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.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/7/1968 to 10/13/1968

Rome City Schools received Headstart Program approval for the current school year. The approval came almost two months after the school year began because of red tape in Washington, even though all required state and local forms were filed ahead of deadline. Rome qualified for $140,000 in federal funds for the program, which was about 90% of the funding that they requested. The program was designed to assist preschool children who are educationally and socially unprepared for first grade classes.

The Rome City Schools system also announced plans to request a $1 million bond referendum to raise money for classroom construction, including major new wings at Elm Street Elementary, new classrooms at West End Elementary, and the construction of two new junior high schools in East and West Rome, with the space currently devoted to junior high turned over to high school use instead.

Two West Rome students—Beverly Hall and Michael Witte—were named as semifinalists in the 1968-1969 National Merit Scholarship program. That meant that they advanced to the second step in the competition for about 2900 scholarships valued at more than $8 million.

The West End Mites defeated Alto Park 6-0 on Tuesday afternoon at the Boys Club Field. David Sapp scored the six points with a 21-yard touchdown run in the 2nd quarter.

West Rome was eager to extend its 5-0 season record with another win as they faced off abasing Cedartown in a 7-AA South headline game. "It'll take our finest effort," Coach Nick Hyder said. "Cedartown has always been ready for us, and it'll certainly take a better effort to win than we've put forth in the last couple of weeks. The game was made more challenging by injuries that sidelined Gerald Tucker, one of West Rome's defensive stars; Alan Carrington, who was out for the season after injuring his shoulder; and Johnny Rimes, who suffered a bruised kidney. In spite of all these setbacks, West Rome went on to win the game 16-14, thanks for a Roger Weaver field goal late in the second half; Weaver also racked up more than 127 yards on the ground during the game, making him the star player for the Chieftains.

The Floyd County Public Works Camp continued to be a rather porous operation: two more prisoners managed to walk away from a work detail this week in 1968. Their "vacation" from their 20-year prison terms was rather short-lived, though, as they were apprehended following a chase that began on the Alabama Highway outside of Rome and ended in Alabama.

Two juveniles, ages 11 and 14, were arrested and charged with vandalism, theft, and burglary after they stole bicycles from Sears, broke windows at Trammel Welding, and broke into the Trammell offices. The boys were also suspected in the theft of ties from Second Avenue Baptist Church and the theft of more than two dozen hubcaps.

Rome police officers petitioned the Rome City Commission for Social Security coverage at the Monday night commission meeting. In 1968, an officer with 25 years of service did NOT receive Social Security, since the city had opted out of social security participation (local governments were allowed to do this until the 1980s), but they did receive a pension of $100 per month, along with an additional $4 per month for every year of service over 25, up to a maximum of $152. That means that 38 years or more of service earned a city policeman $152 a month in pension benefits (even adjusting for inflation, that's equals only $1085 in today's dollars).

Coosa Valley Tech continued to grow with the addition of a practical nursing course. All applicants had to have completed at least the 10th grade in high school and had to pass an aptitude test. (Today, it's hard to imagine that someone with only a tenth grade education could qualify for any sort of nursing certification, but that's all that was needed in 1968!)

Kay's Kastles decided to take on Candler's Drugstore by cutting the price on their milkshakes to 29¢ each--only 4¢ more than Candler's 25¢ milkshake price. They also added a 27¢ 3-scoop cone to their menu--that made it larger than Candler's two-scoop cone, but Candler's cones were only a dime each, so you could buy two 2-scoop cones and a 5¢ one-scoop cone for less than the price of Kay's Kastles' 3-scoop. Ah, the wonders of an ice cream war!...

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Humpty Dumpty salmon for 69¢ a tall can, and Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound. A&P had spare ribs for 65¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and Showboat pork & beans for 17¢ a can. Big Apple had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and white seedless grapes for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 89¢ a pound, Parkay margarine for 25¢ a tub, and bananas for 12¢ a pound.  Couch's had Armour Star sliced bacon for 59¢, Heinz tomato soup for a dime a can, and locally grown turnip greens for 15¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Pink Jungle (starring James Garner) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Bible (starring Stephen Boyd) at the First Avenue, and Von Ryan's Express (starring Frank Sinatra) at the West Rome Drive-In. the midweek switchout brought Never a Dull Moment (starring Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto, Rachel,Rachel (starring Joanne Woodward) at the First Avenue, and The Mini Affair (starring Georgie Fame) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to number one for a fourth 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); "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#4); "Girl Watcher" by the O'Kaysions (#5); "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots (#6); "My Special Angel" by the Vogues (#7); "I've Got to Get a Message to You" by the Bee Gees (#8); "Over You" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#9); and "Say It Loud—I''m Black and I'm Proud (Part 1)" by James Brown (#10).

