Thursday, December 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/9/1968 to 12/15/1968

After months of discussions about consolidating Rome's high schools into one inconveniently-located-for-everyone Rome High, the School Board unanimously rejected the plan on Monday evening, December 9th, voting instead to continue to use the existing West Rome and East Rome High Schools and the construct two new junior high schools. The board cited easier transportation, smaller class sizes with better student-teacher ratios, more individualized attention, more community involvement, more neighborhood unity, and a sense of local pride. Rome Superintendent M.S. MacDonald spoke out against the two-school plan stating his preference for one central school, but admitted that neither the board nor the citizens of Rome were in favor of the plan. The superintendent and the board did caution citizens that the decision would most likely mean a small school tax increase for 1969.

While West Rome's absentee rates were running about average this week in 1968, our crosstown rivals weren't doing so well; an outbreak of flue cases pushed East Rome High's absentee rate to about double the normal, and even 15% of the teachers were out sick by the end of the week.

Coosa headed very slightly east for the Coosa-West Rome basketball game; normally, the game was played at the Memorial Gym, but schedule conflicts forced them to move to one of the high school gyms, and West Rome won the coin toss. West Rome's boys also won the game 56-51, while the girls won 53-32. William Shelton was the high scorer for the boys team with 18 points, while Debbie Poarch was the high scorer for the girls with 37 points.

Georgians learned this week in 1968 that their average ulitity bills would be increasing almost 2% beginning in 1969. Just how much did that amount to? Well, according to Georgia Power, that would be an average increase of 19¢, meaning the average electric bill was $9.50 a month; gas bills would increase 17¢ a month on average, meaning the average gas bill was $8.50 a month. Adjusted for inflation, that would equal about $66 and $59 respectively--and I think every one of us would be thrilled to have average utility bills that ran that low!

Rome began pushing once again for funding assistance to construct a four-lane highway from Shorter Avenue along Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle to the Alabama Road; while the Appalachian Regional Commission and the state committed almost $416,000 to the project, the federal government's freeze on highway funds left the project on hold. As far as we know, the state money is still there," City Manager Bruce Hamler said. If the money were to come through, the city was ready to begin construction immediately and had all right of way agreements in place.

Romans dealt with a very cold December as temperatures fell to 15 degrees in the early morning hours of December 9th, setting a new low-temperature record.

Rome's rash of burglaries continued as people were apparently looking for extra Christmas cash. On Monday, burglars broke into a soft drink machine at Taylor's Food Store and made off with about $9 in change; they broke into a soft drink machine at Garden Lakes Service Station and stole about $22;  and they broke a window at Interstate Life Insurance Company and raided the vending machines, making off with about $30. On Tuesday, police got a lead in the case, and by Wednesday they had three East Rome teenagers under arrest and were searching for a fourth.

Piggly Wiggly had chicken livers for 59¢ a pound, Chuck Wagon bacon for 53¢ a pound, and grapefruit for a dime each.A&P had sirloin steak for 88¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick Stew for 49¢ a can, and strawberries for 35¢ a pint. Big Apple had picnic hams for 37¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 55¢ a pound, and Kraft cheese for 59¢ a pound. Kroger had pork roast for 29¢ a pound, three pounds of Hungry Jack pancake mix for 59¢, and yellow corn for a dime an ear. Couch's had store-ground sausage for 39¢ a pound, JFG mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and a 13-ounce box of Brach's chocolate-covered cherries for 49¢.

The cinematic week began with The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (starring Alan Arkin) at the DeSoto Theatre, For the Love of Ivy (starring Sidney Poitier) at the First Avenue, and Live a Little, Love a Little (starring Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Big Gundown (starring Lee Van Cleef) to the DeSoto, The Family Band (starring Walter Brennan) to the First Avenue, and Villa Rides (starring Yul Brynner) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye held on to the number one slot this week with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Other top ten hits included "Love Child" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#2); "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#3); "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion (#4); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#5); "Stormy" by the Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost (#6): "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#7); "Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins (#8); "I Love How You Love Me" by Bobby Vinton (#9); and "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#10).

NBC made music-television history this week in 1968 when they aired TCB, a Motown musical review produced by the Laugh-In production team of George Schlatter-Ed Friendly. The variety special was the first musical show aired on American television to feature an entirely African-American cast; performers included Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations.

This was also the week when The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus was filmed on a makeshift circus stage in England. The idea was to sell the concert as a television special, and it would have been well received considering its lineup, which included the Stones, John Lennon, the Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, and others. The special marked Lennon's first non-Beatles performance; he,  Yoko Ono, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell performed as The Dirty Mac, doing (among other things) Lennon's "Yer Blues' from The White Album. The whole thing ended up getting shelved after filming, and the footage wasn't officially released for almost twenty years.

