¢ a pound, and sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound. Big Apple had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, yellow onions for a nickel a pound, and two pounds of Booth frozen fish sticks for 55¢ (now I know why we had fish sticks for dinner every now and then!). Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, five pounds of Colonial sugar for 39¢, and large eggs for 47¢ a dozen. A&P had pork loin for 79¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and five cans of Campbell’s soup for 89¢. Couch’s had Coca Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit, chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, and Royal Sun orange juice for 49¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with That Darn Cat (with Dean Jones) still hanging around at the DeSoto Theater and The Bedford Incident (with Richard Widmark & Sidney Poitier) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Never Too Late (with Paul Ford and Connie Stevens) to the First Avenue, while That Darn Cat stayed  for yet another week at the DeSoto. The West Rome Drive-In aired  very forgettable double feature of Spy In Your Eye (with Dana Andrews) and Secret Agent Fireball (with Richard Harrison).

This was also the week that Rome saw a major change in cinematic schedules: rather than changing out films on Wednesdays, as the Rome theaters had done for many years, new movie day was moving to Friday, where it has stayed pretty much ever since then.

The Beatles reclaimed the number one spot with “We Can Work It Out,” while the prior week’s number one song (“Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel) totally fell out of the top ten. Other top ten hits included “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#2); “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#4); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#5); “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones (#6); “”The Men in  My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas (#7); “A Must to Avoid” by Herman’s Hermits (#8); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#9); and “Jenny Take a Ride” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#10).

Simon & Garfunkel capitalized on their single success with the release of the Sounds of Silence album, which debuted in the Top Ten. (But it didn’t manage to knock the Beatles’ Rubber Soul out of the number one album slot.)

And suddenly the world was experiencing Batmania! ABC debuted the Batman TV show on January 12th, 1966 with a Frank Gorshin Riddler episode, and Adam West & Burt Ward were overnight superstars (but for many of us adolescent male viewers, it was Jill St. John who was the most memorable aspect of that first two-parter). The show aired at 7:30pm on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, and both half-hour episodes were in the Top Ten from the very week.

And in a rare master stroke of timing, DC managed to have the Riddler cover featured Batman #179, which went on sale just days after the Batman TV series debuted!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tube Time

It's been many, many years since I had any sort of tube amplifier. I think the last tube amp I had was built into the family stereo system that we used regularly back in the 1960s and early 1970s. I still remember turning on the power and having to wait in silence for a few seconds while the tubes warmed up... something that most people under the age of forty have never experienced.

I have always been curious about the Cult of the Tube Amp. I've heard many people praise the warm, resonant sounds of a tube amplifier, but back when we had that stereo console, I knew nothing about sound quality. Mono and stereo was pretty much the limit of my audio knowledge, in fact... well, that and that volume knob...

But when I saw that Monoprice had a tube amp for a good price with free shipping, I decided to give it a try. Not only could I find out why so many people praised the sound of a tube amp, but I could get a neat bluetooth-capable amplifier that would also work with a turntable... and it all had a vaguely steampunk-meets-Soviet-tek look.

Once I got the amp, I broke out a pair of Infinity RS-425 speakers to give it a try. The results were quite impressive. Even though the amp only outputs 25 watts of power, it was more than enough to drive those Infinity speakers and fill the room with a rich, resonant sound that was more appealing and realistic than the AudioEngine A5 powered speakers I had previously been using. Don't get me wrong--the AudioEngine speakers sounded fine... or at least I thought they did. But once I compared the sound of the AudioEngine powered speakers (which are rated at 50 watts) to the sound of the Monoprice hybrid tube amp, there was no doubt which sounded more appealing. No harshness, strong mellow sound from the  rich woofer lows through the full-throated midrange to the crisp tweeter highs... I was sold.

Not only does it do a great job with a turntable, but it also does a very admirable job with Bluetooth sourced material. Sirius XM, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon Music... all of them had more punch and presence when played back through this little Monoprice tube amp.

