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!

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/8/1965 to 2/14/1965

Rapid growth in the Rome and Floyd County area in particular led to the seventh district becoming the state's most populous congressional district, Congressman John W. Davis reported this week in 1965.

Rumors were flying that the Floyd County Board of Education was considering construction of a new county high school to serve students from Garden Lakes and Alto Park Elementary Schools; the rumors placed the new school less than a mile from West Rome High School. Had it come to pass, West Rome would have had a new competitor to rival East Rome and Coosa--but as we all know, the proposed high school never got off the ground, and those students continued to attend Coosa instead.

Rehearsals were underway for the 1965 ChieftainActs, which was scheduled for March 12th and 13th. Director Bob McEwan said that the show would feature at least eight skits, three chorus lines, comedy acts, a faculty skit, two dramatic monologues, and three "secret skits" that were being rehearsed privately to ensure the element of surprise.

It wasn't a good week for the Chieftains as they fell to the Chattooga County Indians 38-37, losing in the final 10 seconds of the game. The defeat lowered West Rome's overall record to 9-5 and its sub-region records to 6-4. The girls had a much better night, winning their game in a 56-24 romp--and that gave the girls a 14-4 overall record for the season.

Kentucky Fried Chicken moved to its 820 Turner McCall Boulevard location this week in 1965--and in honor of the move, they offered such specials as a bucket of chicken for $3, a two-piece dinner box (or a three-piece fish box or an eight-piece shrimp box) for $1 each, and soft drinks for a dime each. It sounds pretty cheap, but when you adjust for inflation (the current inflation multiplier for the 1965-to-2015 period is $7.52), you'd be paying $7.52 for a dinner and $22.50+ for a bucket!

If your budget was a bit tighter than that, then perhaps five Krystal hamburgers for a quarter was more affordable! That was the special through Valentine's Day in 1965 (although I imagine that if someone gave his beloved five Krystal hamburgers, it might make for a memorable Valentine's Day in a not-so-pleasant way).

And if you wanted a Valentine's Day meal somewhere in the middle, then Redford's was the place to go: they had a hamburger steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and a roll for 50¢. Fried chicken, Krystal hamburgers, or hamburger steak... they weren't raising the culinary bar very high for Valentine's Day, were they?

Piggly Wiggly had shoulder roast for 59¢ a pound, lemons for 4¢ each, and bell peppers for a dime each. Kroger had fryers for 27¢ each, sweet potatoes for 12¢ a pound, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 49¢. Big Apple had Rath's bacon for 59¢ a pound, Merita bread for 19¢ a loaf, and Del Monte catsup for 19¢ a bottle. A&P had pork loin for 49¢ a pound, fresh eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Campbell's tomato soup for a dime a can. Couch's had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, Star Kist tuna for 41¢ a can, and Double Cola for 69¢ a 24-bottle case (plus deposit).

The cinematic began with Goodbye Charlie (with Tony Curtis & Debbie Reynolds) and Lili (with Leslie Caron) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Dear Brigitte (with James Stewart, Fabian, Shirley Carroll, and Billy Mumy) to the DeSoto and Quick! Before It Melts! (with George Maharis & Robert Morse) to the First Avenue.The West Rome Drive-In's weekend double feature included This Crowded Sky (with Dana Andrews & Rhonda Fleming) and Hercules Unchained (with Steve Reeves).

Saturday, February 13th saw the premiere of ABC's 15-minute program ABC Weekend News, which aired from 11:00 to 11:15 PM Saturdays and Sundays. Channel 11 (Atlanta's ABC affiliate in the 1960s) aired the program on Saturday night but not Sunday night; Channel 9 in Chattanooga chose not to air the program at all (or at least, not in its initial weeks). Apparently stations weren't convinced that we needed almost-constant news coverage!

The number one song this week in 1965 was "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys. Other top ten hits included "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers (#2); "Downtown" by Petula Clark (#3); "My Girl" by the Temptations (#4); "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis (#5); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#6); "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks (#7); "Shake" by Sam Cooke (#8); "I Go to Pieces" by Peter & Gordon (#9); and "The Boy From New York City" by the Ad Libs (#10).