Bea Benaderet, star of Petticoat Junction, died from lung cancer the week in 1968, shortly after the start of the show's sixth season. The show would continue without her, limping along for the remainder of the sixth season and a seventh season, but ratings declined significantly in her absence.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Gray Rocks

Erin Gray once came to my house and gave me a piece of the moon. 

Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it's true! Gray is most fondly remembered for her role as Wilma Deering on the Buck Rogers TV series. In the early 80s, she also made a film called Six Pack, which starred Kenny Rogers and was filmed in part in Kennesaw, where we lived at the time. In addition, she had participated in some sort of NASA educational outreach program; NASA enlisted her because of her role in a popular SF film that involves space travel. Well, my good friend Wes McCoy, who taught with me at North Cobb High School, was also involved in NASA's educational outreach program (I'm sure there's a very specific name for the program, but I don't recall what it was). 

Wes was supposed to get a small lucite-encased piece of moon rock to use in a presentation he was making some where; Erin has the sample he needed because she had used it in a prior presentation somewhere, and they had asked her to take it to Kennesaw so that Wes could get it there. Well, it turned out that Wes wasn't going to be in town at that time, so he asked if it would be possible for someone to leave this small piece of the moon with me so that I could then give it to him when he got back into town. I presumed that some low-level second assistant to the third assistant to the director would bring it by my house; imagine my surprise when Erin Gray showed up at my door with the lucite-encased moon rock! The conversation was amiable but brief, and she left the rock with me. 

As an incident, it's pretty mundane--but the line "Erin Gray once came to my house and gave me a piece of the moon" has a pretty good ring, doesn't it? (And I'm the only person I know who had a piece of the moon in his house for several days!)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/30/1968 to 10/6/1968

Now this is fast-tracking: just a week after the Board of Regents approved the proposal for a junior college in Floyd County contingent on the county funding the initial campus development, the Floyd Board of Commissioners announced plans for a November 5th bond issue to approve $3.215 million in bonds for land purchase and facilities construction. That's right at six weeks from first public mention to bond issue! $2 million would go for building construction, $$175,000 for land purchase, $800,000 for site development/preparation, $190,000 for connection to the city sewerage system, and $50,000 for extension of existing water lines. The county estimated that it would take a year from approval to completion.

West Rome faced off against the Cass Colonels on Friday, October 4th. While Cass had three losses and one win for the season, Coach Nick Hyder warned that it would be wrong to assume that the game was going to be an easy win for the Chieftains. "This is the best Cass team in years," Hyder said. "I hope our players don't take this game too lightly." Turned out there wasn't that much to worry about, though: West Rome won 24-7, with Johnny Rimes throwing two touchdown passes and Roger Weaver scoring on a  58-yard punt return. This was one of the few Thursday night games on the 1968 football schedule; every area school had one Thursday night game because of the number of schools trying to share the Barron Stadium facilities.

A Garden Lakes man was arrested after he went on a shooting spree with a shotgun at a Rome textile plant on Wednesday, October 2nd. The man took four hostages at Klopman Mills and held them for several hours before eventually releasing them and turning himself over to the police.  The shooter brought his six-year-old son with him for the shooting, giving his son a bag of shotgun shells that he handed to his father as he needed them. (It's nice that the family found something to do together...) Thankfully, there were no injuries--pretty amazing, really!

Dwyatt Dempsey, the Rome real estate businessman who was charged with arson regarding a fire that destroyed the King's Inn restaurant, was acquitted after a two-day trial. It was actually Dempsey's second trial; the first trial in May resulted in a mistrial, but in this case, the jury returned a not guilty verdict after eight hours of deliberations. While the police were able to prove that his pants were wet with a flammable liquid, they were not able to show any sign of the flammable liquid on his shoes. Dempsey's lawyers effectively argued that, if he had splashed flammable liquid around, some of it would have gotten on his shoes as well. Apparently the jury agreed.