Are there better amps? Probably so, but they'd cost a lot more than this $150 Monoprice charmer. And you could spend a lot more than that and get something that is less suited for music playback. And that may be the problem: so many amplifiers and receivers today are tailored for video playback as part of a home theater that music reproduction is almost an afterthought. This little amplifier that could dedicates itself to music playback, and does it very well.

If you're looking for an affordable amp to go with a pare of stereo speakers stuck way back in your garage, you couldn't do better for $150.00... and I suspect you couldn't do better  for much more than that. As much as I like my Yamaha R-N500BL bluetooth receiver, I don't think it does a as good a job with music than the Monoprice.  That's pretty impressive, because until I heard the Monoprice, that Yamaha was my go-to amp for music listening!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/10/1966 to 1/16/1966

Another very uneventful week this week in 1966. Most of the news attention was devoted to the Floyd County School System; Floyd was hoping to pass a bond issue to enable them to update their aging schools to offer the same amenities and educational opportunities as the Rome City Schools.

The list of Rome/Floyd County students who qualified to take the state Governor’s Honors eligibility test included three Chieftains: Sherry Canada & Baxter Joy (English) and Anita Smith (social studies).

The Rome City School System discovered that the new school standards adopted by the Georgia Accrediting Commission were going to cost an additional $32,000 for the remainder of the 1965-1966 school year. The new requirements specified a higher number of secretaries and librarians than had previously been required, and they also required that each school library have at least ten books per pupil, up from the prior requirement of 8 books per pupil.

The Rome City School Board also took steps to implement a plan to prevent parents from entering classrooms during the school day. Superintend McDonald reported that they had had incidents in which “irate parents burst into classrooms during school hours to berate teachers because of alleged problems.”  While we often remember the 1960s as a time when parents always took the teacher’s side, apparently that wasn’t really the case!

The Rome City School System was also considering a policy requiring married students to take one year off from school before returning to the classroom; the only exception allowed in the proposed regulation would allow high school seniors who married in or after January of their senior year to remain in school until the end of the school year.

West Rome faced off against Calhoun on Friday, January 14th, and the Chiefs were hoping for revenge after their disappointing loss to Calhoun during the Holiday Festival basketball tournament. Alas, victory remained elusive: Calhoun once again defeated West Rome, this time winning 72-61.

C&M Motors held the grand opening for their new facility at 844 Turner McCall Boulevard. C&M was Rome’s Cadillac-Oldsmobile dealer back in the time when Cadillacs were considered the Cadillacs of cars. (Yes, I stole that joke…)

Johnny Reb Food Stores opened their new location on Calhoun Road, but the West Rome location joined in the celebration, offering a dozen Eskimo pies for 59¢, free bags of Fritos to the first 150 customers at each store each day, and a free six pack of Coke or Pepsi to the first 150 customer at each store each day.

Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated the end of turkey and ham season with a Family Bucket Special—a bucket of chicken, a quart of mashed potatoes, a pint of gravy, a pint of cole slaw, and six biscuits—for $3.75. McDonald’s countered with their All-American Meal (a hamburger, french fries, and a shake) for 52¢.  Not to be outdone, Redford's offered their fried chicken dinner (two pieces of chicken, rolls, a vegetable, and iced tea) for 69¢.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, medium eggs for 45¢ a dozen, and Swift’s Premium chili for 49¢ a can. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Kroger biscuits for a nickel a can, and red grapes for a dime a pound. Big Apple had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and a quart of Mrs. Bell’s mayonnaise for 49¢. A&P had Swiss steak for 69¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 19¢ per jar (and you could use the jar as a drinking glass once you finished the jelly!), and a 24-ounce bottle of Stokely’s catsup for  29¢.

