Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/24/1967 to 7/30/1967

Rome’s efforts to eliminate obscene magazines from the newsstands, bookstores, and magazine racks kicked into high gear with the creation of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Clean Literature. The commission had no legal authority to take any action against stores carrying such magazines, but they intended to contact stores and ask them to remove the magazines; if that didn’t work, they’d send in local customers to try to persuade the store owner to reconsider; and if that failed, they’d try to organize protests at the stores in question. The group was made up of a coalition of civic and religious leaders, including West Rome’s own Nick Hyder, school superintendent JS McDonald, Ben Lucas, and Jerry Bryant. (And more than one West Rome store got a call because of their magazine racks—although very few apparently did anything more than put the Playboys on the top shelf, or behind the counter. I suspect they discovered that many of those local customers they hoped to utilize to persuade the stores to discontinue Playboy were actually some of the store's Playboy customers.)

 The State Highway Department began taking bids for construction of a four-lane highway from Shorter Avenue, North Elm Street,and Lavender Drive to Redmond Circle; from there the highway would bear west and then south, connecting to Shorter Avenue/Alabama Road at West Rome High School. The project was fast-tracked in hopes that it could be finished at about the same time that Gala Shopping Center was scheduled to open.

And the burglaries continued: thieves broke into Andrews Motor Company on the night of July 27th, stealing a large quantity of tools, an adding machine, and a timing light. They apparently loaded all of the items into a 1967 automobile, which they then stole to haul away their goodies.

Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had country ham for 79¢ a pound, blueberries for 39¢ a pint, and Armour Vienna sausages for 23¢ a can. Big Apple had ground beef for 35¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and tall cans of salmon for 59¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, lemons for 49¢ a dozen, and 10 pounds of russet potatoes for 59¢. Couch’s had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Blue Plate peach preserves for 33¢ a jar, and fresh okra for 19¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Born Losers (starring Tom Laughlin) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Caprice (starring Doris Day) to the First Avenue and Fancy Pants (starring Bob Hope) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Dirty Dozen remained captive at the DeSoto for another week.

The Doors sizzled at number one with “Light My Fire” this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#2); “Windy” by the Association (#3); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#4); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#5); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by The Music Explosion (#6); “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by the Buckinghams (#7); “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane (#8); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#9); and “C’Mon Marianne” by the Four Seasons featuring the Sound of Frankie Valli (#10).

Gold Key launched its Star Trek comic book series this week in 1967. While the comic wasn’t particularly faithful to the TV series in every detail, it was the first authorized expansion of the Star Trek canon, and for those of us who couldn’t enough of the Enterprise and its crew, this was a must-have.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/16/1967 to 7/23/1967

In 1967, there was only one cable providing telephone service from Rome to Atlanta, and a construction crew working near Acworth managed to cut that cable smack dab in two on July 18th. It took them until mid-day on July 19th to restore some phone service between Rome and Atlanta, but it would take yet another day before full service was restored. Southern Bell routed emergency calls from Rome to Chattanooga and then back down to Atlanta to ensure that the most urgent calls got through, but that connection could only handle about 1% of the total Rome-to-Atlanta phone traffic.

And speaking of phone service, Southern Bell began upgrading phone service to West Rome beginning on the afternoon on Friday, July 21st, and continuing through the late night hours of Saturday, July 22nd—but that meant that they had to shut down three of four lanes on Shorter Avenue both at Division Street and near the Underpass in order to do it. Workers were upgrading the phone conduit to handle the increased phone service demands brought on by rapid growth in West Rome, and that involved digging up a large portion of Shorter Avenue at both locations. “Motorists should, if possible, use an alternate route,” Police Chief Nelson “Stating the Obvious” Camp said. Thankfully, everything was back to normal by Sunday morning.

Rome’s first “high rise” apartments, the six-story Wilson Hardy Apartments on North Fifth Avenue, were completely open for business (and fully rented out) from the very first day this week in 1967. Run by the Rome Housing Authority, the high-rise was comprised entirely of efficiency and one or two bedroom apartments targeted at elderly and low-income residents. Rents started at $30 a month and topped out at $50 a month, including all utilities; to qualify to live in the apartments, residents could not earn more than $3100 a year.

