Friday, December 02, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/5/1966 to12/11/1966

West Rome defeated Berry Academy 51-37 for their first basketball win of the season after three losses. (One reason the team was having a tough time of it: the median height of Coach Randall Kent’s Chieftains team was only 5 feet 9 inches!) Charlie Layman, Kenny Stephens, Bobby Becker, and Benny Padgett all scored in double digits. Alas, West Rome was unable to turn it into a winning streak, falling to Model’s Blue Devils 54-35 on Friday, December 9th. June Hyder’s girls team posted a 58-37 victory over Model’s girls, with Juanita Williams, Debbi Porach, and Elaine Underwood all scoring in double digits.

Talk of annexing Garden Lakes into the City of Rome resumed, with most of the concerns focusing on schools. The Rome City school board said that they could accept the students into the city system only if they also inherited Garden Lakes Elementary, expanded West Rome High School to include the West Rome Junior High classrooms, and constructed a new junior high school. This would be an issue, though, because the county said they would not be willing to give away Garden Lakes Elementary, although they would be willing to sell it.

The West Rome High School Football “Banquet of Champions” took place at 6pm on Thursday, December 8th, at the Callier Springs Country Club. Filmed highlights from the season were shown and trophies were presented to outstanding players.

The booming economy made for busy cash registers in the early weeks of the Christmas 1966 season. Not only were toys and clothes selling at an almost 10% better pace than the prior Christmas, but retailer reported strong increases in sales of jewelry, color televisions, appliances, and even new cars. Rome’s three big banks (National City, First National, and Rome Bank & Trust) reported that more than $900,000 in Christmas Club savings were cashed out in 1966, setting an all-time record.

Rome was coming ever closer to making cable TV available with the first reading of the Community Antenna Television Franchise for the city, Regulations required at least two readings of the CATV franchise agreement before the franchise agreement could be officially confirmed. Plans called for Rome Broadcasting Company, the owners of WRGA Radio, to be awarded the cable TV franchise for Rome.

Remember when I-75 was still a work in progress? This week in 1966, a 6.3 mile section of I-75 between Adairsville and Calhoun opened to traffic. There was still a gap beginning at Adairsville and continuing south to Marietta, where the Interstate picked up again and continued into Atlanta and beyond. (I still remember having to take US41 between Cartersville and Marietta well into the 1970s...)

You could tell it was Christmas season: this week in 1966, Sears began running ads that they would be open until 9pm every night until Christmas. Other businesses with extended hours included Super-Discount Store (9pm), Murphy’s (8pm), Penney’s (8pm), Economy Auto (9pm), and Redford’s (9pm). Back in 1966, staying open as late as 9pm was a pretty big deal!

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound (or you could pay 6¢ more a pound and get ‘em already cut up into pieces), medium eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and sweet potatoes for 12¢ a pound. Kroger had round steak for 75¢ a pound, Star-Kist tuna for 29¢ a can, and three cans of Campbell’s soup for a quarter. Big Apple had  smoked picnic hams for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Big Apple sliced sandwich bread for a quarter a loaf. A&P had boneless brisket for 89¢  a pound, a one-pound bag of Ann Parker potato chips for 59¢, and twenty pounds of potatoes for 99¢. Couch’s had pork roast for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for a dime a head, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Texas Across the River (with Dean Martin & Joey Bishop) at the DeSoto Theatre and The Poppy Is Also a Flower (with Trevor Howard & Yul Brynner) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Not With My Wife You Don’t (with Tony Curtis & Virna Lisi) to both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. The First Avenue Theatre remained closed for renovations, but the end was in sight: management announced the the theatre was tentatively slated to reopen on December 22nd with a six-week run of The Sound of Music.

The Beach Boys took number one this week in 1966 with “Good Vibrations.” Other top ten hits included “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#2); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#3); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “You Keep Me Hanging’ On” by the Supremes (#5); “Lady Godiva” by Peter & Gordon (#6); “Stop Stop Stop” by the Hollies (#7); “Born Free” by Roger Williams (#8); “I’m Ready for Love” by Martha & the Vandellas (#9); and “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra (#10).

Eric Clapton’s ascendancy to rock god status began this week in 1966 with the release of Fresh Cream, the first album from the Clapton-Jack Bruce-Ginger Baker group. This is also the week that the Stephen Stills-Neil Young-Richie Furay group Buffalo Springfield released their eponymous debut album. While most people remember the album because of the classic “For What It’s Worth,” the song actually wasn’t included on the album as released in 1966; it was added to the album in March of 1967, replacing “Baby Don’t Scold Me.” (Interestingly enough, “For What It’s Worth” was actually recorded this week in 1966, although it wouldn’t make its album debut for three more months.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/28/1966 to 12/4/1966

Santa and his reindeer touched down in Rome on November 28th, headlining the Rome Christmas Parade that began at Barron Stadium, progressed up Broad Street, and ended at the City Auditorium. The West Rome Marching Band, under the direction of Charles Davis, took part in the festivities. An estimated 5000 people showed up for the parade and the lighting of the Christmas tree on the lawn of the City Auditorium.