The cinematic week began with That Darn Cat (with Dean Jones & Haylee Mills) at the DeSoto and That Funny Feeling (with Sandra Dee & Bobby Darin) at the First Avenue. That Darn Cat hung around through the weekend at the DeSoto, but the midweek switchout brought Dr. Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine (with Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon, & Dwayne Hickman) to the First Avenue. Apparently the theaters had high hopes for Dr. Goldfoot: the film was also showing  at the West Rome Drive-In over the weekend!

After being replaced by the Beatles in the number one slot last week, Simon & Garfunkel regained #1 with “Sounds of Silence,” while the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” fell to #2. Other top ten hits included “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#4); “Day Tripper” by the Beatles (#5); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#6); “The Men in My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas (#7); “A Must to Avoid” by Herman’s Hermits (#8); “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones (#9); and “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (#10).

Young singer David Jones changed his last name to Bowie this week in 1966, so that he wouldn’t be confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees.

This was also the week that Darrin and Samantha’s witch-baby Tabitha was born on the Bewitched episode “And Then There Were Three.”

Amos & Andy was removed from syndication in most markets beginning this week in 1966 in response to concerns from various civil rights organizations.

That famous dolphin Flipper got his very own comic book this week in 1966.  And this was no accident on Gold Key Comics’ part: they did it on porpoise!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/3/1966 to 1/9/1966

Coach Paul Kennedy was named State Coach of the Year for 1965 by the Atlanta Touchdown Club in an public announcement made on January 9th. Kennedy said the honor “came as a complete surprise. I received a letter early last week from the Touchdown Club inviting me to attend the meeting. The letter congratulated me on winning the state championship and on being selected as coach of the year. I didn’t realize what it meant for a while… It is an undeserving award made possible by fine assistant coaches, a fine group of boys, and the tremendous school spirit we had out there this past season. No one man does the job.”

West Rome’s basketball teams scored two wins over Dalton on Tuesday, January 4th. The Boys won 57-56 in overtime in a game the Coach Randall Kent described as “our poorest game of the season,” although he did have good things to say about guard David Garrett, who scored 13 key points; Stan Dawson, who scored 16 points; and Rusty Oxford, who scored 14. The girls had an easier time of it, winning 36-29. Ann Peery led the Chiefs with 10 points.

On January 9th, the Chiefs again racked up dual wins, with the boys winning 72-42 over Chattooga, while the girls won 52-14. Coach Kent praised his boys’ performance. Rusty Oxford led the boys with 25 points, while Stan Dawson scored 15 points. Both Diane Bell and Ann Peery scored 17 points for the girls team.

Nelson McGee of Ledbetter-Johnson Company announced that the East Rome Interchange was more than 60% complete, and the whole interchange would be open in the summer of 1966. The East 12th Street bridge was almost totally complete, and was slated to open later in January, offering Romans a faster way to get to Roy’s Little Garden and other Dean Street businesses.

The draft board confirmed that, as of January 1966, childless married men would still face draft exams and could possibly be drafted, ending the married exemption. 118 Floyd County men, including 60 married men without children, were scheduled to report for their pre-induction exam on January 12th (an increase of 43 men over the December numbers). Mrs. Virginia Turpin of the Floyd Selective Service System  said that they had to begin drafting childless married men because they had pretty much run out single 19 year olds to call up. She also explained that they would now reconsider men who had been exempted because of minor physical defects or health issues. If the call-up of childless married men between the ages of 19 and 25 didn’t yield enough draftees, the next step would be to call up all eligible men between the ages of 26 and 35, both single and childless married, as well as college students who were in the bottom 25% of their class.  Suddenly, those who had presume the draft wouldn’t touch them because of marriage or college had to face the fact that they, too, could become soldiers in Vietnam…

Roman Donald Eugene Kell, who robbed the West Rome Super-Discount Store on Shorter Avenue in mid-December, waived extradition and was returned to Rome from Rhode Island, where he had fled following the robbery. He was held on a bond of $25,000—about 20 times the amount of money he took in the armed robbery. Thankfully, money was all he took—no one was killed or seriously injured.

