Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/24/1965 to 5/30/1965

This was the last full school week of the 1964-1965 school year; Chieftains had to come back on Monday and Tuesday of the next week, but a two-day week (even one with final exams) wasn't that much of a school week at all! Seniors' last day of class was Friday, May 28th, with Senior Class Night scheduled for that evening.

The Rome City School system announced an agreement with the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that would result in the desegregation of grades 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, and 12 in the 1965-1966 school year and the addition of grades 4, 8, 9, and 10 in the 1966-1967 school year, with all grades being desegregated by the beginning of the 1967-1968 school year. The era of "separate but equal" (which was never truly equal at all) was finally coming to an end, even though it's unclear why it was taking three years to fully bring segregation to a close--it seems like it would have been easier to have desegregated all grades at once than to have this complex system of individual grade desegregation...

Coach Paul Kennedy was chosen by the Kiwanis Club as the Track Coach of the Year in Rome and Floyd County. The Rome/Floyd County all-star track team was also announced (based on best posted times and distances), and it included Dickie Sapp in the hundred yard dash (10 seconds); Arbie Lovell in the high hurdles (15.2 seconds); Arbie Lovell in the low hurdles (20.4 seconds); Dickie Sapp in the broad jump (22' 8.25"); and Dickie Sapp, Louis Kauffman, Arbie Lovell, Ray Jones, and Steve Holland in the 440 relay.

The Floyd Hospital Authority announced plans to construct an eight-bed psychiatric ward addition paid for entirely with local funds; the addition would provide semi-private rooms to the psychiatric wing. Constructing the addition without federal funding would speed up the construction by more than a year.

Did you know that there was once a federal excise tax on televisions? Well, that tax ended in May 1965, and the immediate result was lower television prices. Sears has a 21" Silvertone color television for only $329.00 (yeah, that's the equivalent of almost $2500 in today's dollars, but cutting edge technology has always been expensive!...)

Dempsey-Anderson Motor Company advertised the new 1965 1/2 Rambler Marlin Sports Fastback on sale this week in 1965. The Marlin was a sports fastback with a vinyl roof hardtop, a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, a 327 cubic inch V-8, and reclining front seats.

Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated the beginning of summer with an 89¢ chicken dinner special featuring three pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, slaw, and hot biscuits. If that was too much for your budget, 54¢ would get a chicken gizzard dinner with the same sides, while 69¢ would buy a chicken liver dinner (a real treat in my household!). They also urged customers to try their "famous Brunswick stew" (I must confess that I don't recall KFC's Brunswick stew at all, so apparently their ad campaign wasn't successful with my family--or the stew was too expensive for out budget back in the mid-1960s).

Piggly Wiggly had Peter Pan canned tuna (Peter Pan made tuna?) for a quarter a can, Southern brand American cheese for 49¢ a pound, and Plymouth bacon for 59¢ a pound. Big Apple had pork tenderloin for 57¢ a pound, Happy Valley ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound. Kroger had 12 ounce cans of Big K soft drinks for 6¢ each, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and baking hens for 29¢ a pound. A&P had Oscar Mayer bologna for 39¢ a pound, shank portion ham for 35¢ a pound, and vine ripe tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. Couch's had their in-store-ground country sausage for 49¢ a pound, 18 ounce jars of Bama strawberry preserves for 49¢, and squash for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Mary Poppins (with Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto Theater and Young Cassidy (with Rod Taylor) at the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-in resumed its seven-nights-a-week schedule this week in 1965 with a double feature of Commancheros (with John Wayne) and John Goldfarb Please Come Home (starring Shirley MacLaine & Peter Ustinov--and written by none other than William Peter Blatty, who went on to become famous for The Exorcist). The midweek switch out brought a double feature of Dr. No and From Russia With Love (the first two James Bond films, both starring Sean Connery, the one true James Bond) to the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In went for the big screen spectacle with Cleopatra (starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton); Mary Poppins hung around for a second week at the DeSoto.

The Beach Boys took the number one spot this week for the second week in a row this week in 1965 with "Help Me Rhonda."  Other top ten hits included "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#2); "Back in My Arms Again" by the Supremes (#3); "Crying in the Chapel" by Elvis Presley (#4); "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles (#5); "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits (#6); "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#7); "Just a Little" by the Beau Brummels (#8); "Engine Engine #9" by Roger Miller (#9); and "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones (#10).

The number one album this week wasn't by any of the artists listed above, however: it was the Mary Poppins soundtrack, which had taken the number on position in April and was destined to hold on to that slot until mid-July.

The Enemy Ace, a somber, introspective WWI flying ace inspired by Baron Von Richthofen, earned his first solo comic book this week in 1965. Written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Joe Kubert, Showcase #57 featured a full-length tale of Hans Von Hammer, who was first introduced in Our Army at War #151 a few months earlier.

Who knew that Max Baer, best known for his portrayal of Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies, was such a hostile and unpleasant guy? Well, we all knew after reading his interview in TV Guide this week in 1965; he revealed that he didn't like the show, but "the money's good, the dames are good..." He also dismissed fellow actors on other hit series, such as  Jim Drury and Robert Reed, as "nothing actors" who were nothing more than handsome faces. *sigh*

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/17/1965 5o 5/23/1965

Any Chieftains hoping to take the long way around Redmond Circle to West Rome was probably surprised to discover that the road was closed to through traffic for the first two days of the week due to resurfacing of the Redmond Circle-Garden Lakes Boulevard intersection. (While my parents never went this way to take me to school when I was a kid, I remember that Phil Patterson's sister Judy sometimes went "the long way" from Watson Street to West Rome High, and I'm sure she wasn't the only one.)

