Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/12/1965 to 4/18/1965

The predawn hours of April 12th saw a heavy thunderstorm move through Rome and Floyd County, but there was no damage and only a few brief power outages. The storm spawned a tornado in Bartow County, though, with some damage reported near White, Georgia.

Bids for the new Carnegie Tri-County Regional Library came in this week in 1965, and the lowest bid was $17,000+ (almost 13%) above the original estimates. Mrs. Emily Payne, Tri-County Regional Library director, said that she would meet with the state to determine if any additional state and/or federal funds might be available to meet the budget shortfall. She assured Romans that the new, expanded library would be built, however.

West Rome's baseball team fell to Model in a 5-2 game on April 12th. However, the Chiefs turned things around when they beat Carrollton 13-1 on April 13th, but any dreams they had of a renewed winning streak came to an end a day later when they fell to Chattooga County in a 3-0 game.

West Rome's track team won the LaFayette Invitational Relays track meet on April 16th, scoring 66 points to second-place Dalton's 48.5.

The Chieftains' cheerleaders for the 1965-1966 season were announced this week in 1965. Basketball cheerleaders included Brenda Burrell (captain), Pam Calloway, Beth Doyal, Parthenia Chastain, Mary Ann Witte, Celeste White, and Belinda Ritter. Football cheerleaders included Charlene Lamb, Janet Amspoker, Cheryl Lanier, Sylvia Brumbelow, Susan Sprayberry, Susan Wade, Debbie Shannon, Dixie Moore, and Elaine Freeman.

West Rome's Jeanne Maxwell was chosen convention chairman at the Georgia Association of Student Councils 24th annual State Convention at Rock Eagle, while fellow Chieftain Tommy Fricks was tapped to serve as corresponding secretary. Other West Rome delegates included Mike Murphy, Tommy Sapp, Marianne Witte, Roger Wade, Judy Burnes, Penny Andrews, Anne Peery, and Pam Williams; faculty advisors were Susie Underwood and Kitty Alford.

West Rome history classes devoted a day to President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th, 1965--the hundredth anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

Burglars broke into the Dinner Bell at 612 Shorter Avenue on April 12th, stealing the coins from five vending machines as well as a large quantity of groceries.

Now here's a promotion you don't see every day: if you bought four tires for $48.48 from the Firestone store on Broad Street, you got a free seven-pound ham!

And if you got that free ham, you could serve if as the main course of your Easter dinner on Sunday, April 18th. As was the norm back in the 1960s, almost every business in Rome (including all grocery stores and most drugstores) was closed in recognition of the holidays.  

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 39¢ a pound, squash for 19¢ a pound, and cantaloupes for 29¢ each. Kroger had Plumrose sliced bacon for 49¢  pound, red delicious apples for 6¢ each, and Country Club ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had ground beef for 37¢ a pound, Duke's mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 59¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, Banquet cream pies for 39¢ each, and strawberries for 39¢ a pint. Couch's had shank portion hams for 29¢ a pound, a 24-ounce can of Poss Brunswick Stew for 49¢, and a case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit. (That Brunswick stew was one of my favorites: I recall many a time when I cajoled Mom into letting me have a can of that stew--served with lots of black pepper, some tabasco sauce, and Saltines--for lunch, or for dinner on a night when Mom and Dad were going out.)

Rome's cinematic week began with Marriage Italian Style (with Sophia Loren) at the DeSoto and Dear Heart (with Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto and How to Murder Your Wife (with Jack Lemmon & Virna Lisi) at the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In's weekend schedule brought A Summer Place, Palm Springs Weekend, and Operation Bikini to the big screen.

Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders took the number one spot this week in 1965 with "Game of Love." Other top ten hits included "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits (#2); "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie & the Dreamers (#3); "I Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#4); "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#5); "Tired of Waiting for You" by the Kinks (#6); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#7); "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis (#8); "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#9); and "Silhouettes" by Herman's Hermits, their second song on the top ten this week.

Memorable album releases this week included Dance Party by Martha & the Vandellas, We Remember Sam Cooke by the Supremes (featuring cover versions of Sam Cooke songs), Come My Way by Marianne Faithfull, and Bert Jansch's eponymous premiere album (if you weren't a folk music fan, you may not have heard of him, but this Scottish musician and founding member of the band Pentangle was a major influence on Donovan, Al Stewart, Paul Simon, Elton John, Nick Drake, and Neil Young).

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/5/1965 to 4/11/1965

Continued growth in the Rome City School System's student population led to an additional allotment of 27 teachers for the 1965-1966 school year, with at least four of those teachers designated for West Rome High School. Final teacher selection was scheduled to take place over the summer.

Three Chieftains were chosen to take part in the Governor's Honors program in the summer of 1965. Sophomore Mary Ann Witte represented West Rome in English; junior Tom McMahon, math; and junior Phil Jenkins, music. The students would be spending the summer at Wesleyan College, where the courses were offered.

The 1965-1966 Student Council officers were announced. The new officer slate included Jeanne Maxwell, president; Tommy Fricks, vice-president; Tommy Sapp, secretary; and Pam Williams, treasurer.

Robert Redden received a standing ovation during an assembly program held by the West Rome Key Club. Mr. Redden received a special plaque honoring his work on the wonderful mural that decorated the main hall of West  Rome. Painting of the mural began in the spring of 1964, with the bulk of the work completed in the summer of 1964. Mr. Redden continued to work on the mural through the fall and winter, adding finishing touches to the massive piece of art. If only there had been some way to save that stunning piece of art when West Rome was turned into a Walmart parking lot in the early 1990s...

Benny Padgett was elected by the 1965-1966 Chieftains football team to receive the Chieftain Spring Training Award for outstanding performance during spring training and in the Green & White game.