Seventh District Representative John Davis unveiled plans for construction of 75 more low-rent housing units in Rome. The plans called for a 36-unit project near the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds; a 64-unit project in North Rome, and a new high-rise apartment complex for the elderly to be constructed in the rear of the existing North Fifth Avenue project. Rome already had 800 residents living in low-rent housing; they estimated that the 75 new units would add another 240 Romans to the low-rent housing roster.

A Roman was quite busy this week in 1968: the same man broke into the Pure Oil Station on Calhoun Avenue, Troy's Barbecue on Calhoun Avenue, a Citgo station Turner McCall Boulevard, and the EZ shop on Shorter Avenue. He primarily stole cigarettes, cigars, candy, gum, and whatever cash was available. He still had most of the stolen items when he was caught at his home.

Big K premiered one of my personal favorites this week in 1968: their 23¢ giant-sized bag of freshly made caramel corn. I used to think that the aroma of their popcorn was hard to resist, but once I walked in and smelled that caramelly-sweet goodness wafting through the store, I had a new favorite. I think I must have bought a bag of the caramel corn almost every time I went to Big K for years afterwards--and in demonstration of my poor judgment, I sometimes ate the entire bag by myself!

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and apples for 12¢ a pound. Kroger had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 49¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 55¢ a pound, and corn for 6¢ an ear. A&P had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, potatoes for a dime a pound, and Nestle's chocolate chips for 49¢ a bag. Big Apple had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Tater Maid frozen french fries for 15¢ a bag. Couch's had ground beef for 45¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (starring Doris Day) at the DeSoto Theatre, Gone with the Wind (starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh) at the First Avenue, and The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Pink Jungle (starring James Garner in a film that I don't remember at all) to the DeSoto, The Bible (starring Stephen Boyd) to the First Avenue, and Von Ryan's Express (starring Frank Sinatra) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to number one for a third week week "Hey Jude." Other top ten hits included "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#2); "Fire" by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#3); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#4); "Girl Watcher" by toe O'Kaysions (#5); "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots (#6); "My Special Ange" by the Vogues (#7); "I've Got to Get a Message to You" by the Bee Gees (#8); "Over You" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#9); and "Slip Away" by Clarence Carter (#10).

Merle Haggard released his seventh album, Mama Tried, this week in 1968.The album's title song would go on to be the best-selling single in Haggard's career. While the album wasn't a theme album as such, many of the songs were prison songs, including "Green Green Grass of Home," "Folsom Prison Blues," and "I Could Have Gone Right."

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/23/1968 to 9/29/1968

The week began with only three undefeated high school football teams in this part of Northwest Georgia: West Rome, Trion, and Chattooga. That was destined to change, though, since West Rome and Chattooga faced off against each other on Friday night, September 27th, in Chattooga. Turned out that it was West Rome that remained undefeated, as they posted a 21-7 victory, making them 4-0 for the season. Trion also lost, which left West Rome the only undefeated team in the area.

Chieftains quarterback Mike Johnson was named the Rome News-Tribune's Player of the Week for his outstanding performance in the Carrollton game; Johnson's 77-yard touchdown run was pivotal to the team's 10-7 victory.

The Doug Sanders Scholarship Fund benefit golf tournament took place in Rome on Sunday, September 29th; the celebrity golf tournament brought a number of well-known personalities to Rome, including Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Danny Thomas, Pat Boone, Phil Harris, Keely Smith, and (of course) Doug Sanders. The event began on Saturday evening with a benefit show at the Rome City Auditorium, followed by a reception at Callier Springs Country Club, with the 18-hole golf tournament taking place at the Coosa Country Club on Sunday afternoon. (I have wonderful memories of this event. Mom loved to listen to Dean Martin; I can still hear her melodious voice singing along to the many Dean Martin albums that she owned. My mom's full name was Emma Dean Leming Biggers; she sometimes joked about being named after Dean Martin, even though we knew that she really wasn't, since she was born before anyone had ever heard of Dean Martin. We all got to meet him prior to the benefit show, and then Mom and Dad had dinner with him at the reception later that evening--a reception that children were not allowed to attend. I did get to caddy for him for nine holes at the Sunday tournament, though, and remember him as remarkably witty and friendly. Why only nine holes? Because organizers switched out volunteer caddies after the first nine holes to give as many Romans as possible a chance to experience a "brush with greatness.")

