Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/26/1965 to 8/1/1965

This was news that no high school senior wanted to hear: President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would be doubling the military draft beginning in the fall of 1965, increasing the call-up from 17,500 to 35,000 draftees each month. (Those of us who lived through the draft can confirm just how much influence it had on the lives of all of us who weren't sure what the future would hold.)

There was also better news for students: summer would go on for a little bit longer! The Rome City School System reminded students that school wasn't scheduled to start back until August 30th, giving students another full month of summer vacation (and since school got out in early June, this was one of those years where students really did get almost three months off!).

The Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce announced that Battey State Hospital land located between Division Street and Lavender Drive in West Rome would be repurposed into a juvenile detention home by July, 1966, pending approval from the Department of Family and Children's Services. Several West Rome residents expressed concern about having a juvenile detention center located so close to established residences, but the officials at the meeting were not inclined to consider another location. Residents said they would take their concerns to their representatives and to state officials.

The Rome Jaycees announced an air show, complete with skydivers, to be held on Sunday in a large area just off Highway 27 across from Berry College's Gate of Opportunity. Planes would take off from  Russell Field and fly over the area so that skydivers could drop into the field, performing stunts during their fall. Almost 3500 people attended the air show; all proceeds were used for the purchase of a school bus for the Floyd County Cerebral Palsy School.

And speaking of planes, Russell Field announced that Eastern Airlines would resume daily flights from Rome to Chattanooga in August. This meant that Rome offered commercial air flights every day to Chattanooga and to Atlanta, where Romans could make connections for flights to other cities across the US. (Hard to imagine that Rome ever had any sort of commercial air travel, isn't it?)

The whole school system merger issue came to a head when both the Rome and Floyd County School Boards called for a referendum to determine if residents even wanted a merger of the two systems. The proposal asked that the systems conduct a referendum in February of March of 1967.

Piggly Wiggly had tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Chicken of the Sea tuna for 29¢ a can (in oil, of course—tuna in water was pretty much unheard of in the 1960s). Big Apple had center cut pork chops for 79¢ a pound, Round the Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Campbell's tomato soup for 12¢ a can. A&P had shrimp for 69¢ a pound, watermelons for 59¢ each, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger and sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, cantaloupes for a quarter each, and Country Club ice cream for 47¢ a half-gallon. Couch's had fryer breasts for 25¢ a pound, Armour's potted meat for a dime a can, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 29¢.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney's The Monkey's Uncle (with Tommy Kirk & Annette Funicello) at the DeSoto,  Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda & Lee Marvin) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of The Tomb of Ligeia (with Vincent Price) and The Terror (with Boris Karloff) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought What's New, Pussycat? (with Peter Sellers & Peter O'Toole) to the DeSoto, Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) to the First Avenue, and an Elvis Presley double feature of Girls! Girls! Girls! and Fun in Acapulco to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herman's Hermits added another number one song to their list when "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" took the top slot this week in 1965. Other top ten songs included "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (#2); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#3); "Save Your Heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#4); "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#5); "Yes, I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "I Like It Like That" by the Dave Clark Five (#7); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#8); "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#9); and "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke (#10).

Not only did Sonny & Cher have a song in the top ten this week in 1965, but their first album, Look at Us, was also released. The non-mustached, furry-vest-wearing Sonny Bono is barely recognizable, but Cher was distinctively Cher from the very beginning of her musical career...

Animal Man, the Man with Animal Powers, made his first appearance in the pages of Strange Adventures #180 this week in 1965 in a story by Dave wood & Carmine Infantino. This was also the week that Warren Magazines ventured far afield from their normal horror comics fare with the release of Blazing Combat #1, featuring grim war tales from some of the same creators responsible for Creepy and Eerie, all packaged behind a Frank Frazetta cover.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome – 7/19/1965 to 7/25/1965

West Rome’s million-gallon-capacity Watson Street water tank was officially dedicated on July 21st. The tank was officially named the S.L. Hancock water tank (I had no idea it had a name!), and cost a then-hefty $156,000 to build; it was totally dedicated to meeting the water needs for the rapidly growing West Rome area within the city limits, with no water going to the surrounding county areas.

The city paved the way for a lot more students to attend West Rome High School when they annexed 74 acres of property off Burnett Ferry Road (not too far from Fellowship Baptist Church) into the city, which meant that the future residents of the planned $3 million subdivision would be West Rome Chieftains, not Coosa Eagles. Harry Butler, developer of the subdivision, said that it would consist of 180 homes when complete.

Even the State of Georgia was pushing for Rome and Floyd County to merge school systems: the state’s Peabody Report called for the merger, along with other educational changes; Rome and Floyd County were among 27 systems in nine areas that were studied, with recommendations that several of them should merge.  The report offered no insight regarding the financial challenges of such mergers, though, so its suggestion went nowhere.

