Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/20/1968 to 5/26/1968

Rome City Schools submitted a five-step plan to eliminate the remnants of its segregated school system before the beginning of the 1968-1969 school year. The most important aspect of the plan involved the closing of Main High School, which had been Rome’s black high school during the segregation era. Plans called for all students to be transferred to West Rome and East Rome High Schools. Initial plans, based on a proposal from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW, the precursor to today’s Department of Education) called for the elimination of West Rome Junior High and the use of Main High School as a junior high school until East Rome Junior High could be expanded to serve as a city-wide high school. Furthermore, high school would have been redefined as grades 10 through 12, with grades 7 through 9 being designated as junior high school. West Rome residents were strongly opposed to this plan and lobbied successfully to keep West Rome Junior High as a community junior high school, stressing the benefits to West Rome to have a consistent community educational experience that allowed students to attend school in or near their own neighborhoods. (Alas, a little more than a couple of decades later, however, the Rome City School System would dismiss the benefits of neighborhood schools in favor of neighborhood big-box-retail stores, consolidating West Rome and East Rome and selling the school sites to Walmart and KMart respectively.) 

West Rome’s baseball team won the first game in the Floyd Baseball Tournament on Thursday, beating Model 9-2. The game was close until the sixth inning, when West Rome scored five runs to pull ahead 8-2; the Chiefs scored one more run in the eighth inning. West Rome went on to win the next round 4-2 against Darlington, which set the m up to take on Pepperell in the next week for the Floyd County Baseball Tournament championship.

The King’s Inn arson trial of Rome real estate agent Dwyatt Dempsey began this week in 1968, and the first motion the defense made was to exclude evidence that included gas cans found in Dempsey’s car. The judge ruled against the motion, however, and the trial got underway. (I remain amazed at how quickly cases went to trial in the 1960s; today, it would take many months, and perhaps even a year or more, to bring an arson case to trial.)

The Rome Boys Club Choir performed its annual concert on Thursday and Friday at the Rome City Auditorium. Dan Biggers of Berry College (who was no relation to me whatsoever, although I sometimes wonder if the shared last name might have worked to my benefit during my four years at Berry College!) was the master of ceremonies for the concert and Betty Hester served as assistant choir director. 

National City Bank continued its push to bring the new BankAmericard to Rome, stressing its value to retailers. For only a quarter of one percent of the sales total, retailers could take the card and get funds deposited to their account within three days of submitting the credit card slips to their bank. That made it affordable for every retail establishment to offer credit to its customers. (Oh, how happy today’s retailers would be if they could take credit cards for only .25% per transaction!)

Piggly Wiggly had shrimp for 99¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case (plus deposit). A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Nabisco Biscoes waffle cream cookies (apparently, there is at least one kind of cookie that I don’t remember at all!) for 37¢ a box. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and whole watermelons for 99¢. Big Apple had spare ribs for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a jar, and Irvindale ice cream for 49¢  a half-gallon. Couch’s had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, Derby potted meat for a dime a can, and strawberries for 33¢ a pint. 

The cinematic week began with The Party (starring Peter Sellers) at the DeSoto Theatre, Ballad of Josie (starring Doris Day) at the First Avenue, and Carpet Baggers (starring George Peppard) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought A Stranger in Town (starring Tony Anthony) to the DeSoto, Around the World in 80 Days (starring David Niven and many, many others) to the First Avenue, and The Road Hustlers (starring Jim Davis--not the Garfield artist--and Andy Devine) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Archie Bell & the Drells took number one this week with “Tighten Up.” Other top ten hits included “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (#2); “A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals (#3); “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Chorus & Orchestra (#4); “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (#5); “Cowboys to Girls” by the Intruders (#6); “the Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers (#7); “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day” by Stevie Wonder (#9); and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” by Dionne Warwick (#10). 

Simon & Garfunkel had both the number one and the number two albums this week in 1968... sort of. Their album Bookends was number one, while the soundtrack to The Graduate (which featured a number of Simon & Garfunkel songs) was number two. The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, & Herb Alpert rounded out the top five albums. 

It was a great week for new albums, with Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, The Delfonics' La La Means I Love You,  The Mamas & the Papas' The Papas & the Mamas, Richard Harris's A Tramp Shining, and the eponymous Quicksilver Messenger Service all seeing release this week in 1968.


The Silver Surfer premiered in his own comic this week in 1968. Originally created by artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee in the pages of Fantastic Four, the tragic Silver Surfer quickly became a fan favorite; when Marvel had an opportunity to expand its line of books in 1968, the Surfer became one of the new launches. Since Jack Kirby wasn’t available to handle the art on the 64-page comic, Marvel enlisted John Buscema to pencil the series; Fantastic Four inker Joe Sinnott finished the art to give it that FF look. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Thanks, Mom!

