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?

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/13/1967 to 11/19/1967

West Rome residents were dealing with traffic frustrations this week in 1967 as the roads department was resurfacing the entirety of Shorter Avenue from the underpass to Redmond Circle. Ledbetter Construction planned to spread 12,200 tons of deep strength asphalt under a $119,559 contract; spokespeople for Ledbetter said that they hoped to complete the work in two weeks, weather permitting.

West Romans finally had access to cable tv as of November 1967: Rome Cable TV Company reported that they had now run cable to all West Rome streets within the city limits. The cable company was offering a total of nine channels (2, 5, and 11 from Atlanta, 3, 9, and 12 from Chattanooga, educational channel 7 from Alabama, educational channel 8 from Athens, and channel 4, a cable channel offering local weather forecasts for Rome and northwest Georgia). Cable was available for $3.95 a month plus a $5 installation fee.

Burglars entered the Rome Seed & Feed Store on Wednesday night, November 145h, and stole $700 in cash. The thieves also stole a 12-gauge shotgun fro the display case. Footprints found on the roof of an adjacent building (which was the means by which the thieves gained access to the Rome Seed & Feed roof, which they entered through an air conditioning vent) indicated that there were two thieves. 

Superintendent MS McDonald said that the Rome school system was doing everything it could to comply with a US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare order that all schools be totally integrated by 1969, but he said it would be a challenge, since Rome still has five all-black schools in 1967: Main High, Main Elementary, Reservoir, Mary T. Banks, and Anna K Davie. Davis said that some of these school shad been deemed inadequate for renovation, requiring that new schools be built before integration could be completed. Rome planned to operate the schools under a “freedom of choice” system that allowed city school students to attend any city school of their choice, but the students and their parents were responsible for arranging transportation if that school was not the one geographically nearest to them.

With the region football season in the books, Roger Weaver was proclaimed a record-setter in two categories: he set a season rushing record with 1001 net yards in 176 carries, and he set a season scoring record with a total of 70 points. His three-year record was 2588 yards, putting him almost three hundred yards ahead of his nearest competitor.

Alas, the football season came to a disappointing end for the Chieftains as the Dalton Catamounts claimed a surprisingly strong 33-0 victory over the Chiefs. Dalton took advantage of a couple of fumbles to jump out to a 13-0 lead early in the game, followed by a pair of interceptions and another fumble recovery for 20 more points in the second half. “We beat ourselves” was all Coach Paul Kennedy had to say.

Big K introduced the newest trend in artificial Christmas trees for the 1967 holiday season: the Bradford Snowmaker. “Plastic snow continually falls on the tree. Snow is recirculated from the tree base to the tree top—a fascinating illusion of softly falling snow It’s safe… clean… no refills needed." The Snowmaker was $29.88 with a 6 foot 91 branch artificial tree, or only $24.95 if you added your own tree. (I have to admit that i have never heard of this, but a subsequent search in various discussion groups reveals that it’s a hard-to-find and much sought after item by Christmas aficionados.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had five pounds of sugar for 39¢, whole smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, and Kroger mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart. Big Apple had turkeys for 43¢ a pound, pears for 15¢ a pound, and Land o’ Lakes butter for 69¢ a pound. A&P had rib roast for 85¢ a pound, Castleberry beef stew for 35¢ a can, and a five-pound Jane Parker fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had pork chops for 35¢ a pound, White Lily cornbread mix for a dime a package, and large coconuts for 19¢ each. (How did I go through my childhood without ever buying a coconut at Couch’s? Now I’m old enough to know that a whole coconut is an instrument of frustration, but when I was a kid, I thought a whole coconut was bound to be some of the best food that anyone could ask for. My parents held a different opinion…)

The cinematic week began with Rosie (starring Rosalind Russell & Sandra Dee) at the DeSoto Theatre, Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue, and The Trip (starring Peter Fonda) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Bonnie & Clyde (starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty) to the Desoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Grand Prix kept making the rounds at the First Avenue.

