Friday, February 15, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/17/1969 to 2/23/1969

The snow and ice that kept Romans indoors on Saturday and Sunday miraculously cleared by Monday morning, which meant a normal school and work day (much to the dismay of students who were undoubtedly certain that the ice would linger long enough to give them a snow day to start the week). Floyd County representative John Adams said that the bill would "open the door to an 18% interest rate, like they charge in Brazil." Apparently he underestimated the greed of credit card companies, who shot way past 18% as soon as usury laws were abandoned...

West Rome's own Sycondia Gammon was chosen as Miss Valentine by the Rome Teen Club Valentine's dance; the dance was postponed until Friday, February 21st, because of the icy weather that moved in on Valentine's evening. DW Bowman was chosen Mr. Valentine.

West Rome swept past Cedartown 65-52 on Tuesday night in the Region 7-AA Boys Tournament; Mike Day was the leading scorer with 19 points. The victory advanced the Chieftains to the Wednesday night semifinals, where they faced off against East Rome. Alas, things didn't go as well for the Chieftains in that game, as they fell to East Rome 65-43; Kenny Stephens scored 18 of West Rome's 43 points.

Burglars broke into the Shorter Heights Drive-In at 414 Shorter Avenue in the early hours of Monday morning, whereupon they ransacked two vending machines and stole a penny jar. The owners said that the thieves made off with approximately $50 from the vending machines and about $1 from the penny jar.

A fire broke out in the back room of the Ideal Service Station on Shorter Avenue on Thursday afternoon; considerable damage was done to the building, but firefighters were able to stop the flames from reaching the gas tanks, which could have been catastrophic. Two cars parked behind the building were totally destroyed.

Anyone who pays exorbitant credit card interest rates might be surprised to hear that the maximum legally allowed rate in Georgia was 8% in 1969--although a bill proposed in the state senate would allow that rate to climb all the way to 9%.

Piggly Wiggly had Oscar Mayer bologna for 39¢ a pound,  Atlanta Dairies ice milk for 19¢ a half-gallon (the lowest price I've seen for ice milk in the 7 years I've been doing this column!), and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had 3 pound Armour canned hams for $2.49, Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a pound, and RC or Diet-Rite Cola for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. A&P had chuck roast for 69¢ a pound, Alcoa Wrap for 69¢ a 200-foot box, and large temple oranges for 59¢ a dozen. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Fab detergent for 30¢ a box, and a 16-ounce jar of Miracle Whip for 19¢. Couch's had Hormel Little Sizzlers for 49¢ a pound, Gorton's fish sticks for 29¢ a box, and sweet potatoes for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Angel in My Pocket (starring Andy Griffith) at the DeSoto Theatre, Candy (starring Richard Burton) at the First Avenue Theater, and Prudence and the Pill (starring David Niven) at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend switchout brought Stalking Moon (starring Gregory Peck) to the DeSoto and Berserk (starring Joan Crawford) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Candy hung around for another week at the First Avenue. (Astute readers may note that I said "weekend switchout" rather than "midweek switchout": beginning this week in 1969, Rome's theaters changed new movie day at the theaters from Wednesday to Friday.)

Sly & the Family Stone held on to the number spot for another week with "Everyday People." Other top ten hits included "Crimson & Clover" by Tommy James & The Shondells (#2); "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations (#3); "Touch Me" by the Doors (#4); "Proud May" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (#5); "You Showed Me" by the Turtles (#6); "This Magic Moment" by Jay & the Americans (#7); "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); "Worst That Could Happen" by Brooklyn Bridge (#9); and "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe (#10).

The Beatles held both the number one and the number two positions on the album charts this week in 1969 with The Beatles (aka The White Album) at number one and Yellow Submarine at number two. Of course, Yellow Submarine wasn't a true Beatles album per se, but a soundtrack to the animated film that consisted of mostly previously-released tracks with a couple of new songs for contractual reasons. Another group had two albums in the top ten this week in 1969: Iron Butterfly, whose new album Ball climbed to number seven, while their history-making In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida fell to number ten on the charts (the 33rd week the album had charted!). Ball would be the final studio album with this group lineup; young guitarist Erik Brann would leave the group soon after the album's release, and would be replaced by two guitarists for the group's next album. Alas, the magic sound was gone, and the group's brief shot at rock super-stardom came to an end (although In-A-Gadda-da-Vida would remain one of rock music's best-selling albums).

This week in 1969, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan recorded together in Nashville, Tennessee. Alas, only one song from those sessions--"Girl from the North Country"--would be released.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/10/1969 to 2/16/1969

After a warm beginning to the week, a sudden cold snap brought freezing rain, ice, and snow to Rome on Saturday evening, causing hazardous driving conditions and the closing of numerous churches on Sunday morning. Students were undoubtedly frustrated, however, with the news that the ice should be gone by Monday morning, so all schools were open for class come Monday morning. (Is there anything more sad for a student than a snow-day wasted on a weekend?)