I can't thank Mom in person on Mother's day (can she really have been gone for more than fifteen years now? How can that be?), so I thought I'd thank her here.

Thanks, Mom, for--
•Never making me throw away my comics or quit reading them. Instead, you supported my interests and you and Dad even gave me comics-related gifts that showed how much you cared.
•Buying a copy of the "Hey Jude" single and then letting me listen to it, thus leading me to rediscover the Beatles after having quit buying their albums a few years earlier.
•Not only letting me play around on the family typewriter, but for actually teaching me the basics of touch typing. By the time I took typing in junior high school. I had already mastered the fundamentals thanks to your patient lessons.
•Letting me invite my comic book buddies over for what must have seemed like an endless stream of spend-the-night visits when I was a kid; since my bedroom was right across the hall from yours and Dad's, I'm sure that you tolerated for more late-night comic book and monster movie conversations than you ever wanted to.
•Always making me feel welcome, even when you were struggling with emphysema. I cherish every one of those moments.
•Supporting my and Dad's fascination with technology--and in fact, embracing it. I remember that you became the family Tivo expert, and you knew more trick of video-dubbing with GoVideo machines than anyone else in the family.
•Never allowing my elementary school teachers to force me to write right-handed at a time when many teachers were less than tolerant of left-handed students. I remember more than once listening to you explain to a teacher that a right-handed cursive slant wasn't natural for a left-handed person; you were indefatigable!
•Being there at my bedside the day after my heart attack, and coming to the house on the day that I  was finally allowed to return home after my open-heart surgery. You were struggling with your own health problems at the time, but you were there to encourage me, comfort me, and support me.
•Decorating for every Christmas, every Halloween, every Easter, and every Fourth of July. I always recall holidays as big events, largely thanks to the work you put into making our home a festive place.
•Rallying for that final Friday night visit before you left us forever. I will always remember the rapt expression on your face as you watched the video I had prepared using our family photos, and the conversation that night will stay with me forever.

That's just ten of ten thousand and one things I would like to thank you for. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/13/1968 to 5/19/1968

We take high school for granted nowadays, but a survey of the class of 1966 showed that only 55% of those who started the first grade in the 1954-1955 school year went on to graduate from a public high school.  If that’s not surprising enough, here’s a real stunner: 1009 persons who were old enough to have started the first grade in 1955-1955 never attended school at all!

West Rome track team members qualified to take part in eleven of sixteen track events the George Class AA track meet on Friday and Saturday in Jonsesboro. The Rome News-Tribune didn’t give first names for the list, but the Chieftains who were listed as participating were:
•Broad Jump - Smith & Rimes
•Pole Vault - Worsham
•High Jump - Smith
•Triple Jump - Rimes
•Discus - Kinnebrew, Johnson
•440 Relay - West Rome team
•100 Yard Dash - Johnson
•High Hurdles - Smith
•220 Dash - Johnson
•Low Hurdles - Trotter
Mile Relay - West Rome team

Rome had heavy thunderstorms with large hail on Thursday, May 16th, with over 2 inches of rain falling in a two hour period, accompanied by hail the size of marbles in West Rome. There were many reports of automobile damage due to the hail.

A chemistry lab explosion caused  a fire at Berry College’s Hamrick Hall on Thursday, May 16th. No students were injured, but two firemen suffered minor acid burns during their efforts to contain the blaze.

The National City Bank of Rome proudly announced that they would be the first bank in Rome to offer the new BankAmericard, “the first all purpose nationwide bank credit card! It’s a local credit card service that you can use nationally, one that costs nothing to acquire with no annual dues to pay.” Cardholders could use the card anywhere, but they could make payments at their local National City Bank. (BankAmericard would eventually become Visa, of course--and while we take credit cards for granted now, the first no-fee national credit card was a Very Big Thing in 1968!)

Piggly Wiggly had vienna sausage for 23¢ a can, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and yellow squash for 19¢ a pound. Kroger had smoked picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, large eggs for 33¢ a pound, and JFG coffee for 49¢ a pound. Big Apple had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 49¢ a pound, and iceberg lettuce for 19¢ a pound. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, yellow corn for 8¢ an ear, and a one-quart jar of Heinz dill pickles for 49¢. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, pineapple slices for 29¢ a can, and pork & beans for 18¢ a can. 

