Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/30/63 to 10/6/63

What a different society it was a half-century ago: two black students from Floyd County, Charles E. Johnson and Martha Robinson Lattimer, filed suit to gain admission to Coosa Valley Tech, which until this time was closed to black students. Their action paved the way for equal post-secondary educational access for all area students, including many of our fellow Chieftains. We sometimes forget that 1963 was such a pivotal era for civil rights in our community, our state, and our nation.

Thanks to the mutual cooperation of the Chieftain Club and the West Rome High School Administration, the school added several pieces of AV equipment (including four movie projectors, two tape recorders, and two record players). The equipment was available for classroom use, and West Rome even had its own Audio-Visual Squad comprised of students who helped teachers reserve and operate the equipment.  Coach Nick Hyder was the faculty sponsor of the AV Squad, and the man in charge of keeping track of all the equipment and making sure that it got to the right teacher in the right room during the right class period--not an easy task in this pre-computer-database era!

Lynda Hill was chosen as Homecoming Queen; her court consisted of Alice Evans, Carol Johnson, Beverly Pegg, and Cindi Blaylock. The announcement was made in early October in advance of the October 11th Homecoming Game against Cedartown.

Chorus director Ronald Midkiff announced the members of the Girls Vocal Ensemble, which consisted of Barbara Helie, Jackie Lupo, Terese Diprima, Camille Baker, Patt Merrell, Ann Finley, Trish Tompkins, Diane Leake, and Janet Scherer.

West Rome's senior class sold $2664.60 worth of magazines as part of their class fundraiser. Considering the rather low price of magazine subscriptions in 1963, that was quite an accomplishment! (I'm sure we bought our annual TV Guide subscription as a part of this fundraiser; my parents always subscribed to TV Guide, and they always renewed during school magazine subscription sales.)

Rome's postmaster announced the 23rd annual US Treasury Department's "School Savings Program" was open for all Rome and Floyd County students to participate. Under this program, teachers would purchase United States Savings Stamps and sell them to students; each student who bought the stamps received a Junior Astronaut Certificate. When students filled up a stamp book with ten-cent stamps (187 of them), they could redeem the stamp book for a savings bond that could in turn be redeemed in 10 years for $25.  This was a remaining vestige of the "war bonds" program of the 1940s.  (I remember the program, but never actually participated in it--I guess that's because all my spare change went into comic books!)

Rome City Schools found themselves in a financial pinch when the state cut its teacher allotment; while the city school system earned 227 teachers, only 225 were approved by the state, which meant that the county was responsible for the approximately $5000 per teacher extra cost (for salaries and benefits) for the other two teachers. "This is the first time we've cut everybody across the board since we started the [teacher allotment] program in 1951," State School Superintendent Claude Purcell said. Rome chose to keep the two positions filled rather than laying off teachers, although they admitted that finding the extra money was going to be difficult.

The Chieftains racked up a 25-0 victory over Calhoun, led by Dickie Sapp's 75-yard run on the first play of the second half. Other standout players included Van Gray, who scored a touchdown on a 32 yard run and a second touchdown from the Calhoun one-yard line, and Donnie Hill, who bulldozed his way through the Calhoun line for a touchdown from the Calhoun three-yard line.

Rome's inept Southeastern Professional Football League team, The Bisons, saw a slightly better chance of a win on October 5th: the win-less Bisons were playing the Gadsden Raiders, who had won only one game. Alas, the Bisons weren't even able to defeat this team, leaving them with a 0-10 record.

WRGA radio filed an application to bring FM radio back to Rome at the 97.7 frequency. WRGA was actually one of the first broadcasters in Georgia to offer FM in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but they shut down their initial FM broadcast system in 1952. Of course, the glory days of FM radio were still a few years away; in 1963, we were all tuning in to WROM, WRGA, and WLAQ on AM radio.

Floyd County remained a bootlegging haven, although the State Revenue Department, the city police, the county police, and the sheriff's office were doing the best they could to bring that to an end. On October 4th, they shut down 11 stills and raided 21 residences in the city and the county to end the illegal sales. No wonder those Snuffy Smith comic strips about those "revenooers" were so popular in the Rome News-Tribune!