West Rome’s basketball program was as “green” as the coaches had feared: both the girls team and the boys team lost to Lafayette on Friday night, December 2nd.

Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School continued to grow—and that meant that more classrooms were needed. The Floyd County Board of Roads and Revenue finally approved that expansion this week in 1966, allotting $327.928 to add 19,000 square feet to the facility, including at least a dozen classroom. Fifteen full-time instructors would be also needed to meet the growing demand. The expansion would make it possible for Coosa Valley Tech to serve twice as many students.

Eastern Airlines’ efforts to pull their airline service out of the Rome airport were stymied for a few more years by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which ruled that Eastern had to continue honoring its commitment to offer two flight circuits a day—one to Atlanta and one to Chattanooga.

Color television prices continued to drop, while the televisions were getting larger: Rome Radio Company had a 25” RCA Victor color TV in a Mediterranean styled wooden console cabinet for $695, or a contemporary styled TV/Radio/Phono console unit for $890.00. Savage TV offered a 25” Westinghouse color TV for $598.00, while Sears had a General Electric color TV in a traditional maple cabinet for $648. (Yeah, that’s a lot of money compared to today’s prices—that would equal about $4500-$5000 for a 25” TV, adjusted for inflation—but it was still a 15% drop in price over the year before, along with a 2” larger screen (measured diagonally, of course).

Rome Radio, Chastain Radio, and Camera & Craft were also pushing an RCA portable reel to reel tape recorder for $39.95. “No letter to write,” the ad posted. “You can talk and then send your voice to a loved one.” The recorder came with a dozen personal sized reel to reel tapes and a dozen mailing boxes to make it easy for you to send your recordings to family members. (I got a portable reel to reel recorder for Christmas 1966, but I didn’t use it to send messages to friends. Instead, I would diligently hold the microphone near the television speaker in an effort to create a library of audio recordings of my favorite television shows. Needless to say, the quality was less than stellar…)

Piggly Wiggly had Seminole brand bacon for 49¢ a pound, Swfit’s premium bologna for 39¢ a pound, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 79¢ a half-gallon (a major price jump over the 49¢ price they offered the previous holiday season!), and Pepsi Cola for 27¢ a carton plus deposit. A&P had rib roast for 75¢ a pound, Bama pear preserves for 29¢ a jar, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Big Apple had ground round for 77¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and grapefruit for 9¢ each. Couch’s had Tip Top roasting chickens for 29¢ a pound, Double Cola for 89¢ a case, and a five-pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with Spinout (with Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre and Born Free (with Virginia McKenna) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Texas Across the River (with Dean Martin & Joey Bishop) to the DeSoto and Poppy Is Also a Flower (with Stephen Boyd & Yul Brynner) to the West Rome Drive-In. The First Avenue Theatre remained closed for renovations.

The retro-gimmicky New Vaudeville Band took number one this week in 1966 with “Winchester Cathedral” (you remember--the song with the megaphone-enhanced vocals). Other top ten hits included “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#2); “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes (#3); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#5); “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#6); “Lady Godiva” by Peter & Gordon (#7); “Born Free” by Roger Williams (#8); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#9); and “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#10).

The Bat-family gained a new member this week in 1966 when Barbara Gordon debuted as Batgril in Detective Comics #359, courtesy of Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, & Sid Greene. Batgirl would go on to play a major role in the Batman TV series, where she was played by Yvonne Craig.

 Meanwhile, Marvel unveiled their “new” Western hero, Ghost Rider, courtesy of Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers, & Vince Colette. (While Ghost Rider was new to the Marvel Universe, the character had starred in his own series from Magazine Enterprises in the 1950s, which was also illustrated by Dick Ayers; because the trademarks had lapsed, Marvel was able to roll out their own version of the Western hero. Marvel would later use the “Ghost Rider” name for their flame-headed motorcycle-riding spirit of vengeance, changing the Western hero’s name to Phantom Rider instead. For a lot of who grew up in the 1960s, though, the real Ghost Rider will always be the spectral-looking figure on a white horse who dispensed justice in the Old West.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/21/1966 to 11/27/1966

Today most students get a week off for Thanksgiving, but in 1966 we got two days off (Thursday and Friday) and were glad to get it. Aside from a few restaurants and the Discount House on Division Street (which was open 8am to 9pm on Thanksgiving Day, with Santa on hand for photos with kids), almost everything else was closed for business on Thanksgiving Day 1966. Churches were busy, though, with almost every church offering a morning Thanksgiving service and some offering an evening service as well.