And speaking of Watson Street, at long last, Rome's new million-gallon water tank near the railroad tracks on Watson Street was completed and painted this week in 1965. Once the paint was allowed to dry and cure, Rome would begin filling the tank in preparation to put it into service beginning in July. The addition of a 1 million gallon tank was designed to alleviate water pressure issues in West Rome; since development began in West Rome in the 1950s, Rome's water usage had grown to six million gallons a day on average, and almost a quarter of that was in the West Rome area.

Stan Dawson was awarded Shorter College's Dean's Scholarship for the 1965 summer session. "Stan was chosen because of his outstanding record and capabilities," West Rome guidance counselor Owen Blanton said. The scholarship covered tuition costs for summer courses at Shorter.

Rome and Floyd County School System officials met with US Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel in Atlanta this week in 1965, hoping to discuss school desegregation rulings and plans for the next school year. The federal government had informed both systems that they were requiring that at least four grades be desegregated by the start of the 1965-1966 school year in order for each system to continue receiving federal funds. The Rome system's counter-proposal involved desegregating the first through third grades, while the federal government insisted that they had to desegregate the first grade, the seventh grade, the ninth grade, and the twelfth grade. The meetings were designed to develop a final agreement in order to avoid a funding cutoff.

At the same time that a federal funds cutoff was being threatened, the Rome City School System announced that they had received a $31,000 federal grant to launch a Project Headstart pre-school program for underprivileged students. "Availability of these funds in Rome will enable these children to get a head start in escaping from poverty by avoiding its basic cause—the lack of an early education," Seventh District Congressman John W. Davis said.

WROM-FM began a soft launch of its stereo broadcasting on 97.7FM on Sunday, May 23rd, prior to launching full-time service on Monday, May 24th. This would be Rome's first full-time FM stereo radio station, which would mean an uphill battle for listeners, since few vehicles and even fewer homes had FM radios at this time.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Borden's sherbet for 49¢ a half-gallon, and cantaloupes for 29¢ each.  Big Apple had Cudahy's bacon for 55¢ a pound, Peter Pan peanut butter for 35¢ a jar, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, fresh eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Spotlight coffee for 59¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, strawberries for 29¢ a pint, and Hydrox (better than Oreos!) for 45¢ a package. Couch's had Morton's or Mrs. Smith's frozen pies for 33¢ each, five pounds of Domino Sugar for 39¢, and T-bone steak for 89¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Beach Blanket Bingo at the DeSoto Theater and Masquerade at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought the acclaimed Walt Disney film Mary Poppins (with Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke) to the DeSoto for a two-week run and The Fool Killer (with Anthony Perkins) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In's weekend double feature included Fun In Acapulco (with Elvis Presley) and Black Spurs (with nobody who matters).

The Beach Boys took the number one position this week in 1965 with "Help Me Rhonda." Other top ten hits included "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles (#2); "Back in My Arms Again" by the Supremes (#3); "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#5); "Crying in the Chapel" by Elvis Presley (#6); "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#8); "Just a Little" by the Beau Brummels (#9); and "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones (#10).

This week in 1965, CBS announced that they had signed Eddie Albert to appear in a new sitcom slated to debut in the fall of '65; the working title was Country Cousins, but most of us remember it by its final name, Green Acres.

Among this week's noteworthy album releases were Tom Jones' debut album Along Came Jones; Herman's Hermits on Tour by... well, you can figure it out; My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand; My Funny Valentine by Miles Davis; Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock; and Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Family by Birth, Family by Choice

I have no brothers by birth. I have one incredible sister, Kimberly, but she and are the only two children in our family.

I am lucky enough, however, to have two brothers by choice: Charles Rutledge and Jim Moore. These are people who have become such close friends over the years that I have come to love both of them as brothers. These are men with whom I've shared both the joys and the hardships that life has dealt me; they have celebrated my best moments, and they have helped me to endure my worst. I love the both of them as much as I could love any brother by birth.

Charles and Jim have been so close by for so long that I pretty much took it for granted that they would always be a part of my daily existence. Sometimes you don't really know how good things were until they change. I didn't fully appreciate their daily presence in my life until I first realized that was about to change.

Jim has often talked of moving to New England, but the fates and the complexities of life conspired to keep him here for so long that I had thought (or hoped) that he was a Georgian for life. However, in recent months a variety of events  intersected at just the right moment, leading Jim to decide this was the time to give New England a try.

As of tomorrow morning, Jim hits the road for Boston, all his belongings in a U-Haul truck; he's joined by his good friend Chris Golden, who flew down here for World Horror Con and is riding back with Jim. Chris is a great guy, and I'm glad that he's working with Jim to make this dream of a New England life become a reality. But at the same time, part of me wishes it wasn't happening.

Jim has been a cherished part of our Wednesday night dinners for so long that it'll be tough to see anyone else sitting in his chair; I'll have the resist the urge to tell them to move over so that Jim will have a place at the table with us. But for a while, at least (and we're hoping it's only for a while), Jim will be with us in spirit only. The lively conversations, the occasional venting, the ruminations, prognostications, and cogitations... they'll have to take place via email or phone. But that chair just to Charles' left will always be Jim's chair; we're just letting other people keep it warm for him.

