Friday, August 10, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/12/1968 to 8/18/1968

Population growth was boosting West Rome (and East Rome) enrollment so much that the Rome City School Board announced that they could not accept any new tuition students for the 1968-1969 school year. Those who had attended West Rome or East Rome as tuition students for the '67-'68 school year would be allowed to continue, but if any student decided to return to his/her "home school," that student would not be allowed to return to the Rome system as a tuition student. Superintendent M.S. McDonald said that there were 52 tuition students at the two high schools.

New teachers to the Rome City School System were invited to attend the Red Apple Luncheon at East Rome High School. The Rome Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the luncheon, which continued with a tour of the Rome area, including a stop at the Boys Club of Rome for refreshments and a musical performance.

Normally, high school football players would have begun pre-season practice two weeks before school started--which would have been this week in 1968. However, with new Georgia High School Association rules prohibiting high school football games prior to Labor Day, area coaches decided to wait an extra week before starting practice. That mean that Chieftain football players had one more week of summer to enjoy before reporting for practice on August 19th (and that practice could not include pads, since the new rules prohibited practice in pads before August 26th)--and considering that the highs this week in 1968 were in the mid-90s, you can be pretty sure that the players appreciated the time off the practice field! The players didn't get a totally free week, though: coaches had players report to the high school gym at 8am for two hours of calisthenics.

The Rome Health Department moved to its new facilities on West Tenth Street this week in 1968. The new facility was almost three times the size of the original facility, allowing the medical staff to assist far more Romans. (I still recall getting various vaccinations at the health department facility, as well as my blood test for our marriage license.)

Rome and Floyd County police officers joined with federal agents in raiding an illegal liquor operation located on (get ready for it) Booze Mountain Road. The still's operator had over a hundred gallons of illegal whiskey in his home and garage. Naturally, authorities destroyed the booze and the still.

Car thieves targeted the usually-packed Gala Shopping Center parking lot, with three car thefts reported this week in 1968. All three cars were a year old or less, and two of the three were late-model Chevrolets. Police encouraged drivers to be sure that their cars were locked and that the driver had the keys with him or her; in every case, the cars had been left unlocked, and in one of the cases, the drivers left the keys under the front seat of the car.

Cato's opened its Gala Shopping Center location on Thursday, August 15th, 1968. All opening weekend visitors were encouraged to enter in a free drawings for a variety of clothing giveaways.

Piggly Wiggly had ground chuck for 69¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.39 a jar. Big Apple had round steak for 79¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and a five-pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢. A&P had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Poss beef stew for 49¢ a can, and Valencia oranges for 69¢ a dozen.  Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Morton frozen cream pies for a quarter each, and Kroger bread for 18¢ a loaf. Couch's had Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 39¢ a package, bell peppers for a nickel each, and Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with The Detective (starring Frank Sinatra) at the DeSoto Theatre, Dark of the Sun (starring Rod Taylor) at the First Avenue, and Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Thomas Crown Affair (starring Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway) to the DeSoto and Inspector Clouseau (starring Alan Arkin & Peter Sellers) to the First Avenue, while The Detective moved to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Rascals took number one this week in 1968 with "People Got to Be Free." Other top ten hits included "Hello, I Love You" by the Doors (#2); "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams (#3); "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwofl (#4); "Light My Fire" by José Feliciano (#5); "Stoned Soul Picnic" by the 5th Dimension (#6); "Turn Around, Look at Me" by the Vogues (#7); "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream (#8); "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh Masekela (#9); and "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan (#10). What an amazing week for great music!

Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & the Holding Company was released this week in 1968. The album featured some pretty solid instrumentation, but the real cause for its success was the performance of the group's amazing vocalist, Janis Joplin, who would soon leave the group and become a rock superstar in her own right.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

A Life in Four Colors Part Forty-Five

As I've said before, comics have played a major role in many of the most important parts of my life. I had no idea just how major a part they would play, though.

In December of 1967, I made my usual comics purchases. One of those comics was Batman #199, a rather forgettable issue with an eye-catching cover that shows Batman desperately trying to purchase a copy of a Batman comic book. DC (and in particular, editor Julius Schwartz) loved that sort of story: come up with an offbeat cover with a preposterous image or situation, then have the writer deliver a story to match. 

The comics-reading experience always included the letters column; I enjoyed seeing what other readers had thought of prior issues. So once I finished the comic, I flipped to the letters column--and my eyes were immediately drawn to two words. 

Cedartown, Georgia.

Cedartown, located just a half-hour from my home town, was very familiar to me. My parents were born in Cedartown; my maternal grandmother still lived there, and we visited her once a month or so. I had stayed with my grandmother for a week a time during the summers when I was younger, which meant I knew the town. I knew pretty much every store that carried comic books. I had probably bought comics in the same store where this mystery letter writer bought comics.

It had never occurred to me that there might be someone in Cedartown reading comics and then writing letters of comment. So I looked above the city and state to see who this mystery fan was.

Susan Hendrix. 

I was doubly surprised. While I had known girls who read comics (Tricia Mullinax and Debbie Ezelle were two childhood friends who were also comics readers), I hadn't known any girls who were interested in actually writing about them, in either fanzines or letters of comment. Oh, I knew that there were girls reading comics--one of the most prominent letterhacks (the term used for those who frequently wrote letters of comments to comics) was Irene Vartanoff--but I didn't ever imagine that any of them might live in my general area.

Cedartown was a local phone call from Rome. Without giving it too much thought (if I had, I probably would have chickened out) I looked up Hendrix listings in Cedartown. There weren't that many of them. So I began calling; when someone would answer, I asked for Susan.

One wrong number. Two. Three. Four. Then came call number five.

"Just a minute," the boy who answered the phone said (I would learn later that it was Susan's brother, Wayne). Then he turned away from the phone and called loudly for Susan. A moment later, a girl's voice said hello.

I don't really remember precisely what I said. I didn't have that part planned out very well, I guess. I remember asking if this was the Susan Hendrix who read comic books. She hesitated before saying yes. I then asked if it was the Susan Hendrix who wrote a letter to Batman. More hesitation, then another yes. Then I told her my name, told her that I read comics, too, that I also wrote letters of comment, and probably blathered on for several more minutes. We talked about comics a little; we talked about the factual error in Batman #195 that inspired her letter; we talked about our interests in science fiction and music. And I asked if I could write her a letter to tell her more about myself. She said I could... and she said she'd write back. (I didn't need to ask for her address; back then, the letters columns included full addresses. 103 King Street. Less than two miles from my grandmother's house.)

Months later, as we got to know each other better, Susan told me that her first thought was that someone from her high school had seen her letter and was calling to mock her. She came very close to hanging up when I asked about reading comics.

I'm very lucky that she resisted that first impulse.

My life changed that day, although it would be several more months before I would get an inkling of how significant that change would be. We would talk and write letters to one another for six more months before we would first meet--a meeting that took place at my grandmother's house in Cedartown. 

(Three years after that meeting, Susan and I would get married... but that's another story, and I don't want to get ahead of myself. So you'll have to wait a while for that part of my tale...)

Friday, August 03, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/5/1968 to 8/11/1968

The 1968-1969 school year hadn't begun yet, but band practice worked off a different calendar. Chieftain band members reported to the band room on Tuesday, August 6th, at 9am to begin practice so that they would be ready to go for the first football game. Students wouldn't report back for classes until August 26th.

The FBI joined the Rome and Floyd County police departments in their search for "Shug" Green, the burglar they had dubbed "the sneaker thief" due to his choice of footwear during his crimes. The thief, who was believed to be responsible for more than three dozen burglaries in the Rome area in the year prior, was suspected to be hiding in the Rome area.

Apparently Green wasn't the only burglar operating in Rome, though: while police were searching for him, someone else broke into Bradshaw Tire Company and stole almost $200 worth of tools from the shop area.

The North 2nd Avenue Bridge was closed to traffic this week while workers repainted the structure. They tried leaving the bridge open while they began painting, but apparently Rome residents weren't thrilled with paint-spotted cars...

The hottest weather of the summer settled in on Georgia this week in 1968, with temperatures hitting the mid to upper 90s every day of the week. There were a few scattered thunderstorms, but not enough to break the heat.

Back to school shopping was underway this week, and that meant that it was time for a price war between Super Discount Store and Big K. Super D had boxes of crayons, packs of notebook paper, Bic pens, scotch tape, Elmer's glue, composition books, and packs of note cards for 14¢ each. Big K took an additional two pennies off that price, offering the same selection and more for only 12¢ each.

The cinematic week began with The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) at the DeSoto Theatre, Boom (starring Elizabeth Taylor) at the First Avenue, and Speedway (starring Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Detective (starring Frank Sinatra) to the DeSoto Theatre, Dark of the Sun (starring Rod Taylor) to the First Avenue, and Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. Big Apple had chuck steak for 49¢ a pound, Wesson Oil for 39¢ a quart, and white seedless grapes for 33¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Kroger sherbet for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Star-Kist Tuna for 29¢ a can.  A&P had smoked ham for 35¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and honeydew melons for 79¢ each. Couch's had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp's pork & beans for 18¢ a can, and Royal Sun orange juice for 33¢ a quart.

The Door took the number one slot this week in 1968 with "Hello, I Love You." Other top ten hits included "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams (#2); "Stoned Soul Picnic" by the 5th Dimension (#3); "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh Masekela (#4); "People Got to Be Free" by the Rascals (#5); "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan (#6); "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#7); "Turn Around, Look at Me" by the Vogues (#8); "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream (#9); and "Jumping' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#10).

The Vision made his premiere in Avengers #57 by Roy Thomas & John Buscema. The android Avenger was inspired by a Golden Age character, but Thomas & Buscema kept little more than the name in their comic book reinvention of the hero.



Friday, July 27, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/29/1968 to 8/4/1968

West Rome junior Steve Blad won first place in the Georgie State Science Fair for his project on isolating molds from soil samples to test for antibiotic qualities. As a result, Steve won a trip to the 10th National Youth Conference on the Atom, to be held in Chicago in November. Steve credited the encouragement of his science teacher, Graham Stevens, with motivating him to enter the science fair to begin with. 

Chieftains Theresa Deleski, Katherine Edwards, April Garrison, and Dorothy Flowers were chosen as winners of State Teacher Scholarships, which were awarded to outstanding Georgia high school students who planned to go into teaching after college; scholarships ranged from $300 to $1000 for an academic year (and this was at a time when Berry College's quarterly tuition was only $380, which made this a pretty substantial scholarship). 

We're so accustomed to calling anywhere in the country for no extra charge that most of us forget that we used to have to pay long distance rates for almost any call that crossed the Floyd County line--and those rates were pretty darn expensive! They got a little bit cheaper this week in 1968, though, when Southern Bell announced a 5 to ten cent reduction in cost for the first three minutes of long distance. 
For instance, Romans could call the West Coast for $1.70 for the first three minutes; prior to this reduction, the cost was $1.75 for the first three minutes. (Remember, with an inflation multiplier of 7.24, that's the equivalent of spending $12.31 in today's dollars to talk to your California friends for three minutes!)

Georgia's tax surplus continued to climb: new figures revealed this week in 1968 showed an $86 million surplus, up $16 million above the previous surplus estimates. "I'm confident hat we'll be able to go with expanded educational programs without a tax increase," House Speaker George L. Smith said. Senate Appropriations Chairman Lamar Plunkett said that there was a chance that the surplus might top $100 million by year's end (and remember that 7.24 inflation multiplier--it would make that surplus almost three quarters of a billion dollars in today's dollars). 

Georgia Kraft Company unveiled plans for a multi-million dollar addition to their Rome facility. PF Holt, chairman of the Kraft Board of Directors, said that this was a further example of the company's commitment to its Rome facility. 

Rome continued its practice of distributing surplus food to any Rome residents. This week in 1968, the list of available food included corn meal, dry beans, flour, dry milk, butter, rolled oats, chopped meat, cheese, scrambled eggs mix, grist, dehydrated potatoes, split peas, fruit juice, and canned green beans. Residents whose last named began with A-H could pick up food on Tuesday; I-P on Wednesday, and Q-Z on Thursday. They urged residents to bring containers for bulk food items and boxes/bags for canned and packaged goods.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 59¢ a pound, pineapple for 25¢ a can, and seedless white grapes for 33¢ a pound. Big Apple had rib steaks for 99¢ a pound, Armour Vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, and RC or Diet Rite Cola for 29¢ a carton plus deposit. A&P had corned beef for 59¢ a pound, lemons for 49¢ a dozen, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Fleetwood coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Kroger white bread for 20¢ a loaf.  Couch's had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Armour pickle & pimento loaf for 29¢ a package, and Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. 

The cinematic week began with The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bandolero (starring Dean Martin) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Rosemary's Baby (starring Mia Farrow) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Boom (with Elizabeth Taylor) to the First Avenue and Caprice (starring Doris Day) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Green Berets held their territory at the DeSoto for another week.

Jeff Beck released his album Truth this week in 1968. The album united the former Yardbird with two musicians making their record debuts: guitarist Ronnie Wood and vocalist Rod Stewart. Stewart had actually been invited to join Jimmy Page's new group Led Zeppelin, but he had already signed on with Beck by that time, so Led Zeppelin approached Terry Reid, who also turned them down. It was Reid who would recommend the relatively unknown Robert Plant as Jimmy Pages's vocalist, and rock history would be made...

This was also he week when Buffalo Springfield released their final album, Last Time around.  By the time the album was released, the group was functionally disbanded; the five original members only appeared together on a single track, "On the Way Home."

Steve Ditko's enigmatic, faceless hero the Question starred in his own full-length comic, Mysterious Suspense #1, released by Charlton Comics this week in 1968. The Question would return a month later in Blue Beetle #5, which would mark his last appearance for a decade (and when he did return, it would be without the involvement of Ditko).  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/22/1968 to 7/28/1968

Former Chieftain football player Larry Parker joined the West Rome coaching staff this week in 1968. Head Coach Nick Hyder said that Parker had been hired to serve as the varsity backfield football coach, as well as the wrestling and tennis coach. He would also serve as West Rome's physical education instructor. "Larry is a product of the West Rome system, and his loyalty has always been in evidence after he finished," Hyder said. "Coach Parker will not be a complete stranger to our system." Coach Hyder said that Parker would complete the Chieftain coaching staff. He joined Robert Green, head defensive football coach and track coach; Randall Kent, football-scouting coach and boys basketball coach; Charles Tarpley, end coach and baseball scouting coach; Brenda Cox, junior varsity football scouting and assistant basketball; and June Hyder, girls basketball, softball, track, and volleyball coach.

Summer heat made itself known this week in 1968 with temperatures in the mid-90s for the first half of the week and nary a drop of rain to be found. By Thursday, temperatures soared into the upper 90s, with lows in the mid-70s, which made for muggy nights. When you consider how few of us had central air conditioning in the 1960s, you can bet that there were a lot of people (like me) who were sleeping with their fans on high all night long.

Another week of burglaries began on Monday night with a  break-in at East Rome High School, where vending machines were ransacked and an undetermined amount of change was stolen. The next night, burglars broke into the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company and stole cash from vending machines there. On the night of the 23rd, burglars broke into the Highway 53 Tavern and stole some beer; on that same night, burglars also broke into Russell's Automotive on Highway 27 north of Rome, stealing a motorcycle. On the night of the 24th, armed gunmen held up the 101 Service Station on Rockmart Road, stealing a substantial sum of money and pistol-whipping the service station attendant. On the night of the 25th, burglars broke into Jimmy Johnson's Service Station and Ashmore Service Station, both on Shorter Avenue, where they broke into cigarette machines and stole cigarettes and cash. Afterwards, they apparently headed across town where they broke into Gene Wingate Service Station and Mack's Service Station in East Rome, once again stealing cigarettes and cash.

Oh, what might have been... The State Highway Department opened bids this week in 1968 for an I-75 link through Bartow County that would have established a direct link from Rome to the interstate. As Romans know, the Rollins family spent most of the past fifty years thwarting every plan to build that Rome-to-I75 link, and right now they're saying that if all goes well, it'll be completed in the next few years... which is exactly what they said fifty years ago!

Coosa Valley Tech announced the addition of an engineering technology course of study to their training programs beginning in the fall of 1968. Interested students were encouraged to sign up right away, since openings would be limited.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 79¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and milk for $1.09 a gallon. Kroger had split chicken breasts for 59¢ a pound, cream pies for 25¢ each, and five pounds of Robin Hood flour for 39¢. Big Apple had streak-o-lean for 39¢ a pound, Libby's vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, and JFG coffee for 55¢ a pound. A&P had Allgood bacon for 59¢ a pound, tomatoes for 25¢ a pound, and a bakery-fresh cherry pie for 53¢. Couch's had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, Del Monte fruit cocktail for 29¢ a can, and Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon.

The cinematic week began with Rosemary's Baby (starring Mia Farrow) at the DeSoto Theatre, How Sweet It Is (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue, and Million Eyes of Sumulu (starring Frankie Avalon) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) to the DeSoto, Bandolero (starring James Stewart, Dean Martin, & Raquel Welch) to the First Avenue, and Rosemary's Baby (starring Mia Farrow) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Hugh Masekela held on to number one for another week with "Grazing in the Grass." Other top ten hits included "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); "Stoned Soul Picnic" by the 5th Dimension (#3); "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#4); "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Company (#5); "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan (#6); "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert (#7); "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams (#8); "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors (#9); and "Indian Lake" by the Cowsills (#10).


Friday, July 13, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/15/1968 to 7/21/1968

In the aftermath of the prior week's drag race in Summerville Park that resulted in an accident that took out power to a portion of West Rome, the Rome City Commission voted unanimously to impose stiffer fines on speeders and drag racers, and the order officers to increase patrols on Oakwood, Charlton, Elm, and the portions of Redmond Circle located within the city limits.

