Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/16/1965 to 8/22/1965

Rome City Schools publicized their final desegregation plans this week in 1965. Under the revised plans (which had been approved by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare), grades 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, & 12 were slated to be desegregated during the 1965-1966 school year, with all grades to be desegregated during the 1966-1967 school year. Students who wished to attend schools outside of their local area would be offered free transportation to their school of choice. Not only were students to be desegregated, but so were faculties, with teachers to be considered for their preferred schools based entirely on seniority.

Coach Paul Kennedy was probably dealing with some sleepless nights in August of 1965: not only did star halfback Richard Camp suffer a head injury that made it doubtful that he would play in the season opener against Coosa on August 30th, but sixteen of his players were stricken with a severe stomach virus. As a result, the Chieftains had so few healthy players that there weren't enough for a full scrimmage, so Coach Kennedy had to bring the team home early from their two-a-day practices at Lookout Mountain Camp for Boys. "I'm just hoping we have enough healthy players to take on Coosa," Coach Kennedy said. "Coosa has everything to gain by beating us, and I hope our players realize that."

Coach Kennedy said that West Rome would still attempt to field their twilight scrimmage during Parents' Night at West Rome High School on Monday, August 23rd. Even if the scrimmage had to be cancelled due to illness, Coach Kennedy said that he would still offer parents of varsity players a tour of the gymnasium and dressing rooms, along with a display of the football uniforms and protective padding and a discussion of the rules.

Rome's economy continued to shine, with retail sales soaring, paychecks increasing, and unemployment plummeting. Retail sales in Rome and Floyd County rose to $28,338,000 in the first quarter of 1965 (in the pre-computer days, it took several months to compile quarterly data), an increase of more than $1.25 million over the same quarter a year earlier. Building permits showed that new construction had increased by more than $1 million over the same period a year earlier, while unemployment fell to 3.9%. Banks said that deposit had increased more than 7% over the same period a year earlier. "Business seems to look good, sales seem to be flourishing, and plants seem to be operating at capacity," Rome Bank & Trust President J.B. Dodd said. "All in all, I would say things look good for Rome!"

Rome was in a mid-August heat wave in 1965, with temperatures hitting the mid-90s for most of the week. Juanita Lester of the US Weather Bureau at Russell Field reminded people that this was normal for the region, however, and that we were not setting records, even though the 96 degree reading recorded on August 16th was Rome's hottest day of 1965 thus far.

Kids were starting to think about school: registration was finalized for August 26th for Rome City Schools, with elementary school students registering between 9am and noon, junior high and freshmen  at 9am, sophomores  at 10:30 am, juniors at 1pm, and seniors at 2:30 pm. The first full day of school was slated for August 30th. Students new to the Rome school system had to take placement tests beginning at 9am on August 23rd to determine their best class options.

Slot cars were big in 1965, which meant that there was an eager customer base to support Rome Raceways when they opened their 24 slot car tracks at 119 Broad Street. Their grand opening included free Cokes for all and thirty minutes of free track time with the purchase of any slot car kit.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, cantaloupes for a quarter each, and ten pounds of Rome Beauty flour for 89¢. Big Apple had a three-pound can of Crisco for 69¢, a 32-ounce jar of Mrs. Bell's peanut butter for 69¢, and cut-up fryers for 39¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and Kroger ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon. A&P had turkeys for 49¢ a pound (yes, they sold turkeys in August!), seedless grapes for 19¢ s pound, and StarKist tuna for 31¢ a can. Couch's had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Coke or Tab for 99¢ a case plus deposit, and ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with Shenandoah (with James Stewart) at the DeSoto Theater; The Glory Guys (with Tom Tryon) at the First Avenue; and a double feature of The Wheeler Dealers (with Lee Remick & James Garner) and Joy in the Morning (with Richard Chamberlain & Yvette Mimieux) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Morituri (with Marlon Brando & Yul Brynner) to the First Avenue and Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Shenandoah hung around at the DeSoto for another week.

Sonny & Cher held on to the number one spot for the third week in a row with "I Got You Babe." Other top ten hits included "Help" by the Beatles (#2); "California Girls" by the Beach Boys (#3); "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (#4); "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops (#5); "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#6); "Save Your heart for Me" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#7); "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" by Mel Carter (#8); "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal (#9); and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" by James Brown (#10). Boy, that's one impressive talent roster, isn't it?...

And the Rolling Stones earned the number one  slot on the album charts with Out of Our Heads, their fourth US album, which included the hits "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Play With Fire," and "The Last Time" on the American release (the UK version had a totally different track lineup).

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