Piggly Wiggly had eggs for 49¢ a dozen, Swift’s bacon for 69¢, and orange juice for 49¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had ocean perch for 33¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and a two-pound jar of Lenox Park peanut butter for 69¢. Kroger had Royal Crown or Diet-RC Cola for a quarter a carton plus deposit, chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, and a 20-pound bag of Idaho potatoes for 99¢. A&P had whole flyers for 27¢ a pound, five pounds of Ballard flour for 55¢, and A&P chunk light tuna for 27¢ a can. Couch’s had Southern Maid all-meat wieners for 43¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a pound, and vine ripened tomatoes (back when that actually meant something) for 19¢ a pound.

The Rome cinematic week began with Do Not Disturb (with Doris Day & Rod Taylor) at the DeSoto and The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought That Darn Cat (with Hayley Mills and Dean Jones) to the DeSoto and Revenge of the Gladiators (with Roger Browne) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In’s weekend screenings included Bullet for a Bad Man and Under the Yum Yum Tree.

The Beatles took two slots on the top ten this week in 1966: number one with “We Can Work It Out” and number six with “Day Tripper.” Other top ten hits included “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel (#2); “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#4); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#5); “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers (#7); “The Men in My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas (#8); “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones (#9); and “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#10). The last song began as a musical jingle for an Alka-Seltzer song, and the artists who recorded it weren’t really a group per se—they were Los Angeles session musicians no known as The Wrecking Crew, including Hal Blaine, Carol Caye, and Tommy Tedesco.

The Beatles also claimed the number one album slot with Rubber Soul, giving the Fab Four a very strong start for 1966.

It was the best of times and the worst of times for teen-focused music shows on TV. Hullabaloo was having a banner year, airing promo videos for “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out” on January 3rd. However, Shindig aired its final episode on January 8th after dwindling ratings made it unprofitable; both the Kinks and the Who performed on the finale.

Dell continued to publish its line of TV-based comics, with the first issues of both Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes debuting this week in 1966.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/26/1965 to 1/1/1966

The old year ended and the new year began with very little fanfare fifty years ago. Kids were out of school, the weather was seasonably cold but still pleasant, nothing major was happening in Rome… it was a quiet ending to a very good year.

The Rome City School System received a $167,000 grant for the purchase of material to develop “the most complete reading program in Georgia.” Superintendent McDonald said that there were “no strings attached” to the grant, which would enable the school system to purchase two mobile reading laboratories that could serve approximately twenty-five students; the labs would contain the latest in reading materials, electronic gear, special testing equipment, and more. In addition, the school system would have funds left over to purchase projectors, tape recorders, overhead projectors, and more for in-class reading programs, as well as extra funds for after-school study programs.

Rome merchants found a solution to the problem regarding pinball machines being seized as gambling equipment: they agreed to quit giving free games to high-scoring players. City police chief Nelson Camp said that as long as merchants let people “pay for play,” the police would have no problems with pinball machines.

GE announced plans for an $11 million expansion of the Rome plant, located just a mile away from West Rome High School on Redmond Circle. The new expansion would add 200 jobs to the Medium Transformer Department.

How great is this? Rome banks increased their interest rates on savings certificates to 4.5%, while the interest rates on regular savings accounts rose to 4%.

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, two pound bags of dried black-eyed peas for 29¢, and fresh collards for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had Morrell bacon for 69¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Maxwell House coffee for 79¢ a pound. Kroger had four-pound Wilson’s Corn King canned hams for $3.89, bananas for 9¢ a pound, and applesauce for a dime a can. A&P had sirloin tip roast for 99¢ a pound, tomatoes for a quarter a pound, and a one-pound can of Nestle’s Quik for 41¢. Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 33¢ a box, and ten pounds of potatoes for 49¢.

