Saturday, August 01, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/2/1965 to 8/8/1965

On August 4th, GL Sutton announced that West Rome was getting a major shopping center—and it was going in directly across the street from West Rome High School! Gala Shopping Center (so named because it served Georgia and Alabama—GA and ALA) was a go, with a 45,000 square foot Big K Department Store serving as the shopping center's anchor. "The Rome Big K store will be our first location in Georgia," Jack Kuhn, President of Big K's parent company, said. "We are extremely impressed with the progressive, dynamic atmosphere of Rome, and we look forward with keen anticipation to bringing this modern concept of mass retailing to the people of Rome." (And I still remember that Big K jingle that I must have heard a thousand times: "Let's shop Big K / The King of Values / It's Your One Stop Shopping Center / It's Big K!") Big K would employee 75 people at opening, with more staff possibly being added as the store grew. It was believed that the shopping center, when fully occupied, would feature approximately two dozen stores and would offer job opportunities for more than 300 people.... and it would offer Chieftains a tempting reason to cut class and head across Redmond Road for many years to come! Plans called for the shopping center to open in the fall of 1966. Before Rome ever got a Kmart or a Wal-Mart, Big K would be Rome's first bargain-priced chain department store.

A young burglar broke into West Rome High School on Saturday night; the burglar, who was believed to be a teenager, attempted to break into the Coke machines and the trophy cases, but got away with virtually nothing when the police showed up after noticing the broken window the burglar used as his entry point.

Rome and Floyd County got the news that their desegregation plans submitted in the spring didn't go far enough; the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare said that even the plan was virtually identical to the Fulton County plan that was accepted, US Education Commissioner Frances Keppel had decided to "make things tougher" and that they would need to see a new plan before they could approve anything. With registration and the start of school less than a month away, this left school officials scrambling.

The Rome City Commission announced plans to annex the Old Airport Road area and the Nanellen-Payne Road area of West Rome into the city. The city was concerned that the overflowing septic tanks and the prevalence of raw sewage in those areas was a health hazard; if they annexed the areas into West Rome, they could upgrade the homes to city sewage and clean the area up. Nearby city residents had complained about overflowing sewage running into their yards, which is what motivated the city to get involved.

McDonald's had a chili dog? Yes, they did! the new McDonald's Chili Dog (what a clever name!) was introduced this week in 1965 at a bargain price of 20¢—or you could upgrade to a chili dog, fries, and a milkshake for only 57¢.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for a quarter a pound (yes, people used to cut up their own chickens!), white corn for a nickel an ear, and Shurfine fruit cocktail for 20¢ a can. Kroger had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon, and a quart of Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢. Big Apple had ten pounds of potatoes for 59¢, a six-bottle carton of Diet Rite or Royal Crown Cola for 29¢, and a three-pound bag of fish sticks for $1. A&P had chuck steak for 79¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and a can of Ann Page tomato-rice soup for a dime.  Couch's had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Post Toastems (a precursor to the ever-popular Pop Tarts) for a dime a box, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with What's New Pussycat? (with Peter Sellers & Peter O'Toole) at the DeSoto Theater; Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) at the First Avenue Theater; and a double feature of Fluffy (with Tony Randall & Shirley Jones) and To Kill a Mockingbird (with Gregory Peck) at the West Rome Drive-In... and that may win an award for one of the most incongruous double features in history!  The midweek switchout brought The Sandpiper (with Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) to the DeSoto; How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (with Annette Funicello and Dwayne Hickman) to the First Avenue; and Harlow (with Carroll Baker) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Sonny & Cher scored their first number one this week in 1965 with "I Got You Babe." Other top ten hits included "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones (#2); "Save Your Heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits (#4); "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones (#5); "Unchained Melody" by Tom Jones (#6); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Temptations (#7); "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke (#8); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#9); and "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal (#10).

The Beatles released Help!, the tie-in album for their second film, this week in 1965. This was their seventh Capitol album in a year and a half (and their ninth album in less than two years) for the US market—an incredible output, considering that one or two albums a year was considered the norm at the time!

Dell Comics made publishing history with the release of Don Arneson & Tony Tallarico's Lobo #1 this week in 1965. This Western series was the first mainstream comic to star an African-American hero as the title character; Lobo was described as "an honest man blamed for a crime he did not commit" and "a fugitive on the side of the law." His gimmick? On the forehead of the bad guys he brought to justice, he would leave a calling card of a gold coin with the image of a wolf and the letter L. Writer Arneson said that he got the idea for the book from the book The Negro Cowboys. Alas, the book only lasted for two issues...

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