Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/28/13 to 11/3/13

Rome's dry weather (the city and the county hadn't had any measurable rainfall since September 29th) was creating a severe fire hazard all across the city and the surrounding county; a burn ban was put into place, and forest rangers were put on alert for potential fires. Meanwhile, an early season cold snap brought 28 degree temperatures to Rome on Wednesday, October 30th, brought in by a cold front that resulted in freezing temperatures as far south as northern Florida. The changing weather finally brought Rome its first measurable rain in over a month on October 31st, which reduced the fire threat just in time for Halloween.

The US Army Core of Engineers spoke about an ambitious plan to use a series of locks and dams to make Rome an inland port and the upper terminus of a waterway connecting to the Gulf of Mexico. Like so many ambitious plans in the 1960s, this one fell by the wayside--but oh, what might have been!...

It was a somewhat more sober weekend for Romans as law enforcement officers destroyed two thousand-gallon stills, two six hundred gallon stills, and one two hundre gallon still on Mount Alto. The "revenooers" were still quite active in 1963.

As Halloween approached, Rome Police Chief Nelson Camp reminded everyone that trick-or-treating was reserved for children only, and that teenagers would not be allowed to trick-or-treat. In fact, teenagers caught trick-or-treating would be taken home and their parents would be cited, the chief warned.

The Chieftains faced off against Cartersville on November 1st; after their amazing victory over the state champs on October 25th, everyone was picking West Rome for the win, but Coach Kennedy kept reminding people that the game could be a close one. "I keep reminding the boys about last year's 34-33 victory," Kennedy said. "I think the boys realize Cartersville is a really tough team... I know they are a tremendously improved ball club." Not improved enough, though: West Rome won the game 28-13, with Ronnie Kennedy throwing two touchdown passes and Chris Warren throwing one. The fourth touchdown was scored on a run by Van Gray.

The Rome Exchange Club presented Principal Dick McPhee with a "Freedom Shrine"during an assembly on Wednesday, October 30th. The shrine included "a collection of documents that together have formed the basis for our American way of life," including the Gettysburg Address, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and other historic replicas.

A seventh and eighth grade Student Council was organized this week in 1963, with Miss Kitty Alford acting as sponsor. The officers included Mary Gilbert, president; Pam Williams, vice-president; Robert Blaylock, secretary; and Ronnie Jones, treasurer. Homeroom Representatives includes Tony Grass, Gary Greer, Beth Toglia, Holly Wood, Debby Morris, Paula St. Clair, Lee Davenport, Vicki Horton, Carol Holloway, and Pam Williams.

The Junior Tri-Hi-Y held a fund-raising rummage sale on Saturday, November 2nd, while the West Rome Future Business Leaders of America Club traveled to Atlanta on the same day to attend the Georgia FBLA Convention.

West end Elementary held its Fall Festival on Saturday, November 2nd, from 5pm to 9pm. The faculty had arrange for a number of games and presentations to make the festival memorable, and food was served in the cafeteria for those who wanted to make an afternoon of it.

In the days before deregulation brought soaring prices and exorbitant pipeline fees, Atlanta Gas Light did it all--including selling those pole mounted gas lights that were so frequently seen alongside West Rome driveways. The gas company offered two different designs of gas lights for $49 installed--and they'd finance it for only $1 down and $1.95 added on to your gas bill each month. Nowadays the pipeline fees just to get the gas to your house almost equal the 1963 price of the gas lamp and installation.

I still remember those color-coded reading packets: this week in 1963, Elm Street Elementary hosted a program to explain the SRA reading program to parents of Li'l Chieftains. SRA was designed to improve reading speed and comprehension through the use of increasingly more complex reading selections; I always looked forward to SRA because I got to read all sorts of fun things, and I was encouraged to improve my reading speed so that I could read even more of them! Don't know why the program was discontinued--as far as I was concerned, it was a phenomenal success!

The Rome Holiday Inn got into the restaurant competition with their new "roast beef bar," which offered choice roast beef, potato of the day, tossed green salad, coffee, or tea for only $1.25 per person--and they guaranteed that it would be served in ten minutes or less! Or, for Romans with a limited lunch time, you could call ahead a half-hour before your lunchtime and they'd have any item on the menu prepared and waiting for you the minute you walked in the door. Apparently too little time and too much to do is a decades-old problem!...