Blood, Sweat & Tears released their second album, the eponymous Blood Sweat, & Tears, this week in 1968. The second album was actually more successful than their first album, producing four big hits—"And When I Die," "Good Bless the Child," "Spinning Wheel," and "You've Made Me So Very Happy."

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Fifty Years Ag This Week in West Rome - 12/2/1968 to 12/8/1968

Santa paid a visit to Rome on Monday night, December 2nd, to lead the annual Christmas Parade. The parade, which began at 6pm, started at Barron Stadium, headed down Second Avenue, then up Broad Street.  More than 20,000 people showed up for the parade,

Workers began moving the overpass structure near the Marine Corps Armory this week in 1968. Plans called for the removal and lane widening to take approximately three months. When completed, lanes would be widened from 9 feet per lane to 12 feet per lane, and a third  lane would be added for traffic heading into town from West Rome; this lane would channel traffic onto North Second Avenue, past Barron Stadium, and into the downtown area.

West Rome had another bout of snow flurries on December 3rd, the second of the year. Once again, though, the little bit of snow wasn't enough have any impact on local travel, and school remained in session.

Local election runoffs made history for Rome as three Republicans won positions on the City Council  for the first time in history. The Republican wins took place in North, South, and East Rome; West Rome remained solidly Democrat into the 70s.

Burglars did their Christmas shopping early on Monday night. First, they broke into the Central Plaza Super Discount store, where they stole about $130 worth of merchandise. Then thieves broke into Blanton Plow Company, but they found nothing they wanted, so they left empty-handed. The same night, thieves broke into the Holiday Laundromat, where they stole some change and a few packs of crackers from a cracker machine.  On Tuesday night, armed men tried to carry out an armed robbery at Hogan's Service Station, but the station owner turned on the robbers and pummeled them until one of them hit the owner in the head with the butt of his pistol, then fled. On Thursday night, burglars broke into Glidden Paint company and stole $163 in cash; Dari-Chief, where they were unsuccessful their attempts to open the safe; Horton's Laundry, where a small amount of change was stolen; and East Rome High School, where a snack machine was ransacked and the offices were trashed.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for $1.09 a pound, Maxwell House instant coffee for 79¢ a jar, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. Kroger had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Del Monte pickles for 29¢ a quart, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. A&P had pork roast for 55¢ a pound, d'Anjou pears for 19¢ a pound, and a two-pound fruitcake for $1.79. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢  pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for 33¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. Couch's had lamb shoulder roast for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp's chili for 33¢ a can, and tangerines for 49¢ a dozen.

The cinematic week began with Coogan's Bluff (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Live a Little, Love a Little (starring Elvis Presley) at the First Avenue, and The Boston Strangler (starring Tony Curtis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (starring Alan Arkin) to the DeSoto Theatre, For Love of Ivy (starring Sidney Poitier) to the First Avenue, and The Boba (starring Peter Sellers) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" climbed to number one this week in 1968. Other top ten hits included "Love Child" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (32); "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#3); "Abraham, Martin, & John" by Dion (#4); "Hey Jude" by the Beatles (#5); "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#6); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#7); "Stormy" by the Classic IV Featuring Dennis Yost (#8); "I Love How You Love Me" by Bobby Vinton (#9); and "Magic Capet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#10).

A big week for album releases, with the Monkees' quirky LP Head, the Rolling Stones' powerful Beggar's Banquet, James Taylor's eponymous Apple debut album, and Stevie Wonder's For Once in My Life all released during this week in 1968. Big album releases like these, so late in the year, made it a bit easier for many of us to put together Christmas lists for our parents...

Elvis Presley's career-remaking television special Elvis (known to many as the 1968 Comeback Special) aired on NBC on December 3rd; it marked Elvis's return to live performances after seven years of stressing movies over music. The special was so popular that it launched the second wave of Elvis's music career.

Dark Shadows made its jump from television soap opera to comic books this week in 1968 with the release of Gold Key's Dark Shadows #1. This was also the week that Jim Steranko's final Captain America story arc began in Captain America #111; Steranko's bold graphic design sense and fast-paced storytelling made him a fan favorite.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/25/1968 to 12/1/1968

The Santa Bowl King and Queen were crowned at the Santa Bowl Mite & Pee Wee game held at Barron Stadium. While the winners weren't Chieftains, two students from West Rome almost made it: Joy Cantrell of West End was the first runner up for Queen and Eddie Alverson of Elm Street was the first runner-up for King.

West Rome's basketball teams won both games against Cave Spring on Wednesday night (yes, they played basketball the night before Thanksgiving!). The girls won 43-40 and the boys won 56-34; Debbie Poarch was the high scorer for the Chieftain girls with 25 points, and Kenny Stephens was the high scorer for the boys with 14 points.