Now that the football season was over, it was time to think about basketball—and Coach Randall Kent was apparently giving it a lot of thought (and more than a little worrying). He described the Chieftains basketball team as being “as green as grass,” going on to say it was “the most inexperienced team that West Rome had ever had, and undoubtedly the smallest.” He did add, though, that “They’re real hustlers, though, and give you 100% all the time.” June Hyder said almost exactly the same thing about the girls’ team, adding that “we’re rebuilding and I’ll play a lot of girls in the early games until I can find the right combination.”

A Rome crime ring was shut down on Wednesday, November 23rd, when four teenagers (including one boy from West Rome whose name was withheld because of his age) were arrested for a hubcap theft ring. The thieves had been stealing hubcaps from cars parked at the bowling lanes, a skating rink, the DeSoto Theatre, and the First Avenue Theatre, as well as from numerous car lots around town. The hubcaps were estimated to have a value of $80 to $150 per set of four—and that’s $560 to $1100 adjusted for inflation!

The Partridge Restaurant on Broad Street (right next to Liberty Newsstand, where I bought a whole lot of comic books in the 1960s and 1970s) made it easy to enjoy Thanksgiving without too much work: they were serving a roast turkey dinner for $1.75 ($1.25 for children under 12), which included turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, choice of two vegetables from a selection that included mashed potatoes, green beans, candied yams, buttered rice, or creamed cauliflower), choice of salad (pineapple salad with grated cheese, tossed green salad, or Caesar salad), choice of desserts (mincemeat cobbler, pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, with or without vanilla ice cream), rolls, and choice of beverage. Even adjusting for inflation, that would equal $13 or so in today’s dollars—and that’s one heck of a bargain!

The Christmas shopping season in Rome officially kicked off on Saturday, November 26th, with the launch of Rome Days. The retail “Christmas creep” hadn’t kicked in yet, so most stores launched their big Christmas push on this day (and not on the Friday after Thanksgiving—the concept of Black Friday apparently hadn’t set in yet). Most banks let customers begin withdrawing the balance from their Christmas Club accounts on Friday, November 25th, so that they would have cash on hand for the event. (Remember Christmas Clubs? These were non-interest-bearing accounts that required a weekly deposit commitment for at least 48 weeks, usually beginning in early or mid-December. Then, right after Thanksgiving, you could empty out the account and use the money for holiday gift shopping. They were very flexible on the amounts—I remember opening a Christmas Club account with a commitment of 25¢ a week and the bank never questioned it.)

If you wanted an unforgettable Christmas gift, Am-Lo Pony Farm in Summerville was offering Shetland ponies for $100 each, with more than 150 ponies to choose from. If you didn’t want to drive all the way to Summerville, they were making it easy for you: Am-Lo was setting up in the Sears parking lot on Saturdays in December with a dozen of their best ponies there for your holiday pony-shopping.

234-1611. If you grew up in Rome in the 1950s or 1960s, you probably recognize that as the number that you’d call to get the time. According to the National City Bank, they received their 25 millionth call this week in 1966, with calls coming in at a rate of more than 5000 a day (or about a call every 20 seconds. With the number of calls growing every week, National City Bank worked with the phone company to expand their incoming call capabilities so that they could handle up to 10 calls a minute. Today, with accurate digital watches and clocks quite common and mobile phones serving as our default timekeeping devices, it may seem odd that there was a time when people called a phone number for the time—but I must have dialed it a thousand times in my childhood and teenage years’ and to this day I still remember the number.

Piggly Wiggly had whole ham for 39¢ a pound, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 19¢ a can, and celery for a dime a bunch. Kroger had pork roast for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and ten pounds of Domino sugar for 77¢. A&P had a four-pound Armour canned ham for $3.39, pickled peaches for 35¢ a jar (a food I have avoided for all of my life, even though my grandmother really liked them and always had them on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas), and fresh cranberries for 29¢ a pound. Big Apple had baking hens for 37¢ a pound, Libby creamed corn for 19¢ a can, and mince meat or pumpkin pies for 29¢ each. Couch’s had hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, yams for a dime a pound, and JFG Coffee for 79¢ a bag.

The cinematic week began with Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (with James Coburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and Moonlighting Wives (with numerous nobodies) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Spinout (with Elvis Presley & Shelley Fabares) to the DeSoto and  a triple feature of Spencer’s Mountain (with Henry Fonda & Maureen O’Hara), Four for Texas (with Frank Sinatra & Dean martin), and Racing Fever (with Joe Harrison). The First Avenue remained closed for renovations.

The Supremes hung on to number one for another week with “You Keep Me Hanging On.”  Other top ten hits included “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#2); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#3); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#5); “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#6); “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#7); “Lady Godiva” by Peter & Gordon (#8); “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#9); and “Born Free” by Roger Williams (#10).