Governor Lester Maddox discovered how difficult it was to shoehorn a tax increase into the state legislative agenda when House Speaker George L. Smith buried his first proposal in committee and then ruled that the only way that the  legislature could consider the increase was if Governor Maddox could manage to get an all-new bill passed--a virtual impossibility, since the speaker would control whether that bill made it out of committee or not. The end result: plans to increase the state sales tax from 3% to 4% were dead for the 1969 legislative session, apparently.

Two Rome schools were hit by burglars in the wee hours of Monday morning. Both East Rome Junior High and Eighth Ward School were broken into and vending machines were ransacked, along with office desks. In addition, the thieves did thousands of dollars of vandalism damage at Eighth Ward School. Two days later, burglars broke into Midway School and stole a television set, a copying machine, and cash from the vending machines.

Piggly Wiggly had ground chuck for 68¢ a pound, Coca-Cola for 33¢ a carton (plus deposit), and a ten-pound bag of potatoes for 19¢. Kroger had pork chops for 79¢ a pound, large eggs for 49¢ a dozen, and bananas for 11¢ a pound. A&P had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, Chase & Sanborn coffee for 79¢ a pound, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Spic 'n' Span cleanser for 25¢ a canister, and five pounds of Pillsbury flour for 49¢. Couch's had Armour's all-meat wieners for 39¢ a pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and fresh corn for 8¢ an ear.

Sly & the Family Stone took the number one slot this week in 1969 with "Everyday People." Other top ten hits included "Crimson & Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells ( #2): "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations (#3); "Touch Me" by the Doors (#4); "Can I Change My Mind" by Tyrone Davis (#5); "Worst That Could Happen"  by Brooklyn Bridge (#6); "You Showed Me" by the Turtles (#7); "This Magic Moment" by Jay & the Americans (#8); "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (#9); and "I'm Livin' in Shame" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#10).

The cinematic week began with Angel in My Pocket (starring Andy Griffith) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills) at the First Avenue, and Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Candy (starring Richard Burton) to the First Avenue and Impasse (starring Burt Reynolds) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Angel in My Pocket hung around at the DeSoto for  second week.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/3/1969 to 2/9/1969

What started off as a cold rain turned into an icy mess Monday night and Tuesday morning as temperatures dropped below freezing, causing rainy roads to become slick with black ice. Kingston Road was the site of the most accidents, but slip-and-slide collisions were also reported on Turner McCall, Shorter Avenue, Alabama Road, Redmond Circle, and Martha Berry Boulevard.  Temperatures rose above freezing by mid-morning, however, and the ice was pretty much gone by lunchtime. Problems were considered too isolated for the school systems to close, although they told parents to exercise caution and good judgment in deciding whether it was safe for their kids to go to school.

The official desegregation plan under which Rome City Schools had been operating ever since the 1968-1969 school year began won belated approval from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which meant that the city school system was cleared to receive all federal funds for which it qualified. Rome was one of only 46 systems in the state that was judged fully compliant.

The Rome City Commission was on board with Governor Lester Maddox's proposed 1% sales tax increase, since the extra tax would bring the city $833,261 in the first year, and more than $146,600 would go to the school system.

Rome Police Chief Nelson Camp skipped right over the rash of Rome burglaries and robberies to focus on the real crime wave threatening the city: double-parking in downtown Rome. The chief warned people that the city would no longer allow double-parkers to pay their fines and be done with the matter; instead, they were going to require all recipients of double-parking citations to appear in court.

And speaking of burglars, safecrackers hit Westdale Hardware, peeling the safe open and stealing more than $100 in cash and several hundred dollars worth of tools. Burglars attempted the same sort of crime at Saunders Supply, but they were unable to open the safe. Burglars also entered East Rome Junior High School, breaking into the principal's office and ransacking it; school employees were unable to immediately determine what, if anything, was missing.

Three Armuchee men were arrested for counterfeiting after it was determining that they were passing bogus $10 bills to city and county businesses. Unfortunately for them, they chose to pass some of the bills at businesses where the owners knew them by name...

The Coosa Valley Fair received top honors for fairs during the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Agricultural Fairs in Atlanta. Wesley Johnson, Coosa Valley Fair Association president, accepted the award. 1968 Fair Queen Diane Weeks was awarded second runner-up in the "Fairest of the Fairs" contest.

What we would give for these interest rates today: National City Bank was paying 5.12711% interest on one year savings certificates (the equivalent of certificates of deposit) this week in 1969, with Rome Bank and Trust and First National Bank following close behind at 5.05%.