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound, fresh eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and fresh whole pecans for 33¢ a pound (when did pecans get so expensive? Even adjusting for inflation, pecans are now almost three times as expensive as they were in 1963!). Kroger had ground baby beef for 35¢ a pound, applesauce for 12¢ a can, and grapes for a dime a pound. A&P offered russet potatoes for a nickel a pound, Golden Rise canned biscuits for 8¢ a can, and Bailey's Supreme Coffee for 49¢ per one-pound can. Couch's had Southern Maid all meat wieners for 39¢ a pound, marshmallows for 29¢ per one pound bag, and bulk trick or treat candy for a 12¢ a pound.

Another lackluster selection of movies awaited patrons of Rome's two theaters during the week: The DeSoto had Rampage (with Robert Mitchum & Elsa Martinelli), while the First Avenue was showing David & Lisa ("Recommended for Adults!"). For the last half of the week, The DeSoto brought in Wives & Lovers (with Janet Leigh & Van Johnson), while both the West Rome Drive-In and the First Avenue Theater took the non-seasonal route with Beach Party (with Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon). Apparently showing the same movie at an indoor theater and a drive-in was more common than I realized!…

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. Other top ten hits included "Deep Purple" by Nino Temple & April Stevens (#2); "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers (#3); "It's All Right" by the Impressions (#4); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#5); "I'm Leaving It Up To You" by Dale & Grace (#6); "Maria Elena" by Los Indios Tabajaras (#7); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#8); "Bossa Nova Baby" by Elvis Presley (#9); and "I Can't Stay Mad at You" by Skeeter Davis (#10).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Album Side of the Evening: Led Zeppelin Side 1

Often, when I'm working on bookkeeping, I pull a favorite album, place it on the turntable, and enjoy some memorable music. The idea, of course, is that the songs will serve as background entertainment while I'm busy at the computer.

Sometimes the reality is different however: the album will from time to time prove to be so good that the work gets put aside as I become enthralled by the music.

The  album side of the evening tonight was Led Zeppelin, side 1--the most perfect album side of any that Led Zep ever produced. It starts off strong with the punchy Zep-pop song "Good Times Bad Times," which has that swirling guitar by Jimmy Page (thank you, Leslie speaker, for making that effect possible!). From there it leads into my absolute favorite Led Zeppelin song, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" an acoustic piece with an intense electric refrain--sounds like it wouldn't blend that well, but it actually meshes perfectly. Also love the acoustic guitar riff that opens the song; the chords are remarkably similar to George Harrison's chord pattern for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but it is constructed in such as a way as to create a wholly different mood here. The album side goes out with the thirteen-minute bluesy one-two punch of "You Shook Me" and "Dazed and Confused"--one a fever dream, the other a haunted nighmare. 22 minutes of musical perfection--and in spite of the fact that they packed that much music on one vinyl side, it's sonically great, with wonderful dynamic range and nary a skip (many albums with that much music have trouble playing the bass-heavy parts without skipping).

Okay, now I need to get back to work on the bookkeeping that got put on hold while I revisited an old favorite...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/21/63 to 10/27/63

Rome's economic prospects continued to look up: General Electric announced that it was closing a plant in Massachusetts and moving the jobs to their Rome facility instead, which would lead to the creation of more than 200 full-time positions.

Buy-Wise opened its first store in Rome on October 24th, offering Romans another bargain shopping choice. The first store was located at 327 Broad Street; the West Rome location was in the planning stages, but was not slated to open for a while longer.

The third annual Rome Auto Show took place in Central Plaza's parking lot on Sunday, October 27th from 2pm to 6pm. Rome's dealers had all the new models on hand for potential customers to compare them side by side and take advantage of on-site specials.

The ill-fated idea that would seemingly never die: the city and county school systems continued to talk about a merger, putting more money into feasibility studies and evaluations. This was a proposal that popped up again and again over the years, but it never got further than the study phases. (Actually, it would make more sense today than it did then, with the city school system's declining enrollments--but it appears that it's no longer on anyone's radar.)

The steady population growth in Rome was certainly noticed by the lunchroom staff of the various schools: according to a Mrs. C.N. King, cafeteria coordinator for the school system, the schools were serving 3900+ lunches every day. She also that high school students sometimes bought two lunches a day, which boosted those numbers.  (I always liked school lunches, but I don't recall any lunch I liked so much--or was still so hungry after eating--that I felt the need to buy a second lunch!)

The Chieftains prepared for their toughest game of the season as they faced off against the Class AA champion Dalton Catamounts, who came to West Rome 6-0. The game generated so much excitement that Barron Stadium sold 5000+ tickets in advance of the game--and what a game it was! West Rome came into the game as underdogs, but they fought their way to a 14-0 victory over Dalton. It was West Rome's game from the very beginning, when Dickie Sapp made a 51-yard kickoff return. Gery Law scored the first touchdown and kicked the point-after; Dickie Sapp scored the second touchdown.