Apparently music fans just couldn’t get enough of Lulu: her song “To Sir With Love” maintained its grip on the number one slot for another week. Other top ten hits included “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#2); “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#3); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#4); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#5); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#6); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#7); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#8); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#9); and “I Can See for Miles” by the Who (#10). 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A Life in Four Colors Part Forty-Three: Four-Color Fantasia (1961)

Ever since I posted a list of what comics I bought new off the spinner racks in West Rome in 1967, I've heard from a number of people asking how I could possibly remember that in such detail.

Apparently, my life in four colors is permanently etched into my memory. As soon as I look at the covers of the books that came out in a given month from my childhood, I can remember which books I bought--and in some cases, where I bought them.

To test my memory, I decided to back up to November 1961, when I was relatively new to comics reading. (I began reading comics in 1959, but did not begin collecting comics until 1961). In my early days of collecting my comics friends included Roy Chockley, David Lynch, Morris Lively, and Jimmy Haynes--all of whom lived near my house in Garden Lakes.

Here are the books I bought in November 1961:
Action Comics #284
Adventures of the Jaguar #4
Amazing Adult Fantasy #9
Aquaman #1
Batman Annual #2
Detective Comics #298
Green Lantern #10
Life With Archie #12
Our Army at War #114
Strange Suspense Stories #57
Strange Tales #93
Superboy #94
Superman #150
Superman Annual #4
Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #255
Walt Disney's Donald Duck Merry Christmas #53
Woody Woodpecker's Christmas Party #53
Wendy the Good Little Witch #10

That's about two and a half bucks worth of comics in one month. My allowance in 1961 was $1.05 a week (15¢ a day), so I was spending more than half of my allowance on comics by the time I was eight years old.

I also see that I was buying more humor/all-ages comics when I was eight, along with several Marvel pre-hero monster/fantasy titles (and even a Charlton here and there). I was not buying DC's mystery/suspense books like My Greatest Adventure or House of Mystery, because they didn't have that "monster feel' that typified the Marvel titles.

When I was eight, I was willing to trade some of my comics to friends for other books. Over the next couple of months, I traded several books with friends and acquired copies of these books:

Adventure Comics #292
Adventures of the Fly #17
Out Fighting Forces #65
Rawhide kid #26
Rip Hunter, Time Master #6
Sea Devils #3
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #30
Sueprman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #58
Tales of Suspense #26
Tales to Astonish #28

That's eighteen books I bought outright (two of which were eighty-page annuals), and ten more titles that i traded for. So I read twenty-eight November 1961 releases in the first two or three months after their publication—and I did it all for an investment of about $2.50.

As I said, that was more than 60% of my monthly income at the time. While I have much more disposable income nowadays, I can't imagine spending 60% of my current gross income on comics.

Sometimes we don't realize how good we had it when we were kids...

Sunday, November 05, 2017

A Life in Four Colors Part Forty-Two: Four Color Fantasia (November 1967)

By late 1967, I had found a way to balance my insatiable desire for comics with my interest in pulp adventure (Doc Savage, Conan, and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs in particular) and my growing interest in science fiction (which would not become a full addiction until 1968). I bought these comics new off the spinner racks in November 1967:

Action Comics #358
Adventure Comics #364
Amazing Spider_Man #57
Aquaman #37
Avengers #48
Batman #198
Captain Savage & His Leatherneck Raiders #1
Creepy #19
Daredevil #36
Detective Comics #371
Fantastic Four #71
Flash Gordon #10
Green Lantern #48
Marvel Collector's Items Classics #13
Marvel Tales #13
Metamorpho #16
Not Brand Echh #6
Peacemaker #5
Phantom #27
Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #50 & 51 (one came out the first week of the month, the other the last week of the month)
Spectre #2
Strange Adventures #208
Strange Tales #165 & 166 (same as Sgt. Fury)
Superboy #144
Superman #203
Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #80
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #108
Tales of Suspense #98 & 99
Tales to Astonish #100
Teen Titans #13
Thor #148 & 149
Two-Gun Kid #92
X-Men #40