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 38¢ a pound, Tide detergent for 49¢ a box, and cabbage for 8¢ a head. A&P had veal steaks for 89¢ a pound, bakery-fresh sweet potato pies for 45¢ each, and vine ripe tomatoes for 29¢ a pound. Big Apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. Kroger had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Crest toothpaste for 33¢ a tube. Couch's had Armour Mira-Cure bacon for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate apple jelly for 15¢ a jar, and JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Secret Ceremony (starring Elizabeth Taylor) at the DeSoto Theatre, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (starring Dana Wynter) at the First Avenue, and The Paper Lion (starring Alan Alda) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Angel in My Pocket (starring Andy Griffith) to the DeSoto, The Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills) to the First Avenue and Who's Minding the Mint? (starring Jim Hutton) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Trying to ride the coattails of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In's success, ABC unveiled its sketch comedy series Turn-On on February 5th. While viewers loved Laugh-InTurn-On was quite the turn-off, though: it became one of the very few TV series to be cancelled after only one episode!

Marvel Comics' short-lived attempt to poke fun at themselves and their comics competition came to an end with the release of Not Brand Echo #13, the final issue of the series. While Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and other big-name talents were on hand to launch the series, by the time it came to an end, the book had been turned over to less high-profile (but still very skilled) creators like Roy Thomas, Arnold Drake, Marie Severin, and Bill Dubay.









Friday, January 25, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/27/1969 to 2/2/1969

West Romans awoke to a light dusting of snow on Monday, January 27th--but it wasn't enough to cover the grass, much less to close schools. That wasn't the case farther north, though, as Dalton and Toccoa both had heavy snowfalls that closed roads. While the weather warmed up quickly and melted any residual snow, the precipitation continued as rain for the remainder of January, pushing the monthly rainfall totals for 7.72 inches.

West Rome's boys basketball team defeated Cedartown 54-41, but the girls didn't fare quite as well, losing a close game 38-37. Kenny Stephens was the top scorer for the boys with 15 points, while Debbie Poarch was once gain the top scorer for the girls with 17 points.

Jimmy Carter paid a visit to Berry College on Wednesday, January 29th, delivering a speech on the future of education. In 1969, Carter was merely a former statue legislator and a failed candidate for governor; his major successes were yet to come.

Governor Lester Maddox began putting financial pressure on Floyd County legislators to support this proposed tax increase. Unless they voted in favor of the increase, Maddox told them that he would remove the proposed $6 million 300-bed regional mental health hospital and the proposed $12.5 million 400-bed tuberculosis treatment center (both of which were planned for the Battey State Hospital facility in Rome) from his budget.

Floyd Hospital announced the opening of its four-bed cardiac care unit this week in 1969. Because of the expense of equipping and maintaining a cardiac care unit, the hospital administrators announced that the patient cost would be $75 per day for the time that the patient spent in the coronary care unit, versus $50 a day for a private hospital room and $38 a day for a semi-private room. (If we adjust it for inflation, that would make the cost for a hospital stay  at $550 a day for cardiac care, $375 a day for a private room, and $275 a day for a semi-private room--and that's not a co-pay cost, but the total cost of a hospital stay!)

Rome's industrial expansion continued with the announcement that Inland Container was investing a half-million dollar expansion that would add more than 60 new jobs to the facility. The announcement was made at an employee recognition banquet that Inland held at the Forrest Hotel in Rome.

Two boys riding a motorcycle on Booger Hollow Road hit a cow on Thursday afternoon. The boys were rounding a curve and saw the cow in the middle of the road, but said they didn't have time to avoid the collision. The boys were treated and dismissed from Floyd Hospital; the cow reportedly wandered off (perhaps it sought medical treatment on its own). And I'm very proud that I resisted the urge to comment that the boys should have steered away from the cow. I wasn't there, though, so perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that made the accident udderly unavoidable...

Burglars hit three West Rome businesses in the wee hours of Monday morning. The thieves broke into Tom's Toasted Peanut Warehouse on Hanks Street, stealing four machines valued at $1900.00, along with other merchandise. Rome Poultry, also n Hanks street, was broken into as well, and about $100 in cash was stolen. And finally, burglars entered Metropolitan Life Insurance Company on Shorter Avenue, not too far from Hanks Street, but were unable to open the safe. (I lived in the blithe ignorance of youth, I guess: I had no idea that burglaries and break-ins were so common in Rome, and never imagined that some of them actually occurred within a mile or two of my house!)

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for $1.08 a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for 33£ a half-gallon, and squash for 19¢ a pound. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Jello for 9¢ a box, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had beef tenderloins for $1.99 a pound, Starkist tuna for 39¢ a can, and a one-pound package of Parkay margarine for 29¢. Big Apple had spare ribs for 59¢ a pound, Bama blackberry jelly for 23¢ a jar, and RC or Diet-Rite Cola for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. Couch's had lamb chops for 89¢ a pound, Castleberry's beef stew for 59¢ a can, and sweet potatoes for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (starring Dean Jones) at the DeSoto Theatre, Barbarella (starring Jane Fonda) at the First Avenue, and West Side Story (starring Natalie Wood) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Secret Ceremony (starring Elizabeth Taylor) to the DeSoto, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (starring Dana Wynter) to the First Avenue, and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (starring Rosalind Russell) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Tommy James & the Shondells held on to the number one slot for a second week with "Crimson and Clover." Other top ten hits included "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone (#2); "Worst That Could Happen" by Brooklyn Bridge (#3); "Touch Me" by The Doors (#4); "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations (#5); "I Started a Joke" by Bee Gees (#6); "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye (#7); "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations (#8); "Hang 'Em High" by Booker T & the MG's (#9); and "Can I Change My Mind" by Tyrone Davis (#10).