And speaking of Thanksgiving: Rome City Schools students got a three-day holiday, with schools holding classes Monday and Tuesday; teachers had a work day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

A Floyd County man who had been making obscene phone calls apparently called the wrong person: a woman who received one of his calls told him to come over--and when he did, her husband was waiting for him, gun in hand. The irate husband fired six shots through the windshield of the suspect's pickup truck, but the caller was not injured. He was, however, arrested by county police officers and charged with making obscene phone calls; apparently the shooter was not charged at all.

Three prisoners at the Floyd County Works Camp were released on Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. All three were only three months away from their normal discharge date and had no demerits for bad behavior during their time at the works camp. Their good behavior discharge meant that all three men got to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families. Alas, it didn't go as well as hoped: one of the three was arrested and charged with burglary after he was caught inside a supermarket just before midnight (and this was a time when grocery stores did not stay open much later than 9pm). He said he didn't have enough money to pay for Thanksgiving dinner for his family, so he was trying some after-hours shopping instead.

The Partridge Restaurant on Broad Street had quite a deal on a Thanksgiving Dinner: for only $1.85, they offered roast turkey, cranberry sauce, beverage, and a choice of three vegetables from a list that included potatoes, green peas, candied yams, buttered rice, creamed cauliflower, salad, and pineapple salad with grated cheese and mayonnaise; and dessert from a list that included  pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, or mincemeat cobbler. Children six and under could eat for only a dime.

Toshiba televisions are apparently much older than I thought: Camera and Craft in Central Plaza had a 23" Toshiba color tabletop television for $339.95 ($60 less than most other brands) and a 19" table-top color television for $299. Both televisions had all the bells and whistles that 1968 shoppers could expect: VHF and UHF tuners, built-in rabbit-ear antennas (which were useless in Rome, unfortunately, since we were too far away from both Atlanta and Chattanooga), and a fine-tuning knob to allow for tiny adjustments when the click-stop channel changer wasn't quite accurate enough.

The US Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division offered people across the country a grace period to register "super-destructive weapons" as part of the 1968 Gun Control Act--and you'd be surprised at what Romans registered. Bazookas, airplane machine guns, mortars, sawed-off shotguns, a submachine gun, and even a cannon were all registered by residents in Rome. The registration and permitting, which allowed residents to keep the weapons, was conducted on a "no questions asked" basis, so the agency had no idea where the owners acquired these weapons or why they had them.

Piggly Wiggly had Butterball turkeys for 45¢ a point, oranges for 33¢ a dozen, and Coca-Cola/Sprite/Tab for 33¢ a carton plus deposit. Big Apple had hen turkeys for 33¢  a pound, Sunshine pickled peaches for 39¢ a jar, and Chesapeake Bay oyster for $1.69 a pin. Kroger had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, large eggs for 49¢ a dozen, and Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a can. A&P had  salad shrimp for $2.29 a pound,  bananas for a dime a pound, and celery for 15¢ a bunch. Couch's had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, Ocean Spray cranberry  sauce for 23¢ a can, and Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with West Side Story (starring Natalie Wood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Prudence and the Pill (starring David Niven) at the First Avenue, and St. Valentine's Day Massacre (starring Jason Robards) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Coogan's Bluff (starring Clint Eastwood) to the DeSoto, Live a Little, Love a Little (starring Elvis Presley) to the First Avenue, and The Boston Strangler (starring Tony Curtis) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Diana Ross and the Supremes held on to the number one slot for a second week with "Love Child." Other top ten hits included "Hey Jude" by the Beatles (#2); "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#3); "I Heard It Through he Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye (#4); "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#5); "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#6); "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion (#7); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#8); "Stormy" by The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost (#9); and "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#10).

The supergroup Cream played its final concert this week in 1968. Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker would go on to front a new group, Blind Faith, while Jack Bruce would pursue a solo career. The group would not play together again until 1993, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Noteworthy new releases for the week included Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, I've Gotta Be Me by Sammy Davis, Jr., Promises, Promises by Dionne Warwick, and The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands by... well, you can figure it out.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/18/1968 to 11/24/1968

West Rome kicked off its basketball season on November 23rd with an away game against Cartersville, and Coach Randall Kent was cautiously optimistic. "I think the boys are tired of losing," Kent said. "The boys are seniors now and they realize that this is the last time for them to prove themselves. "The biggest thing we have going for us is that the boys feel like they've got to win now or never, so they're really hustling." All that hustling paid off with a 56-54 win to kick off the season, with Kenny Stephens scoring 18 of those 56 points on his own.

Rome burglars were back in action... but they were not particularly good at the "craft." On Monday night, burglars broke into the Rome Beauty School on Broad Street, but were unable to find anything that was worth stealing (there was no cash at all in the school). The next night, burglars broke into the Gas Light Restaurant--but once again, they stole nothing because all the cash had been deposited the night before.

The Rome Housing Authority received two loans totaling $4.5 million to finance construction of more than 300 housing units for low income families--some for the elderly and some for families on public assistance. A number of the low-income homes were to be built on a fifty-acre West Rome Site bounded by Fortune Street, Georgia Avenue, and Battey State Hospital.