Joan Baez released her Christmas album Noel this week in 1966. The album, which featured Baez's versions of older, more traditional Christmas songs, was arranged and conducted by Peter Schickele, who would later gain fame with his silly pseudo-classic recordings released under the name of PDQ Bach. (As much as I love Christmas music, I have never been able to develop a true affection for Baez's album—there’s something about her voice here that is like an auditory stiletto in my ears. I keep buying it--having it on both vinyl and CD-- because I feel like I should, but my appreciation of it is “a work in progress"…)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/14/1966 to 11/20/1966

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, this week in 1966 was a very slow one. Fifty years ago, the Christmas push still waited 'til after Thanksgiving for the most part, so most (but not all!) advertising stressed Thanksgiving food and family gatherings.

One newsworthy event did occur, however: West Rome faced off against Dalton in Barron Stadium on Friday, November 18th for the AA title, and the end result was a West Rome loss that stopped their dreams of a state championship. Roger Weaver led  the Chieftains with 40 yards gained in 15 carries, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Catamounts.

Atlanta Gas Light began a test drilling project in various locations in Floyd County—including some just a couple of miles past West Rome High School heading west—for underground caverns where natural gas could be stored. The geologists were looking for porous rock formations into which natural gas could be pumped and stored, creating and underground storage facility similar to ones already in operation in 24 other states.

The Jewel Box had a rather strange gift offering just in time for Christmas: an 18-piece Pearl drum set for $399. I’m not sure what motivated a jewelry store to expand into percussion, but they were advertising these pretty heavily—and they were offering no-interest layaway until Christmas Eve,knowing that the expense (the equivalent of $3000 today) would mean that most people couldn’t easily afford to pay for them all at once. (Drums for Christmas? I once gave my nephew a drum set as a Christmas gift, and I’m not sure my sister ever totally forgave me for that…)

Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to venture into the Thanksgiving business with a Turkey dinner with all the trimmings for $12.95. This included a 12 pound turkey, dressing, a quart of gravy, a quart of green beans, and a pint of cranberry sauce. (I never recall KFC offering already-cooked turkey dinners when I was a kid—but apparently Rome had many restaurant offerings of which I was unaware!)

Piggly Wiggly had Butterball turkeys for 45¢ a pound, oranges for a dime a pound, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 55¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢  pound, Pillsbury biscuits for 9¢ a can, apples for a dime a pound. Big Apple had hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce for 23¢ a can, and sweet potatoes for a dime a pound. Couch’s had whole picnic hams for 39¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon, and grapefruit for a nickel  each.

The cinematic week began with The Liquidator (with Rod Taylor) at the DeSoto Theatre and Way, Way Out (with Jerry Lewis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (with James Coburn) to the DeSoto and Moonlighting Wives (a risqué film with an “all star cast” that no one ever heard of) to the West Rome Drive-In. So what happened to the First Avenue Theater? Apparently they were closed for renovations, leaving Romans with even fewer movie-going options than usual.

The Supremes hung on to the number one slot this week in 1966 with “You Keep Me Hanging’ On.” Other top ten hits included “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#2); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#3); “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#4); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#5); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#6); “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#7); “96 Tears” by ? & the Mysterians (#8); “If I Were a Carpenter” by Bobby Darin (#9); and “Rain On the Roof” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (#10).

Friday, November 04, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/7/1966 to 11/13/1966

Benny Padgett was chosen as Offensive Player of the Year by the Rome News-Tribune and the Kiwanis Club of Rome. Padgett was an almost unanimous choice for the honor. Coach Paul Kennedy called Padgett “one of the finest young men I’ve ever had the privilege to coach—or to be associated with.”

And speaking of Coach Kennedy, he was chosen as the 1966 Coach of the Year for the Rome area. Kennedy said that the honor should be shared by all of his assistant coaches, who deserved the bulk of the credit for making the Chieftains region champs.

Roger Weaver was selected Back of the Week by the Rome News-Tribune for his outstanding performance in the West Rome-East Rome game, which ended in a 21-0 West Rome victory—with every point scored in the last sixteen minutes of the game. Weaver racked up another 177 yards gained in that game, pushing him to 1198 yards and 61 points for the season.

West End Elementary won the Boys Club Mite League championship after defeating Central Primary 6-0 on Tuesday, November 8th. Sammy Johnson ran for the one and only touchdown in the game.

Lester Maddox may have won statewide in the 1966 gubernatorial race, but in Rome he came in second to Howard “Bo” Callaway, who got 51% of the vote in an election that saw 15,834 Romans cast ballots out of 26,240 registered voters.