The cinematic week began with The Scalphunters (starring Burt Lancaster) at the DeSoto Theatre, In the Heat of the Night (starring Sidney Poitier & Rod Steiger) at the First Avenue, and How to Save a Marriage & Ruin Your Life (starring Dean Martin) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Party (starring Peter Sellers) to the DeSoto, No Way to Treat a Lady (starring Rod Steiger & Lee Remick) to the First Avenue, and The Carpetbaggers (starring George Peppard) to the West Rome Drive-In. 

Archie Bell & the Drells took the top spot this week in 1968 with “Tighten Up.” Other top ten hits included “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (#2); “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (#3); “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” by Hugo Monenegro, His Orchestra & Chorus (#4); “A Beautiful Morning” by The Rascals (#5); “Cowboys to Girls” by the Intruders (#6); “Love Is All Around” by the Troggs (#7); “The Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers (#8); “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#9); and “Do You Know The Way to San Jose?” by Dionne Warwick (#10). 


John Lennon & Paul McCartney announced their new business venture, Apple Corps Limited, on May 14th. Apple was envisioned as a multi-faceted entertainment company that would include a recording studio, a record label, and a clothing store; the clothing store didn’t last for long, though, due to rampant mismanagement, and before too long, Apple was a record label that served as the home to albums by James Taylor, Mary Hopkin, Billy Preston, Badfinger, and many others--including, of course, the Beatles themselves, both as a group and later as solo artists.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/6/1968 to 5/12/1968

The May term Floyd County grand jury issued a strong criticism of the inequitable enforcement of liquor sales laws in the area. The grand jury said that not only was there not a uniform enforcement of bootleg liquor sales, but that city and county officials often failed to enforce laws regarding sales of liquor by private clubs within the county. “By failing to enforce the law properly, we are contributing to a breakdown of law and order,” the grand jury wrote.  

Judge Jerry Minge, who was criticized for conflict of interest during the Watson Street residents’ noise and safety complaints in 1967, announced that he did not plan to run fora judgeship again in the next election. (My guess is that no one living on Watson Street or in the immediate surrounding area was saddened by this news.)

Rome real estate agent Dwyatt Dempsey was indicted for arson in relation to a fire at the King’s Inn Restaurant on Shorter Avenue on March 11th. Dempsey was arrested at the scene with three empty five-gallon gasoline cans in his car; his shoes and pants reeked of gasoline, and there was evidence that gasoline had been set afire at multiple locations in the store. 

Former Roman Norma Brannon was chosen as Mrs. Georgia on Friday night; the runner-up, Mrs. James E. Duffy, was a current Roman who represented the city in the competition. (I was particularly pleased with the news, since Norma Brannon was my mother’s sister and my aunt. She was a gracious, charming, and kind woman who was a vital part of my youth, and I couldn’t have imagined a woman more deserving of the honor--other than my own Mom, of course!)

Charles Burnes of West Rome was charged with assault with intent to commit murder for stabbing a man and then engaging in a shootout with him at a used car lot in North Rome. The shootout involved two handguns and a shotgun; while more than a dozen shots were fired, only a single pellet from the shotgun actually hit either man. The victim was not charged, since he only fired in self-defense when fired upon.

The Elm Street PTA presented a musical program entitled “Elm Street School On the Go” on Thursday, May 9th at 7:30 pm at the West Rome High School auditorium. The program featured performances by both students and faculty members.

West Rome’s baseball team trounced Chattooga 13-4 on Monday, May 6th. Charles Williams was the winning pitcher for the region game that saw the Chieftains take the lead in the first inning and never gave up that lead for the remainder of the game.

The West Rome track team defeated Lafayette and Dalton 7i1-57-42 in a three-way track meet on Tuesday, May 8th. Johnny Rimes took first place in the triple jump, and the relay team won their race, clinching the victory.

Alas, West Rome’s track team was not able to pull off a victory in the season’s final meet, losing to East Rome 168-162--and that gave the Gladiators a lock on the region 6-AA championship.

West Rome French teacher Mrs. JV Cobb, announced plans to take a group of students--including Chieftains Beverly Hall and Jeannie Thompson--to France for the summer to spend five weeks in France’s chateau country, studying at the Centre D’Etudes Francaises ‘Ambroise. The school offered intensive study programs for select upper-level French students, with all classes conducted entirely in French. 

Southern Bell began promoting direct-dial long distance with daily advertising this week in 1968. The ads stressed that you could make your own long distance calls by dialing 1, the area code, and the phone number, thereby saving up to 40% over person-to-person long-distance calls. With direct-dial station-to-station calls, Romans could phone Atlanta during the day for only 45¢ a minute and only 25¢ a minute after 8:00 pm. (Yes, that equals more than $3 a minute for daytime rates and almost $2 a minute for evening rates in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.)