I have no recollection of a boat and camper trailer business located on Division Street, but apparently one Raymond Ramsey operated just such a business—and had in fact done so since 1953. Problem is, he never applied for a business license until 1966… and his business was located right in the middle of an area zoned residential only. The Rome City Commission took less than two hours to rule that Mr. Ramsey had thirty days to close down his business and relocate; in addition, they fined him $25 for not having applied for a business license in all the preceding years. (I guess he made out okay there, since the cost of the license was $5 and he had avoided paying it for fifteen years, which worked out to a 66% discount.)

Rome Foods Company expanded their West Rome facility on Lavender Drive in the summer of 1967, adding a 16,000 square foot building for dry-food storage. This was the second expansion project for the business (formerly known as Rome Frozen Foods) since they opened the West Rome facility in 1963; when finished, the expansion would create an estimated 35 more jobs.

Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School (aka Coosa Valley Tech) announced the addition of new 13-week evening classes. The courses offered included Slide Rule and Algebra (remember slide rules?), Engineering Drafting, Technical Writing, Trigonometry, Survey of Machine Tools, Physics II, Testing of Materials; and Speed Mathematics. The school said that other evening courses might be added in the next year, and they were looking to eventually expand their program to offer full certification in a number of areas through evening courses, since many of their students were also working day jobs.

Financial growth in Rome continued in 1967, with total bank deposits growing by 6% to $17.6 million between June 1966 and June 1967. Loans had also increased by 6% over the prior year, at $10.27 million.

Piggly Wiggly had Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite/Fresca for 33¢ a carton plus deposit, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and never-popular beef liver for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.39 a jar (looking back on it, I don’t really understand why instant coffee was so popular in the 1960s, but it seemed like every coffee-drinking family kept a jar of it around alongside their ground coffee—and I remember some friends’ families switching entirely to instant), and Southern Maid applesauce for 12¢ a jar. Big Apple had Rath Black Label bacon for 79¢ a pound, American Beauty pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and fresh okra for a quarter a pound. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 39¢ each, and Bama dill pickles for 31¢ a jar. Couch’s had their in-store-ground sausage for 59¢ a pound (I still remember this as perhaps the most flavorful sausage I ever tasted), Castleberry’s beef stew for 49¢ a can, and squash for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) to the DeSoto Theatre and Born Losers (the first Billy Jack film, starring Tom Laughlin) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Hawaii refused to relinquish its grip on the First Avenue Theatre box office.

The Association’s “Windy” held onto the number one slot for the fourth week fifty years ago. Other top ten hits included “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#2—and am I the only person bothered by the fact that the name of this single is wrong? Even the posted lyrics are wrong! Frankie Valli definitely sings “can’t take my eyes off of you,” but since the “of” is grammatically incorrect, the song title has been corrected to reflect proper grammar—and so have the posted lyrics, even though it throws off the rhythm of the song and it isn’t what he sings!)l “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Little Bit O’ Soul”: by the Music Explosion (#5); “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#8); “C’Mon Marianne” by the Four Seasons Featuring the Sound of Frankie Valli (#9: and “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#10).

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/10/1967 to 7/16/1967

Apparently Rome had a lot more crime than I remembered: in the early morning hours of July 10th, burglars broke into Owens Hardware, used heavy tools to “beat and rip open” the large double-door safe at the rear of the business, and stole an undetermined amount of cash and fifteen pistols with an estimated value of $800.00. The thieves left behind twelve rolls of pennies. On the same evening, burglars also broke into Enloe’s Drug Store at West End Shopping Center through a hole in the roof, and made off with $9.00. Yeah, nine bucks—and they didn’t take any merchandise or drugs, just the paltry amount of cash.

The next night, burglars broke into the Floyd County School Maintenance Center on US Highway 27, where they stole $60.00 in cash and some tools; Aristocrat Ice Cream Company, where they broke into a safe and stole $800.00 in cash; Rome Tool & Die Company, where they stole $30.00 in cash and about $500.00 worth of tools (and they apparently used the tools from Rome Tool & Die to break into the safe at Aristocrat Ice Cream); and Fred Lothridge Construction Company, where they stole $1500.00 worth of tools. This made six burglaries in two days—a Rome record, according to the police.