West Rome's thinclads won a four-way track meet on April 7th, defeating Lakeshore of Atlanta, Armuchee, and Cedartown. West Rome was behind at the end of the track events, but strong performances in the field events propelled them to a strong fish and a 15-point margin between them and second-place Lakeshore.

The first county-wide track meet was held on April 10th at West Rome High School. Coach Paul Kennedy was in charge of the event, which kicked off with field events at 9am and running events beginning a week later. Once again, the Chieftains took first place with a total of 187 points, 79 points ahead of second-place Armuchee. Arbie Lovell was the only Chieftain to win in two categories (low and high hurdles).

Even in the boom times of the mid-1960s, there were still many needy families in Rome, which is why Rome and Floyd County announced plans to offer surplus food assistance to qualified families beginning in April and continuing on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future.

McDonald's celebrated the arrival of warmer weather with a special 7¢ shake sale on Friday and Saturday. (And even as far back as 1965, McDonald's had to advertise its product as a "shake" and not a "milkshake" because there wasn't enough real milk in there to qualify as the latter... which helps to explain why those things took so long to melt!)

Piggly Wiggly had five pounds of Colonial Sugar for 35¢, a 14-ounce bag of Brach's individually wrapped Easter Eggs for 49¢, and a 4-pound canned ham for $2.99. Kroger had fresh fryers for a quarter a pound, yellow squash for 15¢ a pound, and a tall can of pink salmon for 49¢. Big Apple had Armour bacon for 59¢ a pound, sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, and various flavors of Campbell's condensed soup for a dime a can. A&P had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, corn for 8¢ an ear, and Banquet cream pies for 27¢ each.  Couch's had stew beef for 29¢ a pound, a 28-ounce jar of Blue Plate peanut butter for 59¢, and fresh bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (with Shirley MacLaine & Peter Ustinov) at the DeSoto and Psycho (with Tony Perkins) back for a return engagement at the First Avenue.  The midweek switch out brought The Satan Bug (with George Maharis, Richard Basehart, & Anne Francis) to the First Avenue, Marriage Italian Style (with Sophia Loren & Marcello Mastroianni) to the DeSoto, and a double feature of Bus Riley's Back in Town (with Ann-Margret & Michael Parks) and Taggart (with Dan Duryea) at the West Rome Drive-In.

Freddie & the Dreamers held on to the number one spot this week in 1965 with "I'm Telling You Now." Likewise, the Supremes held number two for the second week in a row with "Stop! In the Name of Love." Other top ten hits included "Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (#3); "I Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#4); "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#5); "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" by Herman's Hermits (#6); "Tired of Waiting for You" by the Kinks (#7); "Nowhere to Run" by Martha & the Vandellas (#8); "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis (#9); and "Go Now" by the Moody Blues (#10).

Gold Key enlisted star illustrator Wally Wood to develop and illustrate its new comic book series Total War, which launched this week in 1965. The series pitted the MARS Patrol (Marine Attack Rescue Service) against an army of murderous humanoid invaders from who-knows-where. Wood stayed with the book for three issues before leaving; soon afterwards, he would work with Tower Comics to launch THUNDER Agents, using similar concepts and themes, but with a more super heroic approach. In 1965, Total War was almost uncategorizeable--not a war comic, not a science fiction series, and not a superhero adventure. Today, it would likely be immediately licensed for film, television, video games, or all three!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/29/1965 to 4/4/1965

Dickie Sapp smashed two West Rome school records to lead the Chieftains to a victory over Armuchee and LaFayette in a three-way track meet held at West Rome's track on April 1st. Sapp ran the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds flat, then posted 22 feet 8.25 inches in the broad jump, both of which beat prior records that, as it turns out, were also set by Dickie Sapp!

It was a very good week for West Rome, athletically speaking, as pitcher Todd Zeiger led the Chieftains to a 2-1 baseball victory of Dalton. Alas, it wasn't such a good week for Zeiger, who was struck by a batted ball and injured sufficiently to take him out of the game and place him on the disabled list for at least a week.

West Rome took  fourth place at the Region 3-AA Literary meet held at Berry College on Friday, April 2nd. Chieftain Jerry Shaw tied for first place in Boys Solo, posting West Rome's only first-place win.

Candidates for Student Council offices made their campaign speeches during an assembly program on April 1st.Sarah Whitworth and Jeannie Maxwell were on the ballot for president; David Garrett, Tommy Fricks, Yvonne Housch, Tommy McMahon, and Regina Swinford, for vice-president; Gwen Day, Tommy Sapp, Kay Shoemaker, and Cynthia Tolbert, for secretary; Pam Callaway, Teresa Deleski, Pat Finley, Baxter Joy, and Pam Williams, for treasurer.

West Rome's academic offering expanded with the addition of German I, enriched reading, and general shop; all three courses were slated to be initially offered for the fall 1965 semester, with students pre-regstering in the spring. General shop classes became possible with the construction of a $66,000 shop that was slated to be finished by August 1965, just prior to the beginning of the 1965-66 school year. The addition of these three classes expanded West Rome's total number of elective offerings to 45.

McDwain Sandlin and Anna Payne, who were chosen to represent West Rome at the State Science Fair in Athens, were presented with a modest financial grant by the JETS and Science Club to help cover some of the attendance costs.

Kentucky Fried Chicken kicked off its Wednesday Finger-Lickin' Specials with a 15 piece family bucket for $2.91 (regularly $3.50). Don't get too excited, though: when you factor in the inflation multiplier, that special price would equal $21.88!

Piggly Wiggly had Wilson's bacon for 59¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and canned biscuits for a dime a can in an apparent effort to corner Rome's breakfast market. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of oranges for 33¢, and a six-bottle carton of Diet-Rite or RC Cola for a quarter plus deposit. Big Apple had Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, prime rib for 69¢ a pound, and a five-pound bag of White Lily for for 49¢. A&P had ground chuck for 59¢ a pound, strawberries for 29¢ a pint, and bananas for 11¢ a pound. Couch's had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Libby's vienna sausages for a dime a can, and a one-pound can of JFG coffee for 69¢.