Playboy Magazine ran an in-depth interview with the Beatles, conducted by Jean Shepherd. That gave a lot of us 1960s adolescents one more reason to attempt to secure a copy of Playboy...

(And speaking of the Beatles, Ringo Starr married Maureen Cox on February 11th, 1965--that left two Beatles married and two unmarried, for those who were keeping count.)

The Red Skull made his first Silver Age appearance as he confronted Captain America on the cover of Tales of Suspense #65, on sale this week in 1965. For those of us who were hooked on comics way before they became cool, this was a big deal indeed!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/1/1965 to 2/7/1965

Winter just wouldn't let go of Rome: once again, snow and ice hit the area on February 1st and 2nd. By Tuesday morning, the temperature had fallen to 10 degrees. Temperatures remained well below normal through the end of the week.

Rehearsals began for the 1965 ChieftainActs this week; the event was scheduled for March 12th and 13th. The theme of this year's show, which was produced by Hoyt Blaylock with assistance from Bob McEwan and Miss Kitty Alford, was "ChieftainActs Memoirs."

While both West Rome and East Rome were eliminated from the Region 3-AA title race by this time in 1965, that didn't stop them from playing their hearts out when the cross-town rivals faced each other on February 5th. West Rome's boys won 43-39 in the hard-fought game, while the girls won 27-14 to complete the Friday night sweep. The next night, the Chieftains added another victory to their record when they defeated Cass 67-54, while the girls team won 34-24.

A special assembly program was held on February 4th to recognize West Rome's wrestlers for their Northwest Georgia wrestling championship win. After the presentation, an anti-dropout film called "The Hurrying Kind" was shown to the assembled student body.

Nothing says love like a Krystal hamburger, apparently: Krystal offered a Valentine's Day Special beginning on February 5th, offering 5 Krystal hamburgers for a quarter. 

The much-discussed transfer of Rome's airline service from Eastern Airlines to Southern Airways was put on hold again, as Southern expressed some concerns about the profitability of the routes. The plans called for two flights a day from Rome to Atlanta and two flights a day from Atlanta back to Rome. There was even talk about implementing Rome flights to Memphis and New Orleans--plans that never came to pass, unfortunately. Could you image actually having a useful regional passenger airport in Rome?...

The Rome Breakfast Optimist Club presented West Rome principal Dick McPhee with a $100 check to help fund his "Youth Wants to Know" program in the Rome city Schools. The program was designed "to answer questions on courting, dating, marriage, alcoholism, smoking, integrity, and honesty." Seven ministers and four doctors had agreed to donate their time to the program.

Keeping 'em in stitches: The Chattanooga Sewing Center opened at 516 Shorter Avenue this week in 1965 (apparently geographical accuracy wasn't involved in the naming process). Specials involved a full-sized Singer slant-needle automatic sewing machine for $62 and portables for as low as $19.99.

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's bacon for 39¢ a pound, collards for 19¢ a bunch, and iceberg lettuce for 15¢ a pound. Kroger had smoked hams for 39¢ a  pound, red delicious apples for a nickel each, and a case of Coca Cola or Tab for 99¢ plus deposit. A&P had cubed steak for 79¢ a pound, Ann Page tomato soup for a dime a can, and oranges for 4¢ each. Big Apple had beef liver for 19¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and ten pounds of White Lily Flour for 99¢. Couch's had stew beef for 25¢ a pound, Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.49 a jar, and 5 pounds of grapefruit for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with The Pleasure Seekers at the DeSoto and The Outrage (with Paul Newman & Laurence Harvey) at the First Avenue--not exactly the sort of films that anyone was rushing to see.  The midweek switch out brought Goodbye Charlie (with Tony Curtis & Debbie Reynolds) to the DeSoto, while The Outrage was held over at the First Avenue. Goodbye Charlie also graced the West Rome Drive-In screen over the weekend (I had no idea that Tony Curtis was considered such a box office draw!).