The Rome Council on Human Relations, a multiracial local group that emphasized racial harmony in the Rome area, presented a proposal that the Rome City Schools system keep Main High School open as a third city school to serve the community more effectively,  but Superintendent MS McDonald revealed that the closing of Main High was mandated by the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. "It is not money," the superintendent said, "but the numbers of students which are involved." HEW said that Main High was too small to provide the educational opportunities available at a larger school like East Rome or West Rome. Further complicating the situation: the actual Main High physical facility was owned by Floyd County, not the city of Rome, and any attempt to revitalize the school as a city school would require the sale of the land and the building by the county.  The superintendent was instead in favor of a plan to close all three area high schools and replace them with one Rome High School that was located well away from the site of any of the three schools. (As we know, it took a quarter of a century, but the Rome City Schools system ultimately implemented exactly this plan, to the dismay of Chieftains and Gladiators past and present.)

The Board of Regents finally revealed their choice of locations for the proposed Floyd Junior College. The 200-acre tract was located on US Highway 27 South near Six Mile, almost directly across the street from the Cedar Valley Drive-In Theatre. The existence of a  recently-completed four-lane interchange near the property made it a particularly desirable location. The Board of Regents said that it was up to the county to pay for the initial $2 million for site development and facilities construction; once that was done, the state would cover all operational costs, including staff salaries. (Of course, we know that this would indeed become the site of Floyd Junior College, now known as Georgia Highlands College.)

Volkswagen was touting their newest innovation: an automatic transmission. Up until the 1969 model year, VW had offered only manual transmissions--but beginning in September 1968, drivers could purchase an optional automatic transmission on the Volkswagen Squareback and Fastback. The Beetle was destined to remain manual transmission only for a while longer, although beginning in 1968 they did offer an "autostick" transmission (a form of semi-automatic that required the driver to change gears as always, but without a clutch pedal--the car automatically engaged the clutch when the gear shift was moved, and then engaged the transmission when the driver let go of the stick shift).

Drivers who wanted to buy a new Volkswagen (or pretty much any other car) could apply for a car loan at National City Bank's Auto Loan Department, where the going annual interest rate was 4.95% (which was, ironically, almost exactly the same rate that National City was paying on a three year certificate of deposit!).

Chevrolet introduced an offbeat (and short-lived) option on some of its 1969 vehicles as they debuted this month in 1968: "liquid tire chain." If the phrase doesn't explain itself, here's what it means: the car was equipped with a spray bottle "space age polymer solution" designed to increase traction in icy conditions. Press a button on the dash  and both rear tires were spritzed with this solution. Sounds great, but it turns out that in practice id did pretty much nothing except encourage people to sue Chevrolet for false advertising, so it was quickly discontinued.

James Franklin DeJournette, one of the founders of Rome's Gibson-DeJournette wholesale grocery distribution business, passed away on September 24th following a lengthy illness. Many of us who grew up in Rome in the 1950s and 1970s are likely to remember the Gibson-DeJournette trucks that made daily deliveries to pretty much every Rome grocery store (with the exception of Kroger and A&P, which used their own distribution system). On Fridays, the Gibson-DeJournette trucks would often run two deliveries to Big Apple and Piggly Wiggly to ensure that their shelves remained full.

Piggly Wiggly had beef brisket for 39¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 12¢ a pound, and Florida Maid frozen orange juice concentrate for 10¢ a can (add three cans of water to make a quart of orange juice). A&P had smoked hams for 35¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and carrots for 15¢ a bunch. Kroger had Tennessee Pride sausage for 39¢ a pound, and strawberries for 39¢ a pint. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 87¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and red delicious apples for 19¢ a pound. Couch's had Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 59¢ a pound, locally grown large eggs for 59¢ a dozen (a price that sounds pretty high by today's standards, since it would translate to about $4.50 a dozen in 2018 dollars), and a 10-ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.59. (I remember instant coffee being A Big Thing in the 1960s: my best friend Gary Steele always had instant coffee at his house, and we would often make a cup of instant coffee with breakfast when I stayed over at his house on a Friday or a Saturday night. It wasn't all that coffee-like, but we discovered that if you added a half a teaspoon of Nestle's Quik to the mix before you added the hot water, you got a pretty good beverage. I guess we were inventing our own form of mocha, but we weren't smart enough to know it back then.)