C&M Motors began promoting the new 1964 model Cadillacs with a half-page ad for a pair of $6000+ land yachts: the Coupe de Ville and the Fleetwood Sixty Special Sedan, both of which measured in just shy of nineteen feet long--so long, in fact, that it would be difficult to fit them into a modern-day garage. Meanwhile, Bill Holbrook Pontiac-Buick began rolling out the new 1964 Buicks, highlighted by the new Skylark, LeSabre, and Electra 225, all of which were almost a foot and a half shorter than the Cadillacs.

West Rome's Pizza King became the first pizza restaurant in Rome to offer delivery anywhere in the city, using a VW van with specially-insulated boxes to ensure that the pizza was warm when it arrived. In spite of the fact that the restaurant was only a mile from our house, I don't think we ever ate at Pizza King, however--and in fact, I must confess that I don't even remember Pizza King. Apparently it would be another six years before I would discover the wonders of real pizza...

With Christmas three months away, Sears was already advertising its huge toy selection; at the same time, they were touting their bicycle layaway program that let customers choose the perfect Christmas bicycle in early October for only $1 down and a minimum of $1 per week.

Piggly Wiggly promoted its ninth anniversary sale with a drawing for a free freezer full of food, valued at over $400; their annivesary specials included chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, apples for 8¢ a pound, and Van Camp's chili for 31¢ a can. Kroger had fresh pork ears, feet, snouts, or neckbones for 15¢ a pound (and I don't think I'd pay 15¢ a pound for any of those today!), grapes for a dime a pound, and Fig Newtons for a quarter a box. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, ever-popular white bread for 19¢ a loaf, and Marvel ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢, smoked ham for 29¢ a pound, and frozen waffles for a dime a box. Couch's had Duke's mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, pork roast for 35¢ a pound, and JFG instant coffee for 99¢ for a 10-ounce jar (and no, it most definitely did not taste like real coffee...).

Spencer's Mountain continued at the First Avenue Theater for the first half of the week, while Gidget Goes to Rome was showing at the DeSoto and To Kill a Mockingbird was back for a return engagement at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought For Love or Money (with Kirk Douglas & Mitzi Gaynor) to the DeSoto, The Girl Hunters (with Mickey Spillane playing his private detective creation Mike Hammer) at the First Avenue, and  a forgettable double feature of The Mongols (with Jack Palance) and The Trojan Horse (with Steve Reeves) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs. Other top ten hits included "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#2); "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton (#3); "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (34); "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#5); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#6); "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels (#7); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#8); "Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas (#9); and "Donna, the Prima Donna" by Dion Di Muci (#10).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dad's at the Mall

Back in the days before Mom's health deteriorated significantly, Mom and Dad loved to go to the mall. In the 60s, it was Greenbriar Mall, which was on the way to my grandmother's house in College Park. In the early 70s, it was Cumberland Mall in Marietta. In the later 70s, it was Riverbend Mall in Rome (a remarkable mall, and a place that I still miss... it was the first mall that Susan and I visited from opening day until its final days as a mall). In the later 1980s, it was Town Center Mall in Kennesaw. In the 1990s, it was Mount Berry Square in Rome.

Dad loved to go to the mall; he loved to "window shop," even if he had no plans to buy anything. Mom was the same way; they could while away a pleasant hour or two just wandering the mall, enjoying the ambiance.

Yesterday, my dear niece Jessica sent me a surprising photo that she took at Mount Berry Square.

Thought you'd get a kick out of this. Mount Berry Square remodeled the interior a while back (maybe within the last year), adding historical photos of Rome. I've seen a lot of the pictures before, but somehow missed this one until today.