The cinematic week began with Bus Riley's Back In Town (with Ann-Margret & Michael Parks) at the DeSoto and None But the Brave (with Frank Sinatra) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought John Goldfarb Please Come Home (with Peter Ustinov, Shirley MacLaine, & Richard Crenna) to the DeSoto, while both the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In were screening a rather odd movie choice—Tennessee Jamboree: A Roadshow Musical, a country music performance film featuring Jim Reeves, Webb Pierce, Marty Robbins, Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb, Minnie Pearl, Chet Atkins, and many others. The success of this film played a role in CBS's decision to launch the Hee Haw television program a few years later, since the low-budget film's ticket sales indicated an interest in country music beyond the Deep South.

Freddie and the Dreamers were probably doing the Freddie this week in 1965, because they had the number one slot with their single "I'm Telling You Now." Other top ten hits included "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#2); "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" by Herman's Hermits (#3); "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#4); "The Birds & the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#5); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#6); "Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (#7); "Nowhere to Run" by Martha & the Vandellas (#8); "I Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#9); and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" by Vic Dana (#10).

Most superheroes stayed out of real-world combat, but not at Marvel Comics, where Thor headed into Vietnam to face off against the Viet Cong in Journey Into Mystery #117, on sale this week in 1965. This was also the week that Charlton resurrected its early 1960s hero Captain Atom, reprinting early Steve Ditko-illustrated stories in Strange Suspense Stories #75. In the years since Captain Atom had initially been published, Ditko had become a major comics superstar at Marvel due to his work on Spider-Man, so many Marvel fans were thrilled to see another superhero book with Ditko art. And Henry Pym made his final solo appearance as Giant-Man in Tales to Astonish #69; the next issue would see his spot in the book taken by Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. (It's strangely appropriate that Marvel's original Ant-Man would be one of the company's superhero short-timers...)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/22/1965 to 3/28/1965

West Rome wrapped up three weeks of spring practice with the Green and White intra-squad game, which was held at Barron Stadium on March 26th. Robert Green coached the Green Team, appropriately enough, while Nick Hyder was in charge of the White team, with Coach Kennedy watching the whole thing from the press box. For a while, it appeared that the game might be rained out, but the Chieftains slogged across the muddy track and onto the wet field to play the game, with the Greens winning  7-3.

Barbara Helie was chosen as West Rome's 1965 senior class poet; her class poem would be part of the 1965 Class Night program.

Ann Peery, Jane McCollum, Lynn Moore, and Stan Dawson were chosen to represent West Rome on the Floyd County All Star Basketball Team.

I didn't remember that classes had a class flower or a class song, but they did—and in 1965, the senior class chose the red rose as their class flower and "I'll Be Seeing You" as their class song.

The Student Council announced that the 1964 Western Pioneer Day was so popular that it was becoming an annual event, with the second Western Pioneer Day set for Friday, April 23rd. Students and teachers were encouraged to begin assembling their cowboy or Indian costumes now, since anyone out of costume could potentially be arrested and "jailed" and would have to pay a 10¢ fine to get out. A special assembly program was also in the works, featuring parodies of such popular Western TV shows as Bonanza and Gunsmoke.

And speaking of assembly programs, Charles Gregory entertained West Rome Students on March 24th with a program called "Strange Music." during the assembly, Gregory performed music using such unusual instruments as a vacuum cleaner, a rubber glove, a theremin, a bicycle pump, a balloon, a saw, a mallet, and bagpipes. Did it have great educational value? Not particularly. But did it add a memorable and entertaining break to the school week? You bet!

Back in 1965, everyone had to pay ad valorum taxes and buy car tags before April 1st--and that meant that the big rush was on in the last full week before the deadline. While almost 19,000 tags had been paid for by the beginning of the week, Tag Agent Lee Looney estimated that another 7,000 to 8,000 tags would be paid for in the final days as the deadline approached.

All the numbers were finally tallied, and the Federal Reserve reported that Rome's department stores saw a 6% gain during January 1965 over the same month in 1964, while purchasers were also carrying a lower charge account balance and were paying off those balances more quickly than in the past. Furniture stores saw an 8% gain, while grocery stores saw a 5% gain. All these numbers pointed to a continuation of the strong economic growth that had emerged since the 1963 tax cuts went into effect.

West Point and Pepperell voted to merge their two textile firms this week in 1965, creating the new West Point Pepperell company. Spokesmen assured concerned employees that this merger would not result in any job cuts in the Rome facility--and in fact, it might very well lead to new jobs.

Color television prices were dropping in 1965, with Sears offering a 21" color tabletop TV for $366.00 (that's a little over $2750,00 in today's dollars, adjusting for inflation), while a 23" black and white console dropped in price to $146.00 (the equivalent of $1097 in 2015 dollars). We apparently loved our television, considering how much we paid for it! By comparison, a 5-piece maple living room suite could be had for $177 and a four-piece maple bedroom suite could be had for only $144. (Yes, you could furnish a room for less than the cost of a television!)

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, Nabisco saltines for 19¢ a box, and fresh strawberries for 33¢ a pint. Kroger had pork roast for 23¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and a 16-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup for 19¢. Big Apple had beef liver for 17¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 30¢ a can, and and five pounds of Pillsbury flour for 53¢. A&P had Long Island ducks for 43¢ a pound (I had no idea that Rome grocery stores offered duck in the meat section in 1965!), Oscar Mayer bacon for 55¢ a pound, and fresh broccoli for 29¢ a bunch. Couch's had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, Chase & Sanborn coffee for 69¢ a pound, and a 32-ounce can of Poss's Brunswick stew for 49¢.