No one knew it at the time, but the Beatles made their last public performance on January 30th. The event was the famous "rooftop concert" that would be documented in the 1970 film Let It Be. The performance was stopped early by the police due to noise complaints from businesses in the vicinity of the Apple Building at 3 Saville Row in London.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fifty Years Ago in West Rome - 1/20/1969 to 1/26/1969

West Rome defeated their down-the-road rivals, the Coosa Eagles, 50-43 on Friday night, with Kenny Stephens the top scorer at 18 points. The girls team also won, 59-33, with Debbie Poarch accounting for 33 of those points (which means that she scored as many points as the entire Coosa team!).

The Rome Jaycees announced plans to collect petition signatures to call for a referendum on the legal sale of alcoholic beverages in Rome and Floyd County. "The Rome Jaycees take no position either for against the legal sale of alcoholic beverages," the group said in its statement of support, "but does feel that the present situation calls for a current statement of public policy by the taxpayers and citizens in the form of a referendum."

Gibson Discount Center announced plans to open a store on Highway 27 north of Rome, near the Georgia State Patrol headquarters. The company said that they envisioned the new store as being 20% bigger than Big K in West Rome, which was at the time the largest store in Rome and Floyd County. The store expected to hire 200 full and part-time employees once it opened.

Fairbanks Manufacturing announced plans to add 20,000 additional square feet to its West Rome plant. Fairbanks was Rome's oldest continuously-operating industry, dating back to 1887. The expansion would also lead to the creation of 60 new jobs.

General Electric also set a hiring record this week in 1969, with 1812 people employed at the plant located just up the road from West Rome High School. Nearly 200 new employees were hired in 1968 and the first week of 1969, making GE the largest single employer in the entire Northwest Georgia area.

Nowadays, if we want to talk to someone anywhere in the country, we just grab our mobile phone and give them a call—but it was entirely different back in the late 1960s, when the person-to-person daytime rate for a call from Rome to New York was more than a dollar a minute! To save on that cost, Southern Bell began pushing their Long Distance Direct service, which meant that you dialed the number rather than asking the operator to connect you to a person. The advantage? It was 40% cheaper. The disadvantage? If someone answered but the person you wanted to talk to wasn't there, you still had to pay for the first minute (with person to person calls, you only paid from the moment you began talking to the specific person you were trying to call). And the rates dropped an additional 25% if you called Long Distance Direct after 7:00 pm, which mean you could talk cross-country for as low as 40¢ a minute (that's almost $3.00 in today's money, adjusted for inflation)!

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Oreida tater tots for 38¢ a two-pound bag, and a 35-ounce box of Fab detergent for 19¢. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Bailey Supreme coffee for 55¢ a pound, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had perch filet for 39¢ a pound, Appian Way frozen pizza for 33¢ each, and tomatoes for 29¢ a pound. A&P had beef liver for 35¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and Amour Treet for 55¢ a can. Couch's had Oscar Mayer wieners for 59¢ a pound, Duncan Hines cake mix for 33¢ a box, and Van Camp's chili with beans for 33¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (starring Dean Jones) at the DeSoto Theatre, Barbarella (starring Jane Fonda) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Thunderball and From Russia With Love (two James Bond films starring Sean Connery) at the West Rome Drive-In. Both The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit and Barbarella hung around for the remainder of the week, but the West Rome Drive-In traded James Bond for The Fox (starring Sandy Dennis).

Tommy James & the Shondells scored a number one hit with "Crimson and Clover" this week in 1969. Other top ten hits included "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone (#2); "Worst That Could Happen" by Brooklyn Bridge (#3); "Touch Me" by the Doors (#4); "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye (#5); "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations (#6); "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees (#7); "Hooked on a Feeling" by BJ Thomas (#8); "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited (#9); and "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations (#10).

Neil Young released his eponymous first solo album this week in 1969... sort of. The album was released for a couple of days in November 1968, but a manufacturing error resulted in an album that sounded so bad that Warner/Reprise records recalled all copies and redid the album for a January release.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/13/19 to 1/19/19

West Rome drum majorette Kippy Scarborough represented Rome and Floyd County in the Georgia Jaycee Junior Miss Pageant on Friday and Saturday, January 17th and January 18th--and she made a great impression on the judges, winning the title at the Georgia Junior Miss Pageant in Cartersville. That meant that Kippy would go on to represent Georgia in May at the National Junior Miss Pageant in Mobile, Alabama.