After having reached an agreement with Southern Railway earlier in November, Rome crews began preliminary work on the removal of the Shorter underpass this week in 1968. The work was expected to take at least a month. "Some blasting will have to be done, and we prefer to do it ourselves," city manager Bruce Hamler said. "We want to be very careful to protect the property owners around the underpass."

Rome got the news that a new fiber plant was scheduled to open in April near the former Anchor Rome Mills property in South Rome. The plant was expected to create 40 new manufacturing jobs once it opened. Romans also learned that ABC Industries was expanding their carpet printing facility on Redmond Court and adding another twenty jobs.

The 1960s--a time when cross-dressing was merely silly entertainment. A "womanless wedding" was held at the West Rome High auditorium on Saturday, November 23rd. The fundraising event was sponsored by the Youth of Trinity Methodist Church; tickets were available at Candler's Drugs and Garden Lakes Pharmacy.

Now here's a toy I remember: Super Discount Stores (known to most of us as "Super D") had Mattel Thingmakers for $6.92 a set. These toys, which could be used alone or in conjunction with Mattel Vac•U•Form machines, enabled kids to make their own plastic toys. Of course, they were more expensive than just buying ready-made toys, but what's fiscal logic to a kid?

TV prices continued to come down, with Rome Radio & TV offering a 23" table-top television for $449 and an RCA 23" console TV for $499--the first time that name-brand consoles had fallen below the $500 mark (if only by a dollar).

Norwood Griffin, Rome's "catalog showroom" store that took orders for merchandise from customers who could then pick up their orders a few days later, expanded its product line for Christmas 1968, adding a larger selection of giftware, tableware, toys, jewelry, musical instruments, television sets, stereos, and cookware. Their ads stressed, "We have no inventory to pay for, so we can sell at dealer cost!" A decade later, stores like Service Merchandise would follow a similar model, putting the locally owned catalog stores out of business.

Piggly Wiggly had Cudahy ham for 39¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and Borden's ice cream for 69¢ a half-gallon. A&P had cubed steak for 99¢ a pound (a lot of money for touch steak beaten into submission), Ritz crackers for 37¢ a box, and fresh cranberries for 29¢ a pint. Kroger had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, angel food cakes for 39¢ each, and yams for 25¢ a pound.  Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Dole pineapple for 33¢ a can, and Luzianne coffee (with chicory!) for 55¢ a pound. Couch's had Butterball turkeys for 49¢ a pound, Hormel chili for 33¢ a can, and fresh coconuts for 19¢ each (don't fall for it--I got my parents to buy one once, and it was less tasty and more trouble than I had imagined it would be).

The cinematic week began with The Boston Strangler (starring Tony Curtis) at the DeSoto Theatre, Helga (starring Ruth Gassmann and featuring, "for the first time on the American screen, the complete birth of a baby") at the First Avenue, and The Hell With Heroes (starring Rod Taylor) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switch out brought West Side Story (starring Natalie Wood) to the DeSoto Theatre, Prudence and the Pill (starring David Niven) to the First Avenue, and The Killers Three (starring Robert Walker) at the West Rome Drive-In.

Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Love Child" took number one this week in 1968, ending the Beatles' nine-week hold on the charts as"Hey Jude" fell to #2. Other top ten hits included "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#3); "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#4); "Abraham, Martin, & John" by Dion (#5); "Who's Making' Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#6); "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder (#7); "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#8); "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash (#9); and "White Room" by Cream (#10).

William Shatner & Nichelle Nichols shared the first interracial kiss on US television on November 22nd; the kiss was part of the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren."

The Beatles, also known as The White Album, was released this week in 1968, and you can be sure it was on a lot of Chieftains' Christmas lists. This was also the week that Elvis, the soundtrack to Elvis Presley's 1968 TV Special, was released (the special wouldn't actually air until early December).

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/11/1968 to 11/17/1968

Romans awoke to surprise snow flurries on Monday morning, November 11th, and continued off and on through the day and into the early evening. Minor accumulations of up to 1/2"  were reported in some parts of Floyd County, and there were no cancellations or travel advisories--but there were a few minor traffic accidents caused by the light snow on wet pavement, and one Roman slipped and fell while attempting to gather enough snow to make snow cream.

Roger Weaver was once again tapped as the Rome News-Tribune's Player of the Week for his outstanding performance in the East Rome game. The paper referred to this as "Weaver's finest hour...  There's no doubt that he was the sparkplug that enabled West Rome to end its season on a  winning note." He carried the football 34 times during the game and gained 291 net yards, the best single-game performance by any area back during the season.