The cinematic week began with Strange Bedfellows (with Rock Hudson & Gina Lollobrigida) at the DeSoto and Baby the Rain Must Fall (with Steve McQueen & Lee Remick) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Bus Riley's Back in Town (with Ann-Margret & Michael Parks) to the DeSoto and None But the Brave (with Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker, & Tommy Sands) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In hosted a three-film weekend Horror-rama that included Black Sunday, The Pit & the Pendulum, and House of Usher--and you could see all three for only a quarter per person!

The Supremes had the number one song this week in 1965 with "Stop! In the Name of Love." Other top ten hits included "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat' by Herman's Hermits (#2); "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie & the Dreamers (#3); "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#4); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#5); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#6); "Eight Days a Week" by the Beatles (#7); "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey (#8); "Nowhere to Run" by Martha & the Vandellas (#9); and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" by Vic Dana (#10).

This was a particularly memorable week for album releases in 1965. LPs premiering this week included Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan; The Early Beatles by the Beatles (the first Capitol release of the music previously available on Veejay); The Temptations Sing Smokey, a cover album by the Temptations; Begin Here by the Zombies; The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads by the all-too-short-lived Otis Redding; The Pretty Things by... oh, you can figure it out; and Soul Dressing by Booker T & the MG's.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/15/1965 to 3/21/1965

The Chieftains wrapped up the final weeks of spring practice fifty years ago this week, preparing for the W Day varsity and junior varsity that culminated the three-week spring practice. A total of 86 students were scheduled to take part in the two games. Coach Paul Kennedy said he was really putting the new players through their paces. "We're young and inexperienced and have the same schedule as last year. We have to expose these boys to such strong competition this quickly, but we have no other choices."

The West Rome Senior Tri-Hi-Y took first place in the Rome-Floyd County YMCA Club of the Month competition, while the Junior Tri-Hi-Y came in second. The West Rome Senior Tri-Hi-Y sponsored twenty different projects during February, which included such activities as taking gifts to the children at Battey Hospital, stocking the sick room at West Rome, helping on Civic Youth Days, sponsoring a teacher appreciation breakfast, and working on school site cleanup.

Judo and karate were very much in vogue in the mid-1960s, which explains why the YMCA was offering  an eight-week judo course on Tuesday nights beginning in mid-March. The course was taught by Hugh Hardison, Georgia State Patrol self-defense and judo instructor.

Rome was joined by the Adairsville and Kingston in asking that the proposed route for I-75 be redrawn to move the interstate west of Cartersville rather than to the east. We know now that the plan failed--but oh, what a difference it might have made if the interstate had gone right through Kingston, with a direct interchange on 411 approximately 15 miles outside of Rome!

Trend Mills ramped up production at its new Redmond Road location this week in 1965, adding more than 150 new jobs to the Rome area. Plans called for Trend to eventually create more than 300 new jobs by the time the facility was opening at full capacity.

Auto inspections were new in 1965, and apparently a lot of people weren't paying attention to the law--which is why the law was modified in March to give motorists an extra few months to get their car inspected. The new deadline of October 31st gave motorists an extra four months--which seemed like a good idea, since fewer than 5% of all residents with registered cars had taken their vehicles in for inspection by mid-March!

West Rome got another restaurant choice with the opening of Country House Barbecue at 516 Shorter Avenue, offering barbecue pork, beef, and chicken, along with Brunswick stew and a smoked country burger. For their grand opening, they offered a country burger and a Coke for only a quarter, or a choice of barbecue beef, pork, or chicken, along with a cup of stew and a Coke, for only 65¢.

Meanwhile, far, far away from Rome in New York City, TGI Fridays opened its first restaurant on March 15th.

Interest rates to die for: Home Federal was paying 4.6% interest on a six-month certificate, while both Rome Bank & Trust and National City Bank were advertising 4.5% interest paid for a six-month deposit at their banks. With rates like that, savings actually paid off!

Piggly Wiggly ("your modern supermarket!" according to their advertising slogan) had ground beef for 49¢ a pound, Mueller's spaghetti for 15¢ a box, and a half-gallon of Sealtest ice milk for 39¢. (In case you're too young to remember ice milk, it's the 1960s version of what we now call low-fat ice cream). Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Del Monte English peas for 15¢ a can, and large eggs for 39¢ a dozen. Big Apple had Coca Cola or Tab for 27¢ a six-pack (plus deposit), carrots for a dime a bunch, and tom turkeys for 35¢ a pound. A&P had beef liver for 29¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Eight O'Clock Coffee for 67¢ a pound. Couch's had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, five pounds of Dixie Crystal sugar for 39¢, and Swift's premium bologna for 33¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (with Bette Davis, Olivia deHaviland, & Joseph Cotten) at the DeSoto and Love has Many Faces (with Lana Turner & Cliff Robertson) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Strange Bedfellows (with Rock Hudson & Gina Lollobrigida) to the DeSoto and Why Bother to Knock? (with Elke Sommer) to both the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1965 was "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes. Other top ten hits included "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" by Herman's Hermits (#2); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#3); "Eight Days a Week" by the Beatles (#4); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#5); "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#6); "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#7); "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey (#8); "My Girl" by the Temptations #9); and "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#10).

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/8/1965 to 3/14/1965

West Rome faced off against South Hall of Gainesville on March 10th in the opening round of the Georgia Class AA basketball tournament—and when it was all over, the West Rome team posted a 62-46 runaway victory in their matchup at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. As a result, the team advanced to the second round, facing the Cairo Syrupmakers (yes, that was their name!) on Thursday, March 11th. Alas, that game didn't go as well, with the Chiefs losing 51-31, eliminating them from further tournament play. (The Chiefs earned their way into the tournament with a 12-7 record under the guidance of Coach Ralph Beeler.)