Rome’s cinematic week began with Boeing Boeing (with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis) at the DeSoto Theater and Pinocchio in Outer Space at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Do Not Disturb (with Doris Day & Rod Taylor) to the DeSoto and the James Bond spoof The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (with Tom Adams) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In offered a double feature of McLintock (with John Wayne) and Jason & The Argonauts (with Todd Armstrong and Honor Blackman, as well as special effects by Ray Harryhausen) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song on New Years Day 1966 was Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence" (amazing what a difference it makes when some talented session musicians add an electric guitar and drums to a song originally released about a year earlier!). Other top ten hits included “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#2); “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown (#3); “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds (#4); “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark Five (#5); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#6); “Fever” by the McCoys (#7); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#8); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#9); and “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#10).

The Dating Game debuted fifty years ago this week on ABC TV, allowing single people to embarrass themselves on national television as they engaged in a search for a suitable date.

This was also the week that ABC began running commercials for a new show that was destined to become a major television success in 1966—a show starring Adam West as a guy named Bruce Wayne…

Jim Warren’s Creepy magazine was so successful in recreating the vitality of EC’s horror comics that he launched his companion magazine, Eerie, this week in 1965. The magazine actually began with its second issue—the first was a 200-copy ashcan produced just to lock in the title when they heard that someone else was considering a competing magazine with the same name. Archie Goodwin, Frank Frazetta, Gene Colan, Jonny Craig, Reed Crandall, Gray Morrow, John Severin, Angelo Torres, and Alex Toth contributed to Eerie #2, making it one of Warren’s finest showpieces.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/20/1965 to 12/26/1965

On December 21st, the school system announced that Jean Jackson (clarinet), Sue Pilgrim (French horn), and Matt Oldham (baritone horn) were chosen to perform in the University of Georgia Honor Band on January. The honor band consisted of 140 student representatives from 160 Georgia high schools (so the fact that West Rome had 3 students in the honor band was quite an honor indeed!).

The Chieftains defeated Model 65-46 on December 20th in the first round of the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival; Rusty Oxford, Stan Dawson, and Benny Padgett  were the top scorers for West Rome, contributing 3/4 of West Rome’s point total.

West Rome went on to beat Fairmount 82-80 in the second round of play on December 21st, advancing to the semifinals. Rusty Oxford was responsible for 50% of those points by himself making him the star of the game.

Alas, West Rome’s winning streak ended on December 22nd with a 76-57 loss to Calhoun, taking them out of the running for the championship. Stan Dawson was the Chieftains’ high scorer with 22 points.

An armed gunman stole $1200.00 from the cash register of West Rome’s Super Discount Store on Shorter Avenue on December 23rd, holding up the store even though it was filled with almost 50 shoppers. The robber, driving a car with Rhode Island plates, brandished a pistol, but thankfully left without firing a shot once he got all the cash from the register. Police quickly identified the robber as Rome resident Horace Eugene Kell, issuing an all points bulletin for his arrest.

Parents looking for a last-minute gift could pick up a 20” sport bike at Firestone… but they’d better be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it, since the bike cost $39.99 (the equivalent of $300 today, adjusted for inflation). No wonder Firestone was offering a $5 per month payment plan! Or you could go for the educational gift and pick up a complete set of the Illustrated World Encyclopedia for $39.95 at the Fahy Store (a $70 discount off last price)—and it also included ten years of annual supplements. If that price was too high for you, the Fahy store also had troll dolls for $1 each. Sears took a different route, offering a Christmas special of Allstate Motor Oil for 22¢ a quart. Nothing says Christmas like an impromptu oil change…

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 39¢ a pound, pecans for 33¢ a pound, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 9¢ with the purchase of a four-pack of Plymouth light bulbs. Kroger had Morton’s TV dinners for 33¢ each, Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit, and Cornish hens for 69¢ each. A&P had turkey breast quarters for 59¢ a pound, apples for a dime a pound, and JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, Southern Maid sausage for 75¢ a pound, and fresh coconuts for 19¢ each. Couch’s had a five-pound boneless Wilson’s Corn King ham for $4.79, Old Favorite band ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and a 10-ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.19.