Burglars were back in action in Rome this week in 1968. Monday night, burglars broke into Cline’s Service Station on North Broad Street and raided the vending machines, taking an undetermined amount of cash. The same night, a wel pump was stolen from a residence on Huffacre Road and a rifle was stolen from a house on the Rockmart Highway. Thursday night, burglars broke into East Rome High School and ransacked the vending machines, making off with a whopping $12.00.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 99¢ a pound, strawberries for 49¢ a quart, and Morton’s salt for 9¢ a box. Kroger had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, Kroger bread for 18¢ a loaf, and bananas for 13¢ a pound. Big Apple had Oscar Mayer bacon for 67¢ a pound, tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Chase and Sanborn coffee for 55¢ a pound. A&P had corned beef for 65¢ a pound, iceberg lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Hydrox cookies for 39¢ a pack. Couch’s had Cudahy Bar-S bologna for 29¢ a half-pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and large eggs for 35¢ a dozen. 

The cinematic week began with The Secret War of Harry Frigg (starring Paul Newman) at the DeSoto Theatre, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book at the First Avenue, and Psychout (starring Susan Strasberg) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Scalphunters (starring Burt Lancaster) at the DeSoto, In the Heat of the Night (starring Sidney Poitier & Rod Steiger) at the First Avenue, and Kiss Me, Stupid (starring Dean Martin & Kim Novak) at the West Rome Drive-In. 


Bobby Goldsboro’s maudlin “Honey” held on to number one this week in 1968. Other top ten songs included “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & the Drells (#2); “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#3); “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra, and Chorus (#4); “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#5); “A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals (#6); “Cowboys to Girls” by the Intruders (#7); “The Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers (#8); “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (#9); and “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#10). 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/29/1968 to 5/5/1968

West Rome didn’t just win their four-way track meet against Cherokee, Pepperell, & Coosa on April 30th, they demolished their competition, taking ten first place wins in the course of the meet. Ultimately, the Chieftains won with 113 points (the next highest point total went to Cherokee with 56). Two Chieftains were double winners; Mike Johnson in the hundred-yard dash and the 22-yard dash, and Xavier Smith in the high hurdles and the high jump. Single winners included Jimmy Trotter (low hurdles) Charles Smith (triple jump), Wayne Worsham (pole vault), and Johny Rimes (broad jump). In addition, West Rome won both relays. 

Anita Smith and Robert Watson, both seniors at West Rome, were named recipients of National Merit Scholarships; all winners (more than 1500 from 14,000 finalists) scored in the top half of one percent of graduating hig school seniors in the state on the Merit test and met other grade and activity requirements.

West Rome’s physical fitness team (comprised of Wayne Worsham, Jeff Rogers, Billy Bray, Mike Westbrook, Sam Tucker, and Ronnie Holbrooks) headed to Macon on Friday to compete in the state physical fitness meet. The test was set up according to US Marine Corps standards, featuring two minute situps, pushups, squat thrusts, pullups, and a 300-yard shuttle run. Scoring was set according to the performance of each individual, and then combined to create the team standing. (And I’m sure I’m not the only Chieftain who remembered the days when we all had to participate in this test to determine just how physically fit--or unfit--we were.)

Galloway’s Gulf Service Center opened at 2221 Shorter Avenue (at the corner of Redmond Circle across from West Rome High School) this week in 1968. The service station celebrated with free lollipops, Cokes, and balloons; a free set of four antique auto glasses with the purchase of ten gallons or more of gasoline; and a free five-day vacation for two in Maggie Valley, North Carolina for one lucky winner. 

A statewide sales tax increase from 3% to 4% became a topic of conversation this week in 1966, with many county commissioners (including those from Floyd County) urging that the sales tax be raised and the funds be used to reduce property taxes. Oh, how little foresight these commissioners had: the tax would indeed be raised a few years later, without any accompanying property tax reduction. Seems like someone forgot to insert the last part of that tax change into the final bill, huh?...)

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 39¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and cucumbers for a dime each. Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, pole beans for 23¢ a pound, and JFG coffee for 55¢ a  pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, yellow squash for 12¢ a pound, and Pet Ritz frozen cream pies for 25¢ each. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, strawberries for 25¢ a pint, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, large eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and green onions for a dime a bunch. 

The cinematic week began with Stay Away Joe (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman & Ann Bancroft) at the First Avenue, and Attack on the Iron Coast (starring Lloyd Bridges) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Secret War of Harry Frigg (starring Paul Newman) to the DeSoto, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book to the First Avenue, and Psychout (with Susan Strasberg) to the West Rome Drive-In.




Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/22/1968 to 4/28/1968

Daylight saving time went into effect for the second year in a row on Sunday morning, April 28th, much to the dismay of most Romans. A local survey showed that 72% of Romans were opposed to daylight saving time; the survey also showed that 28% of those who were opposed also had no idea that daylight saving time had actually gone into effect!

Mike Johnson and Xavier Smith picked up three first places each in Monday’s track meet against Berry Academy, which was enough to secure West Rome’s 85-51 win. Johnson not only took first place in the 100-yard dash and the 220-yard dash, but he also took first in the shot put—and that wasn’t an event he normally participated in, but he was filling in for an absent teammate! Smith took first in the high jump, the high hurdles, and the low hurdles. Johnny Rimes took two first places, in the triple jump and the 440-yard dash. 

Two days later, the West Rome track team racked up another win in a three-way meet against Dalton and Cherokee. Mike Johnson and Johnny Rimes were the only double winners for the Chieftains; Johnson won in the 100-yard dash and the 220-yard dash; Rimes won in the broad jump and the triple jump. 

West Rome lost against crosstown rivals East Rome in a region baseball game on April 23rd in a 3-0 game. The team performed much better in Saturday’s region game against Wills, which the Chiefs won 4-1. Gerald Tucker pitched the winning game, giving West Rome a 5-4 record, with a  4-2 record in region play. 

Berry College hosted an Up With People concert on April 22nd. The concert, organized by a non-profit group called Moral Re-Armament, used popular music as a tool to stress positivism. “We believe in the four moral standards of love, purity, unselfishness, and honesty,” Larry Moudy, a member of the group, said. “We try to apply the four standards to our daily lives. We are trying to create a society that not only believes in these standards but actually put them to work.”

Russell Field airport officials were taken by surprise when the federal government approved a grant of $16,500 for improvements, rather than the $288,000 that the airport officials had requested. “We are very disappointed,” federal programs coordinator Richard L. McCullough said. “There is a pressing need for improvements at Russell Field. I think they only granted us what they thought was the most pressing need at the airport. This amount is only a drop in the bucket.” McCullough pointed out that the entire amount that had been requested was necessary to implement improvements that had previously been recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Big Apple had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and Irvindale ice cream or sherbet for 49¢ a pound. A&P had pork loin for 59¢ a pound, Parkay margarine for 25¢ a pound, or iceberg lettuce for 19¢ a pound. Piggly Wiggly had beef roast for 39¢ a pound, cucumbers for a dime each, and strawberries for 39¢ a pint. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, a 16-ounce jar of Peter Pan peanut butter for 49¢, and Morton frozen pot pies for 14¢ each. Couch’s had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and the ever-popular Couch’s custom-ground country sausage for 49¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost (starring Peter Ustinov) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman & Ann Bancroft) at the First Avenue, and Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Stay Away Joe (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto and Sergeant Ryker (starring Lee Marvin)  to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Graduate was retained at the First Avenue.

Bobby Goldsboro held on to the number one slot for another week with the sentimental ballad “Honey.” Other top ten songs included “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#2); “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#3); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Got the Feelin’” by James Brown and the Famous Flames (#6); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#7); “Dance to the Music” by Sly & the Family Stone (#8); “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & the Drells (#9); and “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by Georgie Fame (#10). 


The Monkees released their fifth album, The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees, this week in 1968; while it made it to #3, it was the first Monkees album not to make it to the number one slot. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/14/1968 to 4/21/1968

The Board of Regents finally gave into local pressure to build a junior college in the Rome-Floyd County area, agreeing to let Rome and Floyd County voters make the final decision. Since local funds would be required to assist in construction, the voters would have to approve the $1.25 million expenditure. Rome saw the approval as a victory, since survey showed significant local support for the school. 

After several months of burglaries that involved using tools to break into the back door or the roof of a business, thieves took things to the next level on April 15th when they broke into the JAG store on Hwy 27 North by driving a truck through the side door of the business, causing considerable damage to the door and to the surrounding wall. The thieves made off with a significant quantity of clothing, which they apparently loaded into the truck before driving away.

The Chieftains garnered ten first place wins on Monday in a three-way track meet against Armuchee and Cedartown, leading to a 111-45-12 victory for West Rome. Roger Weaver won two first places as a sprinter, and also ran a leg on West Rome’s relay team. Xavier Smith was also a double winner, taking first in high jump and high hurdles. The Chiefs did less well in their Wednesday match against Lafayette, however, losing 69-67. Mike Johnson hurt has back in the hundred-yard dash and had to be scratched from the 220; had he been able to run, he was expected to pick up the win, which would have made the Chieftains victorious. 