Looking back at it now, I'm a bit intrigued by the books I didn't buy. I passed on Bomba the Jungle Boy #3, even though I liked Tarzan tales and jungle adventures in general; I suspect it was the Jack Sparling artwork that moved it off my buy list. I passed on House of Mystery #172 because I thought Dial H for Hero was dopey; later on, I'd find those same stories fascinating. Inferior five #6, Kid Cold Outlaw #139, Magnus Robot Fighter #21, Man from UNCLE #16, Mandrake the Magician #10, Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #5, Mighty SAmson #13, Monkees #9, Our Army at War #188, Our Fighting Forces #111, Plastic Man #8 (I blame Jack Sparling again), Rawhide Kid #62, Tomahawk #114, Wonder Woman #174... I passed  on all of them. Many of those titles were "fill in" purchases--that is, they were books that I'd buy if I couldn't find enough of my "must-read" titles to satisfy me. As a result, I was buying random issues of mos tof those titles--probably no more than one out of every four issues, in fact.

I believe that money had to be the primary factor. At cover price, I bought about $5 worth of comics that month; my allowance at the time was $2,50 a week plus I got extra money for extra chores such as raking the yard, sweeping the driveway and patio, etc. I also got to keep the deposit money when I took empty Coke bottles back to Couch's Grocery store, and that added up to an extra buck or so a month. Add it up, and it seems like I could have afforded all the comics I passed on plus some extra.

By late 1967, though, I was already ordering a few fanzines (Rocket's Blast•Comicollector was my gateway into the world of fanzines, and I usually ordered a half-dozen or so fanzines advertised in each issue), buying a few paperbacks (usually used copies at Coosa Valley Book Shop, where I could get a book for a dime or so), and occasionally buying a 45 RPM single here and there.

I was also buying an airplane model or an Aurora model it now and then, although the glory days of my model collecting had already passed by this time.

And of course, there were the nickel and dime ice cream cones (one scoop or two, pointed cone or flat-bottomed, respectively) at Candler's Drugs, which I bought year round regardless of the weather.

Basically, I had all the money I needed to buy the stuff I wanted with a little left over for splurge items. My parents were supportive enough of my interests that they'd give me a little extra now and then, or they'd buy a book for me, or they'd overpay me for one of extra chores--they were remarkably generous, even though they knew how I was spending the money. They never tried to talk me out of my purchases, they never belittled my interests--I was much better off than many of my friends in that regard.

It's no wonder I recall my childhood so fondly. My parents gave me the sort of childhood that most fans of my era could only dream of. (The only person who got even more than me was my friend Gary, who's mother could never bring herself to say no to his requests. She seemed to think that if she gave Gary what he wanted, he'd show her the love and kindness she hoped for. Alas, it never worked that way...)

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/6/1967 to 11/12/1967

This was a quiet mid-November week in Rome. The Chieftains football team had an off week after their region win a week earlier, so there was no football game. For the most part, it was a “business as usual” week.

Rome set a record low on Tuesday morning, November 7th. Temperatures fell to twenty degrees, five degrees colder than the previous record; lows were expected to remain below freezing for the next three days, at least.

Rome City Schools unveiled a plan to expand vocational training into junior high. The expanded program would  allow all students to participate in vocational education beginning in the 7th grade. The new junior high program would involve teaching children about occupational opportunities and the training needed for various careers.

The Open Door Home launched a drive to raise funds to build a new dormitory that would provide space for 40 more children. The Open Door Home building committee asked the city of Rome and the county to contribute $30,000 each, which would be added to the $26,000 that the facility had raised through private donations. The Open Door Home, which was open to boys between the ages of 6 and 13 and girls between the ages of 6 and 14, was already operating beyond capacity. The dorms were already overcrowded because the program had been expanded to allow preschool children to stay on a temporary basis. (All Open Door Home residents attended school at Elm Street Elementary and West Rome Junior High, so these children were also our fellow Chieftains.)

Elm Street won the Mite League Football Championship with an 18-6 victory over Coosa on Tuesday, November 7th.. Clayton Lundy ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third, propelling the team to victory, 

Roger Weaver was named co-captain of the 1967 Rome Area All-Star football team. Weaver was selected by unanimous vote of the 22-player squad, which consisted of the finest players in the Northwest Georgia area..