The photo is a wonderful shot of Dad, a 28 year old reporter at the Rome News-Tribune, chewing on a cigar while working away at his typewriter in the very cramped news room of the original Rome News-Tribune building on (appropriately enough) Tribune Street, just a block off Broad Street. (He gave up cigars a couple of decades later, and gave up pipes as well once Mom was diagnosed with emphysema.) I remember the office in every minute detail, because I spent scores of hours there. As a child, I could think of nothing much more fun than to spend a few hours with Dad at the office when he was working late putting together high school sports reports for the next day's paper. Many of those other reporters may not have known it, but I spent a lot of time hunting and pecking on their typewriters (in the evenings, most reporters were at home, but the sports department--which was Dad and Orbie Thaxton--spent the evenings typing up incoming info on high school football games and the like, since the Rome News-Tribune was first a foremost a local paper for the Rome/Floyd County area, and high school sports were important to the community).

I had no idea until now that there was a picture of Dad prominently displayed on the wall of Mount Berry Square as a part of Rome's history, but I'm quite happy about it. Dad loved Rome, and he dedicated his life to the city, to the county, and to the young men and women who participated in Rome sports. He organized basketball tournaments, he worked closely with the Rome/Floyd County Recreation Department, and he was friends with virtually every coach in every high school in the area. He was an important part of Rome history, to be sure.

Likewise, Mount Berry Square was an important part of his life. He and Mom spent lots of time there. During the years when Susan and I had the farmhouse on Horseleg Creek Road, we'd often meet Mom and Dad at the mall for dinner, and then we'd all just look around for a while. After Mom died, I would frequently go with Dad to the mall during one of my mid-week visits; we might buy something, or we might buy nothing at all, but even then he just loved looking around. Every now and then, he'd see a little knick-knack or a decorative pin or a framed print or somesuch and he's smile thoughtfully and say, "Your mother would have liked that." The mall was a place for him to revisit pleasant moments in the past.

And now Dad's back at Mount Berry Square. I find it strangely satisfying...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Centipede is on the Fritz!

Good news from Jerad Walters of Centipede Press in today's email: they have the rights to produce illustrated hardcover of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novels! Centipede makes high-quality books--the sort that the mass market seems to have forgotten about--so I'm quite enthused about this news.  Here's what Jerad wrote in the email I got this morning:

"A lot of requests have come in over the years regarding Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber. Guess what? Hardcover rights are secure! Hooray! So the next question is now that I have it, what do you want to see? Right off the bat, it has to be individual books in a box set. Each book signed and numbered, there’s no way around that. An omnibus will be just too huge to hold. I was thinking 6" x 10" size, like my The Sheep Look Up — good size, not too large. And illustrations. Of course. The question is, who? Tim Kirk is the guy that springs to mind first for me. But what do you all think? People have strong opinions on this. I’d like to hear yours."

My first choice would be Bernie Wrightson, of course, followed by Frank Brunner, then Brom or Timothy Truman—but I know that Jerad will make a great choice, and I'm looking forward to the announcement of their release!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/23/63 to 9/29/63

The new television season rolled out in mid-September; the networks continued to hold on to black and white technology, with only about 25% of the programs offered in color. Of course, it wouldn't matter much, since most of us only had black and white televisions anyway! For me, the most memorable debut of the 64-64 television season was The Outer Limits; as an avid science fiction and horror fan, this was a must-see, even though my parents thought it might be a little bit too intense for a ten-year-old. I still remember watching that first episode, with its "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission..." introduction, and wondering for a few minutes if they might be correct! Other series debuts included The Fugitive, Burke's Law, The Farmer's Daughter, The Patty Duke Show, The Judy Garland Show, and Petticoat Junction. It as also historic for what was not on network television: for the first time since the networks launched in 1946, there was no prime time boxing on the schedule. Other noteworthy television premieres: General Hospital made its premiere, as did the competing soap opera The Doctors. And we said farewell to a few favorites, including Laramie, The Real McCoys, Leave It To Beaver, and Hawaiian Eye, all of which ended their runs to make room for neew shows.

Representative John W. Davis announced that he was seeking a federal grant to move to downtown post office from its longtime location in the Federal Building (located at Fourth Avenue and East First Street) to a more accessible location. This was the first step in the process that led to the relocation of the main post office to its location several blocks away from downtown Rome--a move that would soon be followed by relocations of many shopping and dining establishments, leading to the dilution of downtown Rome as a hub for activity in Floyd County. (I remember that downtown post office in the Federal Building, and feel lucky that I got to make a few trips there. The post office had a dignity, a gravitas, a sense of history that the flat, sterile replacement building could never muster; there was heritage and history within those walls.)