Kippy Scarborough and Janice Crider represented West Rome in the Rome Junior Miss Pageant, held on Saturday night at the Rome City Auditorium--and Scarborough was the winner, assuming the title of Floyd County June Miss. Scarborough, a senior at West Rome, was a majorette for four years, a solo twirler for two years, and a member of senior band, Student Council, Tri-Hi-Y, and Drama Club. She was also convention chairman for the Georgia Association of Student Councils.

If you grew up in West Rome, you became very familiar with the "fragrance" of Georgia Kraft (now Inland Container). Their rotten-egg smell of the paper mill frequently wafted across the area when the winds were right, and pretty much no air filtration could keep it out of West Rome homes and businesses. Georgia Kraft insisted that their four recovery units, designed to minimize emissions from the plant, actually reduced the smoke and stink by at least 80%--and to demonstrate how effective it was, the facility turned off just one of the four recovery units on Thursday, November 14th, for about an hour. The immediate result? The light white smoke emitted from the stacks was replaced with a dark, heavy smoke, and the smell increased dramatically. Apparently "See? We could be even worse" was the closest thing to clean air that West Romans could hope for...

After almost a decade of planning and construction, the final segment of the East Rome Interchange was completed. This link extended from Maple Road to Walker Mountain Road, a distance of 2.9 miles, and it cost almost $1.2 million to construct. The interchange, greatly improved traffic flow from Rome to Cedartown--and to the soon-to-be-constructed Floyd Junior College.

With the bond issue a done deal, the Georgia Board of Regents gave official approval to the contract for the construction of a junior college in the Rome area. Plans called for the school to be finished by the fall of 1969.

Harvest Festival Days took place from Thursday through Saturday, offering an array of shopping bargains from stores across Rome and Floyd County, with a particular emphasis on Christmas season shopping. Every retail store on Broad Street announced special sales to commemorate the event, reminding readers that even with large discount department stores coming to Rome (read "Big K"), Broad Street still offered the best selection and great bargains.

Piggly Wiggly  had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 50¢ a pound, and Coca-Cola for 33¢ a 6-bottle carton (plus deposit). Kroger had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 49¢ a pound, bread for 18¢ a loaf, and oranges for 8¢ each. A&P had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Ann Page salad dressing for 49¢ a quart,  and large eggs for 49¢ a dozen. Big Apple had ground beef for 49¢ a pound, Duke mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and a five-pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢. Couch's had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, Bama jellies for a quarter a jar (and you could use the jar as a drinking glass when you finished up the jelly!), and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Paper Lion (starring Alan Alda) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Fox (starring Sandy Dennis) at the First Avenue and Young Runaways (starring Brooke Bundy) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Boston Strangler (starring Tony Curtis) to the DeSoto Theatre, Helga (an adults-only film starring unknown Ruth Gasseman) to the First Avenue, and Five Card Stud (starring Dean Martin) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles' "Hey Jude" held the number slot for the ninth week in a row, while Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Love Child climbed to #2 this week in 1968. Other top ten hits included "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#3); "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#4); "Abraham, Martin, & John" by Dion (#5); "White Room" by Cream (#6); "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash (#7); "Who's Making Love" by Johnnie Taylor (#8); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#9); and "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell (#10).

On Sunday, November 17th, NBC broke away from the Oakland Raiders-New York Jets football game at 7pm, with less than a minute to play in the game, to begin their much-advertised TV movie adaptation of Heidi. Unfortunately for NBC, the Raiders managed to score two touchdowns in that final minute and thus won the game--and none of the TV viewers got to see it. The game became known as "The Heidi Bowl," and as a result, non-sports viewers have had to put up with their TV shows being pushed back by slow-play sporting events ever since...

Friday, November 02, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/4/1968 to 11/10/1968

Just as is the case this year, the election of 1968 also drew a record turnout of voters in Floyd County and in Georgia. Of course, the 1968 election was also a Presidential election pitting Democrat Hubert Humphrey against Republican Richard Nixon, and the dichotomy of the two candidates motivated voters on both sides to come out and cast a ballot. That was good news for the Floyd Junior College initiative,  since the strong voter turnout led to the bond issue passing with an overwhelming 74% majority.--and that meant that Floyd Junior College was officially a GO!

Roman felt a minor earth tremor near noon on Saturday, November 9th. The quake, which registered 5.5 on the Richter scale, was actually centered near New Madrid, Missouri, but the tremors were felt in Rome, Lafayette, Gainesville, and Macon. WRGA reported receiving 35 calls within the first five minutes after the tremor; while there were no injuries, there were some reports of broken dishes and one report of a broken window caused by the tremors.

At long last, Rome reached an agreement with Southern Railway to remove the railroad underpass on Shorter Avenue, clearing out a traffic bottleneck that had existed as long as there was a West Rome. The agreement meant that Rome no longer had to pursue the expensive legal action against Southern Railway that had been threatened. The city agreed to pay the cost of warning signals at two other intersections in exchange for the removal of the underpass; Rome also agreed to cover the cost of any re-grading of the road bed that might be necessary after the underpass was removed and the site was leveled.