The cinematic week began with With Six You Get Egg Roll (starring Doris Day) at the DeSoto Theatre, Gone with the Wind (starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh) at the First Avenue, and The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) at the West Rome Drive-In. The lineup stayed the same for the second half of the week at the two indoor theatres, but Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (starring Doris Day) replaced The Green Berets at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to the number one position on the Billboard Top Ten charts for another week with "Hey Jude." Other top ten hits included "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#2); "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#3); "Little Green Apples" by OC Smith (#4); "Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions (#5); "Slip Away" by Clarence Carter (#6); "People Got To Be Free" by The Rascals (#7); "I've Got to Get a Message to  You" by the Bee Gees (#8); "1,2,3, Red Light" by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#9); and "I Say a Little Prayer" by Aretha Franklin (#10).

The fall season kickoff continued this week in 1968, with several new shows debuting, including:
Here's Lucy, Lucille Ball's third sitcom on CBS (September 23rd)
The Doris Day Show on CBS (September 24th)
The Mod Squad on ABC (September 24th)
60 Minutes on CBS (September 24th)
Here Come the Brides on ABC (September 25th)
Hawaii Five-0 on CBS (September 26th)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/16/1968 to 9/22/1968

The 20th annual Coosa Valley Fair kicked off its six-day run-on Monday, September 15th; the vocal group the Ink Spots took part in the opening ceremonies (one of three performances by the Ink Spots scheduled for fair week).  Attendees cold look forward to a livestock judging, a flower show, a Miss Floyd County beauty contest, an Officer Don show, a Happening Times concert, a football kicking contest, a Willis Brothers concert, a Bob Brandy show, a horse show, and a Num Num Hunky concert. And of course, it wouldn't be a Coosa Valley Fair without a West Rome Band concert, which was scheduled for Thursday at 6:30pm.

The State Department of Education surprised the Rome City Schools system with $1.75 million in unexpended funds from a 1967 state bonds issue. Superintendent MS McDonald said that, if the system received the unexpected fund, they could begin building new classrooms "between now and Christmas" without having to wait for the passage of a local bond issue. Elm Street and West End were both slated for new classroom construction to relieve overcrowding caused by rapid residential growth in the West Rome area. The Board also unveiled plan for a measles vaccination program set to begin in the Rome City Schools system on September 30th. All primary grade students were required by state law to have a measles vaccination unless they had doctor's certification explaining why they should not be vaccinated.

Coosa defeated West End 20-90 in the opening game of the Pee-Wee football season on Tuesday evening, while Elm Street posted a 27-0 win over Glenwood. In the opening Mite games, West End defeated Garden Lakes 13-12 while Armuchee edged out Elm Street 7-6.

West Rome took on Carrollton in a home game on Friday, September 20th. Readers may remember that Carrollton trounced West Rome 26-0 in their 1967 face-off, so the Chieftains were looking to settle a year-old score. And that's just what they did--not with a 26-0 score, but a 10-7 win was still a win, and that's what the Chiefs wanted. Mike Johnson scored a touchdown with a 77-yard run, Mark Brewer kicked the extra point, and Roger Weaver kicked a 40-yard field goal to rack up the Chieftains' ten points.

The West Rome Baptist Church announced a youth fellowship to be held immediately after the West Rome-Carrollton game. All young people were invited to attend.

With the new television season just about to launch, Sears had a 23" Silvertone console color TV for only $369 and a 20" Westinghouse color TV for only $249.  Home Mart had a Zenith 23" TV for $379 and a Zenith home entertainment center with TV, AM/FM radio, and turntable with built-in stereo speakers and an oak console cabinet for $549.

Kay's Kastles launched their football season special: a deluxe hotdog for only 25¢ on Friday and Saturday (that was a 2¢ discount off the regular 27¢ price). They also offered 25¢ off a half-gallon of Kay's Kastles ice cream on Friday and Saturdays as well.

Piggly Wiggly had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Kellogg's corn flakes for 21¢ a box. Kroger had Hormel bacon for 49¢ a pound, iceberg lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Banquet pot pies for 15¢ each. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O'Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Bartlett pears for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound, and tall cans of salmon for 69¢. Couch's had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Jif peanut butter for 39¢ a jar, and ten pounds of russet potatoes for 49¢.