West Rome's troubled season continued as the Chieftains lost 6-0 to the LaFayette Ramblers on Friday, Septemwe 27th. This left the Chiefs 1-3 for the season thus far and 1-1 in subregion competition.

Pat Merrell and Leigh Whittenburg were named National Merit Semi-Finalists; Pat was an active member of the National Honor Society, the Tri-Hi-Y, the Glee Club, and the Pep Club, and was editor of the West Rome Watanyah; Leigh was president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Tri-Hi-Y, Future Teachers of America, and Pep Club, and the editor of The Drumbeat.

The Junior Tri-Hi-Y elected Jan Ross as president, Carole Sewell as vice-president, Judi Burns as secretary, Barbara Helie as treasurer, and Suzanne White as chaplain.

The sophomore class elected its officers; Pat Barna was chosen as president, Stan Dawson as vice president, Charlene Lamb as secretary, and Connie Love as treasurer. The junior class also elected its officers, with Esther Ransom chosen as president, Jerry Coalson as vice-president, Gerry Law as secretary, and Judy Whitaker as treasurer.

West Rome senior David Childers was chosen as co-president of the East Rome-West Rome DECA. (In case you forgot, DECA was a part of the Distributive Education Program, a work program that offered part time school training and part-time job experience to qualified juniors and seniors.)

The week ended with an early-autumn monsoon, as Rome received more than 5" of rain on September 28th, continuing through Sunday with an additional inch of rain. Many creeks and streams in the area overflowed, and the rivers neared flood stage briefly, but there were no major problems.

Sears was pushing their big 23" console television for $168, just in time for the new television season. They also had a brand-new 14 cubic foot refrigerator for $298--and it was one of the trendy new frost-free models (I remember Mom defrosting our refrigerator in the early and mid 1960s, and Susan and had to defrost our refrigerators in the early 1970s after we got married; we take frost-free for granted nowadays, but it really was a big thing back then!).

Piggly Wiggly had a six-bottle carton of Coke or Tab for 19¢, four pounds of apples for 33¢, and whole fryers for 23¢ a pound. Big Apple satisfied our soft drink craving with RC Cola or Diet-Rite for 89¢ a case; they also offered strawberries for 33¢ a pint and those ever-popular fish sticks for 49¢ for a one pound box. Kroger had five pounds of Colonial sugar for 39¢, sausage for 39¢ a pound, and pork and beans for 12¢ a can. Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Poss Brunswick stew for 39¢ for a 16 ounce can. Kroger had round steak for 89¢ a pound, corn for a dime an ear, and a loaf of ever-popular white bread for 25¢. And here's a sure sign that groceries were cheaper back then: JFG ran a quarter-page ad promoting their new "easy open no-key can with a resealable flip-top" and they included a whopping 7¢ coupon. (When you adjust for the inflation multiplier, that's the equivalent of a 55¢ coupon today, so it's not as cheap as it sounds.)

Autumn was new car season, with both Julian Harrison Ford and Bonnie Davis Chevrolet running large ads touting their 1964 model year vehicles. Julian Harrison was promoting the '64 Fairlane, the Falcon, and the Super Torque Ford, which they touted as one of their heaviest cars "by hundreds of pounds." Bonnie Davis was pushing the "jet-smooth luxury" Impala and Bel Air and the all-new Chevelle, which was offered in the Malibu, the Malibu Super Sport, and the 300 series. If you remember the sportier Malibu of the late 60s, though, think again: the '64 Chevelle still looked a lot like a land yacht...