The Sunday paper carried the news of the engagement of Chieftains Barry Hunter and Kathy Christian; the wedding was planned for December, when Barry was set to return home from Fort Lee, Virginia, where he was stationed in the Army.

A late note for last week's Fifty Years Ago... column: Claudia Williams was crowned West Rome Homecoming Queen during a halftime ceremony at the West Rome-Pepperell football game on Friday, November 1st, receiving the crown from the prior year's Homecoming Queen, Penny Slaughter. (As we noted last week, however, unfortunately the Chieftains were unable to deliver a win to commemorate the homecoming event.)

The season-ending football game was an ever-popular match of crosstown rivals as West Rome took on East Rome. East Rome, with fewer injuries and a better season record, was tapped to win the game, "it's tough to continue after winni8ng six and then losing three hard battles," Coach Nick Hyder said, "but our boys have been working as hard as ever. They've shown a lot of character under the present conditions." The hard work paid off as West Rome proved the prognosticators wrong with a 14-6 victory to close out their season. In spite of the win, West Rome was already statistically eliminated from advancing to region playoffs; in spite of the loss, East Rome was guaranteed a region playoff spot the next wek. Still, it was an inspiring end to a turbulent season for the Chieftains.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 22¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for a dime a pound, and a three-pound can of Crisco for 49¢. Kroger had ocean perch filets for 49¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and glazed doughnuts for 19¢ a half-dozen. A&P had pork loin roast for 49¢ a pound, Poss chili for 29¢ a can, and a 16-ounce can of Dole sliced pineapple for 25¢. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 98¢ a pound, Parkay margarine for 19¢ a tub, and Banquet frozen dinners for 35¢ each.  Couch's had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and Heinz tomato soup for a dime a can.

The cinematic week began with The Ugly Ones (starring Richard Wyler) at the DeSoto Theatre, a double feature of From Russia With Love and Thunderball (starring Sean Connery as James Bond) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Petulia (starring Julie Christie) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Paper Lion (starring Alan Alda) to the DeSoto Theatre, The Fox (starring Sandy Dennis) two the First Avenue, and The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles' "Hey Jude" held on to the number one position for the eighth week in a row. Other top ten hits included "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#2); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#3); "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#4); "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash (#5); "White Room" by Cream (#i6); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#7); "Who's Making Love" by Johnny Taylor (#8); "Abraham, Martin, & John" by Dion (#9); and "Elenore" by the Turtles (#10).

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/28/1968 to to 11/3/1968

The West Rome football team went into the week one game behind crosstown rival East Rome in Region 7-AA... and that meant that West Rome had to win the Friday night game against Pepperell if they had any hope of advancing to post-season play. Coach Nick Hyder tapped senior Jimmy Edwards to take the quarterback position (replacing Mike Johnson, who fractured his shoulder two weeks earlier against Marietta) in hopes that his prior experience would help to offset the loss of Johnson. Alas, it was not to be: in spite of a great performance by Edwards, West Rome lost to Pepperell 26-14 as Pepperell methodically took advantages of weaknesses in West Rome's defense. West Rome dominated the first half and began the third quarter with a 14-6 lead, but Pepperell simply outplayed the Chieftains in the second half

We take the concept of school lunches for granted nowadays, but this time fifty years ago, there was no requirement that schools offer any sort of lunch program. Amendment Four was written to require the school lunch program to be considered a vital, essential, and mandatory part of any Georgia school. Georgia had higher than average school lunch program participation at 73%, while Rome City Schools' school lunch program participation was even higher than that at 80%. The proposed amendment would require schools to offer a lunch program and to subsidize lunches for students who were unable to afford the cost of a prepared lunch every day. "The price and availability of a school lunch determines whether some children can have any lunch at all or not," Mrs. Anne McDonald, president of the Georgia Food Association, said.

Rome businesses were pushing hard for the bond referendum for the construction of the proposed Floyd Junior College, with the Chamber of Commerce coming out strong in support of the referendum, along with all Rome radio stations.

Shorter Avenue had the dubious distinction of serving as the site of three of Rome's ten most dangerous intersections, determined by the number of accidents that occurred there in the prior year. The intersection with Redmond Circle (at the corner where West Rome High School stood) was the "winner," with the Burnett Ferry Road intersection coming in at #4 and the Division Street intersection coming in at #7.

Murphy's got the jump on Christmas by announcing plans to have Santa at the store every Saturday from November 2nd through Christmas. Big K actually brought in Santa one day earlier on Friday, November 1st, but that was just for one day, not for every weekend, so it was Murphy's for the win!

Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Kroger white bread for 18¢ a loaf, and a five-pound bag of oranges for 59¢. Piggly Wiggly had Chuck Wagon bacon for 49¢ a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for an ultra-low 29¢ a half-gallon, and Brach's Pic-a-Mix candy (I have always loved their chocolate covered peanuts and their malt balls!) for 49¢ a pound.  Big Apple had veal cutlets for $1.19 a pound (which may be why we never once had veal when I was growing up), Mrs. B's frozen pizza for 59¢, and (get ready for it) six-foot tall aluminum pom-pom Christmas trees with 48 branches for only $3.97 each! A&P had rump roast (admit it, you still snicker at the name, don't you? Well, I do, anyway...) for 99¢ a pound,  Golden Rise biscuits for 6¢ a can, and a 2 pound Jane Parker fruitcake for $1.79. Couch's had three-pound Armour Star boneless hams for $2.79, Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a can, and Bama jelly for 25¢ a jar.

The cinematic week began with Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (starring Shirley MacLaine) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bill Wallace of China (starring Gregory Walcott--and no, I've never heard of it, either) at the First Avenue, and A Covenant With Death (starring George Maharis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Ugly Ones (starring Richard Wyler) the the Desoto Theatre, a double feature of Thunderball and From Russia With Love (two James Bond films starring Sean Connery) at the First Avenue, and The Shuttered Room (starring Carol Lynley) to the West Rome Drive-In. Fifty years later, it still baffles me that, in a town with only two indoor theatre, one of them would feature a double feature of a three-year-old and five-year-old film rather than actually showing something new...

This week in 1968, the Beatles maintained their hold on number one with "Hey Jude." Other top ten hits included "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#2); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#3); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#4); "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash (#5); "White Room" by Cream (#6); "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (#7); "Elenore" by the Turtles (#8); "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#9); and "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots (#10).

Did you remember a time when soap operas were only fifteen minutes long? We'll, if you watched The Guiding Light or Search for Tomorrow prior to this week in 1968, you do! Both soaps went from a fifteen-minute format to a half-hour format this week in 1968, marking the end to fifteen-minute-long network programming.

Fifty years ago this week, the first solo Beatles album was released: Wonderwall Music by George Harrison. The album blended classical elements, Indian music, and a dash of experimentalism; guest musicians included Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. Since Harrison did not include himself on the list of contributing musicians, many assumed that Harrison just produced the album, but he actually played keyboard and guitar on many of the tracks.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/21/1968 to 10/27/1968

Head football coach Nick Hyder announced that Jimmy Edwards (who had served as the Chieftains' quarterback in 1967 but had been moved to halfback for the 1968 season) had been tapped to serve as the team's quarterback after Mike Johnson's shoulder fracture in the Marietta game—a fracture that would keep him out for the rest of the season. "The coaches feel like Johnson is one of the most versatile and talented boys ever to play football, and there's no doubt he'll be missed," Hyder said. "He graded out at 85% in the Marietta game before he was hurt, and that's a pretty impressive percentage when you're getting beat!" Coach Hyder stressed that West Rome wasn't a one-man team, though, and praised the performance of  Edwards as well as sophomores Randy Hatch, John Sapp, and Chieftains star Roger Weaver. He also announced that the team was going to short another player going into the Friday game: Randy Brumbelow was out due to illness.

West Rome's new/returning quarterback faced a trial by fire as the Chieftains took on Cartersville's Hurricanes on Friday night, October 25th. Unfortunately, the injuries and roster changes took a toll on the team's performance, and they lost to Cartersville 21-14--their first region loss for the season and their second loss in a row (Marietta, who defeated them the week before, was a non-region team.)

Interest in a Floyd County junior college continued to grow, with the Rome Jaycees, the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission, the Noon Optimists Club, the Coosa Boosters Club, and the Alto Park PTA all endorsing plans for the construction of a junior college, and encouraged all county residents to support the $3.2 million bond referendum to finance initial construction.

Governor Lester Maddox announced plans to ask for a state sales tax increase from 3% to 4% during the 1969 legislative session. Maddox also announced his intention to seek a tax increase on gasoline taxes, cigarette taxes, and corporate income tax. Maddox's requested tax hike would amount to the first sales tax increase since Georgia first implemented the 3% sales tax in 1951. The personal and corporate income tax rates had been in place without any changes since 1937. Maddox said that he felt it was time for Georgia's tax rate to increase, and that the extra revenue would be shared with local cities and states. (Democratic legislators, who held the majority in Georgia in the 1960s and the 1970s, didn't agree, and the tax increase went nowhere; it would ultimately be another twenty years before Georgia's tax rate increased.

Daylight saving time came to an end on Sunday, October 27th, as the state returned to Eastern Standard Time for the winter. Legislators announced led plans to prevent legislation in 1969 to end daylight saving time (but as we know, those plans went nowhere, and we're still stuck with changing our clocks twice a year).