Thornton Wilder said it pretty well in Our Town:

“EMILY: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?"

STAGE MANAGER: "No. Saints and poets maybe...they do some.” 

Not one of us every fully realizes the wondrous joy of all those moments while we live them, alas; it's only when they end (hopefully temporarily... but I more than many know the unpredictability of our lives) that we can fully gauge what they meant to us.

Jim, you meant a lot. Still do. And while you're in Boston, remember—there's a place at the table for you every Wednesday.

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/10/1965 to 5/16/1965

West Rome extended its winning streak to eight games on Monday with a pair of victories. They began with an 11-4 victory over Dalton in a regular season game, then followed that up on the same day with a 14-4 win over Armuchee in the Annual Floyd County tournament. The Chiefs looked likely to extend their win to nine games with a victory over East Rome on Tuesday, but a rain storm forced the game to be called in the third inning... too early for West Rome's 5-1 lead to translate into a win. The game was rescheduled for May 12th, but the 24-hour delay did not deter West Rome, with the Chief posting a 7-6 victory. Alas, the win wasn't enough to move West Rome's baseball team into the playoffs; instead, it forced East Rome into a playoff against Calhoun for the Region 3-AA South title. (A mixed early season took a toll that a nine-game winning streak couldn't overcome, unfortunately.)

The Floyd County baseball tournament was held on Thursday, May 13th, with West Rome winning 9-8 over Model. The win wasn't a sure thing, though: Model scored seven runs in the first inning, but West Rome came back to take the game. Alas, the Chieftains' winning streak ended there; the next day, they were defeated 5-4 by Darlington, who took the Floyd County championship.

West Rome's track team defeated the Gladiators on Tuesday with a 87 1/2 point to 85 point win; LaFayette and Calhoun came in a distant third and fourth place. The victory resulted in West Rome taking the sub-region championship and advancing to the Region 3-AA South track and field championship. "I never saw a more determined bunch of guys in my life," Coach Kennedy said. "We trailed to 18 points at one time and the closest I figured we could come to East Rome was six points."

The track team's winning streak ended there, however. Dalton won a decisive victory, scoring 132 points to West Rome's 77, due in large part to Dickie Sapp's injury in a pre-game bicycle incident at the school early Friday afternoon. As a result, Dalton took the Region 3-AA championship.

The West Rome Senior band held its banquet at the Aloha Restaurant (one of Rome's classier restaurants in the 1960s) on the evening of May 12th. Band director Clyde Roberson presented music camp scholarships to Jean Jackson, Pattie Tolbert, and Travis Payne. New band officers were announced, including Travis Payne (band captain), Wayne Dempsey (drum major); Tony Baker (percussion lieutenant); Regina Swinford (brass lieutenant); and Pat Barner (woodwind lieutenant). Barbara Oldham was named solo twirler; Elissa Payne, majorette captain; and Inga Thomas, Connie Wiggins, Dianne Chambers, Sally Ryer, and Terry Holcomb, majorettes. The 1965-66 color guard included Susan Whaley, Jan Drummond, Judy Ross, and Gwen Day.

On Tuesday, May 11th, Rome voters passed a bond issue to finance school additions and recreational facilities. As is all too common, the vote was decided by a small minority of voters--only 1610 of 10,000 registered voters actually voted, with about 75% of those voters voting in favor of the bond issues. Apparently some things never change... and voter apathy remains at the top of the list.

The Rome City School System "decided to decide" in their meeting on May 13th, voting to file an official desegregation plan by June 15th. This was less than the federal and state government had asked for; they had indicated that some federal and state funds might be withheld if the plan wasn't filed by the end of January. Ultimately, both the federal and state governments agreed to continue funding while waiting on the final plan.

Rome's Annual "May Daze" sales event took place on May 13th, 14th, and 15th, with Rome merchants running special sales on all sorts of merchandise; according to the Rome News-Tribune, this sale event was second only to the week before Christmas in the sales volume that it generated each year. (This was a time when the phrase "Black Friday" didn't exist in terms of shopping; while merchants began stocking and displaying Christmas merchandise right after Thanksgiving, there were no special sales events on that Friday. As a result, Christmas sales hit their peak in the days just before Christmas, not the Thanksgiving weekend.) Sales included a 4 quart ice cream freezer for $14.88 at Enloe's Rexall Drugs, Caravelle watches for $10.95 at Brocks, women's coats for $19 at Esserman's, a Hamilton Beach electric hand mixer for $8.88 at Buy Wise, white wall tires for $19.50 each at Sears, sport coats for $7.99 at Millers, bed pillows for $1 each at Redfords, women's shoes for $10 a pair at Higgins, purses for $2.59 each at Millers, a 21" console color television for $396 at Rome TV and Electronics, a four-racquet badminton set for $4.87 at Murphy's,  and much, much more.

Piggly Wiggly had sliced picnic ham for 33¢ a pound, frozen french fries for 19¢ a pound, and fresh okra for 39¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, grapefruit for a nickel each, and eight-count canned biscuits for a dime. Big Apple had Cudahy all-meat hot dogs for 39¢ a package, ground beef for 37¢ a pound, and Nabisco saltines for 19¢ a box. A&P had cantaloupes for 29¢ each, chicken breast quarters for 39¢ a pound, and A&P Coffee for 73¢ a pound. Couch's had chuck roast for 29¢ a pound, Coca Cola or Tab for 99¢ a case pus deposit, and cucumbers for a nickel each.

