Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/17/1965 5o 5/23/1965

Any Chieftains hoping to take the long way around Redmond Circle to West Rome was probably surprised to discover that the road was closed to through traffic for the first two days of the week due to resurfacing of the Redmond Circle-Garden Lakes Boulevard intersection. (While my parents never went this way to take me to school when I was a kid, I remember that Phil Patterson's sister Judy sometimes went "the long way" from Watson Street to West Rome High, and I'm sure she wasn't the only one.)

And speaking of Watson Street, at long last, Rome's new million-gallon water tank near the railroad tracks on Watson Street was completed and painted this week in 1965. Once the paint was allowed to dry and cure, Rome would begin filling the tank in preparation to put it into service beginning in July. The addition of a 1 million gallon tank was designed to alleviate water pressure issues in West Rome; since development began in West Rome in the 1950s, Rome's water usage had grown to six million gallons a day on average, and almost a quarter of that was in the West Rome area.

Stan Dawson was awarded Shorter College's Dean's Scholarship for the 1965 summer session. "Stan was chosen because of his outstanding record and capabilities," West Rome guidance counselor Owen Blanton said. The scholarship covered tuition costs for summer courses at Shorter.

Rome and Floyd County School System officials met with US Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel in Atlanta this week in 1965, hoping to discuss school desegregation rulings and plans for the next school year. The federal government had informed both systems that they were requiring that at least four grades be desegregated by the start of the 1965-1966 school year in order for each system to continue receiving federal funds. The Rome system's counter-proposal involved desegregating the first through third grades, while the federal government insisted that they had to desegregate the first grade, the seventh grade, the ninth grade, and the twelfth grade. The meetings were designed to develop a final agreement in order to avoid a funding cutoff.

At the same time that a federal funds cutoff was being threatened, the Rome City School System announced that they had received a $31,000 federal grant to launch a Project Headstart pre-school program for underprivileged students. "Availability of these funds in Rome will enable these children to get a head start in escaping from poverty by avoiding its basic cause—the lack of an early education," Seventh District Congressman John W. Davis said.

WROM-FM began a soft launch of its stereo broadcasting on 97.7FM on Sunday, May 23rd, prior to launching full-time service on Monday, May 24th. This would be Rome's first full-time FM stereo radio station, which would mean an uphill battle for listeners, since few vehicles and even fewer homes had FM radios at this time.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Borden's sherbet for 49¢ a half-gallon, and cantaloupes for 29¢ each.  Big Apple had Cudahy's bacon for 55¢ a pound, Peter Pan peanut butter for 35¢ a jar, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, fresh eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Spotlight coffee for 59¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, strawberries for 29¢ a pint, and Hydrox (better than Oreos!) for 45¢ a package. Couch's had Morton's or Mrs. Smith's frozen pies for 33¢ each, five pounds of Domino Sugar for 39¢, and T-bone steak for 89¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Beach Blanket Bingo at the DeSoto Theater and Masquerade at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought the acclaimed Walt Disney film Mary Poppins (with Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke) to the DeSoto for a two-week run and The Fool Killer (with Anthony Perkins) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In's weekend double feature included Fun In Acapulco (with Elvis Presley) and Black Spurs (with nobody who matters).

The Beach Boys took the number one position this week in 1965 with "Help Me Rhonda." Other top ten hits included "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles (#2); "Back in My Arms Again" by the Supremes (#3); "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#5); "Crying in the Chapel" by Elvis Presley (#6); "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "I'll Never Find Another You" by the Seekers (#8); "Just a Little" by the Beau Brummels (#9); and "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones (#10).

This week in 1965, CBS announced that they had signed Eddie Albert to appear in a new sitcom slated to debut in the fall of '65; the working title was Country Cousins, but most of us remember it by its final name, Green Acres.

Among this week's noteworthy album releases were Tom Jones' debut album Along Came Jones; Herman's Hermits on Tour by... well, you can figure it out; My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand; My Funny Valentine by Miles Davis; Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock; and Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.

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