Piggly Wiggly had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice milk for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had chicken livers for 39¢ a pound, Campbell's chicken noodle soup for 12¢ a can, and cantaloupes for 49¢ each. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 39¢ a can, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Southern Maid biscuits for 10¢ a can. Couch's had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Stranger Returns (starring Tony Anthony) at the DeSoto Theatre, Rachel, Rachel (starring Marietta's own Joanne Woodward) at the First Avenue, and How I Won the War (starring John Lennon) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (starring Shirley MacLaine) to the DeSoto Theatre and Spree (a low-budget drug-addiction crime film starring no one you've ever heard of) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Rachel, Rachel hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

The Beatles held on to the number one slot for another week with the mega-hit "Hey Jude" (which was, at the time, the longest single to ever place in the Top Ten). Other top ten hits included "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#2); "Little Green Apples" by O C Smith (#3); "Fire" by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#4); "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots (#5); "Elenore" by the Turtles (#6); "Over You" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#7); "Hold Me Tight" by Johnny Nash (#8); "Love Child" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#9); and "White Room" by Cream (#10).

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/14/1968 to 10/20/1968

A study of the Rome City Schools told us what a lot of us already suspected: the schools on the west side of town fared better than schools in other parts of Rome, both in the condition and maintenance of the facilities and in the qualify of the education. Only two schools--Fourth Ward and Elm Street--were reported to be in need of significant renovations; the committee recommended closing Fourth Ward entirely and moving the students to other area schools, while they agreed with the system's plan to largely rebuild Elm Street. West End Elementary earned particularly high praise as "an excellent facility in a growing population center." They also recommended that West Rome High School and West Rome Junior High "be maintained as a permanent educational facility for the community." Oh, if only the school board had remembered this recommendation sixteen years later...

Roger Weaver was tapped as the Rome News-Tribune's Player of the Week for his outstanding performance in the Cedartown game. The newspaper lauded Weaver's 127 net yards on the ground, which helped to put West Rome in scoring position, as well as his game-winning field goal kick and his kickoff returns.

West Rome turned its attention to Marietta for its sixth game. While Marietta's 2-2-1 record was much less impressive than West Rome's 5-0 record, Marietta had proven very capable of holding the line against their opponents on defense (but less good at holding the ball on offense--fumbles had led to both of their losses). Alas, there no Chieftain-friendly fumbles on Friday night, as Marietta scored 24 points to deliver West Rome's first loss of the season--and adding injury to insult, they also took out West Rome quarterback Mike Johnson, who suffered a broken shoulder during the 24-0 loss.

West End Elementary's PTA Fall Festival was held from 5:30 until 9:30 pm at the school. Highlights of the event included a sweet shop, a country store, a fish pond, a dart game, a spook house, a movie, and an auction to raise funds for the school. I remember these fall festivals very well; one of the reasons I attended was to pick up some used comic books for a dime--it seemed like the country store always had used comic books! The sweet shop, featuring baked goods made by parents, was also a highlight of the event.

October heat waves are nothing new: this week in 1968, Rome was dealing with 80°+ temperatures every day, with Tuesday hitting 88°. The warmer temperatures held on through the weekend, which meant (as the Rome News-Tribune noted) "no football weather in the offing yet."

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Nabisco Shredded Wheat for 25¢ a box. Kroger had Cudahy Bar  bacon for 49¢ a pound, iceberg lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Kroger brand white bread for 15¢ a loaf. A&P had chuck roast for 49¢ a pound, Eight O'clock Coffee for 49¢ a pound ,and carrots for a dime a bunch. Big Apple had smoked ham for 39 a pound, sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Poss Brunswick stew for 45¢ a can. Couch's had store-made sausage for 49¢ a pound, Pop Tarts for 35¢ a box, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Never a Dull Moment (starring Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Bible (starring Stephen Boyd) at the First Avenue, and The Sweet Ride (staring Tony Franciosca) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Stranger Returns (starring Tony Anthony) to the DeSoto, Rachel, Rachel (starring Joanne Woodward) to the First Avenue, and Twist of Sand (starring Richard Johnson) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Television viewers around the world watched the first live broadcast from a spacecraft in orbit this week in 1968, as the crew of the Apollo 7 mission sent back six short broadcasts during their eleven-day space mission.

The Beatles held on to the number one slot for another week with "Hey Jude." Other top ten hits included "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#2); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#3); "Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin (#4); "Girl Watcher" by the O'Kaysions (#5); "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots (#6); "Over You" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#7); "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#8); "Elenore" by the Turtles (#9); and "I've Got to Get a Message to You" by the Bee Gees (#10).

The Guardians of the Galaxy made their premiere in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #18, released this week in 1968. However, it's not the Guardians that film viewers have come to know: while the concept was similar, this comic by Stan Lee & Gene Colan featured a totally different cast of characters, including Major Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Yondu, and Martinex. It would be many more years (and multiple lineup changes) before the team found any measure of success.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, was released this week in 1968, as was Three Dog Night (also known as One), the debut album by the group that featured Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, and Chuck Negron on very distinctive lead vocals.