For the first half of the week, moviegoers could choose from Spencer's Mountain at the DeSoto, Irma La Douce at the First Avenue, or The Nutty Professor at the West Rome Drive-In (as a Jerry Lewis fan--what ten-year-old doesn't love slapstick comedy and goofy faces?--I pestered my parents to go see The Nutty Professor, and absolutely loved it. Thankfully, Mom and Dad also had a tolerance for such zaniness, and seemed to get a laugh or three from the film, which remains one my favorite Jerry Lewis movies). For the weekend Rome moved a mountain... well, they moved Spencer's Mountain to the First Avenue Theater. Other films included Gidget Goes to Rome at the DeSoto and Huk (no, I didn't misspell Hulk... Huk is the film's name, and it was a seven-year-old retread that was presumably brought back because it was cheap) at the West Rome Drive-In, in a double feature with Running Target (two eminently forgettable films, believe me).

The number one hit this week in 1963 was "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton; other top ten hits included "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#2); "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#3); "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs (#4); "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#5); "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels (#6); "Wonderful! Wonderful!" by the Tymes (#7); "Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas (#8); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#9); and "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals (#10).

Friday, September 20, 2013

IOS 7: Not a Lucky Number...

I've set up IOS 7 on one of my devices, and I've used it for a few days.

I find myself going back to the IOS 6 phone every chance I get.

No time now for a detailed list of a problems, but here are a few irritations:

(1) Jony Ive apparently doesn't know what color red is. Everything that used to red is now an orangy-tomato color, and it all looks sun-faded. 

(2) Ive also favors appearance over function. He loves super-fine-line sans serif fonts even though they're more difficult to read on a small screen. Open the stock app, for instance, and find a stock that has increased in value; it appears in a green box. Until now, that was a rich vibrant green, which allowed the solid, readable reversed type to show up clearly. Now it's a pale, anemic green with a super-fine reversed font, and its almost impossible to read. 

(3) Ive hates left-handed people. In the past, if I wanted to select an email to delete it, I could swipe my left thumb from left to right, bringing up the delete button, while righties could swipe their thumbs right to left for the same effect. Now, though, only the right-to-left swipe works, so lefties now have to swipe like righties in order for it to work. 

(4) They built a super-high-quality screen, then Ive and his team turned all the boxes into a dull grey and stripped the vibrant colors out of the symbols, making the entire interface look dull and lifeless. 

Missing Steve Jobs more than ever; he would have told Ive that this was ugly and he should try again...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week - 9/16/63 to 9/22/63

The Coosa Valley Fair kicked off a week-long run on Monday, September 16th. The West Rome Band presented a concert at the fairgrounds on Thursday, September 19th. Other fair events included a judo show every afternoon, a newspaperboy tossing contest on Friday, September 20th (I presume that newspaperboys were tossing papers, rather than people tossing newspaperboys), a skydiving exhibition on Friday, September 20th, and an amateur talent contest on Saturday, September 21st. The big event, of course, was the Miss Coosa Valley Fair Contest, which had semifinals on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with the winner announced on Thursday, September 19th; alas, the winner was Linda Shipp from Paulding County rather than a West Rome chieftain.

The Chieftains headed to Chattanooga to confront McCallie High on Friday, September 20th. West Rome held a morning pep rally at 10:30 AM Friday, but the exuberance of the student body wasn't enough to inspire the team to victory. Alas, West Rome lost the game 7-0, although Coach Paul Kennedy said that Chris Warren "played the best game of his career."

The West Rome Student Council elected its officers in mid-September. Homeroom representatives included Marion Edge, Dennis Greer, and Beverly Pegg (seniors); Glenda Carlson, Jack Gibson, Chris Lawler, Dick Sapp, and Judy Whitaker (juniors); Phil Jenkins, Jane Cox, Ricky House, Cindy Lattimer, Ronnie Parker, & Becky Wood (sophomores); Allen Brigham, Tom Hill, Donna mayne, Tommy Sappe, and Susan Sprayberry (freshmen); and Gail Cole, Lee Davenport, Vickie Horton, Carol Halloway, and Pam Williams (eighth grade). Tim Key was elected as president of the group; other officers included Zeke Dawson, vice-president; Jerry Coalson, secretary; and Len Willingham, treasurer.

The Future Teachers of America also elected their officers. Jackie Lupo was chosen as president of the group; other officers included Judi Burns (vice-president), Tina Edge & Barbara Keith (secretaries), Alfred Fletcher (parliamentarian), and Donna Brock (historian).

