Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/27/1967 to 4/2/1967

Masked bandits robbed an Alabama Road service station at gunpoint on the night of March 27th, stealing about $60. The service station employee  waited until the robbers walked out to their car, at which point he pulled a pistol from under the counter and fired five shots into the car, all  of which hit the target (although apparently not the robbers). The employee said that he got some satisfaction in knowing that it would cost them more than $60 to repair the five bullet holes in their car.

Rome’s flying saucer phenomena continued as a UFO was reported over the skies of Lindale on March 28th. The object, which was described as sometimes looking like a saucer and other times looking like a ball of fire, changed directions several times before heading towards Rome. Witnesses said that they saw a smaller object fall from the UFO to the ground before it disappeared; the object was not located. After investigation, the police said that the flying saucer turned out to be large heavy-coated clear dry cleaning bags containing multiple candles; the heated air from the candles gave the bags “lift,” while kite strings allowed the UFO-launchers (a group of teenage boys) to guide the UFOs back and forth… until the candles caught the bag on fire and burned through the string, setting them free until the bags melted and fell to the ground.

Rome launched a large-scale paving program this week in 1967, and one of the first roads to get paved was South Hanks Street in West Rome. Until that time, South Hanks Street was still a gravel road!  Sections of Burnett Ferry Road located in the city limits were scheduled for repaving, as were many neighborhood streets in West Rome, including Williamson Street, Paris Drive, and Leon Street.

Girl Scout Cookies went on sale in West Rome this week in 1967; the sale was slated to continue until April 15th. 1967 cookie offerings included thin mints, peanut butter sandwich, butter shortbread, and assorted sandwich cookies. Yep, four choices—that was it! Boxes of cookies were priced at 50¢—which sounds pretty cheap, until you adjust for inflation, which puts a box at $3.75 or so in today’s dollars.

West End Elementary School presented its annual spring musical program on Friday, March 31st, at 8pm in the West Rome High School Auditorium. The program, entitled “Toyland,” was a pastiche of Victor Herbert’s operetta “Babes in Toyland” (and why do I suspect that the students weren’t the ones who came up with that theme?).

Big Apple had rump roast (yes, I still snicker at the name) for 77¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Campbell’s tomato soup for 12¢ a can. Kroger had t-bone steaks for 95¢ a pound, Coca-Cola for 29¢ a carton (plus deposit), and corn for 6¢ an ear. A&P had center cut pork chops for 59¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 19¢ a pound, and a 12 ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for 95¢. Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. Couch’s had ground beef for 45¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and a 12-ounce jar of Duke’s Go-Go Peanut Butter for 29¢.

The cinematic week began with Thunder Alley (with Annette Funicello & Fabian) at the DeSoto Theatre & West Rome Drive-In and Doctor Zhivago (with Omar Shariff) at the First Avenue theatre. The midweek switchout brought The Reluctant Astronaut (with Don Knotts) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Doctor Zhivago refused to go away at the First Avenue.

The Turtles held on to number one for a second week with “Happy Together.” Other top ten hits included “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Mamas & The Papas (#2); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#3); “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits (#4); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#5); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#6); “For What It’s Worth” by the Buffalo Springfield (#7); “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles (#8); “Something  Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#9); and “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#10).

It was an eventful week for 60s music: the Beatles posed for photographs for the cover of their upcoming album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band on March 30th; Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire on stage for the first time at a London concert on March 31st; and Donovan released his album Mellow Yellow on March 31st (his first real break from the folk-music that had defined the sound of his earlier albums).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

It Was Forty Years Ago Today...

... that what I refer to as the fourth chapter of my life came to a close. I went to bed at 12;30 am on March 18th after having spent the entire night of March 17th completing the process of packing up our belongings at 621 Olive Street in Cedartown, Georgia. On March 18th at 8am, the movers came to begin loading our belongings to take them to our apartment at 1029 Franklin Road in Marietta.

(The first chapter of my life includes all my early experiences up to that day in early January 1959 when my parents bought me my first four comic books so that I would have something to read while I was in the hospital recovering from a tonsillectomy The second chapter began then, and continued until the time that I discovered fanzines and fandom in 1966. The third chapter began then and continued until the time I got married on June 15, 1971. The fourth chapter began when Susan and I got married and ended on this day in 1977, when we left Cedartown to begin our new life in Marietta.)