Two nights later, five service stations across Floyd County were hit by burglars The widely scattered locations—from Highway 27 South to Highway 27 North to West Rome to Kingston Highway—led the police to conclude that they weren’t dealing with a single set of thieves, but with a group of opportunistic burglars who may have been inspired by reports of local burglaries. 

On the evening of July 13th the Floyd County Board of Health gave Watson Street residents their say regarding their complaints against Minge Cement Company in a meeting that the Rome News-Tribune described as “one of the more active sessions of the year.” After hearing residents talk about heavy layers of dust, stagnant water, mosquitoes, noise, smells, and more, Rome City Commissioner Leroy Hancock (who was also a member of the Board of Health) said, “I think they have a very definite nuisance. Even though they now maybe do’t have pollution laws with teeth in them, they will have.” He went on to say that a mistake was made in granting a permit for the cement plant right next to residences, and that "it shouldn’t have ever been allowed there to start with." The situation got even more complicated when the Board of Health revealed that Judge Scoggin had requested that  residents not request the closing of the plant because it would slow down area construction projects—and then, a couple of weeks later, Judge Scoggin was assigned to hear the case after fellow judge Jerry Minge asked that the residents’ suit be thrown out. In spite of the conflict, Judge Scoggin failed to recuse himself and ruled against the residents. At the end of the meeting, County Board of Health Chairman  James Mehaffey told the residents, “I will do everything I can within my power to help you,” while Jerry Minge dismissed the residents and their complaints as “childish.”
Cities and counties were pushing for local option sales taxes in the mid-1960s, but Governor Lester Maddox was firmly opposed to the idea, “This tax would mean that when you have to go to Atlanta and purchase something you can’t find in Rome, your hard-earned money would stay in Atlanta, and would not benefit your home county or city at all,” Maddox said.

One thing that Rome City Schools and Floyd County Schools were NOT pushing for in 1967: year-round schools. Both system reported that there would be major problems if Georgia went to year-round schools. The problems were primarily financial: higher facilities maintenance costs, higher student transportation costs, higher salaries, and a maximum allowable school tax millage rate would cause problems for both the city and the county systems. If you really focused, you could probably hear students all over the city and the county cheering the news...

Heavy rain hit the Rome area on Monday, July 10th caused scattered flooding. Naturally, the creek on Paris Drive, which ran right behind Conn Street homes, flooded; residents reported that it was the worst flood in the Conn Street area since the city cleaned out the creek bed a couple of years before. The heavy rains pushed the Oostanaula Rover to 18.8 feet, which was more than ten feet above normal level. 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 29¢ a half-gallon; and Castleberry beef stew for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had fresh fryers for 29¢ a pound, Morton’s frozen pot pies for 20¢ each, and Heinz barbecue sauce for a quarter a bottle. A&P had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and a pound of Jane Parker potato chips for 59¢. Big Apple had Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 39¢ a pack, Wishbone salad dressing for 39¢ a bottle, and watermelons for 99¢ each. Couch’s had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Merita bread for 37¢ a loaf.

The cinematic week began with You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery as James Bond) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the DeSoto Theatre, and Hell on Wheels (starring Marty Robbins) at the West Rome Drive-In. (You Only Live Twice was the second James Bond film my parents allowed me to see in the theatre—the first was Thunderball. They had turned down my pleas to see Goldfinger because they thought it was too mature for a pre-adolescent because of the well-publicized gold-painted nekkid lady at the beginning. Having given me a set of Ian Fleming’s novels the Christmas afterwards, though, they decided to have faith in me and let me see Thunderball at the DeSoto. So by the time You Only Live Twice came out, there was no doubt I was going to see it—the only question was “how many times?” The answer was four. Hey, it was summer, I loved James Bond, and the DeSoto Theatre had great air conditioning as well as tasty popcorn!) The midweek switchout brought Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs to the DeSoto Theatre and Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Hawaii maintained a beachhead at the First Avenue for another week.