Shorter Avenue's long-awaited expansion and resurfacing was finally on the calendar, according to a mid-September announcement. This included the addition of curbs and gutters and four lanes for traffic from Burnett Ferry Road to Huffacre road and slightly beyond. The article pointed out that, because of West Rome's rapid growth, Shorter Avenue had become the heaviest traveled street in Rome, with traffic doubling between 1955 and 1963.

Piggly Wiggly had a giant-size box of Tide detergent for 49¢, bananas for 9¢ a pound, and smoked ham for 39¢ a pound. Kroger offered canned biscuits for a nickel a can, Spotlight coffee for 49¢ a pound, and a six-ounce package of luncheon meat for a quarter. A&P had Cap'n John's frozen fish sticks for 49¢ for a one-pound box, Armour chili with beans for a quarter, and Allgood bacon for 49¢ a pound. Couch's had Bama apple jelly (still a favorite of mine after all these years!) for a quarter for a 16 ounce jar that could be used as a drinking glass once you'd eaten all the jelly! Other Couch's offerings included ground beef for 39¢ a pound and roasting chickens for 29¢ a pound.

Women looking for a fur coat could get one for $16.88 at Penney's if they weren't too particular about the type of fur. Penney's was offering a mid-length raccoon coat for that price. Sears, meanwhile, brought back their popular British Enfield Mark IV Rifles for only $17.88 each, in case you felt like hunting your own raccoon instead...

Moviegoers looking for something to watch in the first half of the week could choose from Donovan's Reef (with John Wayne) at the DeSoto, Hootenanny Hoot (with Johnny Cash and other performers) at the First Avenue, and Love Come Back (with Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and Tony Randall) at the West Rome Drive-In. The weekend brought Spencer's Mountain to the DeSoto, while Irma La Douce returned to the First Avenue (you'd think that, with so few screens and so many movies, the theaters wouldn't have brought back so many old movies that had already run repeatedly). The Lonely and the Brave (with Kirk Douglas) and The Gentle Touch (with Brenda Lee) were showing at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton. Other top ten hits included "Sally Go 'Round the roses" by the Jaynetts (#2); "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#3); "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas (#4); "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels (#5); "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals (#6); "Wonderful! Wonderful" by the Tymes (#7); "Mickey's Monkey" by Major Lance (#8); "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#9); and "If I Had a Hammer" by Trini Lopez (#10).

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/9/1963 to 9/15/1963

The rapidly growing West Rome student population led to the addition of several faculty members at West Rome High and West Rome Junior High. West Rome High School saw the addition of Mrs. Naomi Mann (who taught English and journalism); Mr. Samuel Miller (who taught Spanish, consumer math, and algebra), and Mr. William Finley (who taught business and US history). West Rome Junior High faculty additions included our beloved Miss Katherine "Kitty" Alford (who taught English), Mrs. Mary Bruce (who taught reading), Mr. Eugene Mann (who taught social studies), Mrs. C.H. Matthews (who taught English), Mrs. Betty Higgins (who taught science and English--although many of us remember her solely as a science teacher by the time she moved to West Rome High School later in the 1960s), and Don Davis (who taught typing). West Rome' student population increased by almost a hundred students in 1963--a growth trend far beyond what the school board had anticipated!

Our Junior Tri-Hi-Y launched a fund raiser for the Wst Rome High health clinic in September 1963, raising almost $75 for supplies for the facility.

The West Rome Chieftain's Club announced that the West Rome Band had been chosen to play for the coronation ceremonies at the 1963 Coosa Valley Fair; over 100,000 attendees were expected for the fair, which was slated to open on September 16th.

West Rome took on the Chattooga County Indians on September 13th in a home game; in spite of the fact that the Chattooga team was one of the top-rated in the state, West Rome defeated them 7-6. The Chieftains' only touchdown came midway through the second quarter after a 62 yard run by Dickey Sapp took the ball deep into Chattooga territory, which set up a touchdown pass from Chris Warren to Scott Callan; Gary Law kicked the point-after.