For the second time in two weeks, thieves raided Oaknoll Cemetery in West Rome, stealing dozens of bronze urns valued at $50 each. Oaknoll was the only cemetery hit by the metal thieves. Police had no leads, although they believed that both crimes were committed by the same robbers.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, 16 ounces of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.59 (remember when instant coffee was a Big Thing?), and banana for a dime a pound. Kroger had spare ribs for 39¢ a pound, Kroger saltines for 27¢ a box, and fresh corn for 6¢ an ear. A&P had sirloin steak for 85¢ a pound, Sultana fruit cocktail for 35¢ a can, and Marvel ice cream for 49¢ a pound. Big Apple had calf liver for 69¢ a pound, Post Toasties for 49¢ a box, and Hormel Vienna sausage for 20¢ a can. Couch’s had ground beef for 35¢ a pound, grapefruit for a nickel each, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Fantastic Voyage (with Raquel Welch) at the DeSoto Theater and American Dream (with Stuart Whitman & Janet Leigh) at both the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Liquidator (with Rod Taylor) to the DeSoto Theatre and Way, Way Out (with Jerry Lewis) to the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In.

Johnny Rivers took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “Poor Side of Town.” Other top ten hits included “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#2); “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#4) (#3); “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians (#4);  “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#5); “You Keep Me Hanging’ On” by the Supremes (#6);“Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits (#7); “If I Were a Carpenter” by Bobby Darin (#8); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#9); and “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#10).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/31/1966 to 11/6/1966

Roger Weaver  became the number one rusher for the 1966 football season in Region 6-AA as a result of his 190 yards against Calhoun the week before. This put Weaver over the 1000 yard mark for the season, Benny Padgett was the number one scorer in Region 6-AA with 64 points; Weaver took the second place scoring slot with 49 points.

The hottest ticket of the year was the West Rome-East Rome football game on November 4th. Chieftains fans certainly got their money’s worth: West Rome defeated the Gladiators 21-0, securing the Region 6-AA crown in the process. More than 6500 tickets were sold to the game, which meant that a standing room only crowd was on hand to watch the Chiefs march to victory.   Roger Weaver rushed for 177 yards in the game, scoring two touchdowns.

The West End Mites took first place in Division 1 of Mite League play after beating Alto Park 6-0 on Tuesday afternoon, November 1st. Sammy Johnson scored the game’s only touchdown.

What a meteorological difference fifty years makes! Romans woke up on November 3rd to a 31 degree low and a light dusting of snow; accumulations of 1” were reported as close by as the top of Lavender Mountain.

After a lengthy study, the Civil Aeronautics Board recommended that Eastern Airlines continue its daily Rome flights to and from Atlanta and Chattanooga. While this wasn’tt a government mandate, the recommendation carried a lot of weight, making it much more difficult for Eastern to abandon its Rome routes entirely.

Piggly Wiggly had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, five pounds of grapefruit for 39¢,and Mama apple jelly for 20¢ a jar. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, ten pounds of Domino sugar for 99¢, and baking potatoes for a dime a pound. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound, black eye peas for a dime a pound, and Reynolds Wrap for 29¢ a roll. A&P had perch fillets for 35¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 9¢ a pound, and Poss’s Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can. Couch’s had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, JFG Mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and Coca-Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with Return of the Seven (with Yul Brynner) at both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Beau Geste (with Guy Stockwell) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switch out brought Fantastic Voyage (with Raquel Welch and some other, less memorable people) at the DeSoto Theatre and The Swinger (with Ann-Margret & Tony Franciosa) at both the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In.

Johnny Rivers took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “Poor Side of Town.” Other top ten hits included “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#2); “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians (#3); “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#4); “Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits (#5); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#6); “You Keep Me Hanging’ On” by the Supremes (#7); “If I Were a Carpenter” by Bobby Darin (#8); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#9); and “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#10).

The Monkees took the number one slot this week with their eponymous debut album. Other memorable albums in the top ten this week included The Mamas & the Papas, And Then… Along Comes the Association, Revolver, and The Kinks Greatest Hits.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/24/1966 to 10/30/1966

On Tuesday, October 25th, the Rome News-Tribune recognized Benny Padgett as the number one scorer in Rome football. With seven touchdowns, ten points after, and one field goal, Padgett had racked up 55 points for the season thus far, was six points ahead of his nearest region competitor.

The Chieftains took on Calhoun in a non-region game on November 28th.
Coach Kennedy took the game as seriously as any other, however, as did the team, racking up a 39-6 victory.

West Rome’s Oaknoll Cemetery (located on Alabama Road just a bit past West Rome High School) had to deal with mercenary cemetery thieves this week in 1966. 78 bronze urns were stolen from the cemetery early Wednesday morning. “We want to find the kind of ghouls who go to a cemetery and rob the dead,” Officer Doyle Sutherland said. “This is one of the most macabre and morbid thefts I have ever seen.” Each urn weighed about five pounds, leading police to believe the thieves brought a pickup truck and loaded it up. (In the years since, urn thefts at Oaknoll have become far too common--and it's not just Oaknoll who has to deal with metal thieves, as cemeteries all over the country report the same sort of problems.)