West Rome became one of seventeen pilot schools in Georgia teaching "new math" under the leadership of Miss Susie Underwood, who helped develop the state guide for the new match program. According to Miss Underwood, "The new math shifts from the old watch-then-do-what-I-do way of teaching to the find-out-for-yourself-if-this-works method." The goal was to prepare students for advanced concepts such as calculus by the 9th or 10th grade.

Dr. Chester Swor, a missionary worker in the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke at an assembly at West Rome High School. His motivational presentation encouraged students to follow their dreams while setting attainable, worthwhile goals for themselves now.

Drivers' Education instructor Don Unsworth presented certifications of program completion to 25 Chieftains who had completed his course (and presumably watched his gory films designed to scare us all into driving carefully).

Countering Murphy's 79¢ a plate turkey and dressing special, Redford's brought back their 50¢ baked ham dinner, which included corn, green beans, cole slaw, hot rolls,and butter, and iced tea.

Piggly Wiggly's weekly meat special was ground beef for 39¢ a pound; they also had 5 pounds of sugar for 39¢ and 10 pounds of potatoes for 29¢. Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, blackeyed peas for a dime a can, and grapefruit for 8¢ each. A&P offered smoked hams for 35¢ a pound, apples for 15¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had whole friers for 27¢ a pound, Kroger coffee in vacuum-sealed cans for 49¢ a pound, and Super-Right chili for 23¢ a can. Couch's had Showboat pork & beans for a dime a can, cabbage for a nickel a head, and pork chops for 49¢ a pound.

The first half of the week was not a great one for moviegoers: the choices were The Caretakers (with Robert Stack & Joan Crawford) at the DeSoto and a double feature of Saturday Night & Sunday Morning and Room at the Top at the First Avenue. The weekend was scarcely better, with The Island of Love and Desert Warrior at the DeSoto, Kiss of the Vampire at the First Avenue, and The Girl Hunters at the West Rome Drive-In. Sounds like it was a great weekend to read a book!…

The number one song this week in 1963 was "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs. Other top ten hits included "Deep Purple" by Nino Temple & April Stevens (#2); "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers (#3); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#4); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#5); "Donna the Prima Donna" by Dion Di Muci (#6); "I Can't Stay Mad at You" by Skeeter Davis (#7); "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (#8); "It's All Right" by the Impressions (#9); and "Maria Elena" by Los Indies Tabajares (#10).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/14/63 to 10/20/63

West Rome students enjoyed a five-day "weekend" thanks to teacher in-service days; studnets got to sleep late beginning on Wednesday, October 16th, and they didn't return to class until Monday, October 24th. (Having taught school for more than a quarter-century, I can assure you that teachers enjoyed these breaks in the classroom schedule almost as much as students! It may not have been a full holiday for teachers, but it was a change in the daily routine, at least!)

Just up Redmond Road from West Rome, a forty-acre tract of land across from General Electric was undergoing development as an industrial site. Rome's rapid growth of new businesses and small industries made the development necessary, and the four-laning of Shorter Avenue to Redmond Road and beyond made the area readily accessible. We tend to forget how many small industries found homes in Rome during the 1960s--would that it were the same situation today!

Coach Paul Kennedy admitted that he was a little worried about the October 18th clash against Rockmart--particularly since Dickie Sapp had missed two days of practice after suffering an injury in the Cedartown game. Turned out that Coach Kennedy's worries were unnecessary, however: West Rome defeated Rockmart 33-7, led by Steve Holland, who scored twice in the game and made a stunning 70-yard punt return. Dickie Sapp recovered in time to play in the game. The Chieftains were so far ahead by the second half that Coach Kennedy put in the reserve team, who immediately scored a touchdown under the guidance of quarterback Ronnie Kennedy (Coach Kennedy's son). Perhaps the victory was inspired at least in part by the Thursday night bonfire that the Pep Club sponsored.

West Rome's chemistry classes experimented with a new approach to the study of chemistry as the launched the CHEM study, which was a laboratory-centered course that emphasized controlled experiments and careful record-keeping. Mr. Graham Stevens was the CHEM study facilitator at West Rome, working with his cross-town colleague Miss Addie Jim Rollins at East Rome to ensure that the new curriculum ran smoothly.