The cinematic week began with When the Boys Meet the Girls (with Connie Francis & Harve Presell) at the Desoto Theater and the “shocksploitation” documentary Ecco at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Boing Boing (with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis) to the DeSoto and Pinocchio in Outer Space (with the choice of Arnold Stang) to the First Avenue. With school out for the holidays, the West Rome Drive-In expanded its schedule to add Wednesday and Thursday nights to its weekend schedule, offering a double feature of Straitjacket (with Joan Crawford) and Ride the Wild Surf (with Fabian and Shelley Fabares).

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel scored their first number one hit with “Sounds of Silence” this week in 1965. Other Top Ten hits included “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#2); “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown (#3); “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds (#4); “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark Five (#5); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#6); “Fever” by the McCoys (#7); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#8); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#9); and “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#10).

The number one album this week in 1965 was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights, an album that immediately attracted the attention of many of us with its sultry image of an unclothed woman strategically covered with whipped cream, leaving those “other delights” to our imagination. Turn out the music was pretty good, although I’m not sure how many copies actually got played; to this day, I still find this album in flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales on a regular basis, and many of the albums are in remarkably good shape, although the covers are sometimes the worse for wear…

For me, Christmas of 1965 was memorable for the remarkable book The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer. This book, which went on my Christmas list as soon as I saw a copy at Wyatt’s, offered a paean to comics by Feiffer along with a heaping helping of classic Golden Age comic book reprints featuring Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Hawkman, The Spirit, Captain America, the Blackhawks, the Sub-Mariner, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Human Torch, and many others. I don’t think I ever re-read a book as many times as this one; I think I pretty much had every word balloon memorized after the first few months!

This was also the year that my parents gave me a complete set of James Bond paperbacks. They were going to a  Christmas Eve party at a neighbor’s house for an hour or two, while I stayed at home to keep an eye on my sister Kim. As they were getting ready to leave, Dad gave me a hefty, carefully wrapped cube and told me to go ahead and open it early. As soon as I tore the corner of the paper away, I recognized the distinctive Signet paperback cover design of Live and Let Die; beneath it were the rest of the Signet editions of the James Bond novels in their matching cover designs. "We've decided that you're old enough to read these," Dad said. "And we thought you might want to start reading one of them tonight." I was doubly thrilled—not only because of all those novels I looked forward to reading, but also because Mom and Dad had enough faith in me to give me these books in spite of their concerns. I have subsequently upgraded my James Bond novels to hardcover editions, but I still have those Signet paperbacks, well worn and slightly yellowed with age. At Christmastime, I often take a look at those covers once again and smile, remembering how I was so excited and eager to read these books that, once my parents had come home and everyone had gone to bed, I turned on a small light and read for another hour or two that night. Thanks again, Mom & Dad…

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/13/1965 to 12/19/1965

The Rome Boys Club Choir—which included a number of Chieftains—held a concert at the Boys Club on the evening of December 13th to raise money for the Cheerful Givers, which used its funds to aid needy families at Christmas. The organization hoped to aid 950 families during the Christmas 1965 season.

West Rome’s basketball teams defeated Cave Spring in both games on Friday, December 17th. The girls won 34-32 in an upset, with Anne Peery scoring 20 points. The boys then posted a 59-35 romp over Cave Spring, with Stan Dawson scoring 15 of those points and Rusty Oxford scoring 11.

Friday, December 17th, marked the last day of school before the holiday break; students were scheduled to be off until January 3rd.

Did you know that any and all pinball machines were considered to be “gambling devices” in 1965? Well, the city and county police departments knew, because they embarked on a push to confiscate machines all over the county, based on a then-recent Georgia Supreme Court decision that the free games that players could win constituted “a thing of value,” and that made pinball machines illegal gambling devices. The city seized more than two dozen machines, while the county confiscated at least thirty more.