Did you remember that Atlanta briefly had a semi-professional football team, the Mustangs, run by the former owner of Rome’s semi-professional team The Bisons? Did you know that it went away after the team’s owner was charged with counterfeiting after he paid the team off with phony $20 bills? The owner was W.E. Westcott, who wsa arrested by the Secret Service after several players, including some who lived in Rome, discovered that they money was no good around here… literally!  Westcott made things worse for himself when he assaulted reporters and photographers who tried to cover the arrest and arraignment.

Rome Lincoln Mercury was offering a free tag, title, and ten gallons of gas with the purchase of any new Comet through the end of July. The tag and title might have saved a little bit, but with gas selling at an average of 31¢ a gallon, that was only a three dollar discount, which doesn’t really seem like that much, even then!

Piggly Wiggly had chuck steak for 59¢ a pound, a half gallon of Borden ice cream for 49¢, and a ten pound bag of potatoes for 89¢.. Kroger had sirloin tip roast for 99¢  pound, Kroger ice milk for 37¢ a half-gallon, and white corn for 4¢ an ear. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 79¢ a pound, a ten pound bag of White Lily flour for 99¢, and watermelons for 59¢ each.  A&P had a four-pound Marhoefer canned ham for $3.29, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and Ann Page tomato soup for 13¢ a  can. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound,  lettuce for 13¢ a pound, and Seven Hills bacon for 49¢ a  pound.

The cinematic week began with  Harlowe (with Carroll Baker) at the DeSoto, McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force (with Ernest Borgnine & Tim Conway) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of I’ll Take Sweden (with Bob Hope) and The World of Suzie Wong (with Sylvia Syms) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Walt Disney’s The Monkey’s Uncle (with Tommy Kirk & Annette Funicello) to the Desoto, while the First Avenue brought in Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda & Lee Marvin) and the West Rome Drive-In added a double feature of Those Calloways (with Brian Kieth & Vera Miles) and Rio Conchos (with Richard Boone & Stuart Whitman).

The Rolling Stones held on to number one this week with “(I Can’t Get No) Satifaction.” Other top ten hits included “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits (#2); “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones (#3); “Cara Mia” by Jay & the Americans (#4); “Yes I’m Ready” by Barbara Mason (#5); “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops (#6); “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Jackie DeShannon (#7); “Save Your Heart for Me” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#8); “I Like It Like That” by the Dave Clark Five (#9); and “Seventh Son” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

This week’s prominent new album releases include The Magnificent Moodies by the Moody Blues (their first album, featuring the hit “Go Now”) and More Hits by the Supremes by… well, you know.

While there were no noteworthy comic book releases this week in 1965, this was the week that I picked up a copy of HP Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward at Liberty Newsstand on Broad Street, triggering my fifty-year literary love affair with HPL’s prose. In retrospect, I have no idea why that unattractive Belmont cover caught my eye; I have to assume that it was because it was shelved at about the same eye level as Warren’s Creepy and Eerie magazines, a few racks away from the regular sized comics.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/12/1965 to 7/18/1965

West Rome's varsity basketball cheerleaders headed to Mercer University for a cheerleading camp this week in 1965. Attendees included Brenda Burrell, Celeste White, Pam Callaway, Belinda Whitter, Cathy Robinson, and Penny Andrews.

West Rome principal Dick McPhee was appointed by Governor Carl Sanders to serve on a Georgia State Alcoholism Study Committee. McPhee was Rome and Floyd County's only representative on the committee; his particular field of expertise was teenage drinking and its relationship to adult alcoholism.

The East Rome interchange to Highways 411 and 27 was ahead of schedule this week in 1965. Bob Ledbetter said that the interchange was already 50% complete, which put them a full month ahead of where they should have been. Ledbetter had already moved more than 80,000 tons of earth, and they still had another 100,000 tons of earth to move from the "Goat Hill" area.

Back in the 1960s, Rome was still a manufacturing center, which is why 35 new industries located to the Coosa Valley from mid-1964 to mid-1965, with 41 existing plants expanding their facilities. The Rome News-Tribune estimated that one quarter of all Rome jobs were in the manufacturing sector, so the growth was great news for Romans looking for work.

West Rome got its very own Buy Wise Discount Center at 1924 Shorter Avenue this week in 1965. The grand opening featured such bargains as light bulbs for a nickel each, Listerine for 59¢ a bottle, and a 100-count bottle of Bufferin for 93¢.

Something was fishy at McDonalds: the fast food restaurant was promoting its fish sandwiches this week in 1965, offering a Filet o' Fish sandwich and a small order of french fries for only 39¢. (When I was a kid, the fish sandwich was my favorite thing at McDonald's, so this was definitely good news as far as I was concerned!)

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, five pounds of Colonial sugar for 49¢, and cantaloupes for 20¢ each. Kroger had smoked sugar-cured ham for 45¢ a pound, lemons for 33¢ a dozen, and a 6 pack of RC or Diet Rite Cola for 25¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had spare ribs for 39¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme Coffee for 59¢ a pound, and the ever-popular Spam for 45¢ a can. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and Van Camp's pork & beans for 12¢ a can. Couch's had Mann's Golden Harvest bacon for 59¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and Aristocrat ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon.