The Association’s “Windy” blew away the competition to hold onto the number one slot for third time this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the  Music Explosion (#2); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off  You” by Frankie Valli (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#5); “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#8); “C’Mon Marianne” by the 4 Seasons with Frankie Valli (#9); and “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#10). 

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band climbed to the number one spot on the album charts this week in 1967, knocking the Monkees out of first place. And what a weird top ten albums chart it was—two Monkees album, a Herb Alpert album, a Bill Cosby album, an Andy Williams album, a Doors album, a Jefferson Airplane album, an Aretha Franklin album, and the soundtrack to Doctor Zhivago. Talk about something for all tastes!…

Adam Warlock made his first appearance in Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, & Joe Sinnott’s Fantastic Four #67, on sale this week in 1967. This was also the week that Avengers Annual #1 premiered, pitting the Avengers against the Mandarin in a 49-page feature-length tale by Roy Thomas & Don Heck.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/3/1967 to 7/9/1967

The complaints by Mr. Patterson and his Watson Street neighbors regarding noise, dust, and debris from the Minge cement plant (reported here last week) struck paydirt: The chairman of the Floyd County Board of Health immediately directed a full-scale investigation into the residents’ complaints to determine if the Minge plant qualified as a health hazard. “A special meeting of the Health Board will be called immediately after the investigation has been completed and all data has been compiled,” Health Board Chairman James Mehaffey said. “We will be diligent in our efforts to determine whether residents of this area are being subjected to a health hazard.” Needless to say, the residents were very pleased with the news. “This is better than we could have hoped for,” Mr. Patterson said, who had been frustrated for many months by Judge Minge allegedly using his position at the courthouse to manipulate the residents’ case in favor of his family’s cement business.

In response to student complaints that Rome City summer school classrooms were too hot, the city proposed a change: they would start summer school classes at 6:30 am rather than 8am, which would enable students to leave at 10:30am rather than noon. Apparently the complaining students decided the classroom weren’t all that intolerable after all, since the school system ended up sticking with the 8am-noon schedule for the rest of the summer.

After several years, prices on color TVs began to drop in 1967, with Sears offering 23” color TVs (the largest size color TV offered in 1967) coming in as low as $369 for a 23” table model and $469 for a 23” walnut console color TV. While this is the equivalent of $2775 and $3525 in today’s dollars (in other words, just about the same price you’d pay for a high-quality 75” 4K TV today that has more screen space than nine 23” TVs), it was the first year that a color console crossed into the sub-$500 range. That might explain why a lot more families began adding color TVs to their homes in the late 1960s.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, white corn for 8¢ an ear, and okra for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, pinto beans for 10¢  a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 55¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, tomatoes for a dime a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and locally grown tomatoes for 29¢ a pound.  Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for a dime a head, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In. You Only Live Twice and Hawaii hung around for another week, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in Hell on Wheels (starring Marty Robbins) for the weekend.

The Association held on to the number one song this week in 1967 with “Windy,” which hit the top of the charts for a second week. Other top ten hits included “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#2); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#5); “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#8); “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#9); and “The Tracks of My Tears” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/26/1967 to 7/2/21967

West Rome residents living on and near Watson Street picketed Minge Inc. to protest the presence of a Minge-owned concrete mixing plant adjacent to their homes. The residents asserted that a concrete mixing plant should qualify as heavy industrial, while the area where the plant was located was only zoned for light industrial. Part of the problem was that any suit had to work its way through the legal system in Rome, and one of the owners of Minge Inc. was none other than Judge Jerry L. Minge, who had very unflattering things to say about the residents and their protests. He stressed that he was speaking only as a company owner and not as a judge… but oddly enough, he had no trouble finding judges who were willing to help him work the legal system against the homeowners. The case was supposed to be heard in the May term of the court, but for unknown reasons, that case number was never brought up (gee, I wonder how that happened?). Homeowner W.C. Patterson submitted photos showing piles of gravel within seven feet of a Watson Street home, explaining that the continual noise and dust was destroying the quality of life for the Watson Street residents and negatively impacting property values. Patterson said that the Rome City Commission and the courts “have given us the runaround—they’ve put off everything." 