The Righteous Brothers took the number one slot this week in 1965 with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Other top ten hits included "Downtown by Petula Clark (#2); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis (#4); "My Girl" by the Temptations (#5); "Hold What You've Got" by Joe Tex (#6); "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks (#7); "Shake" by Sam Cooke (#8); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#9); and "I Go to Pieces" by Peter & Gordon (#10).

And this was the week that Peter Jennings began his run as anchor of the ABC Nightly News.

Marvel released one of my all-time favorite single-issue comic book stories this week in 1965: Daredevil #7, featuring Daredevil versus the Sub-Mariner as presented by Stan Lee and Wally Wood. Wood's time at Marvel was far too brief, but it gave us one of the best "hopelessly outclassed hero won't give up" comic book stories ever told.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/25/1965 to 1/31/1965

What a waste of perfectly good snow; Rome had another snow and ice storm in January 1965--but this one arrived early on Saturday morning, which meant that there was no opportunity for a "get out of school free" snow day. At least we could go outside and enjoy the one to three inches of snow that fell on top of a tenth of an inch of freezing rain--and with temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees, the white stuff didn't melt quickly! US 27 north of Rome was the most dangerous road in the Rome area, although weather-related accidents were reported on Redmond Circle, Shorter Avenue, and Burnett Ferry Road.

While the availability of some federal funds was up in the air due to the Rome City School System's slow response to federal desegregation orders, other federal funds were definitely on their way to Rome. Assistant Superintendent JB Maddox confirmed that Rome was set to receive $229,320 in federal funds for pre-school programs and high-school work training programs.

Fifty years ago, the fight to bring I-75 closer to Rome was underway, with the Highways Committee of the Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce pushing for a route to the West of Cartersville... a route that would have taken the interstate through a portion of land owned by the Rollins family. Alas, one family's wishes circumvented what would have been best for northwest Georgia...

Senior Superlatives were announced this week in 1965. Jackie Lupo & Chris Lawler were selected Best Scholars; Carol Chapman & Derell Brookshire, Most Talented; Jane Martin & Chuck Hart, Wittiest; Eddie Hamilton & Jane Hairston, Best Looking; Jane McCollum & Gerry Law, Most Athletic; Caron Harper & Ronnie Allen, Best Dressed; Lynn Moore & Jerry Penny, Most Typical American Girl & Boy; Jayne Smallwood & Jerry Coalson, Most Congenial; Teresa Wood & Jackie Smith, Best Personality; and Dickie Sapp & Judy Wessinger, Most Popular. The big winners were Dickie Sapp & Judy Whitaker, who were tapped as Mister and Miss West Rome High School.

At the senior class meeting on Thursday, January 28th, Gretchen Lininger & Gordon Walden were chosen to prepare the class prophecies for the 1965 Watanyah. Terry Shaw & Marsha Peugh were tapped to prepare the Last Will & Testament.

West Rome's wrestlers put an end to Rossville's domination of area wrestling: the Chiefs finished with 102 points in the Third Annual Northwest Georgia Wrestling Tournament, well ahead of second-place Rossville's 86 points. East Rome was even further back with 77 points, which must have been particularly painful since the tournament was held in East Rome's gym...

The Chieftains posted their seventh victory of the season on Friday, January 29th, as they defeated Calhoun 64-46. Gerry Law scored 19 points, Stan Dawson scored 17, Eddie Hamilton scored 12, and Rusty Oxford scored 10. It was a more disappointing evening for the girls basketball team, unfortunately, as they lost to Calhoun 32-26.

Rome shoppers were in for a treat this week in 1965: Rome Jubilee Days meant that almost every store in Rome was running specials. Kesslers had dresses for $3 and $5; Goodyear had whitewall tires for $11 each; Belks had top-quality bath towels for $1.10; Esserman's had men's sport coats for $19; Millers had men's and women's winter coats for $9.98 to $19.99; Rhodes had a French provincial dining room set for $99; Wheeler's had suits for 40% and 50% off; and Murphy's had a wide selection of fabrics for 25¢ to 37¢ a yard. And that's just a small sampling of the bargains that made the last weekend in January the big weekend for shopping in Rome.

Piggly Wiggly had Delmonico steaks for 99¢ a pound, Maxwell House Coffee for 69¢ a pound, and cabbage for a nickel a head. Kroger had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half gallon, and lettuce for a dime a head. Big Apple had  sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, five pounds of Dixie Crystal sugar for 39¢, and tomatoes for 12¢ a pound. A&P had chicken livers for 19¢ a pound (oh, how I loved chicken livers for dinner when I was a kid--one of my favorite foods!), five pounds of White Lily flour for 49¢. and pork & beans for a dime a can. Couch's had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound; banana for 7.5¢ a pound (yes, that's seven and a half cents!), and saltines for 19¢ a box.

Rome moviegoers could choose from Invitation to a Gunfighter (with Yul Brynner) at the First Avenue and Father Goose at the DeSoto. The midweek movie switch-out brought The Pleasure Seekers (with Ann Margret & Tony Franciosa) to the DeSoto and For Those Who Think Young (with James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, & Paul Lynde) to the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In's weekends-only screening was a double feature of No Time For Sergeants (with Andy Griffith) and Gold of the Seven Saints (with Clint Walker & Roger Moore).

The number one song this week in 1965 was the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling.'" Other top ten hits included "Downtown" by Petula Clark (#2); "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis (#3); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#4); "Hold What You've Got" by Joe Tex (#5); "Love Potion Number Nine" by the Searchers (#6); "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks (#7); "My Girl" by the Temptations (#8); "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye (#9); and "Shake" by Sam Cooke (#10).

The Zombies made their American album debut this week in 1965, riding strong on the fall '64 success of "She's Not There." (Listening to that song and this album, you might find it hard to believe that these songs were all recorded in '64 and released in '65, since they all sound ahead of their time.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/181965 to 1/24/1965

Rome began the week in the deep freeze, with temperatures in the single digits early Monday morning, climbing to a high in the low 30s Monday night and a low in the low teens. This meant that the weekend's ice and snow was slow to let go of its hold on secondary roads, although all main roads were passable. Surprisingly, Rome City Schools were open for school nevertheless--much to the chagrin of many students who were certain they were going to get a snow day, I'm sure! (And you can rest assured that I was one of them!)

West Rome's boys basketball team defeated LaFayette 60-34 on Friday, January 22nd, while the girls lost in an ultra-low-scoring 17-12 game. Stan Dawson was the number one scorer for the Chiefs with 16 points.

The Rome City School system was still evaluating their response to a federal integration edict. The state board of education was urging local systems to comply with the order, which said that unless schools integrated their systems they would not receive federal aid for lunches and other programs.

Sinclair Oil's advertising campaign in the 1960s was built around that quaint notion that our oil reserves were the result of dead dinosaurs decomposing, so it seemed logical that one of the tchotchkes that Sinclair would offer as a bonus item was  a free dinosaur bank. This bronto bank could be had with the purchase of a tankful of new Sinclair gasoline with nickel. As much as I loved dinosaurs, I somehow got through my childhood without this bank... my guess is the cost of this new gasoline with added nickel was sufficiently high that Dad decided I could keep using the ceramic owl piggy bank that my mother had made for me a couple of years earlier...

And speaking of ceramics, apparently West Rome had its own ceramics studio that I never knew about: Marian's Ceramics at 130 Williamson Street in West Rome held an open house on Saturday and Sunday. They also held classes offering tips on staining and painting ceramics. Even though I didn't live that far away from Williamson Street--maybe a half-mile at the most--I never heard of Marian's Ceramics, and I don't think my mother knew about it, either. That was odd, because she was heavily involved in ceramics at this time (I still have the Blue Boy and Pink Girl ceramics sculptures she finished in 1964 or 1965, in fact).

Kroger had pork roast for 37¢ a pound, Ballard biscuits for 6¢ a can, and Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound. Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, Libby's chili for 29¢ a can, and a quart of JFG mayonnaise for 31¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and grapefruit for 8¢ each. Big Apple had pork steak for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for a dime a head, and Del Monte tuna for 29¢ a can. Couch's had a Oscar Mayer sliced bacon for 59¢ a pound, picnic hams for 33¢ a pound, and a 12-ounce jar of Blue Plate peach preserves for 19¢/

The cinematic week began with Father Goose (with Cary Grant & Leslie Caron) at the DeSoto and Joy House (with Jane Fonda & Alain Delon) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch up brought Invitation to a Gunfighter (with Yul Brynner) to the First Avenue, while Father Goose hung around for a bit longer at the DeSoto. The West Rome Drive-in had a B-movie extravaganza over the weekend, with Yellowstone Kelly and The Bad Seed (the latter of which was recommended "for adults only," which always seemed like an odd cinematic choice for a drive-in whose screen was clearly visible from Shorter Avenue).

While they weren't a hit in my house, someone obviously enjoyed The King Family. Their August 1964 special was so successful that they earned their own series, The King Family Show, which debuted on ABC on January 23rd, 1965.

Petula Clark took over the number one slot this week in 1965 with "Downtown." Other top ten hits included "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers (#2); "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis (#3); "Love Potion Number Nine" by the Searchers (#4); "Hold What You've Got" by Joe Tex (#5) "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye (#6); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#8); "Keep Searchin'" by Del Shannon (#9); and "All Day and All of the Night" by the Kinks (#10).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/11/1965 to 1/17/1965

The Chieftains took on Pepperell on the basketball court on Friday, January 15th, winning the game handily 52-32, led by Gerry Law's 16 points. The girls also defeated Pepperell, posting a 32-21 victory, led by Jane McCollum's 22 points. Thankfully, the Chiefs were able to get the game in before the bad weather began. What bad weather? Keep reading...

Rome was caught by surprise when a cold front triggered an unexpected snowfall and freezing rain on January 15th and 16th. Almost two dozen accidents were reported, included one multi-car ice-related collision on Shorter Avenue near Burnett Ferry Road. Temperatures fell to 9 degrees on Saturday morning and 11 degrees on Sunday morning, slowing any melting.

Seniors voted on senior superlatives this week, although the winners wouldn't be announced until later in the year.

The Elm Street Elementary PTA presented a special program entitled "Truth or Consequences" on the evening of Thursday, January 14th, during which Rome psychiatrist Dr. Ralph J. Davis discussed child guidance.

Wonder how many of our parents took us to Murphy's this week in 1965 for the $1.00 11" x 14" portrait special? I know that my parents took my sister to Murphy's to take advantage of the bargain price, and I suspect that many other Chieftains who have 11" x 14" childhood portraits in their parents' home may find Murphy's name stamped on the back...

Back in the days before mobile phones, one of the best ways to talk to people all over the country—and even the world—was with ham radio. This week in 1965, the YMCA offered a class in ham radio basics for interested teens and adults. Ralph Ayers, an electrical engineer at GE, taught the eight-week course; at the end of the course, all who passed would receive a novice license from the FCC.

Remember last week's mention of the prisoner who stayed and helped a guard who suffered a heart attack? Well, good deeds do get rewarded: Judge JD Maddox released the prisoner who helped to aid the 61-year-old guard, and convinced the other prisoners to take the stricken guard to get medical help.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Coca-Cola or Tab for 89¢ per case plus deposit, and apples for 12¢ a pound. Kroger has pork chops for 49¢ a pound, tangerines for 19¢ a pound, and Maxwell House Coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half gallon, Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 49¢ a pound, and American Beauty tomato soup for a dime a can. A&P had beef liver for 29¢ a pound, iceberg lettuce for 15¢ a head, and a 16-ounce bottle of Ann Page pancake syrup for 39¢. Couch's had rib steak for 79¢ a pound, 16 ounces of Bama apple jelly for 29¢, and vine ripened tomatoes (back at a time when that actually meant something) for 19¢  pound.

The cinematic week in Rome began with Walt Disney's So Dear My Heart at the DeSoto and the James Bond film Goldfinger at the First Avenue. The midweek switch up brought The Americanization of Emily (with James Garner &  Julie Andrews) to the DeSoto and The First Men in the Moon (with a cast no one would really care about) to the First Avenue... and apparently the Lams were convinced that this SF film was going to be a big, because they also scheduled it at the West Rome Drive-In over the weekend.  

Once again, the Beatles held on to number one this week in 1965 with "I Feel Fine." Other top ten hits included "Downtown" by Petula Clark (#2); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers (#3); "Love Potion Number Nine" by the Searchers (#4); "Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#5); "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis (#6); "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton (#7); "The Jerk" by the Larks (#8); "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) by Marvin Gaye (#9); and "Keep Searchin'" by Del Shannon (#10).

The Beatles held on to number one on the album charts with Beatles '65. Meanwhile, another British invasion group, The Who, released their first album, I Can't Explain, this week in 1965.

Sad news for those of us who loved to watch The Outer Limits on ABC: the final episode of the series, "The Probe," aired on January 16th.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/4/1965 to 1/10/1965

Here's a local story that sounds like the plot to a TV movie: six prisoners in a Floyd County Public Works Camp detail had a chance to escape when their 61-year-old guard suffered a heart attack. Rather than leave him and make a run for it, however, the six prisoners carried him back to their transport bus, then went to a nearby farmhouse to call for an ambulance—and then one of the prisoners accompanied him to the hospital to let the doctors know what had happened and to make sure that the guard was okay. Warden CM Caldwell said that "not a man gave a thought, apparently to escaping.... I am planning to write a letter to the Pardons and Paroles Board asking consideration for, and commending, the prisoners who did this kind and good deed without a thought of escaping."

The Chiefs took on the Berry Falcons in a home game on Friday, January 7th--but it didn't turn out the way West Rome had hoped it would. Instead, Berry posted a 48-41 win, with Gerry Law scoring 27 of West Rome's 41 points.

School was barely back in session after the Christmas break, but the West Rome seniors were already holding their first meeting to discuss graduation plans. The senior class meeting took place in the West Rome auditorium on Thursday, January 6th--the first of several meetings planned for the first few months of '65.

T.S. Eliot, the author whose poem "The Wasteland" almost all of us read (or were supposed to read) in English literature, died on January 4th, 1965.

Piggly Wiggly began the new year with chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, potatoes for 6¢ a pound, and jello for a dime a box. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, bacon for 39¢ a pound, and eggs for 35¢ a dozen. A&P had peaches for a quarter a pound, ice milk for 49¢ a half-gallon, and leg o' lamb for 59¢ a pound. Big Apple had pink salmon for 49¢ a can, a ten-pound bag of flour for 99¢, and ocean perch fillet for 29¢ a pound. couch's had smoked cured picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, Northern bathroom tissue for 9¢ a roll, and Showboat pork & beans for 9¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with The Disorderly Orderly (with Jerry Lewis) at the DeSoto and Goldfinger (with Sean Connery) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Walt Disney's So Dear to My Heart to the DeSoto, while Goldfinger was held over for another week (apparently James Bond mania was in full swing!). The West Rome Drive-In's weekend schedule included a forgettable double feature of Moonshine Mountain and God's Little Acre.

The Beatles held on to the number one position this week in 1965 with "I Feel Fine" (and their album Beatles '65 had a lock on first place in the album charts as well). Other top ten hits included "Come See About Me" by the Supremes (#2); "Love Potion Number Nine" by the Searchers (#3); "Downtown" by Petula Clark (#4); "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers (#5); "Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton (#6); "The Jerk" by the Larks (#7); "Goin' Out of My Head" by Little Anthony & the Imperials (#8); "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye (#9); and "Keep Searchin'" by Del Shannon (#10).

For those of us who loved comics, one of the best books of all time was published this week in 1965: The Great Comic Book Heroes, a retrospective and appreciation by Pulitzer-winner Jules Feiffer. The articles were fascinating, of course, but the real allure of this book was the heaping helping of long-unseen Golden Age comic book stories featuring Batman, Superman, Captain America, the Spirit, Hawkman, and many, many more. This hefty hardcover was beyond my early-1965 budget... but the book went on my Christmas list right away, and before the year was out, I'd have my very own copy!