Rome's cinematic week began with The Art of Love (with James Garner, Elke Sommer, Dick Van Dyke, & Angie Dickinson) at the DeSoto, The Train (with Burt Lancaster) atd the First Avenue, and a double feature of GI Blues (with Elvis Presley) and Crack in the World (with Dana Andrews) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Harlow (with Carroll Baker) to the DeSoto, the TV-goes-to-the-movies film McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (with Ernest Borgnine & Tim Conway) to the First Avenue, and a b-movie horror triple feature with The Horror of Party Beach, The Curse of the Living Corpse, and The Horror of It All at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Rolling Stones were probably very satisfied to have the number one song this week in 1965 with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Other top ten hits included "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits (#2); "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#3); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#4); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#5); "Yes, I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon (#7); "Seventh Son" by Johnny Rivers (#8); "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds (#9); and "You Turn Me On" by Ian Whitcomb (#10).

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/6/1965 to 7/11/1965

Every week in 1965 brought news of another indicator reinforcing Rome's economic growth. This week, it was a $1 million increase in the value of building permits over the first six months of 1964, marking the fourth consecutive year of an increase in the cost of building in Rome. Fifty of those permits were for new houses, with 27 of those houses being located in the West Rome area.

Economic growth also spurred Rome to begin enforcing a more rigorous housing code in an effort to rid the city of slums, some of which were listed as existing  in the West Rome area. However, we were doing much better than other parts of the city: West Rome only had 53 homes deemed below standard out of 1795 total housing units registered with the city, while 569 of Eighth Ward's 1410 homes were classified as slums.

The Rome City School system went public regarding its dispute with the Floyd County Health Department, criticizing them for failing to prove any medical assistance or care for the children involved in the the then-new Project Head Start program. Superintendent McDonald said that the Health Department was "avoiding the responsibility of the county, claiming that the Health Department refused to offer any help unless the city paid $1 per child in advance. Superintendent McDonald praised Trend Mills for contributing 192 sleeping mats to Head Start that the children could use for resting and napping.

Do you remember having to defrost the freezer? If so, you will fully appreciate why Georgia Power's $279.95 13.5 cubic foot frost-free freezer was such a big deal in the 1960s.  Frost-free systems were introduced for refrigerators a few years earlier, but it was rare to find a frost-free freezer... which is why this baby would have set you back more than $2100 in today's dollars adjusted for inflation!

Piggly Wiggly had ten pounds of Domino sugar for 89¢, 24 ounce bottles of Shurfine ketchup for 20¢, and chuck roast for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had ground beef for 47¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and fresh squash for a dime a pound. Kroger had Bailey's Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and eggs for 39¢ a dozen. A&P had boneless stew beef for 79¢ a pound, watermelons for 79¢ each, and a peach or lemon pie from the bakery for only 39¢. Couch's had veal cutlets for 99¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 39¢ each, and Van Camp's pork & beans for a dime a can.

West Rome got its very own dining and dancing venue with the opening of The Steak Pit at 2417 Shorter Avenue. The new restaurant offered dining and dancing nightly on "one of the largest dance floors in this area," with opening week music provided by Randy Myers and the Shades. (So just how many dance floors were there in Rome in 1965, anyway?)

The cinematic week began with Von Ryan's Express (with Frank Sinatra & Trevor Howard) at the DeSoto, The Train (with Burt Lancaster) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Tobacco Road (with Gene Tierney) and What A Way To Go! (with Shirley MacLaine & Paul Newman) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Art of Love (with James Garner, Elke Sommer, Dick Van Dyke, & Angie Dickinson) to the DeSoto, while The Train stayed on track at the First Avenue. The oh-so-naughty West Rome Drive-In brought in the bawdy  La Bonne Soupe (with Marte Bell) for the weekend. I always wonder how many people slowed down on Shorter Avenue to get a free look at scantily-clad people on the big drive-in screen?

The Rolling Stones had the number one hit this week in 1965 with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Other top ten hits included "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops (#2); "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds (#3); "Wonderful World" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (#5--and it seems like this song was on the charts forever, doesn't it?); "Yes I'm Ready" by Barbara Mason (#6); "Seventh Son" by Johnny Rivers (#7); "Cara Mia" by Jay & the Americans (#8); "You Turn Me On" by Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville (#9); and "What the World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon (#10).

The week's big album release was Summer Days (and Summer Nights) by the Beach Boys, which featured two great Beach Boys hits: "Help Me Rhonda" and "California Girls."

TV Guide spotlighted Jimmy Dean this week in 1965, explaining how he had taken a network flop variety series and turned it into a hit by just being himself. Dean explained that the network wanted to put him in suits and have him try to appeal to New York sophisticates. Once he got to just be himself, complete with a country angle and a down-home attitude, the show turned around and became successful enough that it was renewed for a total of three seasons.

Great news for fans of the master of duck adventures: Carl Barks had oodles of material in the 96-page Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck #1, on sale this week in 1965. These Gold Key giants, offering 16 more pages than DC's ever-popular 80-Page Giants for the same price, were among the best entertainment bargains on the comic book spinner racks in the summer of 1965.