Summer school students were complaining about the heat in their summer school classes at East Rome High School. “It’s hard to focus when it’s so hot,” one unnamed student said. Of course, we all knew exactly what they were talking about, since neither West Rome nor East Rome High School was air conditioned; the only cooling came from the banks of windows that could be tilted open,but that did little good during summer heat or humidity. Needless to say, the complaints seemed to have generated little sympathy in the community… (I remember being very pleased when I found that one of my classes was held in one of West Rome’s trailers—because the trailers had air conditioning!)

Work on the second phase of the East Rome Interchange, which would extend the interchange connector from East Rome to US 27 at Walker Mountain Road, got underway this week in 1967, with road grading and other construction scheduled from June ’67 to the spring of 1968. Eventual plans called for four-laning with a median all the way to Cedartown (but anyone who drives that area now knows that eventual plans never came to pass—while some widening has been done, the four-lane-with-median plan was abandoned).

Piggly Wiggly had lamb shoulder for 29¢ a pound, JFG mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and Shurfine peanut butter for 33¢ a jar. Kroger had Swiss steak for 69¢ a pound, Country Oven potato chips for 39¢ a bag, and whole watermelons for 47¢ each. Big Apple had spare ribs for 47¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 49¢ each, and Chase & Sanborn coffee for 59¢ a pound. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and large grapes for 39¢ a pound. Couch’s had chicken breast for 45¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and large eggs for 35¢ a dozen.

The cinematic week began with Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre, A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, and Caper of the Golden Bull (starring Steven Boyd & Yvette Mimieux) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought the new James Bond film You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery) to the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow) to the First Avenue, and A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Association took number one this week in 1967 with “Windy.” Other top ten hits included “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#2); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#3); "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#5); “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#7); “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#8); “Come on Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#9); and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#10).

This week in 1967, Leonard Nimoy made his first venture into the field of recorded music with Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space. The album combines Nimoy’s Spock-like narrations with sound effects and music. The album, which includes such tracks as “Music to Watch Space Girls By,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Earth,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and “A Visit to a Sad Planet,” actually climbed to 83 on the Billboard album charts.

 Daredevil was one of the Silver Age Marvel heroes to earn his own annual, but at long last Daredevil Annual #1 was released this week in 1967. The lead story forced Daredevil to confront Electro and his Emissaries of Evil (think of them as Daredevil’s five-man version of Spidey’s Sinister Six—the Emissaries consisted of Electro, Stilt-Man, the Matador, the Gladiator, and Leap-Frog) in a story written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Gene Colan.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/19/1967 to 6/25/1967


Construction began on a $50 million expansion at Plant Hammond this week in 1967; Georgia Power intended to add a fourth generating unit to the plant; the new unit would give Plant Hammond an 8000,000 kilowatt generating capacity, making it the second-largest generating station in Georgia. Plans called for at least 300 new jobs to be added once the construction was completed, while the construction itself added brought in almost 400 jobs.

And speaking of construction, the first girders and concrete blocks began going up at Gala Shopping Center this week in 1967. The builders hoped to finish the shopping center (which was right across Redmond Circle from West Rome High School) in time for the Christmas 1967 shopping season, but they warned that any significant weather delays could push the opening into 1968.

Seventh District Congressman John Davis unveiled plans to extend the Blue Ridge Parkway from Blue Ridge all the way south to the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park, offering easy access to the north Georgia mountains. As we now know, the plan didn’t develop quite the way John Davis foresaw it, but it was pretty close geographically speaking: the proposed extension eventually became the Zell Miller Parkway and I-575, which terminates within a few miles of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park.

Funny how history repeats itself: fifty years ago this week, Kroger advertised that they were slashing prices on thousands of items, offering lower-across-the-board prices, and re-establishing themselves as a low-price leader in Rome’s grocery market. “Watch Kroger for the most revolutionary food news in Rome history,” they advertised. Alas, the price changes were a bit less impressive than the advertising implied: while Kroger insisted that they lowered prices on 2149 items, most price drops were a nickel an item or less. 

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, potatoes for 12¢ a pound, and Pepsi Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had rump roast for 79¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 19¢ a can, and grapes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Maxwell house coffee for 69¢ a can, and lettuce for a dime a head. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for a quarter a pint, and Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and Blue Plate peach preserves for 35¢ a jar. 