The cinematic week began with Five Card Stud (starring Dean Martin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Gone With the Wind (starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh) at the First Avenue, and Valley of the Dolls (starring Susan Hayward) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought With Six You Get Egg Roll (starring Doris Day) at the DeSoto and The Green Berets (starring John Wayne) at the West Rome Drive-In, while Gone With the Wind hung around for a fifth week at the First Avenue.

The Beatles took number one with "Hey Jude" this week in 1968. Other top ten hits included "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#2); "People Got to Be Free" by the Rascals (#3); "Hush" by Deep Purple (#4); "Fire" by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (#5); "The Fool on the Hill" by Segio Mendes & Brasil '66 (#6); "1,2,3,Red Light" by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#7); "I've Got to Get a Message to You" by the Bee Gees (#8); "Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions (#9); and "Slip Away" by Clarence Carter (#10).

Diahann Carroll's sitcom Julia--the first network sitcom to star an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role--premiered on NBC on Tuesday, September 17th. Adam-12, the popular police series, premiered on NBC on September 21st (yes, a Saturday--back in the 1960s, Saturdays were actually big TV nights, with a number of major series on the Saturday night schedule). And the short-lived-but-fondly-remembered Land of the Giants made its ABC premiere on Sunday, September 22nd.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Life in Four Colors Sidebar - Believe It Or Not...

I love comics. That's no secret. I've owned tens of thousands of comics in my lifetime.

What may be surprising, though, is what I have not owned. Here are a few comics I've never owned:

1 - Any Showcase issues featuring the Flash. Sometimes that even surprises me, considering how much I love the Flash and how long I've been collecting the series, but at no time has my collection ever included Showcase #s 4, 8, 13, or 14.

2 - EC Comics. I've owned the EC reprint paperbacks of the 1960s, I've owned Russ Cochran's EC Library, I've owned Gemstone reprints, I've owned EC Archives--but I've never owned even one original EC Comic.

3 - Any Captain America comic prior to his 1960s return. Never owned a Golden Age Captain America, never owned a 1950s comic starring Captain America.

4 - 2000 AD. My friend and CSN partner Ward Batty once had a massive collection of these, but I never have picked up even  single issue of the long-running British comic.

5 - Bugs Bunny. I have never felt the slightest inclination to buy a Bugs Bunny comic. I've always thought that it was the verbal humor and the snappy patter that made Bugs work, and I couldn't see how that would translate to comics.

(Note: This does not mean that my comic shop, Dr. No's, hasn't owned copies of these for resale purposes. I have just never owned any of these books personally. Some, like the Showcase books or the Golden Age Caps, I'd love to have. Others, I still have no real interest in.)

Friday, September 07, 2018

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

It was midterm primary time this week in 1968, but apparently no one noticed: the vote turnout was estimated at only 8%. Local officials blamed the poor turnout on the fact that there was nothing particularly newsworthy about the election, so most people chose to stay home. (Isn't that the excuse that most people give every year?) Romans voted for Senator Herman Talmadge almost 4-1 over newcomer candidate Maynard Jackson.

The Chieftains took on their west-side-of-town rival Coosa on Friday, September 13th, in a non-region football matchup. The Chiefs were the odds-on favorite to win the game, and that's just what they did, posting a 10-7 victory over Coosa. That gave West Rome two wins and no losses for the fledgling 1968 football season, but Coach Nick Hyder warned that the team shouldn't let it go to their heads, because "the toughest games of the season are coming up, beginning with next week's game against Carrollton."

Local news was in short supply this week in 1968 due to a problem at the Rome News-Tribune's printing and processing facility. According to the newspaper, "Local news coverage remains light while the Rome News-Tribune staff tries to restore its photo processing and typesetting equipment to full working order. Until that time, the paper will offer very little local news."

Showing how unpredictable local shopping could be, Star Jewelers was running a special on (get ready for it) a Martin 12-gauge shotgun for only $49.99--and that included a padded gun case and a 20-piece cleaning kit!

Rome City Schools budgeted a study to determine the feasibility of purchasing their own school buses. For many years, the Rome school system had relied on the Rome City Bus system to provide bus service for students, The meant that Rome was one of the few systems where students did not ride "big yellow taxis." Instead, they rode the same city buses that were used for city-wide transportation the rest of the day (and that meant that the buses actually were slightly more comfortable than typical school buses).