Chieftainacts 1965 was presented on Friday, March 12th, and Saturday, March 13th, at the West Rome High School Auditorium.

Rome finally unveiled its desegregation plans for the city school system: grades 1-3 were set for desegregation beginning with the 1965-1966 school year, In addition, students in grades 4-12 could request transfer to another school if it was geographically closer, regardless of the students' race. It may be something we take for granted now, but in 1965, desegregated schools were still largely a dream, not a reality!

Great news for those of us addicted to books: construction pre-planning for the new Carnegie Library and Tri-County Regional Library was running ahead of schedule,l which meant that construction was likely to begin in June--some four months ahead of original plans. The new construction was to be added on to the back of the Carnegie Library location, extending and expanding the facility.

In the pre-computer days, it took a while to tally all the numbers, but the Georgia State Chamber of Commerce finally had all the total for 1964 sales in Rome and Floyd County, and it was great news: Rome's total sales soared to more $122 million in 1964, which was an increase of more than $19 million over the 1963 totals of $108 million. What we wouldn't give for a 14% year-over-year increase in sales nowadays! Rome and Floyd County's economic growth was about 1 and 1/2 times the statewide rate.

Piggly Wiggly advertised "Prices as Hot as a Pistol!" this week in 1965 (complete with an image of a gun... and no one was outraged!), with eggs for 33¢ a dozen, Fleeetwood coffee for 59¢ a pound, and T-bone steak for 79¢ a pound. Kroger has fresh fryers for 27¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 22¢ a can, and Campbell's tomato soup for a dime a can. Big Apple had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, five pounds of Domino sugar for 35¢, and a dozen Honey-Dip donuts for 19¢. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Golden Sweet creamed corn for 12¢ a can. Couch's had a tall can of Double Q salmon for 49¢, pork roast for 39¢ a pound, and the never... err, ever-popular Libby's potted meat for a dime a can.

The cinematic week began with The Rounders (with Glenn Ford & Henry Fonda) at the DeSoto and Kitten (with Ann-Margret & John Forsythe) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (with Bette Davis, Olivia DeHavilland, and Joseph Cotten) to the DeSoto, Love Has Many Faces (with Lana Turner & Cliff Robertson) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Dear Brigitte and Curse of the Timberland at the West Rome Drive-In.  Monster movie fans like myself were sure to be on hand for the First Avenue's special Saturday-afternoon-only presentation of the live Dr. Jekyl (sic) and His Weird Show, which combined a live horror-host, some schlocky but still fun monsters and zombies, and clips from horror films. For those of us who grew up with Channel 5's Bestoink Dooley and his Big Movie Shocker, this was a must-see since it was happening right in front of the audience, not on a small television screen.

The Beatles still held on to number one this week in 1965 with "Eight Days a Week." Other Top Ten hits included "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#2); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#3); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#4); "Can't You Hear My Hearbeat" by Herman's Hermits (#5); "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Gerry & the Pacemakers" (#6); "My Girl" by the Temptations (#7); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#8); "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey (#9); and "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker & the All Stars (#10).

Johnny Carson came down with the "fifteen minute flu" in 1965 to protest the fact that a number of NBC affiliates were not showing the first fifteen minutes of The Tonight Show beginning at 11:15pm, meaning that a lot of viewers weren't seeing Carson's monologue. Instead, the stations were airing a half-hour of news from 11:00 to 11:30pm (most stations were only showing a 15 minute news program at 11pm). The sick-out finally ended when the network agreed to let Carson launch the show with a guest from 11:15 to 11:30, then begin his monologue at 11:30. You've got to pity the poor guest who got stuck with the opening slot, knowing he was the least important person on the program that night!

The Avengers got a new line-up this week in 1965--and it marked the first time that former villains Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch appeared as a part of the superhero team. As of Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's Avengers #16, Captain America was the only A-list superhero still holding a slot in the Avengers. Meanwhile, Lee & Kirby also revealed the origin of the Red Skull in Tales of Suspense #68, also on sale this week in 1965.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/1/1965 to 3/7/1965

West Rome Science Fair first place winners included Ben Nelms and Tim Moran, tied for first place in botany; Marsha Hall,  first place in bacteriology; Pat Finley, first place in zoology; Barbara Beiswenger, first place in natural resources; Suzanne White, first place in geology; Barbara Heilie, first place in experimental psychology; Linda Brown, first place in chemistry; Charle Stein, Don Moose. and Nicky Taylor, first place in physics; and Joey McGhee, first place in engineering.

Principal Dick McPhee said that parking at West Rome was becoming an increasing problem, and that the lot had been full for several years, and increasing enrollment was making it seem likely that, by 1966, there would be more students hoping to park at the school than there were available spaces. As a result, West Rome was considering a plan to charge students for a campus parking permit, as was East Rome.

Remember the big water tower and tank on Watson Street in West Rome, just up the road from the Pattersons' house? Well, even though it seemed like that water tank had been there forever, that wasn't the case: site development began in 1964, and construction began in earnest in 1965. By March 1965, the tower's support legs were in place, but the million-gallon tank had not been mounted atop the base. The city said that, if the weather remained good, the tank would be completed and ready for use by summer. The water tank construction was necessitated by strong residential and commercial growth in West Rome, which was resulting in low water pressure in some parts of our community. (I remember the tank and the construction zone well, because Phil Patterson and I would spend hours playing on the piles of gravel and sand in the construction zone at the base of the tower.)

March may seem like an early time to begin talking football, but not if you're Coach Paul Kennedy, who told the Rome News-Tribune that he was focusing on rebuilding after looking 28 lettermen from the 1964 team.  "Right now we're trying to find hitters," Coach Kennedy said. "We divided the boys into three categories: heavy hitters, soft hitters, and no-hitters. Right now, we have 15-17 heavy hitters on the team," but he said he needed anymore. "We're trying to find boys who really want to play football, and then we'll put them into positions." He lamented that he had no one with varsity experience for end or center positions, and only one returning tackle with varsity experience.