The big move was a hasty one: Susan, who was still taking computer programming classes at Coosa Valley Tech, had landed a job near Lenox Square in Atlanta with Management Science America, but they didn't want to wait for her to graduate. She had demonstrated the skills and knowledge to do the job, so they made the offer on March 7th... but they needed her to start on March 14th! That gave us one weekend to find an apartment and prepare to move.

Susan's school was great about it--they said that since she had gotten a job in her field of study, they would consider that as completion of her course requirements and would issue her a certificate at the end of the quarter. They told her that there was no reason to come to class after Wednesday, March 9th. So I took the day off from East Rome High School on Friday, March 11th, and we began our apartment search.

Today, Franklin Road is struggling to recover from years as a residential war zone fueled by run-down apartments that became centers of criminal activity. But in 1977, Franklin Road was one fo the trendy, desirable areas of Marietta, lined with newly-constructed apartments occupied by an influx of young professionals working. Best of all, it was a little more than midway between Susan's job at MSA and my job at East Rome High School, where I was teaching English. I had a 50 minute drive from the apartment to my classroom,  and Susan had a 35 minute drive to her office at the corner of Lenox and Peachtree.

So we signed a lease on March 11th and paid our deposit, our first month's rent, and an extra half-month's rent to take possession of the apartment on March 18th.

Since Susan had to start work on Monday, March 14th, our good friend Larry Mason, who lived off Dresden Drive in Chamblee, let her stay at his apartment. I stayed behind to continue teaching my classes during the day, to find a moving company, and to begin packing up everything we owned for our first major move since our marriage in June 1971.

Like everyone who packs for a move, I started off with every intention of being organized. That lasted until Tuesday night, when I realized that the movers were coming on Friday morning and I had packed only about 20% of our belongings. On Wednesday,  I began packing random belongings into whatever boxes and containers I could find, hoping I could unpack them in some semblance of order once we got to the apartment. By Wednesday night, I had everything packed... except for the books.

And we had so many books!

So my good friends Gary Steele and Barry Hunter came down to Cedartown on Thursday night, March 17th, with oodles of boxes, and we began packing. We worked like maniacs. Everything was perfect with one exception: either Gary or Barry had brought several appliance boxes down, and they filled those with books. Turns out that a 3' x 3' x 4' box filled with paperback and hardcovers weighs about the same as a small planetoid.  We looked at each other, then realized that we weren't going to have to move those boxes--the movers were!

And just after midnight on March 18th, we were done. Susan and I were closing out our lives in Cedartown--the place where we had lived since our marriage, and the town where Susan had lived since birth--and moving to a place where neither one of us had lived, where neither one of us had friends, and where neither one of us knew exactly what the future would hold for us.

Turned out it worked pretty well. But I didn't know that on the night of March 18th, when I spent a sleepless night on our sofa because I had packed away all the bedsheets and dismantled the bed frame. I probably dozed an hour or two, but I was too wound up with adrenalin from the evening of packing... and with anxiety from the impending move. Life seemed horribly uncertain, and we had all too little time to prepare for the change.

But that's the way life usually is, right?

(I'm including photos of me and Susan taken around 1976 just to remind me of how young we really were at the time. As is almost always the case, Susan is photogenic and I'm not...)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/20/1967 to 3/26/1967

Academic Awards were presented by the Chieftains Club to the top five students in each class, grades 7-12. Those receiving academic awards included Marvin Smith, Carol Culp, Greg Quinton, Dianne Massey, and Janet Amspoker (12th grade); Pate Finley, Steve Warren, April Garrison, Anita Smith, and Sandy Witherington (11th grade); Beth Watson, Beverly Hall, Bonnie Logan, Karen Hart,  Robert Blalock, and Mary Beth Boggus (10th grade—and there was a GPA tie for fifth place); Paula Lane, Cynthia Morgan, Vicky Vinson, Deborah Beard, and Susan Gardner (9th grade); Phyllis Cox, Randy Kennedy, Greg Carter, Jamie Cook, & Rosalind McKibben (8th grade); and Joyce Gribble, Virginia Leiter, Cindy Purcell, Debbie Reynolds, and David Whitworth (7th grade). 

A rock and roll stage show was held at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, March 22nd, at West Rome High School. After the stage show, a dance was held, with Rhythm Inc. providing the music. The dance was held on Wednesday night because school was closed on Thursday and Friday as a lead-in to Easter, which fell on March 26th that year.