The Chieftains took on Cass on Friday, January 17th. While West Rome had a better win/loss record that Cass, Coach Randall Kent warned that the Colonels had been particularly strong since  mid-December. Turned out he was right to be worried: Cass racked up an 83-55 victory over West Rome's boys. Thankfully, the girls team stopped the evening from being a total disaster, racking up a 58-34 victory; Juanita Williams was the leading scorer for the Chieftains with 24 points.

Rome landed a premier industry this week in 1969 with the announcement that Bekaert Steel Wire Corporation would be constructing a 135,000 square foot building on the US 411 interchange at Furnace Road. The plant was expected to initially employee sixty people, but could eventually expand to employ more than 100. And that wasn't the only bid of good news on the manufacturing front for Rome: Design Homes Corporation announced plans to build a mobile home manufacturing plant on Old Lindale Road, which would ultimately employ 120 people.

Governor Lester Maddox unveiled his proposed two-year state budget of $2.3 billion, which included $18.5 million for new state health facilities (including a tuberculosis treatment center) in Rome. The proposal also included an increase in the state sales tax from 3% to 4%. One state representative said that Governor Maddox was "asking for a Cadillac on a Ford budget."

Rome's state senator, Sm Doss, introduced a bill to repeal legislation passed in 1968 that secured retirement pensions for state legislators. "I feel that legislators are not entitled to a retirement program," Rome state representative Charles Graves said in support of Doss. Graves and Doss said they had already lined up a number of votes to support their efforts to reverse the retirement program for legislators.

Navy Lieutenant William Covington, attached to the Civil Engineer Corps, was announced missing in action after his helicopter was shot down on a mission from Da Nang to Chu Lai, Vietnam. Covington was shot down on January 7th, but the military withheld the announcement until it completed five days of searching for the helicopter crew.

Piggly Wiggly had top round steak for 98¢ a pound, large eggs for 53¢ a dozen, and Bama jelly for 26¢ a jar. Kroger had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Del Monte fruit cocktail for a quarter a can, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 38¢ a quart. A&P had smoked ham for 35¢ a pound, Eight O'Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound, and a 1.5 pound can of Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢. Big Apple had pork chops for 89¢ a pound, Banquet frozen cream pies for 29¢ each, and RC or Diet Rite cola for 33¢ a carton (plus deposit). Couch's had chicken breast for 45¢ pound, Van Camp's pork &I beans for 17¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Impossible Years (starring David Niven) at the DeSoto Theatre, Don't Raise the Bridge—Lower the River (starring Jerry Lewis) at the First Avenue, and Wild in the Streets (starring Shelley Winters) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (starring Dean Jones) to the DeSoto Theatre, Barbarella (starring Jane Fonda) to the First Avenue, and The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde (starring Burl Ives) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye held on to the number one slot for the seventh week with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "Crimson & Clover" by Tommy James & The Shondells (#2); "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations (#3); "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited (#4); "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone (#5); "Hooked on a Feeling" by BJ Thomas (#6); "Touch Me" by The Doors (#6); "Worst That Could Happen" by Brooklyn Bridge (#8); "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees (#9); and "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield (#10).

Iron Butterfly followed up their monster hit album In-A-Gadda-da-Vida with their third album, Ball, released this week in 1969. The album was the final one to feature the lineup of Doug Ingle, Ron Bushy, Lee Dorman, and Erik Brann. While critics agreed that the album was more ambitious and more diversified than the group's prior release, it failed to duplicate In-A-Gadda-da-Vida's success.

Dick York, well known as Darrin on the hit series Bewitched, collapsed on the set of the show on January 13th and was subsequently hospitalized. Within days, York's serious health issues led to his abrupt resignation from the series, and York was replaced with Dick Sargent, who played Darrin Stephens for the remainder of the series.










Friday, January 04, 2019

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/6/1969 to 1/12/1969

Romans awoke to a very frigid six degrees on Monday morning, January 6th, with a chance of flurries later on Monday afternoon. The cold front pushed temperatures into the 20s as far south as Gainesville, Florida, while temperatures fell to zero in Hiawassee. The cold weather didn't last for very long, though, with highs warming up to the low fifties and lows in the mid-thirties by the middle of the week.

The Rome City Commission kicked off their first meeting of 1969 on Monday night--and by the time the meeting was over, Romans had a 4 mil tax increase to 38 mills, an almost 12% tax increase that took Rome City taxes up the maximum allowed by Georgia law. In addition, the city announced plans to re-evaluate all city properties, pointing out that a tax re-evaluation had not been done in almost fifteen years. With most values expected to increase significantly, this meant that Rome residents could expect even larger tax increases by the time the new bills came in. The city did say that, if the re-evaluation produced significantly more income than anticipated, they would consider reducing the 4 mill tax increase. (This tax increase included school system funding as well, since there was no separate school tax at this time.)