Piggly Wiggly had pork loins for 59¢ a pound, Fleetwood coffee for 69¢ a pound, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart. Big Apple had whole fryers for 19¢ a pound, Spam for 49¢ a can, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, Campbell’s tomato soup for 19¢ a can, and lettuce for 12¢ a head. A&P had ground chuck for 69¢ a pound, bananas for 13¢ a pound, and Lipton tea bags for 49¢ a box. Couch’s had pork roast for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a can, and Winesap apples for 12¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Waterhole No. 3 (starring James Coburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switch out brought Rosie (starring Rosalind Russell & Sandra Dee) to the DeSoto Theatre, Grand Prix (starring James Garner) to the First Avenue, and The Trip (starring Peter Fonda) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Lulu held on to the number position for another week with “To Sir With Love.” Other top ten hits included “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#2); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#3); “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#4); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#5); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#6); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#7); “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin (#8); “Expressway (To Your Heart) by the Soul Survivors (#9); and “Never My Love” by the Association (#10). 

Three great albums premiered this week in 1967. First was Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. by the Monkees, their fourth album and the second album on which the group performed most of their own instruments. Then there was the Moody Blues’ masterpiece Days of Future Passed, best known for the iconic track “Nights in White Satin.” Finally, Cream released the brilliant Disraeli Gears, which featured both “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Strange Brew,” 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/30/1967 to 11/5/1967

Coach Paul Kennedy of West Rome and Coach Larry Muschamp of East Rome both agreed on one thing in the lead-in to the East-West football game: it would be a close game with strong defense, and whichever team scored 14 points would win. “I’m expecting the closest game we’ve played in several years,” Coach Kennedy said. (The record going into this game was six wins for West Rome, one win for East Rome, and one tie. The Gladiators didn’t even manage to score a point against the Chieftains in 1965 or 1966.)

The 1967 game gave the Chieftains their seventh win—and it was nowhere nearly as close as both coaches had predicted. The final score was 35-6 West Rome, with Roger Weaver emerging as the star of the game. Weaver rushed for 129 yards, scored a touchdown, intercepted two passes, returned two kickoffs for 56 yards, and ran back two punts for 36 yards. Since the only other team with a no-loss season in region play was LaFayette, who lost their game on the same night that West Rome won, that meant that the Chiefs became region champs without the necessity of a playoff game.

A special dedication ceremony for the remodeled Barron Stadium was held during halftime of the West Rome-East Rome football game on Friday, November 3rd. The stadium reconstruction was funded through a special $165,000 bond, along with matching funds from the federal government.

Rome police set some sort of law enforcement speed record in solving the case of Jerry Terrell’s stolen car. The auto theft was reported at 10:11 am on October 31st—and at 10:15 am, the police made an arrest and recovered the car, which was being driven by a nineteen-year-old who apparently wasn’t very good at grand theft auto. If only every crime could be solved in four minutes!

Rome’s rash of store robberies took a deadly turn on Saturday, November 4th, when 72-year-old shop owner LT McCright was killed in his Kingston Road grocery store by a burglar who beat and then fatally stabbed the old man when he tried to stop them from stealing the cash from that day’s sales.

Color TV prices continued to drop: BF Goodrich had a 23” Motorola color TV for $449.95(the equivalent of $3100 in 2017 dollars)—and the purchase included a complete set of 1967 New Standard Encyclopedias! (Remember when a set of encyclopedias—either the really good Britannica version or the bargain encyclopedia sold a-volume-a-week at the grocery store? The latter set was the one we had—but you know, it still worked out pretty darn well when it came time to do a report on the natural resources of Brazil.)

Just what I look for in a jewelry store: Eves Jewelers had a sale on 19-shoot .22 caliber 19-shot repeating rifles for only $49.99 each—and they gave you a hundred free rounds of ammo with each gun purchase! I suspect that all those burglars plaguing Rome stayed away from this jewelry store…
Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger had smoked ham for 59¢ a pound, cornf for 9¢ a can, and frozen Morton TV dinners for 33¢ each (do you remember folding back that heavy foil oversheet to uncover the dessert so that it would crisp up in the oven?). Big Apple had spare ribs for 49 a pound, Banquet cream pies for 25¢ each, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, apples for 15¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 69¢ a half-gallon. Couch’s had stew beef for 33¢ a pound, Ritz crackers for 39¢ a box, and large oranges for 39¢ a dozen.