West Rome’s baseball team had an inauspicious week, losing 5-0 to Calhoun. Billy Bray and Richard Wood were the only Chieftain players to get a hit in the game, with each getting a single.

The next evening, thieves cut off phone service to Summerville when they stole hundreds of feet of copper phone line near Taylors Ridge. The phone company estimated that the thieves made off without about $25 worth of copper, but caused about $10,000 worth of damage in doing so. 

Coosa Valley Book Shop, a favorite of mine since I first discovered their cache of Edgar Rice Burroughs books in 1965, completed the move from their old Tribune Street location to East Third this week in 1968. I loved the store because they were so much more than an average used bookstore; Mrs. John Grigsby, the driving force behind the store, had an amazing array of 18th and 19th century hardcover volumes in stock as well as the usual array of more recent used paperbacks and a large assortment of used comics for half-price. The move more than doubled the store’s square footage, which meant that they were the largest bookstore in Rome. It also meant that, for a brief while, the square block on Broad Street between East Third and East Fourth was Rome’s bookstore haven, with Liberty Newsstand, Reader’s Den, and Coosa Valley Books all within a few hundred feet of one another.

Kroger had round steak for 89¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and a five-pound bag of sugar for 35¢. A&P had grond beef for 45¢ a pound, Dinty Moore beef stew for 55¢ a can, and oranges for a dime each. Piggly Wiggly had picnic ham for 33¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Bama jelly for a quarter a jar. Big Apple had chicken breasts for 47¢ a pound, Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a pound, and carrots for a dime a bunch. Couch’s had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and locally-sourced medium eggs for 33¢ a dozen. 

The Donut Shack expanded to three locations in Rome: on Shorter Avenue across from the Burger King, on Martha Berry Highway near the underpass, and on North Broad Street. (Owner Liilian Crane spent a few years working at Conn’s, home of the best donuts in Rome, prior to launching her own donut shops.)

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost (starring Peter Ustinov) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman & Ann Bancroft) at the First Avenue, and Texas Across the River (starring Dean Martin) at the West Rome Drive-In. Blackbeard’s Ghost and The Graduate hung around for another week, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in Five Million Years to Earth (starring James Donald & Andrew Kerr). 

Bobby Goldsboro took the number one slot this week in 1968 with “Honey.” Other top ten hits included “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#3); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#6); “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by Georgie Fame (#7); “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone (#8); “I Got the Feelin’” by James Brown & the Famous Flames (#9); and “Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)” by Manfred Mann (#10). 


The three-season run of I Spy, the show starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as spies who used professional tennis as their cover, came to an end on April 15th. The show was well written and had a first-rate cast, but it never managed to appeal to the spy audience who loved James Bond films and The Man from UNCLE.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/8/1968 to 4/14/1968

West Rome students had a very short school week—one day long, in fact. (The week was less short for athletes, since both the baseball team and the track team had games/meets scheduled during the week--the idea of giving all students and coaches a holiday was apparently unheard of in the 1960s.) Students were out on Tuesday while teachers went to in-service training, and Easter holidays (they didn’t call them spring holidays back then!) started on Wednesday. Which leads me to wonder if it’s really worth having a one-day school week, since a lot of students undoubtedly failed to make it so that they could have a nine-day holiday…

The West Rome Honor Society presented senior Maria Perez with a $700 scholarship at the Honors Day program held on Monday, April 8th. Maria planned to use the money to help cover expenses at Berry College, where she planned to study after graduating from West Rome. The funds for the scholarship were raised by Honor Society members through bake sales, a dance, and sponsorships raised from Rome businesses.

The Rome City Board of Education budgeted $40,000 for summer Headstart programs, summer school scholarships, and summer vocational programs. Harold Brock was chosen to oversee the elementary school program and Mrs. J.N. Finley was chosen to head the vocational programs. 

A plane that took off from Russell Field on a flight to Charlotte never made it. As a result, the Eastern Aerospace Search and Rescue Center launched a four state search that included Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and part of Tennessee (just in case the plane got off course). Alas, the plane was found just north of Ellijay, where it failed to clear a ridge and crashed into the mountainside; three passengers and the pilot were killed in the crash. The Search and Rescue Center said that flights from Rome were particularly challenging because of the number of mountains along every major flight route to other cities.

The Chieftains won 11-6 over Wills in a region game on Tuesday, April 9th. The win was particularly important, since this was a region game against a team that was the 6-AA champion a year before. Danny Fricks hit a 330-foot grand slam homer in the seventh inning.