The cinematic week began with John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn at the DeSoto and My Blood Runs Cold (with Troy Donahue & Joey Heatherton) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought the bawdy Fanny Hill ("A Female Tom Jones!" the ad declared... alas, today that would only confuse most newspaper readers, who would wonder what a period piece film has to do with a aging pop singer) to the First Avenue and the decidedly not bawdy Beach Blanket Bingo (with Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello) to the DeSoto. The West Rome Drive-In added a double feature for the weekend—Captain Newman (with Gregory Peck & Tony Curtis) and The Truth About Spring (with Hayley Mills & James MacArthur).

The Beatles returned to number one with "Ticket to Ride," finally bouncing Herman's Hermits out of first place. Other top ten its included "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits (#2); "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys (#4); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#5); "Back in My Arms Again" by the Supremes (#6); "Silhouettes" by Herman's Hermits (#7); "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#8); "Just One In My Life" by the Righteous Brothers (#9); and "Crying in the Chapel" by Elvis Presley (#10).

Donovan Leitch, better known by his first name only, made his musical debut this week in 1965 with the release of the album What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid in the UK; in the US, the title was changed to Catch the Wind to take advantage of the popularity of the single by the same name. Donovan began as a folk singer in the Pete Seeger-Bob Dylan vein before venturing into pre-psychedelic pop with songs like "Mellow Yellow" and "Hurdy Gurdy Man."

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/3/1965 to 5/9/1965

The Rome City School Board gave priority approval to an expenditure for shop equipment for the new West Rome High shop that was already under construction. Yes, the city did indeed approve construction of a new shop before deciding whether or not to pay for any equipment to go into those newly constructed walls! Such is educational bureaucracy...

West Rome's track team defeated Cherokee County and Calhoun in a three-way track meet on May 3rd, racking up 99 points versus Cherokee's 34 and Calhoun's 25. Steve Holland set a school record of 22.9 seconds in the 220 yard dash.

The Chieftains beat the Carollton Trojans 7-6 on Wednesday, May 5th. The victory came in the 7th inning, thanks to the hitting of Tod Zeiger and Ronnie Parker. The next day, they defeated Coosa 11-5 in a game that was clearly West Rome's from the first inning, when they scored three runs. Then they posted another victory (their sixth win in a row) on Saturday, beating Cass 9-5.

And finally, topping out a great sports week for West Rome, the Chiefs defeated East Rome thanks to a victory in the mile relay... the same race in which a loss the year before had caused the Chiefs to fall to the Gladiators. In both years, the score was tied 61-61 going into the final event.

West Rome junior Janet Johnson was chosen as the state reporter for the Georgia Association of Library Assistants; Johnson was elected at the annual convention held in Lake Jackson.

Don Biggers (my dad and one of the most ardent West Rome supporters I knew, even though his job as sports editor required that he keep that out of his newspaper columns and articles) was one of three Rome News-Tribune staff members to win an Associated Press news writing award this week in 1965. Dad won a first place citation or sports reporting for his interview with golfer Phil Rodgers. Mom always celebrated Dad's awards with a special meal or a special dessert; I wish now I could say that I remembered exactly what we had in celebration of Dad's recognition. (One of the most enjoyable aspects of researching material for this column is that I get to see Dad's professional acumen from the point of view of an adult who fully realizes the challenge posed by a blank page--or screen--and a deadline. He made it look so easy that I just assumed that writing came naturally for everyone.  I wouldn't be a  professional writer--nor would I be doing this column each week--if Dad hadn't made writing seem to be as intrinsic a part of our lives as speaking.)

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's Premium franks for 39¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound, and fresh strawberries for 49¢ a quart. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 69¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had Oscar Mayer bacon for 59¢ a pound, carrots for a dime a bunch, and a 24-ounce jar of Bama strawberry preserves for 49¢. A&P had cubed steak for 99¢ a pound, whole watermelons for 59¢, and lettuce for a dime a head. Couch's had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, a pint of JFG mayonnaise for 29¢, and a case of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with The Truth About Spring (with Hayley Mills & James MacArthur) at the DeSoto and A Boy Ten Feet Tall (with Edward G. Robinson) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn to the DeSoto Theatre and Kimberley Jim (with Jim Reeves) to the First Avenue--and for some reason, Rome's theaters were so convinced that people wanted to see Kimberley Jim that they also showed at the West Rome Drive-In over the weekend. That's a lot of screen time for a movie that I've never heard of!...

Herman's Hermits had two songs in the top ten for the third week in a row: "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" held on to first place, while "Silhouettes" climbed to #5. Other top ten hits included "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#2); "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles (#3); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#4); "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys (#6); "I Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#7); "I'll Be Doggone" by Marvin Gaye (#8); "Just Once in My Life" by the Righteous Brothers (#9); and "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#10).

Thor first faced off against the Destroyer in Marvel Comics' Journey Into Mystery #118, on sale this week in 1965. As I watched the Destroyer confront Thor on the big screen a couple of years ago, I still remembered the sense of wonder that Stan Lee & Jack Kirby brought to this story a half-century ago, and I only wish that Jack had lived long enough to see one of his most visually distinctive villains adapted so well to film.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/26/1965 to 5/2/1965

The Rome News-Tribune spotlighted Debby Cooke, a West Rome student who earned straight As even though she was unable to attend any classes due to a severe respiratory ailment. Instead, Robert Honaker of the West Rome High faculty went to Debby's home twice a week for an hour and a half of instruction and work assignments. "Debby does all the work that regular students do, and takes all the required classes," Honaker said. Not only did she keep up with other students, but she often stayed ahead of them.