Big K made its first push into cornering the music market in Rome, lowering the price of new albums to $2.97--and they were charging the same  price for mono or stereo records. The going price at Redford's, Murphy's, and most other department stores was $3.49 (mono) and $3.99 (stereo); the Record Shoppe on Broad Street generally charged $3.99 (mono) and $4.99 (stereo). Likewise, Big K was advertising 77¢ singles, while most other stores were charging 99¢ for singles.

Piggly Wiggly had Cudahy Bar S ham for 49¢ a pound, Double Q salmon for 49¢ a can, and white grapes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Eight O'Clock Coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Marvel ice milk for 45¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 87¢ a pound, Banquet 12 ounce chicken pot pies for 15¢ each, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. Kroger had center cut pork chops for 89¢ a pound, Hormel potted meat for 12¢ a can, and bananas for 11¢ a pound. Couch's had Chuckwagon sliced bacon for 59∞ a pound, winesap apples for 12¢ a pound, and Van Camp's chili with beans for 33¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with The Secret Life of the American Wife (starring Walter Matthau) at the DeSoto Theatre, Gone with the Wind (starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Hang 'Em High (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Five Card Stud (starring Dean Martin) to the DeSoto Theatre and Valley of the Dolls ·(starring Susan Hayward) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Gone With the Wind continued its hold on the First Avenue Theatre.

Jeannie C. Riley shot to number one this week in 1968 with the soap-opera-turned-song "Harper Valley PTA." Other top ten hits included "People Got to Be Free" by the Rascals (#2); "Hey Jude" by the Beatles (#3); "Hush" by Deep Purple (#4); "1,2,3, Red Light" by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#5); "Light My Fire" by José Feliciano (#6); "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf (#7); "The Fool on the Hill" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (#8); "I've Gotta Get a Message To You" by the Bee Gees (#9); and "The House That Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin (#10).

More Saturday morning rollouts this week in 1968. First, Archie and the Riverdale gang came to TV in The Archie Show (known by most viewers simply as The Archies); then Bugs Bunny teamed up with Wile E. Coyote's perpetual prey for The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Both shows were part of the CBS lineup; Bugs Bunny came to CBS in 1968 after several years on ABC-TV.  CBS had aired Road Runner episodes since 1966, but 1968 marked the first year that the two animation favorites were joined in one hour-long program.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Burt's Place

I was sad to hear about Burt Reynolds' death. I have only had two dealings with him, and both made an unforgettable impression on me. I met him once in Rome when my Dad invited me to join him at a Rome News-Tribune meeting with Reynolds for an interview; he was personable, amiable, self-effacing, and quick-witted, and made a point of remembering everyone's name when he was introduced and addressing them by name during the conversation. It was the second meeting that was the most memorable, however.

Long-time Georgians may remember that Reynolds had a restaurant, Burt's Place, in the Omni International Hotel in Downtown Atlanta. I was sponsor of the yearbook at East Rome High School, and we were looking for an offbeat place to shoot senior superlative photos when one of the students suggested we tried to get into Burt's Place. It had some notoriety as a restaurant that was almost impossible to get into--but of course, we weren't actually looking at it as a restaurant, but as a photo backdrop.

Figuring the odds were infinitesimally small, I nevertheless contacted restaurant management and asked it it could be done. They seemed dubious, but said they would "check with upper management" and let us know. I presumed that meant, "Go away and quit bothering us," so I began looking for other offbeat venues.

Imagine my surprise when, a couple of days later, I got a call saying that our request had been approved!

So we got all the superlatives together for a bus ride to Atlanta, where we entered the restaurant. We ogled the place for a while, admiring the trendy mid-70s decor. The contract photographer who was assigned to event photography for the shoot began scoping out the best photo backdrops as he paired off superlatives; I did the usual supervisory sort of thing, making sure that none of our students disappeared in the process of the shoot. After a few minutes, I heard a voice just behind me and to my right. 

"Looks like they're having fun. I like that."

I turned--and there, about a foot away from me, was Burt Reynolds. I had no inkling he would actually be in the restaurant. He had stayed largely out of sight, watching the kids as they took in the ambience. He was grinning in that distinctively charming Burt Reynolds way.