The Rome News-Tribune got a little smaller fifty years ago: the newspaper changed its trim size, making the paper a full inch narrower than it had been before. They also changed the font, or typeface, of the paper to a more contemporary style. This change resulted in a paper that looked much more like the Rome News-Tribune that most of us know, bringing an end to the older mid-centuiry look that strikes today's readers as "old timey." It may seem like a minor change today, but in the pre-Internet era, the paper was a much more important source of news for all Romans, so any change of this sort was a big thing.

Diners who wanted to get a head start on Thanksgiving feasting could stop by Murphy's every Friday and Saturday to enjoy a 79¢ turkey dinner that included dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, rolls, and jello.

"Buy-Wise is coming" ads began popping up in the Rome News-Tribune this week in 1963, which meant that another discount shopping alternative was on its way to Rome.  Many of us grew up with the "Be wise: Buy-Wise" slogan, so it's a bit surprising to realize that until 1963 there was no Buy-Wise in our town!

Piggly Wiggly was running their big pork chop sale, with center cut chops for 59¢ a pound; they also offered 5 pounds of sugar for 39¢ and an 18-ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.09. Big Apple offered smoked picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and strawberries for 33¢ a pound. Kroger had ribeye steaks on sale for 99¢ a pound, apples for 9¢ a pound, and a two-pound package of Velveeta cheese for 79¢. A&P had grapefruit for a dime each, shrimp for 69¢ a pound, and leg o' lamb for 59¢ a pound. Couch's had country style backbone for 49¢ a pound (okay, I'm stymied--what made backbone worth as much as a center-cut porkchop?), Bama jelly for 25¢ in a 16-ounce container that could be repurposed as a drinking glass, and baking potatoes for a nickel a pound.

In a rather unusual promotion, Van Camp's ran a coupon in the paper that offered a $10 discount on an electric blanket with the purchase of two cans of Van Camp's pork and beans. (Not sure that spending time under a blanket after eating a heaping helping of beans was necessarily the best idea...)

The West Rome Drive-In continued its newly-implemented policy of closing on weeknights, which meant that Romans had only two choices if they wanted to catch a movie. For the first half of the week, the DeSoto Theater was showing 55 Days at Peking (with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner), while the First Avenue was screening Captain Sinbad (with no one who mattered--although that didn't stop me from seeing the movie, of course! in the pre-Indiana Jones times, Sinbad movies offered similar thrill-a-minute adventures, albeit on a much lower production budget). The weekend brought a double-feature of Sergeants 3 and Rommel's Treasure to the DeSoto; First Spaceship on Venus and Varan the Unbelievable to the First Avenue; and The Last Days of Pompeii and Sharkfighters to the West Rome Drive-In. To say it was a rather uninspired cinematic weekend in Rome would be an understatement…

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); "Deep Purple" by Nino Temple & April Stevens (#3); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#4); "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton (#5); "Donna the Prima Donna" by Dion Di Muci (#6); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#7); "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers (#8); "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#9); and "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#10).

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/7/63 to 10/13/63

The first possible location for a new Rome post office was announced on October 7th--but it wasn't the location that we all know as the final choice. Instead, the Rome City Commission proposed that the post office be established at the former location of the old Rome High School on Third Avenue. The proposed deal would have made the building available to the postal service for 55 years (whch would mean that, had the agreement actually been finalized, the city would be negotiating new terms or the postal service would be looking for yet another location for the post office in the next few years).

West Roman O.V. Scoggins, 44, of Coosawattee Avenue, died as a result of a one-car accident on Highway 411, seven miles outside of Rome, on October 10th... one of far too many fatalities on a road that has proven to be one of the most dangerous in Floyd County.

West Rome High School teacher Mrs. Smiderski used debate as a way to teach history in the fall of 1963, dividing students into teams to debate such topics as "Resolved: That Rome was justified in destroying Carthage"; "Rseolved: That Julius Caesar was a better ruler than Augustus"; "Resolved: That the Athenian way of life was superior to the Roman way of life"; "Resolved: That the Greeks gave us more contributions than the Romans"; and "Resolved: That Athenian government was better than Roman government." Students said that this approach encouraged them to get more personally involved in resarching information about Greek and Roman history. and it helped them to improve their public speaking skills.

The West Rome Future Teachers of America inducted new members this week in 1963, including Diane Leake, Phyllis Kelso, Ann Finley, Ginny Burnett, Barbara Helie, and Beverly Vann.

The Future Business Leaders of America elected its officers: Beverly Pegg was chosen as president, Scherion Easterwood as vice-president, Joeanne Ellis as secretary, Alice Evans as treasurer, Donita Womack as reporter, Sandra Gravely as parliamentarian, and Jane Rogers as chaplain.

