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.

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