The cinematic week began with The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog (both starring Fred MacMurray) at the DeSoto Theatre, A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, and Devil’s Angels (starring John Cassavettes) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto and The Countess From Hong Kong (starring Marlon Brando) to the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons refused to release ites grip on tdhe First Avenue Theatre.

The Young Rascals took number one this week in 1967 with their laid-back “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#2); “She’d Rather Be with Me” by the Turtles (#3); “Windy” by The Association (#4); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#5); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#6); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#7); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli (#8); “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” by Spanky & Our Gang (#9); and “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#10).

Less than a month after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles performed their newest song, “All You Need Is Love,” for the worldwide broadcast of the Our World television special on June 25, 1967. If you ever get a chance to watch the film of the event, keep a lookout for the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Who mixed in among the backing singers.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/12/1967 to 6/18/1967

The Rome Board of Education approved a change in the marriage policy for high school students. For several years, the rule had required that a high school student receive permission from his or her principal to marry 30 days prior to the wedding date, or else the student would e forced to withdraw from school. The board voted to waive that rule in the case of a high school student whose fiance was being sent to Vietnam as a part of military service. (Today, it’s hard to imagine anyone even considering a policy that would require a  student get permission from his or her principal in order to get married.)

Three teenagers were apprehended after a crime spree that includes burglaries at several Rome grocery stores, convenience stores, churches, and schools, including both East and West Rome High School. The thieves had stolen cash, merchandise, tape recorders, record players, and other electronic items; some of the stolen merchandise was recovered in Rome, while some of it was recovered in Atlanta, where the teens had transported the merchandise in order to sell it.

Rome’s crime spree wasn’t over, though: at 4am on Tuesday, June 13th, a 15 year old boy was apprehended after breaking into Skelton’s Motorcycle Shop on Shorter Avenue, where he stole a motorcycle, a helmet, a jacket, and a shirt (apparently he wanted to be fashionable while riding). They also found wallets in his possession that belonged to West Rome residents whose cars had been broken into earlier that evening.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, okra for 29¢ a pound, and Luzianne coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had whole fryers  for 25¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Armour pork & beans for a dime a can. Kroger had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, White Lily Flour for 49¢ for a five-pound bag, and angel food cakes for 49¢ each. A&P had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Double Cola for 89¢ a case plus deposit, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.  Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Georgia peaches for 15¢ a pound, and the ever-popular pork brains (beloved by pig zombies everywhere) for a quarter a pound.

The cinematic week began with War Wagon (starring John Wayne & Kirk Douglas) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (with Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought a double feature of The Absent Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog (both starring Fred MacMurray) to the DeSoto Theatre and Devil’s Angels (starring John Cassavettes)  to the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons seemed destined to spend at least one full season at the First Avenue Theatre.

The Young Rascals took number one this week in 1967 with “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#2); "She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck (#4); “Somebody to Love” by the Jefferson Airplane (#5); “Little Bit o’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#6); “Windy” by the Association (#7); “All I Need” by the Temptations (#8); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#9); and “Mirage” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#10). 

Once again, the Monkees had two albums in the Top Ten Charts this week in 1967 (More of the Monkees at #4 and Headquarters at #6). This meant that the Monkees had two albums charting higher than Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Greatest Hits (#9) and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (#10). People forget just what a pop powerhouse the Monkees were in their first two years!

This was the week of the Monterey Pop Festival, which featured The Who, Simon & Garfunkel, Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Byrds, the Association, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Booker T & The MGs, and Ravi Shankar—but it was Jimi Hendrix who became a rock star as a result of the Festival. It was here that he did his legendary bit of setting his guitar on fire, which made him a shock-rock sensation (yes, this was what passed for shock-rock in 1967!).

Friday, June 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/5/1967 to 6/11/1967

Two fifteen-year-old juveniles were arrested and charged with larceny after they broke into newspaper racks at the Johnny Reb Food Store on Shorter Avenue. The youths successfully made off with a total of $9.20 in cash. Based on statements made by one of the boys, the police were also looking at them as likely culprits in recent break-ins of vending machines at East Rome High School, which netted the criminal masterminds an addition $6.20. Seems like a lot of work and risk for fifteen bucks, doesn't it?...