And no sooner was a tax increase announced than the Rome Board of Education announced plans to purchase classroom television sets for both East Rome and West Rome High School, as well as city elementary schools and junior high schools. Initial plans called for each high school school to receive a half-dozen televisions plus carts that would enable them to be rolled to classrooms when needed; a smaller number of sets would be allotted to each elementary school, but the city anticipated buying 75 sets and carts in total for a cost a $12,000. Savage TV and Electronics won the contract for the TV sets, and it was expected that all sets would be installed and ready for use by the start of the 1969-1970 school year.  Superintendent Milton McDonald said that some schools would receive extra televisions because their local PTA groups were supplementing the tax money. Ideally, the city hoped that the PTA funding and the tax revenues would enable them to have one television set for every four teachers, although they admitted that they would probably be shooting for one TV for every five teachers to begin with.

West End and Elm Street both posted victories in Mite League basketball games held at the Boys Club. West End defeated Model 33-17, with Rickey Ramsey the top scorer at 15 points; Elm Street defeated Alto Park 47-12 with Brad Hatch the top scorer at 16 points.

Piggly Wiggly had Cudahy ham for 58¢ a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for 29¢ a half-gallon, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 38¢. Big Apple had whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 49¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Jane Parker donuts for 25¢ a dozen. Kroger had center-cut pork chops for 89¢ a pound, large eggs for 55¢ a dozen, and Kroger gelatin for 7¢ a box. Couch's had lamb shoulder roast for 49¢ a pound, Gold Meal mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and tomatoes for 25¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Impossible Years (starring David Niven) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bullitt (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue, and Hell Fighters (starring John Wayne) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Lady in Cement (starring Frank Sinatra) to the DeSoto, Don't Raise the Bridge—Lower the River (starring Jerry Lewis) to the First Avenue, and Wild in the Streets (starring Shelley Winters) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye's grip on the number one slot on the Billboard charts continued for a sixth week with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations (#2); "Beautiful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited (#3); "Crimson & Clover" by Tommy James & The Shondells (#4); "Hooked on a Feeling" by BJ Thomas (#5); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#6): "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#7); "Touch Me" by the Doors (#8); "Worst That Could Happen" by Brooklyn Bridge (#9); and"Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield (#10).

Led Zeppelin changed music history with the release of their first album this week in 1969. The album cemented Jimmy Page's role as one of rock's most influential and innovative guitarists, while Robert Plant's voice (described by Rolling Stone as "goosefart vocals") gave the band a sound quite unlike anything rock fans had heard before.








Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/30/1968 to 1/5/1969

The Christmas/New Year's holiday break came to an end for West Rome students as school resumed on Thursday, January 2nd. While there were snow flurries on December 31st, all the snow was gone by mid-day on New Year's Day, eliminating any hopes that students might have had of an extra snow-day holiday. It was a cold return to school, though, with a Thursday morning low of 13 degrees.

The Chieftains  boys basketball team defeated Model for the second time this season, 71-49, while the girls team won 47-38. William Shelton was the high scorer for West Rome with 16 points, while both Charles Smith and Mike Day scored in double digits. Debbie Poarch was the leading scorer for the girls with 24 points.

The Rome City Commission kicked off the New Year with warnings that a tax increase was inevitable. One reason: the city school system said that it would need more than $100,000 in extra funds to finance teacher's raises and pensions, as well as covering the cost of new clerical staff as school enrollment increased. The schools were asking for a 6% pay raise for staff. In addition, the Rome City Commission was considering a 10% pay raise for non-school employees, but nothing was finalized at the first monthly meeting of 1969.

The flu was still a major problem in Rome and Floyd Count, so Floyd and McCall Hospitals issued a joint advisory asking that hospital visits be curtailed. The request said that only immediate family members should attempt to visit patients at either hospital, and only a maximum of two people at a time would be allowed to visit. Anyone with any sort of respiratory infection symptoms would be barred from visiting.

Romans got a new choice for pizza this week with the opening of Hal & Val's Pizzeria on Martha Berry Highway.  Among other things, they offered a large House Special (with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green pepper) for $3.49.

Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated the New Year with a $4.15 special that included a bucket of chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, cole slaw, and rolls. They also offered their fish or shrimp dinners for 99¢ each, slightly more than a 20% discount. (I never remember eating seafood at Kentucky Fried Chicken, but apparently it was a big part of their menu back in the 1960s.)

Piggly Wiggly had chicken livers for 59¢ a pound, eggs for 53¢ a dozen, and five pounds of oranges for 48¢. Kroger had round steak for 88¢ a pound, Chase & Sanborn coffee for 49¢ a can, and dried black-eyed peas for 9¢ a pound. A&P had country style ham for 88¢ a pound, Super Suds detergent for a quarter a box, and yellow onions for a dime a pound. Big Apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, cabbage for a dime a head, and Van Camp's Vienna sausages for 20¢ a can. Couch's had  sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Shurfresh biscuits for 7¢ a can, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Hellfighters (starring John Wayne) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bullitt (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Coogan's Bluff (starring Clint Eastwood) and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (starring Bob Hope) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switch out brought The Impossible Years (starring David Niven) to the DeSoto and a John Wayne double feature of Hellfighters and The Desperate Ones to the West Rome Drive-In, while Steve McQueen continued to drive his Mustang around San Francisco in Bullitt, which remained at the First Avenue for another week.