I introduced myself and thanked him for letting us come there for the shoot. He waved it off like it was nothing. We talked for a little while as the superlatives had their photos taken. I eventually mentioned that we had met before in Rome, and he replied, "That's right--your dad works for the newspaper up there, doesn't he?" I was amazed that he remembered at all; I'm sure he had endured a thousand meet-and-greets with a thousand local newspapers, television stations, and radio stations over the years.

By then a couple of students had noticed him and were starstruck. They asked about having him in a superlative photo; he declined, saying that this was their day, not his--besides, he had to leave "to take care of the boring part of owning a restaurant," as he described it. Why did he take time out of his schedule to talk with us? Why did he approve a photo shoot that generated no business at all for his restaurant (which wasn't even open for business during the time that we were shooting)? I got the feeling it was because he was just a nice guy. 

That was the last time I crossed paths with Burt Reynolds. More than four decades later, I can still see that Burt Reynolds grin just like he was standing right in front of me.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/2/1968 to 9/8/1968

Rome City Schools' decision to eliminate new tuition students for the 1968-1969 school year accomplished exactly what the system hoped it would: it reduced student enrollment. Total enrollment dropped from 6,646 in 1967-68 to 6565 in 1968-69--a drop of a little more than 1%. That figure was deceptive, though, because the 6585 included almost a hundred new students whose families had moved to Rome. West Rome Junior High enrollment was 413, compared to 337 the year before; much of that  increase came from the transfer of students from Anna K. Davie, which was being phased out due to desegregation. West Rome High enrollment jumped from 687 to 785, an increase of about 13%; much of that Main High, which eliminated its ninth and tenth grade classes in 1968-69. West End gained only two students, and Elm Street actually lost 22 students.

West Rome kicked off the 1968 football season with a 35-28 win over Westminster on Friday, September 6th. After the game, a sock hop was held at the West Rome gym, sponsored by The Drumbeat (the West Rome High School newspaper). Music was provided by Jaywalker & the Pedestrians. (I have no info on this group--does anyone know of the band was made of up West Rome students or alumni?)

Rome unemployment increased slightly in the late summer of 1968, due largely to Celanese shutting down part of its plant. Almost all of those who were unable to find work were women or men over the age of 55. Outside of this group, unemployment dropped to 3% in the Rome area.

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 59¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 72¢ a pound, and a one-quart container of Cool Whip for 49¢. A&P had bone-in Swiss steaks for 69¢ each, carrots for a dime a bunch, and a 36 ounce box of powdered milk for 59¢. (We had powdered milk in the house for several years in the 1960s; Mom would use it as a milk extender, mixing it with water and regular milk. I could always tell when I was drinking the real-milk-and-powdered-milk mix, but I didn't much care. While powdered milk by itself was pretty watery and off-tasting, the mix was tolerable, particularly on cereal.) Kroger had chuck roast for 49¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 38¢ a quart, and Campbell's tomato soup for a dime a can. (Tomato soup and about half a pack of Saltines were one of my favorite lunches--and I would have gladly had it for dinner if the choice had been up to me.) Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for 33¢ a can, and strawberries for 33¢ a pint. Couch's had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Hang 'Em High (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Gone With the Wind (starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of How to Steal a Million (starring Audrey Hepburn) and Bandolero (starring Dean Martin) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Secret Life of an American Wife (starring Anne Jackson & Walter Matthau) to the DeSoto Theatre and Hang 'Em High to the West Rome Drive-In, while Gone With the Wind hung around for another week at the First Avenue. (It's really amazing to realize that Rome only had two indoor movie theatres, and one of them was spending more than a month showing an almost-thirty-year-old film rather than bringing in something new. Of course, in those days before VCRs, premium channels, DVDs, blu-rays, and streaming services, this and TV reruns were the only way we could see old classics.)

The Rascals took number one this week in 1968 with "People Got to Be Free." Other top ten hits included "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf (#2); "Light My Fire" by José Feliciano (#3); "Haprer Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. Riley (#4); "Hello, I Love You" by the Doors (#5); "The House That Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin (#6); "1,2,3,Red Light" by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#7); "You're All I Need to Get By" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); "I Can't Stop Dancing" by Archie Bell & the Drells (#9); and "Stay in My Corner" by the Dells (#10).

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered n NBC on Saturday morning September 7th (remember that "One banana, two banana, three banana, four" theme song?). In the days before Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network, and other kid-focused channels, Saturday morning TV was the one time slot in which cartoons and other kids' programming ruled the schedule.