Much like May of 2017, May of 1967 was a cool, rainy month—and as a result, Floyd County’s cotton crop was hard hit. More than 500 acres of cotton had to be plowed under because of weather damage, reducing the  Rome area’s cotton production by almost a third. (And back in 1967, when Floyd County and northwest Georgia had a number of textile mills who relied on that cotton crop, that was a big financial hit for the area.)

Those students who spent too little time focusing on their schoolwork had a chance to atone for their scholastic sins: registration for summer school took place on Friday, June 9th, from 8am to noon at East Rome High School, with classes starting on Monday, June 12th. Summer school students were required to pay $50 per unit for high school courses (junior high courses were only $25 per unit--which seems only fair, since junior students only pay half as much attention as high school students).

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 28¢  a pound, watermelons for 99¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 59¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Southern Maid barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and five pounds Dixie Crystals sugar for 59¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 15¢ a can, and cantaloupes for 35¢ each.Couch’s had stew beef for 33¢ a pound, butter beans for 15¢ a pound, and Showboat pork and beans for a dime a can.

The cinematic week began with Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope & Phyllis Diller) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (starring Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The War Wagon (starring John Wayne & Kirk Douglas) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while A Man For All Seasons stayed around for another week at the First Avenue.

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” took first place yet again this week in 1967. Other top hits included “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#5); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#6); “She’d Rather Be With Me” by the Turtles (#7); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#8); “All I Need” by the Temptations (#9); and “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas (#10). 

The first pop festival was held at Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, this week in 1967, beating the more famous Monteray Pop Festival by a week. Performers included The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Country Joe & the Fish, Canned Heat, and more.

Back in the 1960s, TV had usually reverted to reruns by June—but CBS went against the trend and aired a brand-new Peanuts special on June 10th. You’re In Love, Charlie Brown had a spring theme—so while a June airing seemed a little bit late, it was still spring according to the calendar, so there you go….


Spider-Man met the X-Men in X-Men #35, on sale this week in 1967. Marvel knew which character was going to sell the book, too: while it was the X-Men’s book, Spider-Man is more prominently featured on the front cover, and is positioned just below the logo, where part of his costume would still be visible on spinner racks and waterfall racks that were so common in grocery stores and drugstores in the 1960s.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/29/1967 to 6/4/1967

This was the final week of the 1966-1967 school year—and it was a full week for most students, since Rome City Schools didn’t observe Memorial Day as a holiday in the 1960s. The only exception were seniors, who finished up their final exams on Wednesday, May 31st, so that teachers could get exams graded and report cards finished in preparation for graduation. Seniors prepared for the baccalaureate service, which was held in the West Rome Gym, while the graduation ceremonies moved to the City Auditorium to provide extra room for attendees. For those students who needed an extra course or two, summer school was slated to begin on June 12th, which meant that those unlucky students had a one-week “summer vacation."

Now here’s a custom that should have continued: the Rome and Floyd County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Newcomers to Rome and Floyd County Rooster Boosters Breakfast at 7:45 on May 30th at the Aloha Restaurant. National City Bank hosted the breakfast, which was open to all newcomers to the area—parents and children as well—and absolutely free of charge. The breakfast consisted of country ham, red-eye gravy, eggs, grits, coffee, biscuits, water, and milk for kids. Cap Hicks and Milton S. McDonald spoke at the event, and various businesses had representatives on hand to introduce themselves to folks who were new to Rome.

Heavy thunderstorms came to Rome on Monday evening, May 29th, dumping hail on West Rome. The other side of town got it a lot worse, though: two homes in Lindale burned to the ground after begin struck by lightning, and Klopman Mills sustained lightning damage as well.

Floyd County Tax Commissioner Sarah Keown announced that 35,050 vehicle tags were issued in Floyd County (back in the 1960s, all car tags and taxes had to be paid by May 1st, rather than being spread out through the year), bringing in $528,674 in tax revenues and tag fees. 