With work underway to extend Shorter Avenue as a four-lane road well beyond Burnett Ferry Road and past West Rome High School, the city awarded Ledbetter Brothers a contract to improve the existing segment of Shorter Avenue. The total cost to repair and resurface Shorter from Burnett Ferrry Road to the old railroad underpass came in at $84,998.50.

Rome's junior college efforts, which seemed to be shut down earlier in 1963 when Rome did not make the final cut, were resurrected when a member of the State Board of Regents said that continued growth in the northwest Georgia area would eventually require the construction of a junior college in tis area, and the Board of Regents was convinced that Rome would be the logical site for such a school.

The Rome Art League sponsored the Rome Fall Art Show on October 12th and 13th; the show was open to professional and amateurs of all ages, including students—and while most Romans had to pay a fee to submit works for display in the show, students were allowed to enter works for exhibition absolutely free of charge.

West Rome faced off against one of Georgia's top teams, the Cedartown Bulldogs, on October 11th. "Any team that can fumble the ball nine times, lose six of those, and still win the game has got to be a terrific team," Coach Paul Kennedy said in reference to the Bulldogs' victory over Chattooga on October 4th, adding, "Sooner or later, they're going to stop fumbling--and when they do, it's going to be rough!" Meanwhile, Cedartown coach Doc Ayers said that one of his biggest worries was West Rome's Dickie Sapp, whom he called "the hardest running 150-pounder in this area." In his weekly football prognostications for the Rome News-Tribune, my father (Don Biggers, who was sports editor of the RN-T) predicted that Cedartown would beat our Chieftains 19-7; alas, he proved to be correct, as West Rome ended up losing the game in a 20-0 rout, which put a damper on West rome's homecoming.  (In making the prediction, Dad wrote, "I live in a neighborhood of West Rome fans. My son, Cliff, is an avid West Rome supporter. Even my two-year-old daughter, Kim, shows sign of being influenced by 'Chieftainism.' I offer this evidence only in hopes you'll believe me when I say I gave extra thought to this week's West Rome-Cedartown game and to my selection of the probable winner. Sentiment tells me to pick West Rome; logic tells me to go with Cedartown."  I believe that this was the first time that Dad specifically mentioned Kim or me in his column, and it brings a smile to my face to unexpectedly run across this mention now.)

Rome's Southeastern Professional Football League team, the Bisons, extended a perfect record by losing their tenth game to the Atlanta Spartans on Sunday, October 13th. Just how bad was their playing? Well, their total yardage for the game was -27… and yes, that's a minus sign in front of the number…

The 1964 model year rollout continued as Rhinehart Motor Company announced the arrival of the new Studebaker Commander, Daytona Converstible, Hawk, and Avanti. Alas, these models were destined to sell so poorly that Studebaker would begin shutting down plants and discontinuing models after 1964, with the company exiting the American auto market a couple of years later.

Dempsey-Anderson Motor Company became Rome's new Rambler dealer, debuting the 1964 Rambler Classic, the Classic HT, and the Rambler American station wagon on Thursday, October 10th. Ford, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Chrysler, Plymouth, Lincoln, Mercury, Volkswagen, Studebaker, Rambler--Rome was quite the automotive town back in 1963!

Grocery shoppers could pick up bananas for 9¢ a pound at Piggly Wiggly; other specials included a pound of bacon for 49¢ and Bama grape jam or apple jelly in 16 ounce jelly-jar glasses for 33¢. Kroger had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Scott bathroom tissue for a dime a roll. A&P had sirloin steak for 69¢ a pound, Super-Right chili for 22¢ a can (and I don't remember that brand at all--do you?), and the ever-popular Hormel Spam for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had large eggs for 49¢ a dozen, bologna for 29¢ a pound, and apples for 19¢ a pound. Couch's had Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a pound, large baking hens for 33¢ a pound, and Stokely's catsup for 15¢ a bottle.

Not the finest cinematic week in Rome history: the week began with For Love or Money at the DeSoto and L-Shaped Room at the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In was closed for the first half of the week. The weekend brought The Three Stooges Around the World in a Daze (and yes, I did go see that one, thank you very much!) to the DeSoto; Captain Sinbad (which I also saw) to the First Avenue; and Solomon and Sheba to 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); "Busted" by Ray Charles (#4); "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters (#5); "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts (#6); "Mean Woman Blues" by Roy Orbison (#7); "Donna the Prima Donna" by Dion Di Muci (#8); "Deep Purple" by Nino Temple & April Stevens (#9); and "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#10).