Friday, September 04, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/6/1965 to 9/12/1965

West Rome began the school year without an industrial arts building, but the folks in charge of Rome City Schools construction were doing everything they could to get the building open in September. Building construction wrapped up this week in 1965, but Superintendent M.S. McDonald said that it would take a week or two to move the industrial arts equipment into the new shop and get it set up.

The Rome City School system also announced the development of a kindergarten program for students who were gauged to be unprepared to enter the first grade. Plans called for the program to be developed during the 1965-1966 school year and actually launched in the 1966-1967 school year. The kindergarten program was not for all students; instead, it was only for those who were not ready to go into the first grade. The program would be coordinated with Operation Head Start, but it would not be free to participating parents; instead, they would have to bear some of the cost of kindergarten for their children unless their incomes were so low that they qualified for local assistance.

West Rome's first home game of the season pitted the Chiefs against the Chattooga Indians—but the home advantage apparently wasn't enough, as Chattooga won 13-12.

As the Coosa Valley Fair opening day neared, fair officials announced a major improvement: pavement! In years past, the fairgrounds were packed dirt with straw and/or gravel in some of the more heavily travelled areas, and CVF president Dean Morgan said that they had dealt with many complaints over the years regarding the dust and (when it rained) mud. To alleviate the problem, fair officials paved the paths near the concession booths, the exhibits building, the offices, and many of the rides. (I guess we take things like paved walkways for granted; I had forgotten that the fairground were unpaved dirt during much of my childhood! I guess I was too busy looking at the Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides to notice the ground I was walking on.)

And speaking of the fair, officials also announced an actual Mercury spacecraft would be on display at the fair. The hatch would be removed and the opening enlarged slightly to make it easier for Romans to get into the capsule and experience first-hand the not-so-luxurious accommodations that John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, and others enjoyed as they orbited the Earth.

McDonald's rolled out its new McDouble Cheeseburger this week in 1965. For only 38¢, you could get the burger by itself—or for 69¢, you could get it with an order of fries and a shake.

Nowadays, gyms and exercise facilities are ubiquitous, but they were far less common in 1965, which is why it was such big news that Rome Health Studios was opening a facility at 623 Shorter Avenue. For only $7 a month, members could use their exercise equipment, steam baths, and sun lamps.

Color television prices began to drop a bit in 1965 as stronger sales led to higher volume. Sears was offering a 21" Silvertone tabletop unit for only $326, while a 21" color console TV in a maple cabinet could be had for only $396. Rome Radio & TV had a 23" GE color television for only $399 or a 21" RCA for only $349; those with bigger budgets could spring for a "giant-sized 25" RCA color console TV with Mediterranean styling for only $750. With a new television season set to begin in a couple of weeks, viewers were undoubtedly looking into color televisions, since more than 80% of the networks' offerings would be in full color. (Yes, there were still a few shows produced in black and white in 1965!)

Piggly Wiggly had Fig Newtons for 33¢ a box, Maxwell House Instant Coffee for 79¢ a jar, and white grapes for 15¢ a pound. Kroger had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, honeydew melons for 45¢ each, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Bailey's Supreme Coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Showboat pork & beans for a dime a can. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, Bartlett pears for 25¢ a pound, and a one-pound bag of Jane Parker potato chips for 49¢. Couch's had smoked cured picnic hams for 35¢ a pound, white corn for a nickel an ear, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart.

The cinematic week began with The Sons of Katie Elder (with John Wayne & Dean Martin) at the DeSoto, Lord Jim (with Peter O'Toole) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Mister Hobbs (with Robert Mitchum & Carroll Baker) and The Satan Bug (with George Maharis, Richard Basehart, & Anne Francis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Sergeant Deadhead (with Frankie Avalon) to the DeSoto,  Genghis Khan (with Omar Sharif, Stephen Boyd, & James Mason) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Red River (with John Wayne) and The Glory Guys (with Tom Tryon & Senta Berger) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Beatles held on to the number one slot for a third week with "Help!" Other top ten hits included "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (#2); "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (#3); "You Were On My Mind" by We Five (#4); "Catch Us If You Can" by the Dave Clark Five (#6); "The 'In' Crowd" by the Ramsey Lewis Trio (#6); "Hang On Sloopy" by the McCoys (#7); "It Ain't Me Babe" by the Turtles (#8); "I Got You, Babe" by Sonny & Cher (#9); and "Heart Full of Soul" by the Yardbirds (#10).

One of the best Spider-Man two-part stories in history began this week with the release of Amazing Spider-Man #31. The story, "If This Be My Destiny," kicked off the two part Master Planner/Doctor Octopus story arc that features one of Spidey's most iconic scenes as he struggles to free himself from beneath tons of destroyed machinery.

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