Rome's department store sales were 9% higher in July 1963 than in July 1962, which translated to the second-highest growth rate in Georgia (only Macon topped us, postingan 11% growth)  Appliance stores showed a huge 27% growth over the prior year.  1963 was continuing to set all sort of fiscal records for Rome and Floyd County, reinforcing my memory that Rome was a great place to grow up in the 1960s!

For $1.45, diners could enjoy a veritable feast at the Shrimp Boat: that would buy you a seafood platter that includes fish, shrimp, deviled crab, scallops, hushpuppies, french fries, and cole slaw!

Murphy's was running a special on a "life size 16" x 20" portrait" for only $1.95; if you didn't want to pay two bucks to see yourself quite that large, you could get an 11" x 14" portrait for only $1.

Midway through their first season, the Rome Bisons (our short-lived professional football team) got a new coach, Tarzan White. More surprising than the mid-season coach replacement is the fact that parents actually named their son Tarzan...

Refrigerators were gradually increasing in size: Rome's Whirlpool Appliance Center was advertising the all-new 14 cubic foot frost-free refrigerator for only $279.00 (that would be the equivalent of $2100 today, adjusting for inflation). This refrigerator was large enough to meet the needs of even the largest family, according to the ad--and yet today, it's hard to find a standard-sized refrigerator in that small a size! 

Sealtest was advertising their "gay new carton designs" that were now available in Rome grocery stores, reminding us that word meanings do change over time...

A&P was offering a one-pound bag of Maxwell House coffee for 49¢, a case of Coca-Cola for 79¢ plus deposit, and chuck roast for 37¢ a pound. Kroger had baby beef steaks for 69¢ a pound (and I have to admit that there's something vaguely disturbing about "baby beef"), Campbell's tomato soup for a dime (I had no idea that such a regular part of my childhood diet was so cheap!), and beef liver for 39¢ a pound (combine that with the dime-a-pound onions and you had the beginnings of one of my family's favorite meals!). Piggly Wiggly had corn for a nickel an ear, pork loin for 59¢ a pound, and a quart of Duke's mayonnaise for 29¢. Big Apple had whole fryers for 15¢ a pound, a 16 ounce can of pink salmon for 49¢, and frozen french fries for 8¢ for a 12 ounce bag. Couch's had their own country sausage for 39¢ a pound (and if you ever had it, you probably remember it--richly seasoned and more finely ground than many other brands of sausage, it was so good that we occasionally had it for dinner with baked beans and a salad), Stokely's cream style corn for 15¢ a can, and Fig Newtons for 39¢ a box.

For the first half of the week, movigoers could choose between Brigitte Bardot's Please, Not Now at both the First Avenue Theater and the West Rome Drive-In, or Toys in the Attic (with Dean Martin and Yvette Mimieux) at the DeSoto. The weekend brought In The Cool of the Day (with Peter Finch, Angela Lansbury, and Jane Fonda) to the DeSoto, while the First Avenue brought in Hootenanny Hoot (with Johnny Cash, Sheb Wooley, George Hamilton IV, and others) and the West Rome Drive-In had the eminently forgettable Heidi & Peter (with no one worth listing) and Gunfight at Dodge City with Joel McCrea.

Those of us who read comic books saw the first modern-day appearance of Nick Fury in Fantastic Four #21, on sale this week in 1963. It would be a couple of more years before he became an agent of SHIELD, however… Meanwhile, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko revealed the origin of Dr. Strange in Strange Tales #115.

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton. Other top ten hits included "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels (#2); "If I Had a Hammer" by Trini Lopez (#3); "Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas (#4); "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#5); "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals (#6); "Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys (#7); "Mickey's Monkey" by Major Lance (#8); "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" by Allan Sherman (#9); and "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#10). Meanwhile, across the ocean, the Beatles had the number one hit with "She Loves You," but it would be a little while longer before all of us in West Rome learned about the Fab Four…

Sunday, September 01, 2013

138 Years Ago...

...Edgar Rice Burroughs was born.

And my life was much more enjoyable as a result.