West Rome’s intramural game between the Greens and the Whites took place on Thursday, March 23rd, at Legion Field (the game was normally held at Barron Stadium, but off-season construction at Barron forced the game’s relocation).This was one of the few official “games” of the spring; other schools simply held off-season practice, but Coach Paul Kennedy said that West Rome fans loved football so much that they wanted to see the teams play, so he was scheduling two intrasquad games: one for the JV and 9th grade players, and a second for the varsity team. The Whites beat the Greens 20-7, largley thanks to Roger Weaver, who scored one touchdown and set up the other two. (The paper offered no info on the outcome of the JV/9th grade game.)

The Magic Touch Car Wash at the corner of Shorter Avenue and Burnett Ferry Road completed its renovation and expansion this week in 1967. The new conveyor-car-wash system, one of the first fully automated systems in the Southeast, made it possible for the car wash to handle 600 cars per day. Magic Touch also added 8 gasoline pumps to their facility, making it easy for customers to fill up and get a car wash in a single stop.

Rome and Floyd County saw an increase in the unemployment rate to 5.1% in early 1967, largely due to the closing of the viscose division of Celanese Fibers, which resulted in the layoff of 900 employees. Had the Celanese closing not occurred, area unemployment would have come in at just under 4%. Rome chamber of commerce spokesmen said that they were aggressively seeking new manufacturers to relocate to Rome because of the number of trained workers available in the area, but they didn’t give any specifics. 

In spite of the increase in unemployment, Rome was still undergoing an unprecedented building boom, with more than $105 million in new construction planned for the 1967-1970 time period. This included major additions to Georgia Power’s Plant Hammond; new dorms at Darlington; new dorms, classrooms, and a student center at Berry; new classrooms at Shorter; a major expansion of Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School, new dorms at Georgia School for the Deaf; and the major construction of Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School.

Piggly Wiggly had Swift’s Butterball turkeys for 39¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Merita bread for a quarter a loaf. Kroger had smoked ham for 37¢ a pound, large eggs for 42¢ a dozen, and sweet corn for 6¢ an ear. Big Apple had shoulder lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Diet-Rite cola for 29¢ a carton plus deposit, and Campbell’s pork & beans for 15¢ a can. A& P had boneless round roast for 89¢ a pound, and fresh strawberries for 39¢ a pint. Ann Page peanut butter for 59¢ a jar, and Couch’s had baking hens for 35¢ a pound, Stokely’s fruit cocktail for 19¢ a can, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Easy Come, Easy Go (with Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Doctor Zhivago (wit Omar Shariff) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switch out brought Thunder Alley (with Annette Funicello & Fabian) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Doctor Zhivago hung around for yet another week at the First Avenue.

The Turtles climbed to number one this week in 1967 with “Happy Together.” Other top ten hits included “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Mamas & the Papas (#2); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#3); “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits (#4); “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#5); “Sock It to Me, Baby!” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#6); “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (#7); “My Cup Runneth Over” by Ed Ames (#8); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#9); and “Ruby Tuesday” the Rolling Stones (#10). 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/13/1967 to 3/19/1967

Rome City School Superintendent Milton S. McDonald told members of the Board of Education that Rome’s schools would have trouble meeting the new required state school standards. Among the problems he cited were inadequate landscaping on school grounds; absence of a full kindergarten program; teachers teaching too many classes “out of field” (teaching subjects for which they did not hold a degree); fewer than 20% of the faculty possessing master’s degrees; inadequate classroom size; inadequate student assembly space; inadequate school site size; lack of educational television facilities in every classroom; and inadequate libraries. McDonald estimated that it would take a four to five mill tax increase on city residents to pay for all the requirements of the newly proposed state standards. Superintendent McDonald urged the Board to request that the State Department of Education reconsider the costly new changes in educational standards.

West Rome students enjoyed a day off on Friday, March 17th, thanks to a Georgia Education Association meeting. We may have loved our alma mater, but we also loved sleeping late and enjoying a free Friday! 

Burglars had a busy day along Burnett Ferry Road, breaking into four houses and stealing almost $3500 in property (including televisions, guns,  cameras, and watches). All the homes were within three miles of each other, and all four robberies took place within a four-hour period.