The second phase of the East Rome Interchange was ahead of schedule this week in 1965. The first phase, which opened up in the fall of 1966, brought the road from Cartersville to Rome; phase two would take it from East Rome to US 27 near Six Mile (not too far from the eventual site of Floyd Junior College). Plans called for phase two to be completed by late 1967.

In an era of text messages and terse emails, the art of letter writing has largely fallen by the wayside, but the Rome Chamber of Commerce was doing its part to help people become better letter writers: they hosted a seminar on Writing Better Business Letters on Tuesday evening. More than a hundred people showed up at the Georgia Power Company Auditorium to learn how to write effective, precise letters.

McDonald’s began promoting its new “twice as hearty” doubles in 1966. “These man-sized hamburgers—with or without cheese” are double the size and satisfaction,” the ad touted, “made with double patties of ground chuck plus choice cuts of beef for flavor.”

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Libby’s corn for 16¢ a can, and a one-pound jar of Shurfine peanut butter for 33¢ (which explains why I ate so many peanut butter sandwiches as a child!). Kroger had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound, vine ripe tomatoes for 20¢ a pound, and a one-pound bag of Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 65¢. Big Apple had the never-popular Swift’s premium two-pound turkey roll for $3.49, eggs for 49¢ a dozen, and bananas for a dime a pound. (Put those bananas together with that Piggly Wiggly peanut butter and you have one of my favorite sandwiches.) A&P had beef liver for 35¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and a five-pound Jane Parker fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had center cut pork chops for 65¢ a pound, Coca-Cola (or Tab or Sprite) for 99¢ a case plus depict, and a pound of Durkee’s flaked coconut for 49¢,

The cinematic week began with The Fighting Prince of Donegal (with Peter McEnery) at the DeSoto Theatre, Khartoum (with Charlton Heston & Laurence Olivier) at the First Avenue, and The Group (with Candice Bergen) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Return of the Seven (with Yul Brynner) to the DeSoto, Mister Buddwing (with James Garner & Suzanne Pleshette) to the First Avenue, and Don’t Give Up the Ship (with Jerry Lewis) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Monkees took the number one slot for the first time this week in 1966 with “Last Train to Clarksville.” Other top ten hits included “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians (#2); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#3); “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops (#4); “Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits (#5); “Hooray for Hazel” by Tommy Roe (#6); “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin (#7); “If I Were a Carpenter” by Bobby Darin (#8); “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” by the Rolling Stones (#9); and “Walk Away Renee” by the Left Banke (#10).

A Halloween tradition was born on Thursday, October 27th, 1966, when CBS premiered It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The network called on Coca-Cola (who sponsored the Peanuts Christmas Special) to sponsor the Halloween special; when Coke passed on a solo sponsorship, CBS approached Dolly Madison to co-sponsor the show. Both Coke and Dolly Madison would become primary co-sponsors of many more Peanuts specials over the years. CBS aired the special every year from 1966 through 2000; ABC bought the rights and began airing it annually in 2001.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/17/1966 to 10/23/1966

The state department of education met in Rome on Friday, October 21st, unveiling the proposed new pay scale for Georgia teachers. The new budget would take the pay for a beginning teacher all the way to $5000 a year. Other proposed improvements included the gradual rollout of a statewide kindergarten program and reduction of the student-to-teacher ratio to 25-to-1 from the then-current 28-to-1.

The Chieftains faced off against Cass Colonels on Thursday night, October 20th in a home game that would determine whether West Rome secured a spot in the Region 6-AA playoffs. Cass seemed to think they had a chance to rack up their first win of the season, but it wasn’t to be: West Rome trounced them 50-13--but at least it did mark the first time that Cass had managed to score all season. So how did they score? Well, by the end of the first half, when West Rome was winning 41-0, Coach Kennedy gave some of his second-stringers a chance to get in some game time. Jimmy Culberson, Jerry Hill, Benny Padgett, Roger Weaver, and Wayne Worsham all scored touchdowns during the game, while Jimmy Edwards was the only Chieftain to score two touchdowns. This put West Rome 6-0 in region play.