I knew about Tarzan ever since I was old enough to sit through an entire movie, it seems, but I didn't actually read Edgar Rice Burroughs' fiction until 1965. Once again, it was the art of Frank Frazetta that initially caught my attention; Frazetta and Roy G. Krenkel were the two artists tapped by Don Wollheim to supply the cover art for the Ace F editions (so called because their ID number began with an F, indicating that the cover price of these books was 40¢--later increased to 45¢) of ERB's fiction. I recognized Frazetta's distinctive style when I saw one of the Ace F editions at a used bookstore, Coosa Valley Bookshop, back when they were located on Tribune Street, across the street from the Rome News-Tribune. While waiting for Dad to finish up some last-minute newspaper work, I wandered across the street with no expectations that I'd find anything of interest. What I found, however, was a dozen Ace F editions--more than I could afford--so I picked out the Frazetta covers that intrigued me the most. Tarzan at the Earth's Core. Son of Tarzan. Tarzan and the Lost Empire. Out of Time's Abyss. Carson of Venus. And one Roy Krenkel cover also made the cut that day--but it was one that Frazetta assisted on, Mastermind of Mars.

Obviously I wasn't concerned about reading Burroughs' books in order of publication. In fact, I really wasn't that concerned about reading Burroughs at all. After all, several of the books I bought were Tarzan books, and I knew what Tarzan was like, right?

How wrong I was!

Two weeks or so later, looking for a quick read, I picked up one of those slim Tarzan novels—Tarzan at the Earth's Core. And I was hooked. Not only did I read all the other books that I had bought, I made a point of going back to Coosa Valley Bookshop to buy the rest of the Burroughs books she had.

Alas, the Frazetta and Krenkel art that so impressed me must have been less impressive to whomever had traded in some more Ace F editions since I had last visited. The owner of these books had attempted to transform Ace paperbacks into miniature hardcovers by using some sort of fake-leatherette adhesive vinyl to cover the covers of the book. Those stunning covers were now lost under brown plastic and glue. I soon learned, though, that with great care I could peel that plastic off--although it left the gummy glue behind. No problem--one carefully placed layer of saran wrap later and I could enjoy the cover art that led me to Burroughs to start with.

Burroughs may have been the first author whose storytelling structure made an impression on me. I envisioned each Burroughs tale as a rope consisting of several interwoven strands--each strand was a separate plotline, but as the book progressed, the plotlines intertwined and became a single novel, just as the strands of fiber intertwine and become a rope. Even as I was reading a Burroughs novel, I looked forward the point where those separate plot strands came together to form that narrative rope; it always impressed me that he made each plotline so engaging, but together they became much stronger than they were as separate stories.  Thanks to him, I learned that a novel was more than just a long short story, and thus came to appreciate the importance of narrative structure.

As much as I loved Tarzan, it was Pellucidar that really appealed to me (lucky I had chosen Tarzan at the Earth's Core to begin my Burroughs reading, wasn't it?). I devoured the Pellucidar novels, and then was sad to learn that there were no more. From there, I went on to the remaining Tarzan books, the Venus novels, the Mars books (at least those few that were published by Ace), then the other fiction.  Even straight historical adventures like The Outlaw of Torn were absolutely fascinating.

I was so addicted to Burroughs, in fact, that I eventually bought the remaining books in his oeuvre in Ballantine editions, even though those books had what I considered to be the most singularly unattractive cover art I had ever seen on fantasy/SF/adventure novels. (Still have the books, still hate the art...)

To this day, I can think of no writer who made storytelling look easier or more fun than Burroughs. I regret that so little of his fiction is in print today; as far as I'm concerned, it all should be. I remember talking to Steve Saffel about it at one point; Steve had hoped to put out definitive editions of ERB at Random House, but he said he just coudn't convince the publisher that there was a sufficient market for it nowadays. Certainly, Burroughs' Africa is set in a world that no longer exists—but as period pieces, each book is still a masterpiece of story craft.

In his honor, I re-read Tarzan at the Earth's Core this afternoon--and it's every bit as good today as it was back in the 1960s when I first discovered it.