Construction on Rome’s first high-rise apartment was completed this week in 1967. The six-story Wilson Hardy apartments, which cost $1.15 million to build, offered just over 100 apartments for elderly tenants who qualified for subsidized housing. At six stories tall, the building was the tallest in Rome (not counting smokestacks of silos).

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, grapefruit for 8¢ each, and eggs for 39¢ a dozen. Kroger had bananas for a dime a pound, pork roast for 29¢ a pound, and Kraft mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Big Apple had Armour Cure-81 ham for  $1.29 a pound, Stokely catsup for 19¢ a bottle, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. A&P had corned beef for 59¢ a pound, Poss’s chili for 39¢ a can, and strawberries for 29¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 43¢ a pound, Castleberry’s beef stew for 49¢ a pound, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.

The cinematic week began with A Fistful of Dollars (with Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Doctor Zhivago (with Omar Sharif) at the First Avenue, and Gambit (with Michael Caine) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Easy Come, Easy Go (with Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while the good Doctor Z continued to hang around the First Avenue Theatre.

The Beatles climbed to number one this week in 1967 with “Penny Lane.” Other top ten hits included “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#2); “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#3); “Sock It To Me, Baby” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#5); “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#6); “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits (#7); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#8); “My Cup Runneth Over” by Ed Ames (#9); and “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Mamas & the Papas (#10). 

The Grateful Dead released their eponymous debut album this week in 1967. (As much as I love 1960s and early 1970s music, I never developed a taste for the Grateful Dead. They are all over one of my favorite albums, David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, and I love their contributions, but I never have cared for any of the group's music.)

Two TV series aired their final episodes this week in 1967: Combat! (which ran on ABC for five season) and The Green Hornet (a single-season ABC series that hoped to capitalize on Batman’s popularity, The Green Hornet was primarily memorable because of Bruce Lee’s performance in the role of Kato).

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Stars and I

The stars and I are old friends
Since we met in Albuquerque on a cloudless night
They say we met earlier, in Tampa and in Holyoke
but I must have been preoccupied

Their charm was irrepressible
With their fiery twinkle in the summer dark
And their cold crystal glow on a wintry night

We became acquainted over the years
Through long walks and late-night confessionals
The stars listened without judgment
And never dimmed in disappointment

They were always there
Even when I couldn’t see them
Through the clouds and the tears

I’m not the same as I was in Albuquerque
Sixty years measure a man
And sometimes find him wanting
But to the stars I stand the same

My whole life
less than one beat
of a star’s fiery heart

Some midnights I implore the stars
Why can’t what was
Be what is again
Why must all brightness fade

And the stars ask
What has changed
We are still here, you and us

One night I won’t be
Will the stars remember?

Friday, March 03, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/6/1967 to 3/12/1967

March 1967 sounded a lot like March 2017: after a couple of days of highs in the low to mid-70s, a cold front brought a line of severe thunderstorms, followed by near-freezing low temperatures and highs in the low 50s.

ChieftainActs took place on March 10th and 11th at the West Rome High School Auditorium. Mrs. Clara Ellison directed the presentation, which was built around the theme of “Where the Action Is.” The show included such acts as “Sugar Lips,” Dragnet,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “Chieftain Go Go.” Tickets were available at the school office or at Mck’s Department Store, Bagley’s Department Store (I have to admit that I have no memory of Bagley’s Department Store—anyone have any info?), and Candler Drug Store on Shorter Avenue, which always seemed to be the source for tickets for West Rome events.(Every community needed its very own Mr. Candler!)

All of us who grew up in Rome in the 1960s owe Don Unsworth a hearty thank-you: it turns out that more than 1200 Romans failed the driver’s license test in the 1966 year (the vast majority failed the written test, but 125 Romans failed the driving test and 39 failed the road sign test). Those who took driver’s education had less than one quarter the failure rate of those who did not take the course.

Oh, Rome, how naive you were: Rome’s City Commission and Chamber of Commerce were still optimistic that a direct connection between Rome and I-75 would be completed by 1970 if federal funds were available. Otherwise, State Highway Department Planner John Wilkerson said that it Romans wouldn’t see the route completed until (get ready for it) 1976. Well, he was only 41 years off and counting...