The proposal that wouldn’t die returned yet again: Rome and Floyd County Boards of Education announced plans to meet in order to discuss a merger of the city and county school systems. (This is the third time this proposal surfaced since I began doing these “Fifty Years Ago This Week” pieces in 1962, which makes you wonder just how much money was wasted on unnecessary studies, meetings, and negotiations that went nowhere and accomplished nothing.)

And while we’re talking about fruitless studies and proposals, here’s another one that made a return this week in 1965: a House study committee once again proposed that Rome be turned into an inland port with the construction of a system of locks and dams that would allow barge and boat traffic to move up from the Gulf of Mexico to Rome’s proposed docks. If you don’t remember Rome’s docks, it’s because this proposal was just as DOA as the school merger…

Coach Paul Kennedy had high hopes for West Rome’s wrestlers in the 1965-1966 season, but he was forced into rebuilding mode instead when some of the members of his squad didn’t return to the mat. “We have enough boys out, but they don’t have the necessary experience,” Coach Kennedy said. “Five or six boys decided not to participate this year, including three first-string boys.” Veteran wrestlers who did return included Mike Murphy, Bobby Kerce, Gary Fuller, Richard Marable, Greg Quinton, Jeff Anderson, Greg Gray, and Anthony Slafta.  Coach Kennedy and the boys were struggling to prepare for their first match on January 7th at LaGrange.

Piggly Wiggly had a three-pound Merita fruitcake for $1.39, Fleetwood coffee for 69¢ a pound, and tom turkeys for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had sirloin steaks for 87¢ a pound, Banquet cream pies for 41¢, and yams for 12¢ a pound. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, eggs for 53¢ a dozen, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce (the jellied kind, of course) for 19¢ a can. A&P had shank portion hams for 53¢ a pound, oranges for 13¢ a pound, and a 12-ounce cans of mixed nuts (with no peanuts!) for 95¢ a pound. Couch’s had Swift’s premium bacon for 79¢ a pound, Nabisco Saltine crackers for 33¢ a box, and Angel Flake coconut for 27¢ a can (I tried on many occasions to convince Mom to just buy a can of coconut and let me eat it rather than using it on a cake or in a pie, but she wasn’t buying it… literally!)

The cinematic week began with Return from the Ashes (with Herbert Lom & Maximillian Schell) at the DeSoto Theater and Old Yeller (with Dorothy McGuire & Fess Parker) at the First Avenue (not what I’d consider an upbeat Christmas film!). The midweek switch out brought When the Boys Meet the Girls (with Connie Francis & Harve Presnell) to the Desoto and the “shocking” documentary Ecco (promoted with the slogan “an incredible orgy of sights and sounds”) to the First Avenue, with the warning that “If this film frightens you, it’s because the world is frightening!” The theaters obviously were pinning high hopes on the audience interest in Ecco, because they also showed the film over the weekend at the West Rome Drive-In. Apparently they thought a lot of people were willing to pay 75¢ each to see such noteworthy clips as “a tour of the Grand Guignol theater in Paris, a man who sticks long needles through his body, footage of reindeer being castrated, and film of lesbians and strippers,” according to IMDB. Boy, if those who considered this content shocking could only spend an hour or two looking at the internet today!…

The Dave Clark Five pushed the Byrds out of the number one slot this week in 1965 with “Over and Over.” The Byrds held on to the second-place position with “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Other top ten hits included “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown (#3); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#4); “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel (#5); “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#6); “Fever” by the McCoys (#7); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#8); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#9); and “I Can Never Go Home Again Any More” by the Shangri-Las (#10).

And an oversight from last week: On December 9th, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas made its television premiere. This was the first animated Charlie Brown feature, and it cemented the role of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip in American popular culture. It also made humble, spindly Christmas trees a bit more popular…