West Rome's track team once again took first place in a three-way meet, defeating Cedartown and Berry on Monday, April 26th. West Rome scored 106 points, 40 more points than the other two schools combined. West Rome had nine first-place wins, while Arbie Lovell broke the school high hurdles mark and Greg Gray broke the school discus record (a record that was set just a week earlier by Rusty Oxford).

Unfortunately, West Rome only managed to take second place in the Fifth Annual Rome News-Tribune Relays, held on April 30th and May 1st at the West Rome track. Crosstown rival East Rome took first place.

West Rome defeated Chattooga 4-3 in a ten-inning game on April 30th. Stan Dawson scored the winning run on a two-out double by Ken Payne.

The Chiefs defeated Calhoun 8-4 on May 1st, avenging their defeat by Calhoun earlier in the season. Ironically, the victory knocked Calhoun out of the number one place in Region 3-AA, advancing West Rome's arch-rivals East Rome into a tie for first place. Undoubtedly the Gladiators appreciated the favor...

The West Roma Dance Band performed a special jazz festival Friday night, April 30th, at the City Auditorium. Ironically, dancing was not allowed.

Dempsey-Anderson Motor Company ran ads touting the fact that the Rambler American 440 won the Mobil Economy Run with 25.7 miles per gallon from its 125-hp overhead V6 engine.  Yes, you read that right--125 horsepower! (Of course, that beat the 50 horsepower that my family's 1964 Volkswagen offered...)

Construction began on Georgia' first tri-level interchange this week in 1965. The interchange connected US 411, US 27, State Roue 101, and Turner McCall Boulevard. The project came in at a total of $2 million (which would be the equivalent of $15 million in today's dollars). It's hard to believe that Rome actually claimed this major feat of traffic engineering before Atlanta, but it's true!

Krystal advertised their spring special: 5 Krystal hamburgers for 25¢. No wonder Krystal had a reputation as the go-to place for food on a student's budget! Meanwhile, Redford's bargain dinner o the week was country-fried steak with blackeyed peas, candied yams, tossed salad, and rolls for 50¢.

Piggly Wiggly had 24 ounce cans of Swift's spaghetti  and meat sauce for 33¢, a 16-ounce package of Nabisco cookies for 39¢, and a 1i6-ounce can of Libby's fruit cocktail for 20¢. Kroger had t-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, 16 ounce cans of Van Camp's pork & beans for 9¢, and whole watermelons for 79¢. Big Apple had Swift's bacon for 49¢, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and vienna sausages for 19¢ a can. A&P had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, strawberries for 29¢ a pint, and Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Couch's had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Bumblebee tuna for 19¢ a can, and a case of Double-Cola for 69¢ plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney's Those Calloways at the DeSoto and Becket (with Richard Burton & Peter O'Toole) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought The Truth About Spring (with Hayley Mills & James MacArthur) to the DeSoto and 36 Hours (with James Garner & Eva Marie Saint) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In offered a weekend double feature that included Strange Bedfellows (with Rock Hudson & Gina Lollobrigida) and 40 Pounds of Trouble (with Tony Curtis & Suzanne Pleshette).

Oooey gooey! Officer Don brought his Popeye Club live program to the First Avenue Theater on Saturday morning, May 1st--and it included the ever-popular Ooey Gooey game, wherein blindfolded participants stuck their hands in one of three paper bags on a turntable; two of the bags contained candy and prizes, while one of the bagas contained chocolate syrup, eggs, and other substances that comprised the special Ooey Gooey bag. Problem was, Officer Don was just mischievous enough that he would often ensure that the turntable stopped on the Ooey Gooey bag...

Once again, Herman's Hermits had two spots in the top ten: "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" held on to the number one position, while "Silhouettes" climbed one place to #7. Other top ten hits included "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#2); "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles (#3); "Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (#4); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#5); "I Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#6); "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie & the Dreamers (#8); "The Last Time" by the Rolling Stones (#9); and "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Sounds Orchestral (#10). Obviously the British Invasion was in full swing, with British groups taking eight of the top ten slots, an Australian group taking one spot, and one lone US act (headed by Jerry Lewis's little boy Gary) in the top ten.

CBS revealed that the hit Andy Griffith Show was losing a major cast member: Don Knotts was not renewing his contract after five years, abandoning his role as Barney Fife; he filmed his last episode this week in 1964. Knotts' loss was so significant that Andy Griffith briefly considered leaving the series as well, although he ultimately decided to stay for a few more seasons. The networks briefly considered replacing Don Knotts with either Don Rickles or Bernard Fox, but ultimately decided to bring in Jack Burns to play Deputy Warren Ferguson. (Can you imagine an Andy Griffith Show with Don Rickles as a deputy?)

Television stations also began to take notice of the small but growing cable television market in the spring of 1965. Rather than viewing it as a way to make more money, the stations saw it as a threat, and tried to shut it down with threats of copyright infringement for retransmitting programs without permission. In 1965, only 10% of all homes in the US had access to cable television--and Rome wasn't one of them, with cable TV in Rome still three more years away.