Burglars decided to implement a swap at the Minit Shop on the Alabama Highway: they returned a clock that they had stolen in an earlier burglary, but filled their pockets with coins from a vending machine they ransacked while they were there. Police had no clues, but they had plenty of time on their hands… (*barrump bump*)
And speaking of Alabama Highway, Floyd County police raided  the Covered Wagon on Alabama Road on Friday night, seizing a large quantity of whisky and beer. The owner was booked on charges of selling beer without a permit and illegally selling whisky (Floyd County did not allow the sale of stronger alcoholic beverages by the drink in the 1960s). Police were also interested in a trailer behind the establishment that had a bed “but did not appear to be used for living purposes.”

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound, pole beans for 19¢ a pound, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢. Kroger had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and lettuce for 15¢ a head. Big Apple had fresh fryers for 25¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Van Camp beef hash for 33¢ a can. A&P had rib roast for 69¢ a pound, Poss Chili with beans for 39¢ a can, and bananas for 12¢ a pound. Couch’s had their own fresh-ground pork sausage for 49¢ a pound, grapefruit for a nickel each, and eggs for 33¢ a dozen.

The  cinematic week began with Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (with Mike Connors) at the DeSoto Theatre, Is Paris Burning? (with Kirk Douglas) at the First Avenue, and The Appaloosa (with Marlon Brando) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Fistful of Dollars (with Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name) to the DeSoto Theatre, Dr. Zhivago (with Omar Sharif) at the First Avenue, and Gambit (with Michael Caine) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Supremes took the number one slot this week in 1967 with “Love Is Here And Now YOu’re Gone.” Other top ten hits included “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#2); “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#3); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#4); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#5); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#6); “Sock It To Me Baby!” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#7); “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#8); “My Cup Runneth Over” by Ed Ames (#9); and “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Mamas & The Papas (#10).

Hal Holbrook portrayed Samuel Langhorn Clemens in the one-man show Mark Twain Tonight!, which first aired on CBS on March 6th. Holbrook, who wrote Mark Twain Tonight! using the words of Twain himself, began performing the one-man play in 1954. In 1966, the show made it to Broadway, which brought it to the attention of producer David Susskind, who arranged to film the stage play for television.

Cat Stevens' first album, Matthew and Son, was released this week in 1967, as was The Velvet Underground & Nico, the debut album by the Velvet Underground. Neither album was a commercial success, but both Cat Stevens and the Velvet Undergound achieved critical success, launching major musical careers.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/27/1967 to 3/5/1967

Tentative plans to annex Garden Lakes into the city of Rome (and send their high school students to West Rome) went nowhere at the county commission meeting on the night of March 1st. Commissioners failed to make any decision to allow a referendum for the annexation, saying that their financial concerns had not yet been addressed.

West Rome High School tied with Marietta High School for first place in the Seventh District Science Fair, held at Berry College on March 3rd and 4th. Missy Greear won the award for chemistry and Warner Kiser for zoology. Other Chieftains whose projects placed in the competition included Janet Amspoker & Holly Bellinger (experimental psychology), Marie Edwards (experimental psychology), Rae Richardson (engineering), Debbye Morris (bacteriology), Jimmy Perry (natural resources), Greg Quinton (chemistry), Joan Satterfield & Lynda Brown (botany), Billy Surratt Jr. (zoology), and Joe Holcombe (physical science).

Imagine the outrage if a state legislator did this nowadays: This week in 1967, Floyd Representative Sidney Lowrey introduced a House resolution requiring that the House employ ten additional assistant doorkeepers at the house. The job specifications required that the ten employees be “tall, blonde, and beautiful… between the ages of 19 and 23, and shall dress in miniskirts between the hours of 9am and 11:30am.” The resolution didn’t pass, because there was no extra funding available for ten staff positions.

Today, we shop at the various big-box retailers for our appliances—but back in the 1960s, both Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light were in the appliance business. Both companies offered low (and in some cases, interest-free) financing added on to your utility bill each month, and both companies offered delivery, installation, service, and warranty coverage. Maybe there some benefits to regulated utility companies after all… (Well, in addition to the benefit of monthly bills that were often less than the base pipeline charge we all have to pay now!)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Bama mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and Lady Alice ice milk for 19¢ a half-gallon (the lowest price  I’ve seen listed in five years of “Fifty Years Ago This Week” columns!). Kroger had T-bone steak for 95¢ a pound, Carnation evaporated milk for 15¢ a can, and Chicken of the Sea tuna for 29¢ a can. A&P had beef brisket for 89¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Van Camp chili with beans for 39¢ a can. Big Apple had leg o’ lamb for 69¢ a pound, Luzianne coffee for 59¢ a can, and Southern Maid English peas for 19¢ a can. Couch’s had Peach Brand bacon for 49¢ a pound, Bama pickles for 39¢ a quart, and bananas for a dime a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Tobruk (with Rock Hudson & George Peppard) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Restless Ones (with a very forgettable cast) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (with Mike Conners) to the DeSoto Theatre, Is Paris Burning? with Kirk Douglas) to the First Avenue, and Arrivederci Baby (with Tony Curtis) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” leapt to number one this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#2); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#3); “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#4); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#5); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#6); “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#7); "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#8); Sock It To Me Baby!” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#9) and “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#10).