The cinematic week began with Hour of the Gun (starring James Garner) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Waterhole #3 (starring James Coburn and Carrol O’Connor in his pre-All in the Family days) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Sand Pebbles maintained its beachhead at the First Avenue. (It makes you wonder how we ever got a chance to see most major release films, since Rome tended to show the same movie at two theaters and then hold other movies over for week after week after week.)

Lulu continued to hold on to the number one slot with her song "To Sir With Love." Other top ten hits included "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave (#2); "It Must Be Him" by Vikki Carr (#3); "Expresway (To Your Heart)" by Soul Survivors (#4); "Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#5); "Never My Love" by the Association (#6); "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#7); "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin (#8); "The Rain, The Park, & Other Things" by the Cowsills (#9); and "Please Love Me Forever" by Bobby Vinton (#10). 

Nico released her first solo album, Chelsea Girl, this week in 1967. Most of the songs featured instrumental backing by the Velvet Underground, with whom Nico had collaborated prior to going solo; Jackson Browne also played guitar on the folk-pop album, The album is now considered one of the 1960’s masterpieces. This was also the week that Sly and the Family Stone released their debut album, A Whole  New Thing, and Judy Colilns released the best-selling album of her career, Wildflowers.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fifty Years This Week in West Rome - 10/23/1967 to 10/29/1967

The West Rome Honor Society sponsored a homecoming car smash on Saturday at 7:30 PM, after the “beat Calhoun” bonfire and before the football game. Everyone in the community was invited to come and wield a sledgehammer against the hulk of an old automobile in order to demonstrate school spirit (although I never really understood how the two were related). The homecoming dance, featuring the Fifth Order, was scheduled for Saturday from 10 PM until midnight.

The homecoming festivities were particularly cheery in the aftermath of West Rome’s 35-0 victory over Calhoun. Roger Weaver scored three touchdowns and threw a 32-yard halfback pass for a fourth touchdown. Weaver was the game’s juggernaut, picking up 120 yards rushing, catching four passes, and returning a punt for a 70-yard score. 

Gala Shopping Center, which was only a few weeks old, experienced its first grand theft auto incident on Tuesday, October 24th, when two thirteen-year-old boys stole a car from the shopping center parking lot. The thieves drove the car to Garden Lakes, where they abandoned it. One boy was arrested a few minutes later in the vicinity of the car; the second boy got away, but was turned in later that afternoon by his parents once he told them what he had done. 

Rome and Floyd County police also shut down an illegal gambling den at the Sportsman’s Club on Rutledge Road (off Alabama Road, between West Rome and Coosa High Schools) on Saturday night. 22 people were arrested for illegal poker play for cash. 

Daylight saving time (which went into effect in Georgia for the first time in 1967) came to an end on Sunday, October 29th, at 2am, ensuring that it would be dark by the time trick-or-treaters wandered the streets of West Rome two days later. Representative Ward Edwards of Butler had already drafted a bill to exempt Georgia from observing DST; he hoped to have the state join Alaska, Indiana, and Hawaii, which opted to leave their clocks alone.

The second annual Chiaha Guild Harvest Art and Craft Fair took place at the corner of Kingston and Calhoun Avenues on Sunday, October 29th Two well-known Rome artists, Robert Redden and Robert Rakestraw, exhibited their work at the fair, joined by more than three dozen other artists and crafters. 

Piggly Wiggly had Boston butt (a cut of meat I don’t think we ever had at any point in my life, because I’m pretty sure would have remembered laughing in a most immature manner at its name) for 59¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound, and Castleberry’s Brunswick stew for 39¢ a can. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, bread for 18¢ a loaf, and frozen orange juice concentrate for a dime a can. A&P had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, white grapes for 15¢ a pound, and eight rolls of Northern bathroom tissue for 79¢. Big Apple had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 67¢ a pound, Van Camp’s pork & beans for 15¢ a can, and a five pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Aunt Jemima pancake mix for 25¢ a box, and large eggs for 35¢ a dozen.
The cinematic week began with Don’t Make Waves (starring Tony Curtis) at the DeSoto Theatre, Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue, and Hurry Sundown (starring Jane Fonda) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Hour of the Gun (starring James Garner) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Sand Pebbles hung around at the First Avenue for another week. 

Lulu held on to the number one slot for a second week with “To Sir With Love.” Other top ten hits included “The Letter” by the Box Tops (#2); “Never My Love” by the Association (#3); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#4); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#5); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#6); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#7); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); “(You Make Me  Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#10). 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/16/1967 to 10/22/1967

The Chieftain’s win over Cedartown propelled them to the number one slot in the Region 6-AA title race, while Roger Weaver maintained his position as number one in rushing for the season. The Chiefs were heavy favorites over Cass in the Friday night football game. I’m reasonably certain that Cass actually showed up for the game, but it’s hard to say for sure, since the final score was 55-6 in West Rome’s favor.

West Rome students had a short school week thanks to teacher in-service days. Kids were out of school on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, while teachers spent all three days in meetings.  (Of course, only the first part of that sentence mattered to most of us…)

It was a rough week for telephone poles. On Wednesday night, a truck took down two poles on Shorter Avenue, knocking out power for more than 200 homes. Then, on Thursday morning, a driver took out a pole on Charlton Road, leaving about a dozen homes in the dark. On Friday, a driver took out a pole on Burnett Ferry Road just south of Conn Street. Surprisingly, it was a rain-free week, so weather played no part in the sudden war on utility poles.

The Rome City School System worked out the details with the US Office of Economic Opportunity, enabling them to relaunch their Headstart program beginning this week in 1967. None of the participating schools was located in West Rome, but Superintendent McDonald indicated that Elm Street was under consideration to join the list for the 1968-1969 school year if it met the family low-income requirements.

The new Rome post office and federal building, which had been struck from the budget a few eeks ago, was added back to the budget after some finagling.  

The safe that was stolen from Lowe’s Supermarket a week earlier was found in a wooded area near Rydal, Georgia, on October 16th. Naturally, the safe had been forced open and all the cash was gone—but almost $2000 in check had been left behind. While the burglars made off with almost $4000 in cash, authorities said they recovered nearly $1000 worth of tools scattered around the safe—tools that had been used to get through the safe’s thick walls and heavy-duty lock mechanism. 

Murphy’s launched their anti-Big K offensive with a major toy push as they tried to take charge of the upcoming Christmas holiday season. Murphy’s was pushing its layaway program s part of its toy sale, and they also brought in Santa Claus on October 20th from noon until 6pm for shoppers who wanted to skip past Halloween and Thanksgiving and get right into the Christmas spirit.

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound, and grapefruit for a dime each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 29¢ a can, and large eggs for an especially low 25¢ a dozen. A&P had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, Van Camp chili with beans for 29¢ a can, and bananas for 15¢ a pound. Big Apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, red grapes for 25¢ a pound, and a 32-ounce jar of Peter Pan peanut butter for 69¢. Couch’s had ground sirloin for 69¢ a pound, Royal Pure orange juice for 25¢ a quart, and a four-sleeve box of Nabisco saltines for 35¢. 

The cinematic week began with Rough Night in Jericho (starring Dean Martin & George Peppard) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Alfie (starring Michael Caine) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Don’t Make Waves to the DeSoto Theatre,  The Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) to the First Avenue, and Hurry Sundown (with Jane Fonda) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” knocked The Box Tops' “The Letter” out of first place this week in 1967—but the Box Tops’ song only fell one slot to the number two position. Other top ten hits included “Never My Love” by the Association (#3); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#4); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#5); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#6); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#7); “Little Ole Man (Uptight—Everything’s Alright): by Bill Cosby (#8); “Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood (#9); and “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#10). 

Fifty years ago this week, the first issue of Rolling Stone, featuring a John Lennon cover photo, rolled off the presses. The folded tabloid-format magazine would rapidly become the most influential and popular magazines in rock music history.

The first-ever race between Superman and the Flash took place in The Flash #175. Alas, we didn’t get to see how artist extraordinaire Carmine Infantino might have depicted this ultimate speed-test, because Flash #175 was the first issue illustrated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. (While the art team had done wonderful things in the pages of Metal Men and Wonder Woman, among other comics, they never really managed to portray super speed particularly effectively. As a result, The Flash—which had long been a favorite comic of mine—fell off my must-read list within a few issues.)

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/9/1967 to 10/15/1967

West Rome faced off against Cedartown on Friday, Ocrtober 13th in a match between two undefeated 6-AA teams. By the time the game was over, West Rome was undefeated and Cedartown was sad as they looked at the scoreboard and saw a 14-7 Chieftain victory. The win came as the result of a remarkable Jimmy Edwards-to-Charles Williams pass that came on the first play of the fourth quarter. It appeared that the Bulldogs had Edwards cornered for a loss when he tossed a surprise pass deep downfield towards Williams, who somehow managed to catch the pass even with two Bulldog defenders in front of and behind him. Williams was tackled at the three-yard line, and from there it was an easy walk into the end zone for Roger Weaver.  Mark Brewer completed the point-after kick to secure the 14-7 victory. (Of  course, that wouldn’t have been a winning touchdown had Edwards not completed a short touchdown run in the second quarter after Mike Warren, Roger Weaver, and Byron Swinford moved the ball to within a few yards of the end zone.)

Burglars couldn’t break into the safe at Lowe’s Super Market on North Broad Sreet, so they simply toted it off with them in the early morning hours of October 9th. They got away with more than $6,000 in cash and a 250 pound safe. (I’m still amazed at what a hotbed of crime Rome was when I was growing up—I don’t remember any of this from my childhood, even though I read through both the Rome and Atlanta papers pretty regularly.)

Meanwhile, petty larcenies continued as thieves broke into four vending machines at Crumbley’s Park & Wash at 512 Shorter Avenue on Wednesday night , making off with approximately $50 and a number of snacks and soft drinks. Two days later, thieves broke into pay telephones in West Rome and on Highway 27 North, stealing approximately $40 in coins

The Rome Board of Education approved $15,000 in funds to begin installing televisions in all Rome school classrooms. The newly-launched Rome Cable TV system had agreed to install cable outlets in all classrooms at a bargain rate with no monthly fees, so the school system thought it would be advantageous to provide televisions for every classroom. (Alas, $15,000 didn’t go anywhere nearly as far as the school board thought it would, and the school system ultimately provided each school with a certain number of televisions and carts so that they could be rolled to classrooms when needed.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and a six pack of Coke/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and tomatoes for 25¢ a pound. A&P had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and grapefruit for 15¢ each. Kroger had pork chops for 75¢ a pound, large eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and corn for 8¢ an ear. Couch’s had Golden Harvest weiners for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili for 29¢ a can, and winesap apples for 15¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with What’s New Pussycat (starring Peter Sellers) and How to Murder Your Wife (starring Jack Lemmon) in alternating showings at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Divorce American Style (starring Debbie Reynolds) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Rough Night in Jericho (starring Dean Martin) to the DeSoto, Alfie (starring Michael Caine ,who knew what it was all about) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Young Warriors and Ride the Hangman Tree to the West Rome Drive-In.

“The Letter” continue to deliver for the Box Tops for yet another week as they held on to the number one slot. Other top ten hits included “Never My Love” by the Association (#2); “To Sir With Love” by Lulu (#3); “Little Ole Man) (Uptight—Everything’s All Right)” by Bill Cosby (#4); “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry (#5); “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson (#6); “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee & the Strangers (#7); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#8); “Gimme  Little Sign” by Brenton Wood (#9); and “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#10). 

Fifty years ago this week, Marvel took advantage of a DC oversight, introducing a new character named Captain Marvel in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #12. (DC had ended up with the rights to the Golden Age Captain Marvel, but had done nothing to protect the trademark, so it had lapsed. Once Marvel introduced their Captain Marvel, DC had no choice but to use the name “Shazam” for the adventures of their Captain Marvel; recently, they simply renamed the hero Shazam to avoid the confusion.) While DC’s (originally Fawcett’s) Captain Marvel was a magically-powered hero, Marvel’s Captain Marvel (created by Stan Lee & Gene Colan) was the science-fictional tale of a Kree soldier who made his way to Earth, where he became a superhero.