Seventh District Congressman John W. Davis told Romans that the "outlook is bright" for funding to construct a new federal building for Rome to replace the old East Fourth Avenue federal building that housed the post office, federal courts, and federal offices. Cost was estimated at $3 million, although Davis said that might increase if the plans were modified to split the post office and the other federal offices into two separate buildings.

And the price creep begins: the Rome City Commission voted to raise the cost of riding the city bus from 15¢ per trip to 20¢ per trip, with transfers costing an additional nickel. School bus rates would increase from 10 tokens for $1 to eight tokens for $1. High maintenance costs and new vehicle costs (the city estimated that new buses would cost about $13,000 each) were cited as the reason or the price increases.

And the price creep begins, part 2: the "All American Meal" at McDonalds (which included a hamburger, french fries, and a milkshake) increased in price from 47¢ to 52¢ this week in 1965. A nickel price increase may not seem like much--but that's more than a 10% increase, which is pretty hefty by any standards! Heck, if you rode the bus to McDonald's in East Rome to get your All American Meal and then rode the bus back home, your costs were now 15¢ higher than they were in February 1965!

If you were really hungry, then Murphy's was a great place to go: they had an all-you-can-eat fried fillet of haddock dinner (with french fries, tartar sauce, cole slaw, rolls, and tea or coffee) for only 99¢. As much as I loved fried fish as a kid, I don't know how I missed out on this; I remember eating hamburgers at Murphy's many times, but nothing else.

Piggly Wiggly head chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Swift's premium bacon for 39¢ a pound, and bell peppers for a dime each. Kroger had frozen breaded shrimp for 49¢ a pound, navel oranges for 59¢ a doze, and large eggs for 33¢ a dozen. Big Apple had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and five pounds of White Lily flour for 49¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Campbell's tomato soup for 12¢ a can, and fresh strawberries for 33¢ a pint. Couch's had lettuce for a dime a head, shank portion hams for 29¢ a pound, and Merita bread for a dime a loaf.

The cinematic week began with Sex and the Single Girl (with Tony Curtis, Natalie wood, Henry Fonda, & Lauren Bacall) at the DeSoto and Sylvia (with Carroll Baker & George Maharis) at the First Avenue. The Wednesday switch out brought The Rounders (with Glenn Ford & Henry Fonda) to the DeSoto and Kiss Me, Stupid (with Dean Martin, Kim Novak, & Ray Walston) to the First Avenue. ("This is an adult movie," the ad warned. "No children's tickets will be sold! Admission 90¢ to all!" Apparently, "adult movie" meant something very different in 1965...) The West Rome Drive-In's weekend screenings included a double feature of Your Cheating Heart (with George Hamilton) and Where the Boys Are (also with Geroge Hamilton).

The Beatles returned to the number one slot this week in 1965 with "Eight Days a Week." Other top ten hits included "My Girl" by the Temptations (#2); "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#3); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#4); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#5); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#6); "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#7); "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" by Herman's Hermits (#8); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#9); and "Hurt So Bad" by Little Anthony & the Imperials (#10).

New album releases for the week included Girl Happy by Elvis Presley and Kinda Kinks by the Kinks.

The Riddler made his first Silver Age appearance in Batman #171, on sale this week in 1965. While he was considered a relatively minor villain at the time, he would go on to become a pivotal member of Batman's Rogues Gallery after Frank Gorshin portrayed him in the kickoff two-part episode of ABC's Batman TV series... but that series wouldn't premiere until early 1966.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/22/1965 to 2/28/1965

The week began pleasantly enough, weather-wise, but by Wednesday night, a blast of arctic air brought freezing rain and snow to Rome. A half-inch of snow fell on top of a tenth of an inch of ice, and highs never made it out of the 20s on Thursday, creating slippery driving conditions. Temperatures fell to ten degrees Thursday night, with more snow falling on top of the Wednesday night accumulation; the bad weather forced the closing of schools (but I'm sure that all of us managed to deal with our sorrow at a snow day!).

While consumer credit sales in Georgia department stores declined slightly in early 1965 over the same period in 1964, Rome bucked the trend with an 8% growth in credit sales year over year. Rome's furniture stores posted  7% growth, and Rome grocery stores posted 6% growth, showing that Rome's economy was continuing to grow. Rome's unemployment rate was at 4.6% (and this was back when unemployment more accurately reflected the number of people actually out of work), and bank deposits were up 2.8%. What a great start to a new year!

John Christopher Lawler was named West Rome's STAR Student this week in 1964; he selected Miss Susie Underwood as his STAR Teacher.

Ah, how I miss the days when the public utilities were also in the appliance business: Georgia Power offered an electric water heater with a five year warranty (with service provided by Georgia Power technicians on the day you called in a service request!) for only $1.80 a month--and that was at a zero percent interest rate, all added on to your monthly utility bill! Alas, those days are no more...

Hardee's was pushing their fried chicken with a  special 79¢ chicken dinner offer that included three pieces of chicken, french fries, a toasted roll, and honey--obviously they were shooting to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, which had begun advertising its $1 lunch (with almost the same selection) at their new Turner McCall location.

Pizza King obviously found an eager market for pizza in Rome: they announced that their 1922 Shorter Avenue location was getting a big brother! The new location at 4 East 2nd Avenue opened this week in 1965--and to celebrate the occasion, Pizza King was offering all 28 varieties of pizza and all pasta dinners at half price at both locations.

Sears was advertising its all-new 16.3 cubic foot frostless refrigerator for only $399.98--and that included an automatic ice maker, which seemed like a real luxury back then. (Bear in mind, though, that when you factor in the 7.52 inflation multiplier between 1965 and now, you have the equivalent of $3000 in today's dollars... and that's for a refrigerator that would be considered tiny by today's standards.)