The Discount House on Division Street in West Rome (right behind the First National Bank’s West Rome Branch) had a special on “famous name” (which means no one you’ve heard of) 1967 home stereo systems for $49.99 each, which included a built-in turntable, radio, and two speakers. (I don’t remember the Discount House at all, even though I routinely walked to Henson’s Drugs at the Corner of Shorter and Division in my endless quest for comic books and even went a bit further to Super Discount from time to time; apparently I never knew that there was a discount store on Division Street.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Lay’s potato chips for 39¢ a twin-pack bag, and a five-pound bag of seat potatoes for 39¢. Kroger had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and a six-bottle carton of Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for 29¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had beef liver for 25¢ a pound, turnip greens for 25¢ a pound, and a four-bag pack of Ivory soap for 25¢. A&P had smoke hams for 39¢ a pound, two pounds of Nutley margarine for 35¢, and a dozen glazed donuts for 39¢.  Couch’s had stew beef for 89¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Agony & the Ecstasy (with Charlton Heston & Rex Harrison) at the DeSoto, La Dolce Vita (with Marcello Mastroianni) at the First Avenue, and Modesty Blaise (with Monica Vitti—an espionage-adventure film based on the novels by Peter O’Donnell) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Fighting Prince of Donegal (with Peter McEnery) to the DeSoto, Khartoum (with Charlton Heston & Laurence Olivier) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Quick Gun (with Audie Murphy) and Fail Safe (with Henry Fonda) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1966 was “96 Tears” by the enigmatic ? and the Mysterians. Other top ten hits included “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#2); “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops (#3); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#4); “Walk Away Renee” by The Left Banke (#5); “Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits (#6); “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin (#7); “Hooray for Hazel” by Tommy Roe (#8); “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In the Shadow?” by the Rolling Stones (#9); and “See See Rider” by Eric Burdon & the Animals (#10).

This was also that The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators ws released. This debut album made musical history as the first album to use the word “psychedelic” to describe a style of music.

ABC became the first network to broadcast all of its national news programming in full color beginning this week in 1966.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/10/1966 to 10/16/1966

Rome City Schools got $91,000 in federal funds to expand the language program at East Rome and West Rome high school. Plans called for creation of a junior high school feeder program for French and Spanish, the addition of one more full-time or two more part-time language teachers at both West Rome and East Rome, and technological upgrades to both language labs.

Sophomore Roger Weaver was the talk of the town after his performance in the prior week’s game against Coosa. Weaver may have only scored one of the Chieftains’ touchdown,s but he managed to rack up 142 yards in 24 carried, making him the Region 6-AA rushing leader. For the season, Weaver’s average to date was 130+ yards per game. “Roger is not a quick starter,” Coach Paul Kennedy said, “but once he picks up momentum he’s real hard to stop. He’s probably the hardest and toughest runner we’ve ever had a West Rome… The boy just doesn’t get tired.”

The Chieftains took on Cedartown’s Bulldogs on Friday, October 14th—and ironically, they had to do it without Roger Weaver, who had to sit out the game due to an injury. However, Chieftain Jerry Hill stepped in to pick up the slack, rushing for more than 80 yards  and leading West Rome to a 7-6 victory over the Bulldogs. This put West Rome at the top of Region 6-AA with a 4-0 region record

“Father’s Night” took place at Elm Street Elementary at 7:30pm on Thursday, October 13th. West Rome coach Nick Hyder was the guest speaker at the event, focusing on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and its benefits.

After several years of almost uninterrupted good economic news, Romans awoke to an unpleasant surprise on Tuesday, October 11th, as Celanese Fibers announced plans to close its forty-year-old Rome rayon plant, eliminating a thousand jobs. Celanese said it would continue to run its acetate plant, keeping some 700 jobs active for the foreseeable future—but the loss of a thousand jobs would have a $5 million impact on Rome’s economy.

Piggly Wiggly had T-bone steaks for 79¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 79¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, five pounds of Pillsbury flour for 49¢, and grapefruit for a dime each. Big Apple had pork roast for 45¢ a pound, Chase & SanbOrn coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Van Camp beef stew for 49¢ a can. A&P had ocean perch filets for 35¢ a pound, Bama preserves for 33¢ a can, and Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can. Couch’s had picnic hams for 39¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 29¢ a box, and Eatwell tuna for 23¢ a can. (man, we had some strange brands in the 1960s, didn't we?)

The cinematic week began with This Property Is Condemned (with Natalie Wood & Robert Redford) at the DeSoto Theatre, Assault on a Queen (with Frank Sinatra & Virna Lisi) at the First Avenue, and Smoky (with Fess Parker) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Agony & The Ecstasy (with Charlton Heston) to the DeSoto, La Dolce Vita (with Marcelo Mastroianni and Anita Eckberg) to the First Avenue, and Apache Woman (with Lloyd Bridges) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Four Tops took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” Other top ten songs included “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians (#2); “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#3); “Cherish” by the Association (#4); “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five (#5); “Walk Away Renee” by The Left Banke (#6); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#7); “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” by Jimmy Ruffin (#8); “Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits (#9); and “See See Rider” by Eric Burdon and the Animals (#10).

After several months at the top of the album charts, the Beatles’ Revolver was supplanted by The Supremes A’ Go-Go, which pushed the Beatles down to second place, while Ray Conniff was knocked out of fourth place by The Mamas & the Papas’ eponymous first album. The Doctor Zhivago soundtrack and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s What Now My Love held on to third and fifth place in the charts. (While we tend to think of the mid60s as a prime era for rock and soul, albums that we would now classify as Easy Listening or Adult Contemporary continued to chart through the 1960s.)