The Teen Titans' late 1964 comics premiere proved so popular that DC brought them back at the end of April in Brave & Bold #60, produced by Bob Haney & Bruno Premiani. The characters were still relatively unfamiliar to many fans and some professionals, apparently, since Kid Flash's uniform is mis-colored throughout the story.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Buddy Saunders' Martian Iliad: Chatting About The Martian Legion

 I got to know Buddy Saunders long before he knew me. Soon after I discovered the world of fanzines through Rocket's Blast-Comicollector in the mid-1960s, I ran across Buddy through his fanzine work. A few years later, when Susan and I were writing and publishing the SF review fanzine Future Retrospective, I got to know Buddy as a science-fiction writer the co-author (with Howard Waldrop) of The Texas/Israeli War: 1999 (I no longer have ready access to a copy of the fanzine, but I remember that liked the book). Then, almost a decade later, I bought Dr. No's and got into comics retailing--and soon after I got to know Buddy Saunders yet again, this time as the owner of Lone Star Comics... and this time, he actually got to know me, too (it's about time!).

I didn't know if our paths would cross again once Buddy sold his stores a few years ago--and then I discovered his novel The Martian Legion, published by Russ Cochran (another person I got to know through his books, then later in person when our paths crossed at various conventions and gatherings--it's a small world, isn't it?)

The Martian Legion is a massive, lavishly produced novel--not only an adventure-fantasy fan's dream crossover event (starring such heroes as Tarzan, John Carter, Carson Napier, Alley Oop, Doc Savage, the Shadow, and--I suspect--a few additional characters drafted to fill in for Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless), but it's also a stunning presentation highlighting the artistry of book-making. As such, it's also an extremely large and extremely heavy book--don't plan on lying on the sofa and balancing this one on your chest while you read it unless you want to suffer the fate of Giles Corey. This is a book that pretty much requires a table-reading--but it's worth the extra effort!

After reading the book, I wanted to find out more about how, when, and why Buddy created a work of this scope and size. Thankfully, he was willing to chat about his new literary endeavor.

Most people immediately associate you with comics, not with ERB, sword and planet, or pulp hero adventure. These are obviously long-time interests of yours as well. How far back does your interest in and involvement with these authors, characters, and concepts go as a fan and reader? 

I first discovered Tarzan while in junior high school. Arlington was still a small town in the early 1960s (about 20,000 people, now 380,000), but it had one small bookstore. My mother would take me there every week and I'd spend some of my paper route money.  One Saturday I came upon a set of the nine Grosset and Dunlap Tarzan hardback editions. My eyes zeroed in on the dust jacket for Tarzan the Terrible.  Gee, I thought, I never saw a Tarzan like this at the movies! That cover still gives me chills of pleasure--Tarzan grappling with a black-furred was-don upon a cliff side.  I bought the book, read it, and the next week I was back at the little bookstore.  I marched right in, picked up the other eight Tarzan novels and took them to the checkout counter. The lady remembered me from the week before and said--and these are her exact words-- "You must have really enjoyed the first one." At that point I didn't know there were more Tarzan novels than those nine or that there were also Mars novels and a whole lot more, but a few years later I was disabused of my ignorance when Ace Books began reprinting just about every book ERB ever wrote, all in affordable paperback! The Frazetta and Krenkel covers were icing on the cake. By the time I graduated from high school in 1965 (my high school 50th reunion is this summer) I had read them all, and was an ERB fan for life. And somewhere in there I also discovered Doc Savage and The Shadow, again through reprint paperbacks.

I also don't think most readers knew you were a writer--it's that tendency everyone has to categorize people in specific niches. When did you begin writing? You did fanzine work in the 1960s, correct? And you've written SF as well--including a story that earned a Nebula nomination. Why didn't you write more? 

Yes, I did a lot of fanzines and some writing there, but in that period my ambition was to be a comic artist. My interest in writing developed out of that.  I never did any professional comic art, but I did write 20 or so stories for Warren's Creepy and Eerie magazines, the best story of the lot being to my mind The Comet's Curse, which was a reworking of a Demon super hero story I'd done earlier for one of BilJo White's  fanzines. A good friend of mine beginning in high school, Howard Waldrop, who remains my best friend to this day, and I both decided we wanted to be writers. By the time we hit college we were hard at it, and both members of the writing group, Turkey City Rodeo. Howard and I co-wrote The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 which was published by Ballantine Books. It went through two further paperback editions, and saw several foreign editions. Howard went on to a very successful career as a writer, producing mainly SF stories.  I got sidetracked by Lone Star Comics. It wasn't until the early 1990s that I resumed some writing. But before I put aside writing altogether for close to a couple of decades, I also had written a few short stories, and one, "Back to the Stone Age," was as you noted nominated for an SF Nebula, an honor even if I didn't take first place.
  
This is an incredibly ambitious work. Would you mind describing the premise of the book, and what characters are involved in the story, both in primary and in supporting roles? 

The Martian Legion: In Quest of Xonthron, is something like the Iliad on Mars. In The Martian Legion, the reader will meet familiar faces, some of them developed well beyond what ERB did, plus new faces from the mind of Jake Saunders.

Tarzan, John Carter, Doc Savage, the Shadow, Alley Oop, Carson Napier... there are a lot of classic heroes in this story! What brings together such a diverse group of characters? 

