Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/1/1965 to 3/7/1965

West Rome Science Fair first place winners included Ben Nelms and Tim Moran, tied for first place in botany; Marsha Hall,  first place in bacteriology; Pat Finley, first place in zoology; Barbara Beiswenger, first place in natural resources; Suzanne White, first place in geology; Barbara Heilie, first place in experimental psychology; Linda Brown, first place in chemistry; Charle Stein, Don Moose. and Nicky Taylor, first place in physics; and Joey McGhee, first place in engineering.

Principal Dick McPhee said that parking at West Rome was becoming an increasing problem, and that the lot had been full for several years, and increasing enrollment was making it seem likely that, by 1966, there would be more students hoping to park at the school than there were available spaces. As a result, West Rome was considering a plan to charge students for a campus parking permit, as was East Rome.

Remember the big water tower and tank on Watson Street in West Rome, just up the road from the Pattersons' house? Well, even though it seemed like that water tank had been there forever, that wasn't the case: site development began in 1964, and construction began in earnest in 1965. By March 1965, the tower's support legs were in place, but the million-gallon tank had not been mounted atop the base. The city said that, if the weather remained good, the tank would be completed and ready for use by summer. The water tank construction was necessitated by strong residential and commercial growth in West Rome, which was resulting in low water pressure in some parts of our community. (I remember the tank and the construction zone well, because Phil Patterson and I would spend hours playing on the piles of gravel and sand in the construction zone at the base of the tower.)

March may seem like an early time to begin talking football, but not if you're Coach Paul Kennedy, who told the Rome News-Tribune that he was focusing on rebuilding after looking 28 lettermen from the 1964 team.  "Right now we're trying to find hitters," Coach Kennedy said. "We divided the boys into three categories: heavy hitters, soft hitters, and no-hitters. Right now, we have 15-17 heavy hitters on the team," but he said he needed anymore. "We're trying to find boys who really want to play football, and then we'll put them into positions." He lamented that he had no one with varsity experience for end or center positions, and only one returning tackle with varsity experience.

Seventh District Congressman John W. Davis told Romans that the "outlook is bright" for funding to construct a new federal building for Rome to replace the old East Fourth Avenue federal building that housed the post office, federal courts, and federal offices. Cost was estimated at $3 million, although Davis said that might increase if the plans were modified to split the post office and the other federal offices into two separate buildings.

And the price creep begins: the Rome City Commission voted to raise the cost of riding the city bus from 15¢ per trip to 20¢ per trip, with transfers costing an additional nickel. School bus rates would increase from 10 tokens for $1 to eight tokens for $1. High maintenance costs and new vehicle costs (the city estimated that new buses would cost about $13,000 each) were cited as the reason or the price increases.

And the price creep begins, part 2: the "All American Meal" at McDonalds (which included a hamburger, french fries, and a milkshake) increased in price from 47¢ to 52¢ this week in 1965. A nickel price increase may not seem like much--but that's more than a 10% increase, which is pretty hefty by any standards! Heck, if you rode the bus to McDonald's in East Rome to get your All American Meal and then rode the bus back home, your costs were now 15¢ higher than they were in February 1965!

If you were really hungry, then Murphy's was a great place to go: they had an all-you-can-eat fried fillet of haddock dinner (with french fries, tartar sauce, cole slaw, rolls, and tea or coffee) for only 99¢. As much as I loved fried fish as a kid, I don't know how I missed out on this; I remember eating hamburgers at Murphy's many times, but nothing else.

Piggly Wiggly head chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Swift's premium bacon for 39¢ a pound, and bell peppers for a dime each. Kroger had frozen breaded shrimp for 49¢ a pound, navel oranges for 59¢ a doze, and large eggs for 33¢ a dozen. Big Apple had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and five pounds of White Lily flour for 49¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Campbell's tomato soup for 12¢ a can, and fresh strawberries for 33¢ a pint. Couch's had lettuce for a dime a head, shank portion hams for 29¢ a pound, and Merita bread for a dime a loaf.

The cinematic week began with Sex and the Single Girl (with Tony Curtis, Natalie wood, Henry Fonda, & Lauren Bacall) at the DeSoto and Sylvia (with Carroll Baker & George Maharis) at the First Avenue. The Wednesday switch out brought The Rounders (with Glenn Ford & Henry Fonda) to the DeSoto and Kiss Me, Stupid (with Dean Martin, Kim Novak, & Ray Walston) to the First Avenue. ("This is an adult movie," the ad warned. "No children's tickets will be sold! Admission 90¢ to all!" Apparently, "adult movie" meant something very different in 1965...) The West Rome Drive-In's weekend screenings included a double feature of Your Cheating Heart (with George Hamilton) and Where the Boys Are (also with Geroge Hamilton).

The Beatles returned to the number one slot this week in 1965 with "Eight Days a Week." Other top ten hits included "My Girl" by the Temptations (#2); "Stop! In the Name of Love" by the Supremes (#3); "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#4); "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Aikens (#5); "King of the Road" by Roger Miller (#6); "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Gerry & the Pacemakers (#7); "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" by Herman's Hermits (#8); "The Jolly Green Giant" by the Kingsmen (#9); and "Hurt So Bad" by Little Anthony & the Imperials (#10).

New album releases for the week included Girl Happy by Elvis Presley and Kinda Kinks by the Kinks.

The Riddler made his first Silver Age appearance in Batman #171, on sale this week in 1965. While he was considered a relatively minor villain at the time, he would go on to become a pivotal member of Batman's Rogues Gallery after Frank Gorshin portrayed him in the kickoff two-part episode of ABC's Batman TV series... but that series wouldn't premiere until early 1966.

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