Mrs. Ann Spears took leading academic honors as she graduated summa cum laude from Berry College on Saturday, June 3rd. So what does graduating from Berry College have to do with West Rome High School? Well, Mrs. Spears went on to become an outstanding English teacher at West Rome after her graduation before taking an administrative position in the Rome City Schools office. (Many of us were lucky enough to have class from Mrs. Spears during her Chieftain years, and I know that her skills as a teacher factored into my decision to teach English once I graduated from Berry.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, eggs for 29¢ a dozen, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had baking hens for a quarter a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 58¢ a pound. A&P had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and German chocolate cakes for 65¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for a quarter a can, and strawberries for 32¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Nabisco vanilla wafers for 39¢ a box, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with For A Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Casino Royale (starring Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope & Phyllis Diller) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (with Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, 

Everyone respected Aretha Franklin after her song “Respect” took the number one slot this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Groovin’” by the Young  Rascals (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas (#5); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & The Raiders (#6); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#7); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#8); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#9); and “All I Need” by the Temptations (#10). 


David Bowie released his self-titled first album this week in 1967, but it  was all but overlooked in the musical supernova that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Considered by many to be The Beatles’ finest album (although I’d bestow that honor on Abbey Road), it changed rock music—and the Beatles—suddenly, the studio was an instrument in itself as rock took on more complexity and more sophistication.  (I have to confess that I was one of those who didn't "get it" the first time I heard the album; it was so different from anything the Beatles had done before that it struck me as pretentious and a bit self-indulgent. I grew to love the album, but it was not an instant hit for me--I guess my 13-year-old tastes weren't quite ready for it...)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/22/1967 to 5/28/1967

West Rome announced that 138 seniors would take part in graduation exercises on June 6th at the Rome City Auditorium. Atlanta television announcer Jerry Psenka was chosen to be graduation speaker (I remember Jerry Psenka--or at least his name--but had no idea that he was a speaker at any high school's graduation ceremonies).

The Rome Board of Education reviewed the findings of a special state study committee looking into the school system facilities. The study committee recommended a total overhaul of the elementary school facilities and a phaseout of neighborhood elementary schools in favor of fewer schools housing 500+ students in each school. The plan recommended, among other things, the merging of West End Elementary and Elm Street Elementary into one larger school. If all recommendations had been carried out, the cost would have been $2.5 million (that’s about $18 million in today’s dollars)Thankfully, all of these recommendations were not implemented; the board recognized the value of neighborhood/community elementary schools with smaller student populations and a faculty who knew almost almost all the students in their school.

Rome got almost 3” of rain on May 22nd, causing flooding on Paris Drive near the creek that overflowed into the backyards of homes on Conn Street. Fifteen auto accidents were reported due to the heavy rains, including a six-car accident on Shorter Avenue near Burnett Ferry Road. Fortunately, none of the accidents resulted in serious injuries.

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 59¢ a half-gallon (the first time ice cream was advertised over the 50¢ a half-gallon mark). Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Southern Maid barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Kroger white bread for 17¢ a loaf. A&P had sirloin steak for 85¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 15¢ a can, and whole watermelons for 89¢ each. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit,

The cinematic week began with One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought For a Few Dollars More (with Clint Eastwood) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Casino Royale hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals took the number one slot this week with “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect by Aretha Franklin (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#5); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#6); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#7); “Creeque Alley” by the Mamas & the Papas (#8); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank Sinatra & Nancy Sinatra (#9); and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond (#10).

A comedy album cracked the top ten this week in 1967 as Bill Cosby’s Revenge climbed to the third slot, behind More of the Monkees by—well, you know—and I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You by Aretha Franklin. Cosby’s comedy was already very familiar to many of us—Revenge was his fifth album, after all—but his co-starring role in the television series I Spy had put him in the spotlight, creating an eager audience for a new helping of Cosby’s comedy. This album included the first mention of Cosby’s childhood friend Fat Albert and his signature phrase “Hey! Hey! Hey!"

And while their second album was still holding strong in the charts, the Monkees released their third album, Headquarters, this week in 1967. Other releases this week included the 5th Dimension’s debut album Up, Up, and Away and The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart, the last Supremes album before the group was renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes.