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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Mom

Because I'm in the comic book business, not a week goes by without someone telling me a personal horror story about the incredible comic book collection they had before their mother threw it away.

It always makes me appreciate Mom, whose unwavering support and encouragement of my interest in comics shaped the direction of my life.

I remember childhood friends whose parents were unrelentingly critical of their interest in "funny books," asking them when they were going to outgrow that stuff and why they wasted time and money on such junk. But never, at any time in my life, did my parents denigrate my hobbies and interests. They were amazingly tolerant of my ever-growing collection, sometimes even catering to my whims even though it inconvenienced them. I still remember Mom and Dad venturing to Lee Street in southwest Atlanta in order to take me to Cantrell's Books, the first store in metro Atlanta to devote hundreds of square feet to back issues of comics. Lee Street was most decidedly not a great part of town, but that's where Cantrell's was, and that's where I begged my parents to take me. And they did--not just once, but several times, patiently waiting while I spent an hour or more digging through the comics trying to find the best bang for my very limited bucks.

Soon after I began spending money on back issue of comics from the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, Mom casually mentioned that she had read some comics in the 1950s, shortly after she and Dad got married. She didn't go out of her way to buy them, but friends of theirs had some comics lying around, and Mom read through a number of EC comics--she specifically remembered Haunt of Horror and Tales from the Crypt.  I was stunned. I had never envisioned my parents reading comics, but Mom actually remembered a few stories and told me about them. Years later, I would read those same stories in the Russ Cochran EC Library reprints--and they were just like Mom remembered them.

Not only did my parents support my interest in comics when I was a kid and a teenager, but they continued to encourage me after Susan and I got married. They let me store my collection in their storage room for many years, and never minded when I'd come up there and spend a few hours sorting through books, organizing the collection, and rereading some of my personal favorites.

When I bought Dr. No's in the 1980s, I jokingly asked Mom if she was glad I finally found a way to turn  my interest into comics into a profession. I remember her saying, "Ive always been happy that you're doing something you enjoy--that's all that matters."

Thanks, Mom. Every kid should have had a parent as supportive and encouraging as you were.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/15/1967 to 5/21/1967

Two Chieftains took first place in the annual Georgia State Physical Fitness Contest held in Atlanta on May 15th. Charles Murphy was the pushup champ with 88 pushups in two minutes, while Jerry Hill took first in setups with 86 in two minutes.

The West Rome band (along with the junior high band and the beginners band) held their spring concert on Sunday afternoon at the West Rome auditorium. The band was joined by guest conductor Roger Dancz, director of the University of Georgia band.

West Rome lost to Darlington 6-3 in the first round of the Floyd County Baseball Championship on Thursday, May 18th—and since it was a single-elimination tourney, that knocked them out of the running.

The Boys Club Choir performed two concerts at the City Auditorium on Thursday, ,May 18th, and Friday, May 19th. This was their first Rome concert since the choir was named Best Boys Club Choir in the Country in a national talent search. While they had performed in more than two dozen concerts around the country since then, they had not performed n their home town for almost three years.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had run roast for 79¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Dixie Crystals sugar for 37¢ for a five-pound bag, and Pillsbury biscuits for a dime a can. A&P had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell house coffee for 69¢ a can, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and white corn for 6¢ an ear.

The cinematic week began with Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) at the DeSoto Theatre, Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgraves) at the First Avenue, and Endless Summer (“with an all-surfing cast!”) at the West Rome Drive-In.The midweek switch out brought One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch, who changed our view of prehistoric human beings forever) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and the zany James-Bond-but-not-the-James-Bond-you-were-expecting film Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and many more) to the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’” took the number one slot this week in 196. Other top ten hits included “The Happening” by the Supremes (#2); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#3); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#4); “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#6); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “Don’t You Care” by the Buckinghams (#9); and “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#10)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/8/1967 to 5/14/1967


The Chieftains won 4-0 against Cass on Tuesday, May 9th, thanks in large part to pitcher Steve Harwell’s three-hitter. Then, on Wednesday, West Rome defeated Chattooga 7-2, led by the pitching of Charlie Williams. The twin victories pushed West Rome’s overall season record to 11-7.

The Rome Board of Education approved $17,000 for a summer reading program to be held at Elm Street Elementary to assist economically deprived students. The program was designed to run from8:30am until 2:30pm June 19th through July 28th; participating students would receive a free lunch and free transportation to Elm Street from each student’s local elementary school. .

The board also voted to raise tuition for out-of-system students from its old rate of $25 per month to a new rate of $35 per month. (This is the cost that any student living in in Floyd County outside the city limits would have to pay to attend a city school.)

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons almost performed in Rome this week in 1967, but Valli’s illness and hospitalization forced the group to cancel their scheduled appearance. So instead of spending a weekend in Rome, Valli got to spend his weekend in a hospital bed in Detroit, Michigan.

Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle have been four-lane roads between Shorter Avenue and Alabama Road for so long that I almost forgot that there was a time when they weren’t—but fifty years ago, they were just two lanes. This week in 1967, though, the plans for widening the roads were submitted to the state and federal highway authorities for approval, and local officials said that they could finish the entire four-lane widening by late 1967 or early 1968. Why such a rush? Well, it had a lot to do with the scheduled opening of Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School. The developers had asked the city to four-lane Redmond Circle in front of the shopping center, while Trend Mills and General Electric had asked that Lavender Drive be widened, so the city combined them into one fast-tracked project.

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound (people must have eaten a lot more beef liver in the 1960s than they do now—not a week went by that someone wasn’t advertising beef liver), cantaloupes for 33¢ each and corn for 7¢ an ear. Big Apple had round steak for 77¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and iceberg lettuce for a quarter a head. Kroger had chuck roast for 49¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Tetley tea bags for 89¢ a box, and five pounds of White Lily flour for 59¢. Couch’s had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, small eggs for 20¢ a dozen, and Blue Plate grape jelly for a quarter a jar.  

The cinematic week began with Hombre (with Paul Newman) at both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) to the DeSoto Theatre and Women of Straw (with Sean Connery & Gina Lollobrigida) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Blow Up hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

The Supremes took the number one slot this week with “The Happening,” knocking Frank & Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” to third place. Other top ten hits included “Sweet Soul Music’ by Arthur Conley (#2), “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#4); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#5); “Don’t You Care” by The Buckinghams (#6); “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#9); and “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells (#10). 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut album, Are You Experienced, this week in 1967; this was the same week that Country Joe and the Fish released their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. One album sold significantly better than the other, although both were considered influential in the psychedelic rock movement.









Friday, April 28, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/1/1967 to 5/7/1967

Apparently those Garden Lakes folks were hard to please: a week after voting down the proposal to annex Garden Lakes into the city and make them part of the Chieftain family, a delegation of Garden Lakes residents went to the county to complain about the condition of the roads, the inadequacy of the street lights, the quality of the water service, and the facilities at Garden Lakes Elementary. Not too surprisingly, the county said that it had no funding to address any of these issues.  (Too bad these folks didn’t think about negotiating some of these requests with both the city and the county prior to the vote!)

Maybe these thieves should have spent more time attending school and less time breaking into school: would-be burglars broke into West Rome High School on Saturday, May 6th, and then attempted to open the front hall Coke machine in search of quick cash. Unfortunately for them, it was Saturday, when school was not in session, and the Coke machines had been emptied at the end of the day on Friday, so there was no cash to steal. They also attempted to open the cooler section of the Coke machine to steal a couple of drinks, but were unsuccessful at that, so they gave up and left before the police arrived.

West Rome’s track team racked up another victory, this time defeating Cedartown and Coosa in a 3-way track meet on May 2nd. West Rome picked up eleven first-place honors, more than twice the total number of first-place finishes for Cedartown and Coosa combined.

McDonald’s celebrated its third anniversary in Rome by offering a free hot apple pie with the purchase of The All American dinner (a hamburger, french fries, and a shake) for 55¢. Even better, they were bringing in Ronald McDonald on May 6th from 2pm to 7pm, so you could get a cheap meal and entertainment! (Oddly enough, they promoted the fact that Ronald MacDonald would be autographing--not sure how many kids really care about autographs, and of those who do, how many of them would want an unknown performer to sign the name of the character he was portraying?)

Piggly Wiggly had Cudahy’s Bar S bacon for 49¢ a pound, Swift’s potted meat for a dime a can, and 10 pounds of Domino sugar for 99¢, Kroger hd pork chops for 59¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 29¢ a six-pack plus deposit. Big Apple had perch for 39¢ a pound, watermelons for 89¢ each, and Libby beef stew for 49¢ a can. A&P had Delmonico steaks for $1.59 a pound (and that’s why my family never ate Delmonico steaks), prunes for 29¢ a canister, and Alabam Girl dill pickles for 33¢ a quart (and no, I didn’t misspell Alabama—Alabam Girl is indeed the name of the company).  Couch’s had fresh ground sausage for 49¢ a pound, Hunt's ketchup for 29¢ a bottle, and grapefruit for a nickel each.

The cinematic week began with Monkeys, Go Home (with Dean Jones) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Hot on Sunset Strip (with Aldo Ray) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Hombre (with Paul Newman) to the DeSoto and Masquerade (with Cliff Robertson) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Blue Max hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra maintained their grip on first place in the top ten for another week with “Somethin’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “The Happening” by the Supremes (#2); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#3); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by The Monkees (#4); “Happy Together” by The Turtles (#5); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells (#6); “Don’t You Care?” by the Buckinghams (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches and Herb (#8); “You Got What It Takes” by The Dave Clark Five (#9); and “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group (#10).

It was an eventful week in popular music: on May 1st, Paul McCartney told the world that all four members of the Beatles had used LSD; Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas; and a frustrated Capitol Records finally pulled the plug on the Beach Boys mysterious Smile project when Brian Wilson was unable to deliver a finished album more than a year after starting work on it.

One of the shorted-lived television networks in history began operation on May 1st when the United Network unveiled its first (and only) television program, The Las Vegas Show. A month later, the television station was out of business. Atlanta’s WJRJ Channel 17 (which would officially launch in June of 1967) had plans to carry United Network programming, but those plans changed when the network collapsed after a month.

This week in 1967, Marvel Comics began poking fun at themselves and other comics in the pages of Not Brand Echh #1. Stan Lee & Jack Kirby kicked everything off with their eight-page spoof “The Silver Burper,” but during the book’s too-short run, they would mock their competition as well as their own books.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/24/1967 to 4/30/1967

The votes were counted, and the residents of Garden Lakes turned down their chance to become West Rome Chieftains, voting 794-333 to remain in the county rather than being annexed into the city. The deciding issue seemed to be the fate of Garden Lakes Elementary School: since the county was asking for a significant sum of money for the school grounds and facilities, the city had indicated that it would instead reassign Garden Lakes students to Elm Street and West End. Apparently the residents of Garden Lakes found that totally unacceptable, so the annexation was soundly rejected. (One has to wonder how different things might have been had Garden Lakes voted yes; the influx of almost 500 new students of all ages into the West Rome school network might have inspired the city to keep West Rome open rather than turning the school into a Walmart parking lot…)

For the first time since the end of World War II, Romans set their clocks ahead one hour when they went to bed on Saturday, April 29th, thanks to daylight saving time. Of course, the official time change took place at 2am on Sunday, but since most of us were asleep by that time, we diligently gave up an hour of rest as we set our clocks ahead at bedtime. Georgia had observed daylight saving time in the past—during the war years of 1918, 1919, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945—but once the war was over, Georgia had left its clocks alone until 1967, when the entire nation (with the exception of a couple of recalcitrant states) began observing daylight saving time. And there was no automatic daylight saving time setting on our clocks back then—daylight saving time required changing all clocks by hand, knowing that we would have to change them back again six months later. (We can only hope that, at some point, our legislators will show the common sense and courage to do away with this outmoded and counterproductive practice: recent studies have shown that switching to daylight saving time actually costs us slightly more in energy use, it has negative health ramifications, and it remain quite unpopular.)

Steve Harwell’s triple in the eighth inning, followed by a score from third on a throwing error, gave West Rome's baseball team a 3-2 victory against the Cedartown Bulldogs on April 24th.

And a day later, West Rome once again defeated Cedartown—this time in a dual meet at the West Rome track. The final score was 113-23, with West Rome racking up twelve first places. The only double winner of the day was Mike Johnson, who ran the 100 in 10.5 seconds and the 220 in 23.6 seconds.

Over the weekend, West Rome’s baseball team went on to defeat Coosa 3-1. The Chieftains scored a solo run in the first inning on a double by Charles Williams and a sacrifice fly by Jim Partee. Doug Meadows and Greg Oyler both scored runs in the fifth inning to ensure the win. The next day, the baseball team posted a major victory over East Rome, 7-1. It was a tie game until the fifth inning, when West Rome scored three runs; they followed that up with three more runs in the seventh inning. Pitcher Steve Harwell was credited with the win, allowing only four hits. And it was good that we defeated East Rome in baseball, because... 

The Rome News-Tribune Relays took place at West Rome High School over the weekend, and the outcome wasn’t what West Rome had hoped for: our crosstown rivals the East Rome Gladiators won the track meet handily, with West Rome coming in fourth place.

Marcel Beam, solo clarinetist for the West Rome High School Band, traveled to Grady High School in Atlanta with band director Charles Davis so that he could audition for the Georgia All-State Band. Beam was the only Chieftain and the only Roman invited to audition.

Marguerite DiPrima and Judy Oxford were tapped to head the 1967-1968 West Rome High School annual The Watanyah; the announcement was made this week in 1967, since preliminary work on the next school year’s annual actually began before the prior school year ended and continued all through the summer. 

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 35¢ each, and Libby’s vienna sausages for 25¢ a can. Kroger had smoked ham for 35¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 23¢ a jar, and watermelons for 99¢ each. Campbell’s tomato soup for 15¢ a can, and  Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit. 

The cinematic week began with Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding (with Sandra Dee) at the DeSotoTheatre, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) at the First Avenue, and Deadlier Than the Male (with Elke Sommer) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Monkeys Go Home (with Dean Jones) to the DeSoto Theatre and Guns of the Black Witch (with no one you’ve ever heard of) at the West Rome Drive-In, while The Blue Max hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

Frank & Nancy Sinatra held on to number one for another week with “Something’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#2); “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#3); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#4); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#5); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#6); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#7); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#8); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10). 

The Turtles’ most successful album, Happy Together, was released this week in 1967, as was the eponymous debut album by the Electric Prunes and Chuck Berry's first “greatest hits” album, Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/17/1967 to 4/23/1967

It was a quiet week for UFOs in West Rome: there was only one reported sighting, off Radio Springs Road. Once again, the person who reported the UFO said they saw a circular disc-shaped object with a brighter central light; it seemed to hover for a brief time and then disappeared towards the southeast.

West Rome raced to seven first places on Monday, April 17th, to win a four-way track meet. The Chiefs defeated Cherokee, Dalton, and Trion 92.5/88.5/57/26. Jerry Arnold won first place in both the mile and the two mile; Benny Padgett won the hundred yard dash; Tommy Sapp took first in low hurdles; Xavier Smith took first place in high hurdles; and Johnny Rimes took first place in triple jump. West Rome’s 440 relay team also racked up a first place win.

West Rome’s baseball team pulled off a 3-2 victory over Darlington on Wednesday, April 19th. The Chiefs scored the winning run in the seventh inning and narrowly prevented Darlington from tying the game up in the eighth.

A burglar broke into the Berry College snack bar on Thursday night and stole $150.00, confirming my suspicion that Berry College charged entirely too much for burgers and snacks.

An extremely dry spring left Rome tinderbox-dry and more than 3” below normal in rainfall, with no measurable rain in more than three weeks. Warm temperatures and low humidity made for a potential fire problem, leading the fire marshall to call for a complete outdoor burning ban.

One good thing about all the dry weather, though: land clearing was ahead of schedule for Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School. Berry College had assigned a team of archeology students to keep watch over the site clearing in case any fossils, remains, or cultural artifacts should be uncovered. Thus far, though, nothing of note had been found.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, okra for 39¢ a pound, and Luzianne coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Armour pork & beans for a dime a can. Kroger had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Dixie Crystals sugar for 37¢ for a five-pound bag, and Kroger bread for 20¢ a loaf. A&P had pork chops for 55¢ a pound, Tetley tea bags for 45¢ a box, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Couch’s had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Double Cola for 99¢ a case (plus deposit), and Hunt’s catsup for 29¢ a bottle.

The cinematic week began with In Like Flint (with James Coburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Georgy Girl at the First Avenue Theater. The midweek switchout brought Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding (with Sandra Dee & George Hamilton) to the DeSoto, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) to the First Avenue, and Deadlier Than the Male (with Elke Sommer) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The father and daughter duo of Frank & Nancy Sinatra held on to the number one slot for another week with “Somethin’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#2); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#3); “I Think We’re  Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#4); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#5); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#6); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#7); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#8); “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10).

The final episode of Please Don’t Eat The Daisies aired on Saturday, April 22nd. The show, based on the book by Jean Kerr, did very well in its first season when it aired on Tuesday nights; when it was move to Saturday nights for the second season, ratings plummeted. Oddly enough, the show apparently took place in the Man from UNCLE universe: Robert Vaughn & David McCallum appeared as Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin in the first-season episode “Say UNCLE,” while Stefanie Powers appeared as The Girl From UNCLE’s April Dancer in the second-season episode “Remember Lake Serene?”  (Maybe it was a nod of appreciation to Daisies star Patricia Crowley, who appeared in the pilot episode of Man from UNCLE). Oh, and one more oddity: Please Don't Eat the Daisies is the oldest television series whose entire starring cast is still alive as of the time I’m writing this...

Friday, April 07, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/10/1967 to 4/16/1967

Rome’s obsession with UFOs continued to make the news this week in 1967. West Rome residents reported strange sightings in the sky shortly after midnight on Monday morning, April 10th, and again on Monday night. In both cases, the objects were described as disc-shaped and maneuvering strangely. A man who had stopped at Johnny Reb’s in West Rome fist reported seeing three strange disc-shaped objects moving above Shorter Avenue. A second man, who was in the US Weather Service of the US Air Force, had binoculars and was able to observe the objects more closely; he described the objects as “round, slightly orange in color, with a light above the main disc.” Another resident driving in West Rome saw something hovering about ten feet above the ground in a a field approximately 400 yards off the road. He said the object then flew rapidly upwards and headed south until it was out of sight. Still other residents near Burnett Ferry Road also reported seeing two orange-red discs that released a shower of sparks before disappearing. Shortly afterwards, another object appeared from a different area of the sky and began travelling towards Burnett Ferry Road. Fifteen residents in Garden Lakes also reported seeing the objects. Every report stressed the incredible speed with which the objects moved, as well as their ability to abruptly change direction. Two days later, the police reported that the UFOs were actually plastic bags elevated by hot air from burning candles—and they felt pretty sure of this, since just such a bag sent aloft by some kids burned almost nine acres near Mount Alto. However, those who observed the UFOs earlier in the week rejected this explanation,  insisting that the UFOs moved far too fast to be explained away as plastic dry cleaning bags inflated with hot air.

West Rome defeated Model and Trion, 88-55-27, in a three-way track meet held at West Rome High School on Monday afternoon. This was the Chieftains’ first track victory of the season.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose... While the track team was improving, the baseball team went off base this week in 1966. The Chiefs lost their first  game of the season to Darlington on Wednesday, April 12th. The Tigers were ahead 11-0 at the end of the fifth inning before the Chiefs began hitting the ball; the final score was 11-6. Things got even worse on Friday when West Rome fell to East Rome 4-1; if there’s any team that the Chiefs hated to lose to, it was their cross-town rivals...

A state survey of school buildings and facilities said that Rome’s school system was plagued with undersized elementary schools that were “too small to offer the level of instructions that boys and girls should receive in order to more adequately meet and solve the problems they will face in this ever-changing and complex society.” They recommended closing many neighborhood elementary schools, several of which served fewer than 200 students, and consolidate into larger elementary schools with 500 student populations. They also recommended adding classroom at several existing school that were overcrowded—and Elm Street Elementary was one such school.

The School Board also listened to parent concerns about school starting too early; in response, they adopted a 1967-1968 school year calendar that had students reporting for their first day of class on August 28th. The last day of school was slated for June 3rd, with a day off for Labor Day, two days off for Thanksgiving, nine school days off for Christmas, and three days off for Good Friday/Easter… and that was it for holidays! No Memorial Day, no week-long spring break—nothing else!

“The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!” 1967 Rome directories were delivered this week in 1967; the cover featured a rendering of the new Ledbetter Highway Three-Level Interchange in East Rome (yes, a highway bridge was the cover feature of the phone book!). 32,000 directories were delivered in the Rome area, and they included almost 1200 new phone numbers. (And yes, hew phone books were such a big deal that the Rome News-Tribune devoted major story space to their release!)

Apparently Kentucky Fried Chicken was pushing anything but chicken this week in 1967: their specials includes a fried flounder dinner with french fries and a biscuit for 89¢, a fried shrimp dinner with 8 jumbo shrimp and biscuit for $1.19, and a quart of Brunswick stew for 79¢.

Piggly Wiggly had hams for 59¢ a pound, corn for 8¢ an ear, and Poss’s pork & beans for 20¢ a can.  Kroger had bananas for a dime a pound, pork chops for 39¢ a pound, and Kraft mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Big Apple had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, Stokely catsup for 19¢ a bottle, and lettuce for a dime a head. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Swift's chili for 39¢ a can, and strawberries for 29¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 43¢ a pound,Couch’s had stew beef for 30¢ a pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and cantaloupes for 35¢ each.

The cinematic week began with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (with Robert Morse) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Georgy Girl (with James Mason & Lynn Redgrave) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought In Like Flint (James Coburn’s spy-sequel to Our Man Flint) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Georgy Girl hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Daughter and dad did well this week in 1967: Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra had the number one song this week with “Somethin’ Stupid” (a catchy little tune, but a somewhat weird choice for father and daughter duets, don’t you think? After all, it includes such lyrics as “And if we go someplace to dance, I know that there’s a chance you won’t be leaving with me,” “And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like ‘I love you,’” and “But then I think I’ll wait until the evening gets late and I’m alone with you.” Sort of a creepy for parent and child, isn't it?) Other top ten hits included “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#2); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#3); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#4); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#5); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#6); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#7); “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Mamas & The Papas (#8); “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10).

Peter Parker gave up his Spider-Man identity in the Stan Lee-John Romita tale “Spider-Man No More” in Amazing Spider-Man #50, a book that featured one of the most iconic covers of Romita’s career.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/3/1967 to 4/9/1967

West Rome High School took fourth place in the Region 6-AA high school literary meet. Steve Cox took third place in Essay (boys); Mary Ann Witte took fourth place in Essay (girls); Bonnie Logan took third place in Vocal Solo (girls); and West Rome took third in trio (no individual students were listed). 

West Rome’s track team ran a bit behind in a ten-school track meet, coming in 6th place with 14 1/3 points. This was one of the few times that the East Rome Gladiators got the better of the Chieftains (the Glads came in first place with 82 points. Tommy Sapp was the Chieftains star, taking first place on the low hurdles while setting a region record with a run of 21.3 seconds, breaking Arbie Lovell’s prior 21.9 second record.

West Rome’s baseball team edged past Model 3-2 on Friday, April 7th. Bubba Holbrooks, Billy Bray, Jim Edwards, and Danny Fricks garnered West Rome’s hits; Jimmy Culberson pitched for the first three innings before Steve Harwell stepped in to finish the game. The team trounced Trion 10-1 the next day in a non-region game; the Chiefs picked up six runs in the seventh inning alone! Pitcher Charles (Cootie) Williams allowed only two hits during the game. “The surprising thing is that Cootie pitched so well when he’s not yet really in peak condition,” Coach Nick Hyder said. “He’s been dividing his time between baseball and track.”

Janet Amspoker, Debbi Shelnutt, Jan Shelnutt, and Dee Shelnutt were inolved in a three-car accident on Tuesday afternoon, April 4th, shortly after school let out. The three-car accident occurred at approximately 4:15 pm on Redmond Circle near West Rome High School; all four were transported to Floyd Hospital, treated, and dismissed.

Piggly ‘wiggly had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound; five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 49¢; and Swift’s chili with beans for 49¢ a can. Big Apple had ground beef for 47¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and cucumbers for a dime each. Kroger had beef roast for 95¢ a pound, tomatoes for 23¢ a pound, and fresh angel food cakes for 39¢ each. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, white corn for 9¢ an ear, and Double Cola for $1.09 a case (plus deposit).

The cinematic week began with The Reluctant Astronaut (with Don Knotts) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Doctor Zhivago (with Omar Shariff) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (with Robert Morse) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and Georgy Girl (with James Mason & Lynn Redgrave) to the First Avenue. 

The Turtles took number one for a third week with “Happy Together.” Other top ten hits included “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Mamas & The Papas (#2); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#3); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#4); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#5); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#6); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#7); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#8); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#9); and “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits (#10). 

Having said goodbye to Marvel in a less-than-amicable split, Steve Ditko found his muse at Charlton Comics. This was the week that the first issue of his Blue Beetle series debuted (starring the character he had introduced in the pages of Captain Atom); the premiere issue introduced Ditko’s enigmatic blank-faced hero The Question (who would late inspired Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ Rorschach in The Watchmen). Ditko also pencilled a ten-page story (inked by the incomparable Wally Wood) in Tower Comics’ Dynamo #4, also released this week in 1967—


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).