This week in 1967 Gunsmoke was renewed by CBS for another season, ending speculation that the network intended to cancel the long-running Western series with its twelfth season (1966-1967). Turns out that CBS actually did intend to cancel the series, but the word got out and the public outcry was so overwhelming that the network kept it around. Because they hadn’t left a place in the schedule for the series, CBS had to cancel another show that had already been renewed: Gilligan’s Island. (The producers of Gilligan’s Island had intended to chronicle the castaways’ rescue in the final episode of the series--but since they had no idea the last episode of season three was destined to be their final episode, no rescue was ever chronicled.)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in 1967 - 2/20/1967 to 2/26/1967

Oh, so close: Chieftains awakened to snow on Monday morning, February 20th—but the snow turned to rain by 7:15 that morning, so Rome City Schools chose not to cancel school and everyone went to class just like always, although probably not with smiles on their faces… Temperatures  warmed into the 40s for the next couple of days before dropping to 10 degrees on Friday night, followed by a low of 8 degrees on Saturday night.

The 1960s saw a rise in the interest in UFOs, and Rome wasn’t immune to the phenomenon of strange sightings. Rome US Weather Bureau director Juanita Lester reported that she had seen a UFO in the skies near Russell Field. “Two white lights were moving slowly, almost lazily, across the sky in an easterly direction,” she said. “At first, I thought they were airplane lights, then I realized that was impossible The lights were very brilliant and seemed to glow. Their edges were blurred.” It seemed to hover above the airport, so she got in her car to drive over and check it out. “When I was just about to the airport, the object began to move again and it soon disappeared to the south. There was no sound nor any other lights. If an aircraft had been that low, there would have been some sound.” Lester knew aircraft, weather balloons, and other airborne objects, and said “what I saw was none of these.” The report inspired a number of other Romans to report UFO sightings in the Rome area. A resident who lived off Burnett Ferry Road said that he and his wife saw a large object hovering a few hundred feet above his house; his wife said that this was the latest in a series of strange UFO activities near their house. Ivan Payne of 34 Conn Street reported UFO sightings as well; at first, he thought it was a plane or a satellite until it abruptly stopped and instantly reversed direction in the sky; he watched for approximately two minutes until it disappeared into the distance. (My mother, a very practical person not prone to exaggeration, eventually shared with her family that she had seen a UFO near our home in West Rome in 1967—and had a bizarre experience that we first dismissed as a dream until we found some physical evidence to support her assertion that something strange had occurred near our home that evening…)

Rome’s grand jury criticized local law enforcement for allowing houses of prostitution to operate with impunity in Rome.  According to the grand jury, some local nightclubs and beer parlors had even installed trailers adjacent to their places of businesses for the use of prostitutes, who paid a percentage to “the house.” Locations on Alabama Road were specifically referenced, although business names were not given. They recommended stronger action to shut down these illegal operations.

Thomas Evans Fricks, a West Rome High School graduate, was one of the very few Romans to make it to West Point Military Academy. The Rome News-Tribune spotlighted Tommy’s accomplishment in a page 3 article on Monday, pointing out that the former member of the 1965 Class AA championship football team, came from a military family and spent several summers marching alongside Guardsmen at Fort McLellan, and even accompanied Company A, 2nd Battalion, 108th Armor, on weekend marksmanship training at Camp Catoosa near Ringgold while he was a high school student.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Orange Nip frozen orange juice for 25¢ a can, and Morton’s new tuna pot pies (no, I’m not making it up) for 25¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, a box of six Kroger donuts for 23¢, and Hunt’s tomato sauce for a dime a can. A&P had Allgood bacon for 55¢ a pound, Cap’n Johns frozen fish sticks for 50¢ a box, and five pounds of pink grapefruit for 33¢. Big Apple had Hormel franks for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for 8¢ an ear, and a two-pound jar of Lenox Park peanut butter for 49¢. Couch’s had spareribs for 29¢ a pound, a dozen eggs for 29¢, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.