And speaking of albums, two 1960s classics were released this week fifty years ago: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme by Simon & Garfunkel and The Monkees by… well, you can figure it out. This was the third studio album for the folk-rock Simon & Garfunkel, generating such hits as “Homeward Bound,” “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” and the title song, while the Monkees’ album was their first LP, featuring such songs as “The Monkees Theme,” “I Wanna Be Free,” and “The Last Train To Clarksville”—plus a personal favorite of mine, the zany “Gonna Buy Me a Dog.”

This was also the week that ABC unveiled an unusual television experiment: a made-for-TV version of Brigadoon that included several songs that were cut from the 1954 theatrical film. Robert Goblet, Peter Falk, & Sally Ann Howes starred in the special, which was both a popular and a critical success; however, it aired only one other time, in 1967, before disappearing completely, and no one subsequently has been able to  locate a complete copy in the network’s vaults.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/3/1966 to 10/9/1966

West Rome took on further-west adversaries Coosa in their sixth game of the season—and they went into the game in a prime position, having not only posted an undefeated season thus far (two ties, three wins), but having left all five of their earlier adversaries scoreless! Coosa did prove tough enough to rack up a few points against the Chieftains, but it wasn’t enough, and West Rome won 40-6. Lane Brewer was chosen lineman of the week by the Rome News-Tribune for his performance in the game; Brewer was credited with 18 individual tackles; blocked an Eagles quick kick and ran it back to the one yard line, kicked two extra points and four fifty-plus yard kickoffs… quite an impressive evening for any player!

Floyd County Ordinary Harry Johnson had good things to say about Rome’s first voting machine election. Thanks to the ease of tabulation with machine-based elections, Rome’s first voting machine primary was totally tabulated by 9pm—just two hours after the polls closed. (Makes you wonder how it is that, with today’s super fast computers, it takes much longer for us to get the election returns…)

Beginning bridge, ballroom dancing, knitting, ceramics—these were just a few of the classes offered as a part of the YMCA’s “Learning for Living” program. Each class ran for eight weeks, meeting one evening a week for most classes (although the beginning bridge class met at 10am.)

The draft board announced implementation of a new Selective Service College Qualification Test to help determine whether draft registrants should be considered for educational draft deferments. Students could take the test only one time; anyone who scored below a predetermined level would not qualify for a college deferment.  (Today, the draft seems like a custom from a different era, but it was just fifty years ago that many young men had to put their entire life plans on hold because of forced military service… and all too many young men never had the chance to resume those lives afterwards.)

Rome’s proposed $3.3 million dollar post office and federal building got approval from the Congressional Public Works, Buildings, and Ground Committees this week in 1966, which meant that it was one Congressional vote away from final approval. According to Seventh District Congressman John W. Davis, Congress almost always voted in favor of any proposals that cleared the committees, so the new facility was almost a done deal.
Rome set a record low temperature on the morning of October r3rd, coming in at 38 degrees. The cool weather continued for the remainder of the week, with highs and lows at least ten degrees below normal.

Piggly Wiggly had Wilson’s bacon for 69¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Jello for a dime  a pack. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, apples for 15¢ a pound, and peanuts for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, grapefruits for 13¢ each, and JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound. Couch’s had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, corn for a dime an ear, and Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with a double feature of the James Bond films Dr. No and Goldfinger (starring Sean Connery) at both the DeSoto Theater and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Greatest Story Ever Told (with Max Von Sydow) at the First Avenue, The midweek switch out brought This Property Is Condemned (with Natalie Wood & Robert Redford) to the DeSoto Theatre, Lost Command (with Anthony Quinn) to the First Avenue, and That Tennessee Beat (with Minnie Pearl & Merle Travis) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Four Tops took number one this week in 1966 with “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” Former number one “Cherish” by the Association dropped to second place. The other top ten songs for the week included “96 Tears” by ? & the Mysterians (#3); “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkeys (#4); “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five (#5); “Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond (#6); “Walk Away Renee” by the Left Banke (#7); “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” by Jimmy Ruffin (#8); “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by the Four Seasons (#9); and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes (#10).

The Tammy Grimes Show performed so badly that it was cancelled this week in 1966 after only four episodes; ABC filled the hole in their schedule with a prime-time version of The Dating Game, which earned more than ten times the number of viewers of the show it replaced.

THE Cat, the Robert Loggia TV series about a former cat burglar turned good guy who used his skills to assist those who needed more help than the law could offer, came to comics this week in 1966, thanks to the folks at Gold Key (Gold Key seemed to specialize in licensed property comics in the 1960s, bringing many films and television programs to the comics racks).