John Carter needs help in dealing with the therns who are again up to no good, in this case threatening to destroy Barsoom. The Warlord calls upon the heroes of Earth--Tarzan, other ERB stalwarts, plus The Shadow, Doc Savage, and another tough guy that will likely surprise many readers. Tarzan's younger son, Conan (one of my creations), plays an indispensable role, being the human thread that ties all the parts together.

Any time you mix a group of characters like this, it's a fan's dream come true--but it also has to be a challenge to get all the rights and permissions. How did you get everyone to sign off on this? 

I can thank my editor, Russ Cochran, for securing the necessary rights. Russ' reputation as a quality book publisher is well established. He published the three-volume Edgar Rice Burroughs Library of Illustration, a truly beautiful set of three books in a slipcase. More recently he did the Hopalong Cassidy book, another stunning production. Russ knew the folks at ERB, Inc. He secured the ERB rights and likewise the rights to the other characters, pretty much on the basis of his reputation. None knew me from Adam, but I think the various parties said to themselves, "We'll trust our characters with Russ because he wouldn't be in this deal unless he had confidence in the writer and the quality of his work." I'm sure the process wasn't as easy as I now make it sound, but from my perspective it seemed so.

Was there anything specific that inspired you to write The Martian Legion? 

It all began as a short story I promised my son. Even before he could read, my wife and I would read to him every evening. As soon as Conan was old enough for Oz, The Hobbit, and Tarzan and John Carter, we were reading those things along with the Carl Barks’ duck stories and John Stanley's Little Lulu. It didn't take Conan long to ask the question every new ERB fan asks, "Did Tarzan ever go to Barsoom and meet John Carter?" No, I said, he hadn't, but I'd write that story, just a little short story.  Well, that "little short story" just grew and grew like Topsy until it hit half-a-million words. And I had a blast writing every bit of it, getting to live every scene. I had the story outline in my head, but I didn't know what all went on between every point A and B.  So it was like I was reading my own book for the first time as I wrote it. That, my friend, is one fun experience!

When did you begin writing The Martian Legion? 

I began writing it in 1992 when my son Conan was twelve, the same age as Tarzan's son Conan (what a coincidence!) when The Martian Legion begins. Within the year I finished it. Then it sat on a shelf until about three years ago when I dusted it off and showed it to an initially skeptical but kind-hearted Russ Cochran.  I knew Russ loved ERB as much as I did.  He knew the material, respected the material as I did. He read the manuscript and told me, "Let's do this!"

How long did it take you to get the manuscript into the format that you wanted? 

Having "finished” the first draft, it took about two years of part-time editing to get a tight manuscript. Keep in mind, all during the writing and designing of this book, I was also running Lone Star Comics full time and involved locally with a citizen's group trying to improve governance in our city. But I'm a really quick writer, and computers make me a lot faster than when I wrote on an old Underwood manual or later IBM Selectric.  I did a lot of rewriting, and the book passed through innumerable rewrites. In one pass alone I cut 30,000 words, then ended up adding back 30,000 different words. Chapter 12, The Mystery of the Toonolian Marshes, was added to tie up loose ends that resulted from our failure to secure the right to a non-ERB character. After some brainstorming, Russ and I came up with a replacement from within the ERB pantheon.  I wrote the new chapter in a single week.

This is not only a wonderful sword and planet adventure, it's also a stunning example of book design. How did you and Russ Cochran end up working on this project? Did you initially envision something this elaborate and impressive, or were you seeing a more traditional book when you envisioned the print edition? Did you and Russ make plans for the format before the book was completed, or did that come about after the manuscript was done? 

From the beginning, I had a deluxe format in mind, and Russ was quick to sign on. Russ brought in Zavier Cabarga, whose book design skills are just incredible. We three conferenced as things went along, coming up with ideas, designs, formats, etc., all of which finally resulted in the book you now see.  Some ideas had to be abandoned. At one point we hoped to produce a metal presentation book (not a tin box but something substantial like case aluminum) with a hidden catch, but we couldn't find anyone who could produce what we wanted--at any price.  Two of the type fonts used in the book--Sword and Jake--by the way--were created by Zavier, and the Jake font (used for the spot illustration titles and elsewhere in the book) was designed exclusively for The Martian Legion and any further ERB novels I will be writing.

The plan to create multiple formats and editions at various price points is likewise unique. Whose idea was that? 

That was my idea--that and the book registry. After fifty years as a retailer, as well as a reader and collector, I’ve learned a few things, and like my dad before me, I have a good promotional sense.

 You and Russ have issued a rather impressive guarantee to readers and buyers: this book will never be sold more cheaply or via wholesale rates, ensuring that readers don't have to worry about buying it at full price now only to see it discounted in the next few months. As someone who has supported small press publishers only to be "bitten" by deep-discount offers a few months later, I appreciate this. Whose came up with guarantee, and what inspired it? 

The guarantee was also my idea. The integrity of the book matters a lot more to me than the money. As a longtime collector myself, nothing annoys me more than to pay full list for a nice item, telling the wife it's also a good investment (sometime we collectors have to say these things), only to see the item discounted or remaindered.  That will never happen with The Martian Legion. The book is likely the most costly per copy to produce SF/fantasy/adventure book ever published. And with current publishing trends, it may forever hold that title. But that said, it is totally paid for.  Russ and I don't owe anyone a dime. Even though Russ warned me that we might be producing filet mignon for a hot dog market, we were determined to produce a book Edgar Rice Burroughs would be proud of. At every step, Russ and I put quality over bean counting, and I think it shows in the final product.