Marvin Gaye held on to the number one slot for the fifth week with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#2); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#3); "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited (#4); "Hooked on a Feeling" by BJ Thomas (#5); "Cloud Nine" by the Temptations (#6): "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#7); "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells (#8); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#9); and "I Love How You Love Me" by Bobby Vinton (#10). 

NBC became the first network to expand its evening newscast to Saturdays with the addition of a Huntley-Brinkley Report at 6:30 on Saturday nights. The name was misleading, though, as both newscasters did not appear on each weekly newscast; instead, Chet Huntley would anchor one week, and David Brinkley would anchor the next. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/23/1968 to 12/29/1968

Rome and Floyd County students celebrated a long holiday break. Both school systems were closed the week of Christmas and the week of New Years, giving students 16 days in a row out of school. Floyd County non-school employees got all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as a holiday. Rome city non-school employees got the shortest break of all; they had to work until noon on Christmas Eve and then got Christmas Day off.

Rome didn't get a white Christmas, but it did get a cold Christmas, with a low of 15 degrees on Christmas Eve night and a high of 35 on Christmas day. Temperatures warmed into the upper forties later in the week.

West Rome defeated Cedartown 74-56 on December 23rd to advance to the semifinals of the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival basketball tournament. William Shelton was the Chieftains' high scorer with 18 points. West Rome then defeated Pepperell 60-51 on December 26th to advance to the finals; Kenny Stephens was the high scorer with 18 points. Alas, West Rome lost 75-49 to the Calhoun Yellow Jackets in the final round of play.

Rome and Floyd County released nine prisoners so that they could enjoy Christmas with their families--but two of them returned to jail on Christmas day because they didn't want to miss the Christmas meal for prisoners, which included baked ham, turkey, dressing, lima beans,  Waldorf salad, cranberry sauce, fresh biscuits, fruitcake, coffee, and tea, along with an assortment of candy, fruit, and nuts. Warden Bill Scoggins said it wasn't unusual for prisoners to voluntarily return to jail. "Most of them can't get a meal this good anywhere else," he said.

Vandals damaged almost every gravestone at the West Seventh Avenue Cemetery in the early hours of Monday morning, December 23rd. According to the Rome Police, the vandals climbed over a fence and entered the cemetery at about 2am, where they used sledgehammers to shatter tombstones and used other implements to tear up the grass on numerous graves. They also scattered all flower arrangements around the cemetery. The vandals were gone by the time the police arrived.

Christmas thieves went looking for their own gifts in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, and found them at Quality Produce Company (where they broke into a safe and stole $400 in cash, $1000 worth of stock certificates, and a bag of old coins), at Hill Truck & Tractor Company (where they stole almost $7000 worth of tools), and at S&S Supermarket (where they stole two hams, a turkey, some cigarettes, and about $100 in cash). Burglary attempts at Big K and the Singer Sewing Center at Gala Shopping Center proved unsuccessful.

Three adolescents (all East Rome students, of course) were found under the Second Avenue Bridge on the night of December 27th, all highly intoxicated. Their beverage of choice? Vanilla extract, which had an alcohol base; they had all drunk several bottles before passing out. The 13 and 16 year olds were released to their parents, but the 12 year old drank so much that he had to be hospitalized.
Piggly Wiggly had hog jowl for 16¢ a pound, Heinz tomato soup for a dime a can, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton (plus deposit). Kroger had five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢, tom turkeys for 28¢ a pound, and oranges for 33¢ a dozen. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Southern Maid black-eyed peas for a dime a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had jiffy steak for 89¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and golden delicious apples for 12¢ a pound. Couch's had pork roast for 59¢ a pound, collard greens for 25¢ a bunch, and ten pounds of potatoes for 49¢.

Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders celebrated Christmas 1968 very far away from home—farther than any human being had ever been before, in fact. Shortly before Christmas, they became the first humans to orbit the moon (and the first humans to see the dark side of the moon, as well as the first humans to witness Earthrise over the surface of the moon. On Christmas Eve night, while in orbit around the moon, the crew assured those of us who were still earthbound that there is a Santa Claus, after which they read a passage from the book of Genesis. They left lunar orbit on Christmas Day and returned to Earth on December 27th.