The week didn’t end quite as well for the baseball team, however, as the Chiefs lost to Chattooga 6-4 in another region 6-AA game. West Rome had a 2-0 lead going into the third inning, but a series of costly errors allowed Chattooga to pull ahead 3-2. Chattooga scored three more runs in the fourth inning and the Chiefs were never abe to close the gap.

West Rome didn’t fare as well in their track meet against South Cobb either, losing 72-64. The Chieftains posted seven of sixteen first-place finishes in the meet. 

Piggly Wiggly had pork roast for 79¢ a pound, eggs for 29¢ a dozen, and strawberries for 33¢ a pint. A&P had 4 pound Armour canned hams for $2.99, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound and Cool Whip for 29¢ a tub. Kroger had roasting hens for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 39¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 79¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of oranges for 59¢, and Angel Flake coconut for 39¢ a bag. Couch’s had hickory smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, lettuce for 15¢ a head, and red potatoes for 6¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Don’t Just Stand There (starring Robert Wagner and Mary Tyler Moore) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Walt Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost (starring Peter Ustinov) to the DeSoto and Did You Hear the One About the Travelling Saleslady? (starring Phyllis Diller) at the West Rome Drive-In, while The Graduate was held back another week at the First Avenue.


Bobby Goldsboro took the number one slot this week in 1968 with the syrupy and somewhat maudlin “Honey.” Other top ten hits included “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#3); “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#6); “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” by Georgie Fame (#7); “La - La Means I Love You” by the Delfonics (#8); “Valleri” by the Monkees (#9); and “Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)” by Manfred Mann (#10). 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/1/1968 to 4/7/1968

Romans, like the rest of the world, were shocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 3rd. Local and state leaders pleaded for restraint and peace in the aftermath of the assassination. Even Calvin Craig, the grand dragon of the United Klans of America, condemned the assassination, calling “the worst thing that could have happened to the nation,” adding “I hope that the black citizens and the white citizens of the United States will retain the peace and homrony of their community and this nation"—a surprising moment of tolerance and reason from a group not known for either. Rome police indicated that, while there were a few public gatherings, all of them were solemn and peaceful. Civic and religious leaders in the community deserved a lot of credit for the peaceful response to the assassination.

West Rome had to deal with another rush-hour traffic jam (with an emphasis on jam) when a tractor trailer rig ignored the clearance signs at the Short Avenue underpass and tried to force his way through. He explained that he had made it through as he was heading into West Rome earlier that day—when he had a full load of freight in his trailer), so he figured he could make it through when he was heading back to Atlanta in the afternoon. However, he forgot about the fact that his unloaded trailer would ride a few inches higher—and ended up stuck for an hour or so until the authorities could let the air out of his tires so that he could pass through.

The Chieftains track team racked up 82 points in a three-way track meet on Wednesday, April 3rd, beating both Calhoun (with 62 points) and Pepperell (with 25 points). Xavier Smith set a school high jump  record with 6 foot 1 inch jump, and Johnny Rimes set a triple jump school record with 42 feet 8 inches. 

Former Chieftain Janet Amspoker was the news this week when she made the Dean’s LIst at Georgia Southern College during her freshman year. 

Two Rome men were held for the theft of a couple of hundred pounds of frozen meat from Rome Provision Company. The two men entered the business through a side door and began loading up their car; the police apprehended them on site before they could leave (and no, they did not have a stake out on the business) ; no information as to whether they had a beef with the owner of the business or not, 

Not to be outdone by Sears’ record sale the week prior, Big K announced the biggest album sale in the store’s history, with all single albums on sale for $1.97 each. Even better, the sale went on for the entire month of April. 

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, lemons for a nickel each, and  JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound,Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and strawberries for a quarter a pint. A&P had baking hens for 35¢ a pound, cabbage for 7¢ a pound, and Ann Page blueberry pancake syrup for 39¢ a bottle. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, canned biscuits for 6¢ a can, and Ovaltine for 69¢ a jar. Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Borden’s pimento cheese for 39¢ a pound, and American Beauty tomato soup for a dime a can. 

The cinematic week began with Will Penny (starring Charlton Heston) at the DeSoto Theatre, To Sir With Love (starring Sidney Poitier) at the First Avenue, and Arabesque (starring Gregory Peck & Sophia Loren) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Don’t Just Stand There (starring Robert Wagner & Mary Tyler Moore) to the DeSoto, The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman & Ann Bancroft) to the First Avenue, and Wait Until Dark (starring Audrey Hepburn) at the West Rome Drive-In. 

Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” held on at number one for another week. The other top hits included “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); “Valleri” by the Monkees (#3); “La-La Means I Love You” by the Delfonics (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#6); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#7); “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by Georgie Fame (#8); “Love Is Blue (L’Amour Est Bleu)” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra (#9); and “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (#10). 

Simon & Garfunkel’s album Bookends was released this week in 1968. The album would go on to generate five singles: “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” “At the Zoo,” “Fakin’ It,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “America.”


The Andy Griffith Show aired its final episode this week in 1968; Grififth wanted to go out while the show was ontop, and he did—the final season was the number one-rated show for the 1967-1968 season. While The Andy Griffith Show ended, Mayberry continued for a while longer in Mayberry RFD, the Ken Berry series that featured many members of the Andy Griffith Show’s supporting cast. Andy would return in the fall of 1968 for the first few episodes of Mayberry RFD, which kicked off its run with the marriage of Andy and Helen--but shortly after the wedding, Andy and Helen moved to Raleigh, which offered a discreet way for Andy Grififth to say goodbye to Mayberry (although he would return a couple of decades later for a reunion special). 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/25/1968 to 3/31/1968

The Rome City School System managed to eke out a “standard” rating from the State Board of Education. However, Most of Rome’s 19 schools actually earned an “unclassified” rating, which means that the visiting committees were unable to make sufficient conclusions about those school to determine if they were truly standard or not. The primary problems were inadequate facilities (too few classrooms, inadequate equipment, etc). West Rome High and West End Elementary both earned standard ratings; West Rome Junior High and Elm Street Elementary were both rated as unclassified. The only other school that earned a standard rating was Anna K. Davie Elementary; every other school in the Rome system, including East Rome High School, was unclassified. The state board had the authority to withhold funds from the unclassified schools if they did not improve by the next evaluation.

Janice Crider, Dianna Hose, and Jenny Fowler won third place in the girls vocal trio at the Region 6AA literary meet held at Berry College. 

Rome’s burglars remained busy: in the early hours of Monday morning, March 25th, burglars broke into the Johnson School gymnasium, where locker rooms were ransacked; Culp’s Upholstery Shop in Shorter Avenue, where tools and some cash were taken; and B&K Block Company, where $75 in cash and some tools were taken.

WROM won awards for excellence in editorial commentary and for sports coverage at the 23rd Annual Georgia Press Broadcasters Association awards ceremony held in Atlanta on March 25th. 

Home Federal Savings and Loan was paying 5.25% interest on 36-month certificates of deposit this week in 1968—an interest rate unheard of today, and a rate that was .25% higher than most other banks in the area. 

Sears kicked off its once-a-year album sale this week in 1966, with all single albums on sale for $2.44 each, and singles on sale for 77¢ each. Of course, $2.44 sounds incredibly cheap, but once you adjust for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $17.46 in today’s dollars (that’s a $7.15 multiplier, for those who like to do your own math). 

Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 30¢ a can, and cantaloupes for 50¢ each. Piggly Wiggly had Hydrox cookies (the real chocolate sandwich cookie, which predated Oreos) for 31¢ a package, whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, and carrots for a dime a bunch. A&P had rib steaks for 89¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and store-baked peach pies for 33¢ each. Big Apple had sliced liver for 19¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 15¢ a can, and a large box of Fab for 25¢. Couch’s had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Blue Plate barbecue sauce for 37¢ a bottle, and turnip greens for 15¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Wait Until Dark (starring Audrey Hepburn) at the DeSoto Theatre, Sol Madrid (starring David McCallum) at the First Avenue, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Will Penny (starring Charlton Heston) to the DeSoto, To Sir With Love (starring Sidney Poitier) to the First Avenue, and Reflections in a Golden Eye (starring Elizabeth Taylor) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Otis Redding posthumous hit “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” held on to the number one slot for another week. Other top ten hits included “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra (#2); “Valleri” by the Monkees (#3); “Simon Says” by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “La-La Means I Love You” by the Delfonics (#6); “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#7); “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by Georgia Fame (#8); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#9); and “(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#10). 

“Hey Hey We’ve Been Cancelled.” The final episode of The Monkees aired this week in 1968, although the group would continue to record several more albums.


The first issue of Beware the Creeper, a DC series produced by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko (with the help of scripter Dennis O’Neil), was released this week in 1968. Ditko had played a pivotal role in launching the Marvel Age of Comics; while he had continued to work for Charlton Comics during much of the time he was working at Marvel, this would mark his first Silver Age work for DC. Alas, the series would prove to be less successful than DC hoped, leading to its cancellation after only six issues.