Will there be further books in this format, or was this a standalone concept for you? 

My Martian Iliad is done. There'll not be another. But I will be writing other ERB novels, the first being a new Tarzan.

You've made it clear the current edition won't be discounted under any circumstance. For those who can't quite afford the current edition, is there a less expensive edition planned? 

I saw on one of the blogs that someone described the current edition as "pricy."  Russ and I won't argue that. It is an expensive book, but while "pricy," it is not overpriced. Those who can afford a copy are getting fully their money's worth.  We are sorry not everyone can afford the current format and with that in mind, it is our hope that a mass market publisher will come along and do a much more affordable paperback version. Such an edition wouldn't have the over 125 pieces of art, but all the story would be there. Russ and I think a mass market edition would bring the deluxe edition to the attention of thousands of potential new buyers, so such an edition isn’t something we oppose.

Any characters you wanted to include but were unable to? 

Yes, the other half of the characters not already in the book! Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I did use a lot of ERB's characters even as I leavened the story with some of my own.  For example, I wish I could have done more with Ras Thavas. But the writing had to stop somewhere, and at a quarter-of-a-million words was a good point. There will be future books--Tarzan, Mars, ERB's other worlds--so as I continue to write, additional characters will get their turn upon the stage.

Lastly, the story is very cinematic--lots of scenes that would work in a movie. Would you want to see The Martian Legion go there?  

Only if it were done right.  When Hollywood respects the source material, a movie version tends to be much better, even outstanding, the recent Marvel movies and the Lord of the Rings trilogy being prime examples. The special effects artists can now do anything and make it real, including anything that happens in my book. But will it happen? Only time will tell.



***


It's not too late to add The Martian Legion to your library; if you'd like a copy, you can learn more about it and place your order here at themartianlegion.com. (And if you get a chance, let 'em know that I sent you!)

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/19/1965 to 4/25/1965

Romans had to wait a little bit longer for construction of the new library to began, as federal funds were put on hold until the government was satisfied that Rome and Floyd County were complying with the civil rights law. Mrs. Emily Payne, library director, pointed out that the Tri-County Regional Library Board had already signed a certificate of compliance indicating that there would be no segregation at the library, but the federal government wasn't offering any estimate when they might actually lift the fiscal hold.

Academic letters (or bars for those who had received academic letters in prior years) were presented to West Rome High School seniors Ginny Burnett, Jan Ross, Barbara Beiswenger, Barbara Helie, Jimmy Cowart, Dan Sweltzer, and John Ross during an assembly program held on April 19th. Forty-eight other students in grades seven through eleven were also cited for scholarship.

West Rome's track team won 11 of 15 events on Wednesday afternoon, April 21st, to capture a three-way victory over Carrollton and Rockmart; the Chiefs had 88.5 points, more than 30 points more than the second-place team. Jerry Coalson and Rusty Oxford set school records in the 880-yard run and the discus respectively.

West Rome's baseball team also racked up a win on April 21st, defeating Cassville 4-2 in a region game.

East Rome and West Rome baseball teams faced off on Friday, April 23rd, but the game didn't go West Rome's way, with the Gladiators winning 6-5 on a seventh-inning two-out single.


The Chieftains came back on Saturday, April 24th, posting a 15-8 win over the Cedartown bulldogs--a fitting bit of revenge against the team that defeated West Rome earlier in the season.

West Rome students celebrated Western Pioneer Day on Friday, April 23rd. Students dressed in Western-themed clothes; many of those who did not dress in keeping with the spirit of the day were put in "jail" and had to pay a ten cent fine to buy their way out.

Piggly Wiggly had chicken livers for 79¢ a pound (I had no idea that chicken livers cost as much as steak!), Blackhawk bacon for 59¢ a pound, and strawberries for 29¢ a pint. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and a four-pound canned ham for $2.99. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, a quart of Bama pickles for 33¢, and Sultana apple jelly for 33¢ a jar. Couch's had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and a 24-bottle car of Coca-Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto and How to Murder Your Wife (with Jack Lemmon & Virna Lissi) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Walt Disney's Those Calloways to the DeSoto, Circus World (with John Wayne) to the First Avenue, and a weekend triple feature of Thunder Road, The Young Racers, and The Devil's Hairpin to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herman's Hermits took number one this week in 1965 with "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," one of two Herman's Hermits songs on the charts this week (they also had "Silhouettes" at #8). Other top ten hits included "Game of Love" by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (#2); "I  Know a Place" by Petula Clark (#3); "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie & the Dreamers (#4); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#5); "Tired of Waiting for You" by the Kinks (#6); "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "Last Time" by the Rolling Stones (#9); and "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#10).


Noteworthy album releases for the week included I Go To Pieces by Peter & Gordon, Introducing the Beau Brummels by the Beau Brummels, and the album with one of the sexiest and most notorious covers of the decade: Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

David McCallum, who played Illya Kuryakin on The Man from UNCLE, made his TV Guide cover premiere this week in 1965; he was also the subject of a feature article about his role on the series and his popularity with younger viewers, both male and female.

The Flash faced off against Reverse-Flash in Flash #153, on sale this week in 1965. Wonder if John Broome & Carmine Infantino, the writer and artist of the story, ever imagined that millions of viewers would watch the Flash and the Reverse-Flash face off on a major network TV series fifty years later?

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!