The cinematic week began with A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (with Zero Mostel) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and The Fortune Cookie (with Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brough Tobruk (with Rock Hudson & George Peppard) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Restless Ones (with Johnny Crawford) to the First Avenue (and yes, that means that they finally ended the seemingly-eternal run of The Sound of Music, only to bring in a two-year-old grade B film in its place).

The Buckinghams leapt to number one this week in 1967 with “Kind of a Drag.” Other top ten hits included “Love Is Here to Stay and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#2); “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#3), “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#4); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#5); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#6); “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#7); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#8); “ (We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#9); and “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

The Beatles appeared on American Bandstand in a taped appearance this week in 1967, premiering their new videos for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Jack and the Beanstalk, the first TV special to combine live action and animation, premiered on February 25th, 1967, courtesy of NBC and Hanna-Barbera.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/13/1967 to 2/19/1967

Owen Blanton reminded Chieftains that this week was the deadline for signing up to take the National Educational Development test scheduled for Saturday, March 4th. The NEDT was actually a series of tests in English, social studies, science, math, and vocabulary designed to measure each student’s ability to apply learning skills (rather than his/her ability to memorize facts). The test was to be given at West Rome High School on Saturday, March 4th, at 8:30 am, but no one could take the test unless he/she signed up by February 17th.

Diane Massey of West Rome was one of four winners of a DAR Good Citizens Pin, awarded by the Xavier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The pins were given to senior girls selected by the faculty and class as having outstanding qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism.

An internal audit of Rome’s Headstart project revealed numerous financial discrepancies, leading to a full-scale audit of the entire program by an independent state auditor. The second audit revealed even more discrepancies leading to one immediate dismissal. Spokespeople said that the audit revealed small discrepancies that got larger as the year went on—a typical sign of intentional mismanagement of funds. The city and the county jointly issued checks to replace the $3000.00 that was missing, which seemed to satisfy the federal government, who declined to reveal the name of the person responsible for the discrepancies or to recommend prosecution.

1967 was the first year that Georgians were required to play their ad valorum taxes at the time their tags were purchased, and Floyd County tax commissioner Sarah Keown said that Romans apparently didn’t like it. Tax collection and tag sales were down by about 35% over the same period last year, with 75% of Romans apparently waiting until the last minute to pay their tag and taxes.

West Rome’s girls pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when they defeated top-rated Pepperell 41-37. Coach June Hyder had special praise for her guards (Linda Hilley, Judy Stegall, and Debbie Hovey). “We fouled only eight times—four times in each half,” Coach Hyder explained. “And this certainly helped. And they managed to hold Nancy Mathis [a top-ranked Peppered player who had averaged 34 points per game) to 16 points.”

H&R Block was pushing their tax preparation service this week in 1967, offering to prepare both federal and state returns for $5 for a basic return.

Piggly Wiggly had Hormel potted meat for a dime a can, T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, and Bama preserves or jam (in jars that could used as drinking glasses once emptied) for a quarter a jar. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Coke/Tab/Fresca/Sprite for 29¢ a case plus deposit, and carrots for 19¢ a bunch. A&P had rib eye steak for $1.79 a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bath-sized Lifebuoy soap (“The soap that’s 99 and 44/1000% pure… so pure it floats!”) for 19¢ a bar.  Kroger had pork loin roast for 59¢ a pound, lettuce for 15¢ a head, and strawberries for 29¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, squash for a dime a pound, and ten pounds of White Lily flour for 99¢.

The cinematic week began with Funeral In Berlin (with Michael Caine) at the DeSoto Theater, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (with Stuart Whitman) at the West Rome Drive-In. Those Magnificent Men flew over to the DeSoto at the midweek switchout, Julie Andrews refused to vacate the First Avenue, and Second Time Around played for the first time at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Buckinghams’ “Kind of a Drag” pushed the Monkees out of the number one slot this week in 1967, knocking “I’m a Believer” down to second place. Other top ten hits included “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#3); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#4); “(We Ain't Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#5); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#6); “98.6” by Keith (#7); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#8); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#9); and “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#10).