Three Garden Lakes boys found an unexplored hand grenade in a wooded area near their homes on Wednesday, July 17th. The police were called, who took possession of the grenade and then drove to the Coosa River, where they pulled the pin and threw the grenade into the water; it failed to explode, presumably due to age and condition. (It's interesting that this was how the police dealt with unexploded weapons war in 1968--just chuck 'em into the river and see if they blow up or not!)

This week in 1968, the US government increased the Savings Bonds interest rate to 4.5%. Not to be outdone, Citizen's Federal Savings & Loan increased their interest rate on passbook savings to 4.75%, while Rome Bank & Trust raised the rate on 12-month certificates of deposit to 5.25%. (And today, most banks pay much less than 1% interest for savings accounts and less than 2% interest on CD's...)

Rome's burglars were back in action this week in 1968, hitting Waddell's Service Station on Broad street, where the broke into vending machines; Scott's Service station, here they stole money from the register; Hall's Cleaners, where they s stole an undetermined amount of cash; and Coosa High School, where equipment was stolen and offices were vandalized.

Rome postal officials warned residents that federal postal service budget cutback would impact Rome residents. Unless Congress came up with more funding, the Rome post office would not be able to offer home mail delivery service to any new subdivisions (which would most definitely impact West Rome, the fastest-growing area in the county). The cutbacks, if not reversed, would also require the main post office and the West Rome post office to close on Saturdays. If budget cutbacks increased any more, postal deliveries would have to be cut back to four days a week and residents who were currently receiving at-the-door delivery (common in some of West Rome's older subdivisions) would be required to put up a roadside mailbox instead.

This was a particularly hot week in 1968, which may be why Kay's Kastles decided to cut the prices of their ice cream sundaes to 37¢ each, their pints of sherbet to $19¢ each, and their half gallons of ice cream to 89¢ each. (I must have eaten about a hundred pints of Kay's Kastles sherbet over the years--their sherbet was a bit smoother and less grainy than other brands, and I particularly loved their pineapple and strawberry sherbets. Makes me wish that there were still Kay's Kastles around right now!...)

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, Fab detergent for 59¢ a box, and grapes for 33¢ a pound. Kroger had ground beef  for 49¢ a pound, watermelons for 79¢ each, and a nine ounce can of Planter's peanuts for 63¢. A&P had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Eight O'Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and cantaloupes for 29¢ each. Big Apple had Hormel franks for 49¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for 29¢ a can, and strawberries for 25¢ a pint. Couch's had Swift's premium bacon for 69∞ a pound, home-grown squash for a dime a pound, and Showboat pork & beans for 21¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with Rosemary's Baby (starring Mia Farrow) at the DeSoto Theatre, A Man and a Woman (starring Anouk Aimee) at the First Avenue, and Texas Across the River (starring Dean Martin) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought How Sweet It Is (starring James Garner) to the First Avenue and The Savage Seven (starring Robert Walker) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Rosemary's Baby hung around for another week at the DeSoto.

Hugh Masekela  took number one this week in 1968 with "Grazin' in the Grass," a cowbell-driven masterpiece. Other top ten hits included "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#3); "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert (#4); "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Co. (#5); "Stoned Soul Picnic" by the 5th Dimension, which posed the musical question "can you surry?" (#6); "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan (#7); "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams (#8); "Hello, I Love  You" by the Doors (#9); and "Indian Lake" by the Cowsills (#10).

The soap opera One Life to Live made its debut on ABC TV on July 15, 1968. The soap opera would run for more than four decades; it was also one of the first series to jump from network TV to online/streaming television when it left ABC and moved to Hulu for almost a half a year in 2013 before finally being cancelled in August of that year.

DC Comics did something almost unheard of this week in 1968 when they  had Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani kill the Doom Patrol in the pages of Doom Patrol #121. This is the first time that a comics publisher ended a series in sales decline by killing the book's stars. Of course, death in comics is no more permanent than death in soap operas, and the Doom Patrol would eventually return...

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/8/1968 to 7/14/1968

Two young men drag racing on Oakwood Road took out power for several hundred West Rome homes when they lost control, hit a tree, then slammed into a power pole, pulling down lines and destroying a transformer.  One teenage driver was injured in the crash (not seriously, thankfully). Georgia Power was able to restore electricity in less than two hours, so the inconvenience was short-lived, at least!

The Rome Board of Education announced the selection of Johnny Shook to serve as the West Rome High School band director at their July 12th meeting. They also announced the appointment of Mrs. Pauline L. Holstun to the position of guidance counselor at West Rome High School and Junior High School, where she would assist Owen Blanton in the counseling department. The board also approved  a $12,000 expenditure to draw up blueprints for a new high school to replace East and West Rome High, should Rome residents vote to combine the two schools into one. (That's right, they spent the money on designs for a school they weren't sure they were going to build...)

The State Board of Corrections ordered the removal of a supervisor at the Floyd County Public Works Camp after the arrest of an escapee who had not even been discovered missing from the works facility. The prisoner walked away from the works camp on June 29th and was arrested on June 30th; when he was returned to the camp, they were surprised to learn that he had left the facility. Inspector Jake Moon said that the warden allowed the escapee (and other prisoners) "to come and go just about as he pleased. This isn't the first 'warden's boy' that has left the camp," Moon said, referring to prisoners who were allowed to leave the camp at will to do work at the warden's home.

The Governor's Tax Revision Study Commission recommended increasing the state sales tax from 3% to 4%; the commission proposed to use the extra tax to pay for all the costs of public education, eliminating the need for any school system ad valorum or property taxes for education. As we know, the state did increase the sales tax... but they didn't pony up the full cost of public education, requiring cities and counties to continue their education property taxes. (Wait... you mean that a government agency passed a tax increase without delivering all the benefits they promised would accompany it? How can it be?!)

The Rome Selective Service Board called up forty young men from Rome and Floyd County for their pre-induction examinations, the first step to possible drafting into military service.  Mrs. Virginia Turpin, clerk of the Rome Selective Service office, reminded Romans of one big change: graduate students would no longer be exempted from the draft beginning in the fall of 1968 unless they were studying medicine, denstistry, veterinary, or optometry.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for 33¢ a can, and okra for 19¢ a pound. A&P had country ham for 79¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 29¢ each, and a large box of Tide detergent for 83¢. Kroger had Kelly's bacon for 49¢ a pound, a one-pound package of Parkay margarine for 25¢, and Velveeta cheese for 49¢ a pound. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Chase and Sanborn coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Pine Mountain grits for a dime a pound. Couch's had Armour all meat wieners for 39¢ a pound, Del Monte fruit cocktail for 29¢ a can, and squash for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Odd Couple (starring Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau) at the DeSoto Theatre, Custer of the West (starring Robert Shaw) at the First Avenue, and For a Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Rosemary's Baby (starring Mia Farrow) to the DeSoto, A Man and a Woman (starring Anouk Time) to the First Avenue, and The Odd Couple (starring Lemmon and Matthau) the West Rome Drive-In.

Herb Alpert took number one this week in 1968 with "This Guy's In Love With You."  Other top ten hits included "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & 'Co. (#2); "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#3); "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh Masekela (#5); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (#6); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#7); "Stoned Soul Picnic" by the 5th Dimension (#8); "Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long (#9); and "Indian Lake" by the Cowsills (#10).

Friday, June 29, 2018

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

Georgia's economy was doing so well that tax collection was running 2% above the most ambitious estimates for the year, thanks in large parts to "higher wages that produce higher income taxes, healthy increases in sales taxes, and unexpected surges in license fees," state budget officer Wilson Wilkes said. He said that at the current rates, Georgia would finish the year with a 2%-3% budget surplus that could be carried forward to future years.  On the local level, the news was good as well, with both the city of Rome and Floyd County reporting revenue increases; Rome was optimistic that they might be able to slightly reduce the millage rate for property taxes because of the general increase in city revenues.

The Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approved Rome's desegregation plans for the 1968-1969 school year, which meant that Rome would continue to qualify for federal funds. Under the approved plans, Main High School would be eliminated (9th and 10th grades would be cut in the 68-69 school year, 11th and 12th grades in the 69-70 school year), while Mary T. Banks would be gradually phased out. All students at these schools would be allowed to choose whether to attend East or West Rome. The city was also finalizing plans to ask citizens of Rome whether they wanted to keep two high schools, or to close both East and West Rome and create a new high school for Romans that would be located outside of the area traditionally considered East Rome or West Rome. (As we know now, that plan did eventually come to pass, but it took Walmart and Kmart rather than a referendum to make it happen.)

Georgia was such a Democratic enclave in the 1960s that the Republicans didn't even hold a statewide primary until 1968. On July 5th, the Republicans announced plans for a statewide primary October as well as a city primary to nominate candidates for the Rome City Commission.

West Rome continued to grow at a very fast pace, which necessitated an expansion fo the West Rome Fire Station. West Rome's Engine Company 5 was joined by a new truck, Engine Company 6, to provide extra production to the fastest-growing area of Rome and Floyd County. The size of the fire department remains the same, however, as Engine Company 6 was made up of members of the former Engine Company 8, stationed in South Rome; with the decline in population in that area, the city decided it was time to move the engine company to West Rome, which was where the people were!

Rome expanded its surplus food distribution program to three days; the program offered Romans an assortment of food items, including grape juice, dehydrated potatoes, prune juice, apricot nectar, canned tomatoes, canned whole chicken, scrambled egg mix, and assorted vegetables. The free food was available to any women whose last name began with A-H on Tuesday; I-P on Wednesday; and Q-Z on Thursday. (Okay, it might not be the greatest selection of food--but it was absolutely free to any and all who wanted it, which is pretty amazing when you think about it!)

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 26¢ a pound, pole beans for 25¢ a pound, and large eggs for 39¢ a dozen. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Marvel ice milk for 49¢ a half-gallon, and large watermelons for 79¢ each. Kroger has sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 49¢ a pack. Big Apple had picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, bananas  for a dime a pound, and Coca Cola/Tab/Sprite/Fresca for 29¢ a carton plus deposit. Couch's had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 49¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Duke's mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart.

The cinematic week began with Devil's Brigade (starring William Holden) at the DeSoto Theatre, Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) at the First Avenue, and Mini-Skirt Mob (starring no one memorable) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Odd Couple (starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) to the DeSoto, Custer of the West (starring Robert Shaw) to the First Avenue, and For A Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herb Alpert took the number one slot this week in 1968 with "This Guy's In Love With You." Other top ten hits included "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Co. (#2); "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#3); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (#4); "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh Masekela, one of the best cowbell songs of all time (#5); "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#6); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#7); "Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long (#8); "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris (#9); and "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover (#10).

Jim Steranko, one of the most innovative and influential artists and storytellers of the 1960s, said farewell to his signature series, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, with the release of the fifth issue this week in 1968. Steranko would continue to provide cover art for two more issues, but his groundbreaking interior art ended here, much to the dismay of those who had fallen in love with his trendsetting work on the series in both its Strange Tales run and its solo series.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/24/1968 to 6/30/1968

Rome set a temperature record on Friday morning, June 28th, with a low of 48 degrees--and this was not just a record low for Rome, but for the entire state of Georgia! The cool wave was short-lived, though, with temperatures climbing to 84 degrees by Friday afternoon.

The Rome City School System received a state grant of $13,815 for use in the system's special education program. The director of the program, West Rome High School's very own Dick McPhee, said that almost half the money would go to classes for developmentally disabled students, while the rest would go for supplies and evaluation testing for the special education program.

The school board announced that, beginning with the 1968-1969 school year, all incoming first-graders would have to have proof of immunization before they could start school in Rome. Failure of parents to have their children immunized was a misdemeanor. The complete panel of immunizations included measles, smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough; in addition, incoming students were required to have a tuberculosis test. All parents could get those immunizations free of charge at the Floyd County Health Department.

The Regional Health Advisory Council determined that Rome had an acute shortage of hospital beds in 1968. Based on the population of the service area at the distance to the next hospital, the Council said that Floyd Hospital should have at least 500 beds and a complete coronary intensive care unit; however in 1968, the hospital had only 260 beds and no dedicated coronary unit at all. Representatives for the hospital said that it would take them at least five years to secure funding to begin implementation of the Council's recommendations. There was one surprise, though: the hospital finished May 1968 with a revenue excess of $7,400, which brought 1968's revenue surplus to $46,000; I don't recall ever hearing of a hospital finishing in the black in my adult life.

Rome had a pub? I was too young to know of such things, but apparently The Lions Head Pub ("Ye Olde English Beer & Ale Tavern) was located in the Forrest Motor Hotel in Downtown Rome, bringing a British touch to Rome in 1968. (It strikes me as truly odd that Rome would have a pub at all--and it's also odd that, considering my interest in all things British in 1968, I was unaware that the Lions Head existed. The pub's beverages would not have appealed to me, since I have never been a drinker, but the presence of something faux-British should have caught my attention...)

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's premium hams for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for a nickel an ear, and Butternut Coffee for 68¢ a pound. Kroger had spareribs for 59¢ a pound, Georgia peaches for 15¢ a pound, Double Cola for 88¢ a case (plus deposit). A&P had turkey for 39¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 29¢ a jar (and when you ate it all, you could use the jar as a drinking glass!), and watermelons for 79¢ each. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for a quarter ra pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and bell peppers for a dime each. Couch's had leg o' lamb for 89¢ a pound, squash for a dime a pound, and Van Camp's pork & beans for 17¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with Speedway (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre, Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) at the First Avenue, and Guns for Sabastian (starring Anthony Quinn) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought  Devil's Brigade (starring William Holden) to the DeSoto and and one of the strangest films I've run across in my six years of "Fifty Years Ago" reporting, The Mini-Skirt Mob ("Come and get it if you're man enough... They're hog straddling female animals on the prowl," starring Diane McBain) at the West Rome Drive-In, while those damn dirty apes hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Herb Alpert (sans the Tijuana Brass) climbed to number one this week with "This Guty's In Love With You." Other top ten hits included "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & 'Co. (#2); "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris (#3); "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by the Ohio Express (#4); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes & the Brasil '66 (#5); "Mony Mony" by Tommy James & the Shondells (#6); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#7); "Think "by Aretha Franklin (#8); "Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long, inspire by the Laugh-In skit (#9); and "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover (#10).

And what a week it was for fresh new music: June 29th saw the release of debut albums by the Steve Miller Band (Children of the Future), Fairport Convention (Fairport Convention), Spooky Tooth (It's All About), The Pentangle (The Pentangle), and Randy Newman (Randy Newman), as well as the second album by Pink Floyd (A Saucerful of Secrets). That's a very diverse list of albums--but then again, 1968 was a year of very diverse music!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/17/1968 to 6/23/1968

Coosa Valley Tech announced plans to expand to a four-quarter-per-year day and night operation beginning with the fall quarter of 1968, which was scheduled to start at the end of August. The expansion to a 12-month program would enable students in most of the courses to complete their skilled trade training in two years instead of three or four, according to CVT director CM Culberson.

Sandra McPhee of East Rome High School was named first runner-up in the "Miss Stay and See Georgia" contest on Tuesday night, June 18th. While Sandra was a Gladiator, her win deserves a mention here because her father was West Rome principal Dick McPhee. (I always wondered why Mr. McPhee didn't take advantage of the program that allowed teachers to have their children attend school at the same school where the parent worked; I guess he figured its might be better not to have his daughter at his high school, just in case someone might blame her for the decisions or actions of her father.)

The Rome City Board of Education announced plans for a referendum for school construction to enable the city to meet desegregation requirements set by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Without some extra classroom construction, Superintendent McDonald said that the city would have to add two periods to the school day--one in the morning and one in the afternoon--and have students come to school on shifts.

The Second Avenue Bridge was closed for repairs this week in 1968, which meant that West Romans who wanted to go to Broad Street could either take a detour to North Fifth Avenue or they could take Turner McCall around to Broad Street. As might be expected, the bridge closing added bout ten or fifteen minutes to most West Romans' drive into town. Thankfully, the closing wasn't expected to last more than a week.

Citizens Federal increased its passbook saving account rate to 4.75%, while their 12 month certificates of deposit were paying 5.6%, while National City bank was paying 5% for savings account and 5.95% for certificates of deposit. Makes you wonder why we feel lucky to get more than 2% today, doesn't it?

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Showboat chili with beans for 29¢ a can. Big Apple had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Diet-Rite Cola for 99¢ a case (plus deposit), and cling peaches for a dime a can. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for a quarter ra can, and tomatoes for 25¢ a pound. A&P had ground chuck for 59¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and a one-pound can of Chase & Sanborn coffee for 79¢. Couch's had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 69¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and a 48-ounce jar of JFG peanut butter for $1.09.

The cinematic week began with Shakiest Gun in the West (starring Don Knotts) at the DeSoto Theatre, In Cold Blood (starring Robert Blake) at the First Avenue, and Bonnie & Clyde (starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Speedway (starring Elvis Presley & Nancy Sinatra) to the DeSoto, Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) to the First Avenue, and A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (as spaghetti Western starring Alex Cord & Arthur Kennedy) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herb Alpert took the number one slot this week in 1968 with his solo single "This Guy's In Love With You." Other top ten hits included "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris (#2); "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel (#3); "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by the Ohio Express (#4); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendez & Brasil '66 (#5); "Mony Mony" by Tommy James & the Shondells (#6); "Think" by Aretha Franklin (#7); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#8); "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell & The Drells (#9); and "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover (#10).

One of the most successful albums of the 1960s, In-A-Gadda-da-Vida by Iron Butterfly, was released this week in 1968 on Atlantic Records' Atco label. The title song, which filled up the entirety of side two, is credited by some as being the precursor to heavy metal rock; others list it as the first psychedelic mega-hit. The album would go on to sell 30 million copies, and would remain the biggest-selling album in Atlantic Records history until Led Zeppelin IV finally surpassed it in 1972.