Chrysler was touting its new 1965 Dodge Polara, a full sized two-door hardtop or convertible with a 383 cu. in. V8 engine. "If you haven't seen the Polara 500.. it's probably because there was  crowd around it!" the ad exclaimed. Interested shoppers could find a selection of new Polaras at Marshall Jackson Motor Company, with prices starting at $2650.

Piggly Wiggly had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, a 16-ounce can of Anchors Aweigh salmon for 49¢, and Swift's bacon for 39¢ a pound. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, beef liver for 19¢ a pound, and ten pounds of potatoes for 59¢. Big Apple had smoked picnic ham for 27¢ a pound, Happy Valley ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and 16 ounces of Heinz ketchup for 19¢. A&P had corned beef for 69¢ a pound, pork sausage for 33¢ a pound, and a large box of Surf detergent for 28¢. Couch's had spareribs for 39¢  a pound, , a 24-ounce can of Swift's beef stew for 39¢, and a case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit.

The cinematic week got off to a pretty slow start with Get Yourself a College Girl ("The Swingin-est Blast Ever Filmed!") at the DeSoto and The Night Walker (with a Fuselli's Nightmare-esque movie poster) at the First Avenue. The movie selection got slightly more frisky for the weekend, with Sex & the Single Girl (with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, & Lauren Bacall) at the DeSoto and Sylvia (with Carroll Baker & George Maharis) at the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In offered a double feature of Elvis Presley's Roustabout and East of Eden.

The number one song this week in 1965 was "My Girl" by the Temptations. Other top ten hits included "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#2); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers (#3); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#4); "Eight Days a Week" by the Beatles (#5); "Tell Her No" by the Zombies (#6); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#7); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#8); "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#9); and "Downtown" by Petula Clark.

And this week in 1965, CBS aired a videotaped special performance of Cinderella, based on the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. A young Lesley Ann Warren starred in the special; other cast members included Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, and Celeste Holm.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/15/1965 to 2/21/1965

Rome was involved in an education controversy when it was revealed that school secretaries at some Rome elementary schools--including West End and Elm Street--were teaching about two hours each day, even though they didn't have teaching certificates and were not qualified to teach. Rome City Schools assistant superintendent JB Maddox said, "I don't know if they have certificates or not. One or two may have--I'm not sure of that." The state refused to accept that explanation, however, stressing that it's up the school districts to secure copies of teaching certificates before allowing anyone to teach in any public school classroom. Maddox said that the secretaries taught only to give administrators time off to supervise--an explanation the state also considered unacceptable.

The Rome City Board of Education announced plans for a proposed $720,000 bond issue for new classrooms, auditoriums, and other facilities improvements. West Rome was slated for four additional classrooms, as was West End Elementary, while West Rome High School would get an industrial arts shop if the bond issue passed.

West Rome defeated Lakeview 64-37 in the first game of the 3-AA tournament, thus advancing to the second round. Gerry Law, Rusty Oxford, Stan Dawson, Eddie Hamilton, and Donnie Hill secured the  Chieftain victory quite handily in a game that was never even close. In the next region game, they faced off against West Fannin--and once again, they racked up a victory as Gerry Law and Stan Dawson led the team to a 46-41 victory. Alas, the third time was not the charm, as West Rome lost to Murray County 59-46 in the Region 3-AA championship.

Four sophomores--Allen Brigham, Holly Bellinger, Janet Amspoker, and Bobby Becker-- were inducted into the West Rome Honor Society on February 17th in an assembly held in the West Rome High auditorium.

Mike Jenkins and Debbie Poarch were chosen as Mister and Miss West Rome Junior High School. This is one case where the election most definitely could be bought: each homeroom nominated a candidate to the competition, and then votes were solicited at a penny a vote. The candidates who raised the most pennies won the election. (Maybe we should try this for our Presidential elections in 2016!)

The West Rome Junior Tri-Hi-Y held on to their Club of the Month title, narrowly beating out the Model Senior Tri-Hi-Y.

"Them revenooers" were at it again: Federal Alcohol and Tobacco agents shut down more stills in Rome, including illegal moonshine operations near West Rome, off the Alabama Highway. More than a thousand gallons of mash were destroyed in the raids.

Murphy's on Broad Street was ahead of the trend: they began advertising their new "sidewalk surfboards" this week in 1965. These "surfboards with wheels" came in three sizes, ranging in price for $2.99 to $7.99. Today, we call them skateboards--and I remember my parents being so unconvinced that these things were worth $2.99 that I ended up dismantling a pair of skates and mounting the wheels to a piece of plywood to make my own skateboard... err, sidewalk surfboard.

Belk-Rhodes was touting its new, "more affordable than ever before" cartridge ink pens for only 99¢ each. These pens offered the quality nibs and liquid ink of a fountain pen, but in handy disposable cartridges. And as I can attest from first-hand experience, they could leak in your shirt pocket just as well as any fountain pen, too!

Piggly Wiggly had boneless chuck roast for 69¢ a pound, Heinz tomato soup for a dime a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had roasting chickens for 39¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and medium eggs for 39¢ a dozen. Big Apple had smoked ham for 47¢ a pound, a quart of Mrs. Bell's mayonnaise for 49¢, and large bell peppers for 7¢ each. A&P had Super-Right pork sausage for 33¢ a pound, block cheddar cheese for 47¢ a pound, and winesap apples for a dime a pound. Couch's had sirloin stark for 89¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 57¢ a pound, and 12 ounce jars of Bama jellies or jams for 20¢ each.

Whipped cream, move over: Cool Whip was introduced into select markets this week in 1965. If you prefer food with a bit more substance, then Franco-American might have been thinking of you when they rolled out the first cans of Spaghetti-Os this week in 1965. (No, I don't recommend that you eat them together...)

The cinematic week began with Dear Brigitte (with James Stewart) at the DeSoto and Quick! Before it Melts! (with George Maharis & Robert Morse) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Get Yourself a College Girl (with Mary Ann Mobley, Chad Everett, and Nancy Sinatra) to the DeSoto and The Night Walker (with Robert Taylor & Barbara Stanwyck) to the First Avenue; The Night Walker was also booked at the West Rome Drive-In for its weekend screenings.

Jerry Lewis's son Gary, joined by his band the Playboys, took the number one spot this week in 1965 with "This Diamond Ring." Other top ten hits included "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers (#2); "My Girl" by the Temptations (#3); "Downtown" by Petula Clark (#4); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#5); "Tell Her No" by the Zombies (#6); "Shake" by Sam Cooke (#7); "The Boy From New York City" by the Ad Libs (#8); "I Go to Pieces" by Peter & Gordon (#9); and "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#10).  And after a few weeks off the charts, the Beatles released a new single, "Eight Days a Week/I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," on February 15th.

NBC's popular espionage-adventure TV series The Man From UNCLE made the jump to the comic book racks; the first issue (featuring art by Marvel Comics regular Don Heck, best known as Iron Man's first illustrator) appeared in stores this week in 1965. I bought my copy at Conn's on Shorter Avenue, which for several years had two comic book spinner racks, both fully stocked, while my other favorite sources for comics (Candler's Drugs, Couch's Grocery, Hill's Grocery, and the EZ Shop on Shorter Avenue) had only one rack each.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Why Do I Do the Things I Do?

"Why do you spend all that time doing those 'Fifty Years Ago' articles?"

That question was posed to me a few weeks ago, and it got me to thinking. I didn't have an immediate answer, but I think I have one now.

First off, I have a deep and abiding admiration for Deb Joyner Denneman, the talented and dedicated woman who assembles the West Rome High School alumni newsletter and website. I had enjoyed her work for more than a year before I decided that maybe I should offer a modest addition to its contents. So in late October, 2012, I sent in my first "Fifty Years Ago..." piece, and haven't missed a week since then. I am nothing if not persistent!

But as I worked on the column week after week, I realized that I was doing it for another reason. Preparing this column puts me back in touch with a wonderful period in my life, a time when I was just becoming more aware of the world around me and more fascinated by the entertainment media that I had taken for granted.

In preparation for each installment of this column, I read through a week's worth of Rome News-Tribune archives.  As I do so, I am acutely aware that I'm reading much of this material for the second time. By the time I turned ten years old, I was a regular newspaper reader--not a surprise, since Dad was sports editor at the paper and I was proud of what he did. But it was more than family pride--I was fascinated by both The Rome News-Tribune and The Atlanta Journal (we were afternoon newspaper people--Mom and Dad never got a morning paper until the afternoon papers shifted to morning delivery). The newspapers opened my eyes to a more complete view of the world (it would be years before I would fully comprehend how that "complete view" could be manipulated by the media gatekeepers who decided what did and didn't make it into the newspaper, and how it would be reported).

Sure, I read the comics devotedly every day--I was a comics fan, both of comic strips and comic books, and I loved getting daily installments of my favorite strips--but I also read the local news, the national news, and even the ads. I felt like I was in touch with my community back then, and I saw reading the paper as one tiny step towards responsible adulthood.

Now I see those articles from a different perspective: what was news then is history now, and I know how many of these stories were resolved. Nevertheless, it's fascinating to me to see how my home town grew and developed.  And that's where the ads come to play--anyone who thinks that newspapers are just news stories and articles is missing a vital window into the spirit of the community. What businesses were thriving? What businesses were struggling? What businesses were just launching, filled with hope for the future? What products were hot? What was trending? There was no internet back then--but the newspaper filled that bill quite well in those pre-internet days.

And not only do I remember many of these stories, I also remember what was going on in my home at that time. We shopped at those stores; we went to see those movies; we bought those records, as well as the televisions and record players and radios and other forms of entertainment that made us think we lived in a technological wonderland. In 1965, I thought that those stores were pretty much eternal; now, fifty years later, hardly any of the stores I frequented (or the stores who advertised in the paper) still exist.  Preparing this column each week grounds me in my own past, filling in missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of my own youth.

It's only natural that, as kids, almost all of us had an incredibly egocentric view of the world. Everything existed for us, apparently, and we measured its importance by how it impacted us. Now I can look at the world from a different perspective, and see the importance of some of the things I failed to fully appreciate back then.

And of course, I get to see Dad's work every week. Not just his columns (although I read those religiously), but also the every day sports articles that kept him so busy. Rome had one paper with only three or four people working on sports, but it had almost two dozen high schools in the greater Northwest Georgia area, and Dad was expected to cover them all. Now I can appreciate what Dad did to earn a living, and can recognize where I got my love for the written word.

Writing this column also makes me appreciate the humble grandeur of what Rome was fifty years ago. Today, Rome seems to be a city struggling to redefine itself; it's no longer a place where many of the residents can spend their entire lives without having to leave the greater Rome area for any of their needs. Rome was a vibrant and flourishing community in the 1960s, and I hope that I communicate some of that through my weekly offerings.

Do I think that the movies or the comics or the Beatles were vitally important to Rome in the 1960s? Of course not--but they were vitally important to me, and this column is a look back at Rome a half-century ago as I lived it.

So I do this column not only to share a glimpse of what West Rome was a half-century ago, but also to remind myself what was going on in my world. I am reminded of those who influenced me, of the events that helped to shape me, and I am given the opportunity to revisit that time and place on a weekly basis. So even if no one else ever read these pieces, I'd keep doing them for me. I took far too much of this for granted in 1965--now I'm getting a second chance to appreciate it, and I'm enjoying every minute of it!