Dolly Parton released her debut album Hello, I’m Dolly this week in 1967. The album generated two top twenty country hits: “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy.” The album also brought Dolly to the attention of Porter Wagoner, who would soon invite her to join his band and appear on his weekly television show.

Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalban) made his first appearance in the Star Trek episode “Space Seed”  this week in 1967. Of course, he would go on to kill Spock in The Wrath of Khan… but don’t worry, Spock got better!

Two future TV stars crossed paths this week in 1967 when Green Arrow and Batman teamed up in Brave & Bold #71, courtesy of Bob Haney & George Papp.  (But I can assure you that, back in 1967, not even the most dedicated DC comics fan ever would have dreamed that Oliver Queen would ever make the jump to teevee!)

Friday, February 03, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/6/1967 to 2/12/1967

Twenty young men (all juveniles) were detained by the police after carrying off a large stack of school supplies (pencils, notebooks, paper, pens, etc.). The youths insisted that they were told by an adult in the store that they could just take all the items, but the store owner said that no one who worked at the store had talked with the. The police held off on filing charges until they could find out who gave them permission to take them. Detective Tom King did say, however, that school supplies weren’t high on the list of desirable items for roving gangs of thieves…

West Rome’s basketball teams continued to struggle, with both the boys and the girls losing to Wills on Saturday night. The boys never had a chance, losing 62-45, but the girls nearly pulled off a victory, losing 36-34 in the last 30 seconds of the game. Juanita Williams was the girls’ top scorer with 28 points, while Kenny Stephens was the top scorer for the boys with 15 points.

The West Rome Honor Society inducted new members Karen Hart, Beth Watson, Myra Beth Boggus, Linda Morgan, Debbie Morris, Robert Blaylock, Beverly Hall, and Debbie Cook in a ceremony that took place on February 7th in the West Rome High School Auditorium.

West Rome junior Vickie Casey was elected 1966-1967 DECA Sweetheart. Vickie,  a member of the Distributive Education Club and the Library Club, was chosen to represent the Rome DECA chapter at the state convention in early April.

Rome continued to investigate the possibility of annexing Garden Lakes into the city. According to the Garden Lakes Company president, the main reason residents wanted to join the city was the school system. “ The county’s schools are in a crisis,” he said, “while West Rome High School is one of the finest schools in the state.” (But we already knew that!) Floyd County representatives said they would consider taking part in annexation planning if the city agreed to assume bonded indebtedness for Garden Lakes elementary (which would become a part of the Rome City Schools system), repay the county for prior payments on bonds and for the cost of the land, and assume all responsibility for road repair in Garden Lakes.

Apparently Rome was  a major player in the Georgia moonshine industry: yet another raid by state and federal alcohol tax agents (aka “revenuers”) took place on February 8th, with one still located near Burnett Ferry Road shut down in the process. More than 150 gallons of illegal whisky was confiscated and the still was destroyed.

A surprise snowfall accompanied 16 degree temperatures on the morning of February 7th, creating numerous traffic problems, including a three-car collision on Shorter Avenue near Horseleg Creek Road. School was cancelled for the day, and I’m sure the cheers of students could be heard all over West Rome… The weather improved by Wednesday, but more snow and sleet moved back in on Sunday, February 12th, wasting a perfectly good bad-weather day on a weekend when school was already closed.

Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, orange juice for 39¢ a half-gallon, and lettuce for 15¢ a head. Kroger had pork roast for 29¢ a pound, Spotlight coffee for 55¢ a pound, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and grapefruit for 6¢ each. Big Apple had chicken livers for 39¢ a pound, Van Camp pork & beans for 20¢ a can, and Bama apple jelly for a quarter a jar. Couch’s had country ham for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and Couch’s store-made country sausage for 59¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Penelope (with Natalie Wood) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and The Wrong Box (with John Mills & Michael Caine) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Funeral in Berlin (with Michael Caine) to the DeSoto and The Big Show (with Cliff Robertson) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Julie Andrews had apparently moved into the First Avenue Theatre to stay.

The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” held on to the number one slot for another week. Other top ten hits included “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#2); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#3); “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#4); “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#5); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#6); “98.6” by Keith (#7); “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#8); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#9); and “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#10).

Monkeemania was in full swing this week in 1967 as the Monkees took the number one and number two slots. Their new album More of the Monkees was the new number one album for the week, while their eponymous first album held on at number two.