The cinematic week began with The Split (starring Julie Harris) at the DeSoto Theatre, Far From the Madding Crowd (starring Julie Christie) at the First Avenue, and Salt & Pepper (starring Peter Lawford) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought  Hellfighters (starring John Wayne) to the DeSoto Theatre, Bullitt (starring Steve McQueen) to the First Avenue, and Coogan's Bluff (starring Clint Eastwood) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye climbed to the number one slot this week in 1968 with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#2); "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#3); "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited (#4); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#5); "Cloud Nine" by the Temptations (#6); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#7); "Stormy" by the Classics IV Featuring Dennis Yost (#8); "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#9); and "Hooked on a Feeling" by BJ Thomas (#10).








Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/16/1968 to 12/22/1968

Christmas was approaching fast, but West Rome students were still hard at work, since school was in session the entire week of December 15th through the 20th. And while the weather was seasonably cold, there wasn't even a chance for frozen precipitation delivering a pre-Christmas snow day.

Some students got to stay home, but it's doubtful that they were enjoying the time off. Rome was struggling with a Hong Kong flu outbreak this week in 1968. While the outbreak wasn't bad enough to be classified as an epidemic, city and county schools reported almost double the absentee rate. Six drug manufacturers were working overtime to produce a Hong Kong flu vaccine, but health officials worried that the early onset would run its course before sufficient quantities of the vaccine could be made available to local residents.

West Rome's boys basketball team defeated Model 63-45 in the first round of play of the 15th annual Rome News-Tribune Holiday Basketball Festival. Richard Wood was the top scorer for the Chieftains with 19 points, while Kenny Stephens scored 15 points and William Shelton scored 12 points.

Floyd County detectives and police arrested three men who were running a burglary ring focusing on residential break-ins in North Georgia and Alabama. Floyd County officers recovered cash, firearms, stereo equipment, hunting supplies, radios, and more; they believed that the burglary ring was responsible for more than two dozen break-ins in the past six months.

That wasn't the end to crime in Rome, however: the day after the burglary ring was broken, other burglars broke into Phelps Produce Company and stole produce, office equipment, a cash register with about $25 in cash, and four Christmas trees. That evening, three more men forced their way into a Floyd County home, pistol-whipped one of the residents, and left with $400 in cash.

Governor Lester Maddox came to Rome on Thursday to push his plan to increase Georgia's sales tax from 3% to 4% and to add a 1.5¢ per gallon increase to the gasoline tax.

And speaking of taxes, the social security ta rate was set to increase from 4.76% to 4.8% at the first of the year, and the federal government was warning taxpayers not to be surprised at the new rate. Social security taxes were still only payable on the first $7800 of earnings.

The political editor of the Jacksonville, Florida newspaper wrote a column describing Rome as "the prettiest town in the entire Southeast" and "worthy of a visit." He praised the beauty of the downtown area, the charm of the area's hilly terrain, the impressiveness of Berry and Shorter College, and the thriving economy of Rome as reasons why it was such a standout community.

RCA began rolling out its color televisions with Automatic Fine Tuning (AFT), which locked in stations automatically and eliminated the need for viewers to play with the fine tuning knob. The feature added about $100 onto the price of a color television, but Rome Radio Company assured potential buyers that it was worth the extra expense. "Just turn to the channel you want, sit down, and enjoy--no more fiddling with the fine tuning knob," the ad stressed.

Big K pushed shopping to new extremes when they announced plans to stay open until 11pm from December 15th through December 23rd (except for Saturday night, when they would stay open until midnight, and Sunday night, when they would close at 7pm). This made Big K the first Rome area business to push the season shopping hours past 9pm. Today, we're accustomed to stores staying open late (and in some cases, staying open 24 hours a day), but in the 1970s, the idea of staying open later that 9pm was a novelty--and many businesses still closed at 6pm or 7pm. In response, Sears announced plans to stay open until 10pm on Friday, December 20th, and until 11pm on Monday, December 23rd.

Piggly Wiggly had hen turkeys for 37¢ a pound, pumpkin pies for 27¢ each, and tangerines for 33¢ a dozen. A&P had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, strawberries for 35¢ a pint, and Brach's cream drops for 39¢ a pound. Kroger had rib roast for 89¢ a pound, five pounds of sugar for 39¢, and oranges for 29¢ a dozen. Big Apple had tom turkeys for 33¢ a pound, shredded coconut for 59¢ a pound, and golden delicious apples for 19¢ a pound.  Couch's had smoked hams for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and sweet potatoes for a 12¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Big Gundown (starring Lee Van Cleef) at the DeSoto Theatre, Monkeys Go Home (starring Dean Jones) at the First Avenue, and The Ugly Ones (starring Richard Wyler) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Split (starring Julie Harris) to the DeSoto, Far from the Madding Crowd. (starring Julie Christie) to the First Avenue, and Deadfall (starring Michael Caine) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye held on to the number one slot on the Top Ten with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#2); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#3); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#4); "Stormy" by the Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost (#5); "Abraham, Martin, & John" by Dion (#6); "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations (#7); "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#8); "I Love How You Love Me" by Bobby Vinton (#9); and "Cloud Nine" by the Temptations (#10).

Peter Tork announced his plans to leave the Monkees this week in 1968.