Saturday, December 05, 2015

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

Before we go on to our coverage, I must remedy a major omission: Somehow, I failed to report on a a big Rome event that occurred back on November 8th, 1965 (due in part to the fact that the Rome News-Tribune didn’t run a story on the event at all, even though they did run ads for it beginning in the late summer). That was the day that Rome hosted a concert as a part of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars…. and what an impressive concert lineup it was! The Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Bo Diddley, We Five, The Duchess, Dale Wright and the Wright Guys, Men of Action, and The Results all performed. Most of the groups came to Rome on one tour bus, but the Byrds insisted on driving their own RV to town, and they almost got lost on their way here from Nashville (where they played the night before). The concerts were more of a variety act than a concert as we think of it: the two lead bands (the Byrds and the Raiders) were given 15 or 20 minutes to perform, while all the other acts got 10 to 15 minutes each. None of the acts brought in their own sound equipment (although the Byrds did bring their own guitars), so the sound was less than perfect, to say the least—-but that didn’t matter to the sold-out crowd who loved a chance to hear nationally-known top ten acts perform in beautiful downtown Rome!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled fifty-years-ago retrospective.

The Chieftains took on the Gladiators on Friday, December 10th—and the crosstown rivalry was almost as heated on the basketball court as it was on the football field! Alas, it was not a good night for West Rome: even though the Chieftains were picked to win the game, East Rome’s boys posted a 48-35 victory, while East Rome’s girls won 35-33. The Chieftains found some consolation in a Saturday night 65-56 victory over Lafayette; Stan Dawson scored 28 points, while both Rusty Oxford and Mike Souder scored 10 points each. Alas, the girls lost 34-33 after missing a foul shot with 15 seconds left on the clock.

City revenues were so good that the Rome City Commission increased its budget by $195,000 for the last part of 1965, an increase of almost 10%. The biggest part of the increase was a 5% pay increase for all city employees that was implemented in July. City Manager Bruce Hamler credited “above normal tax collections” for the increase in revenues, but an $87,000 grant from the state as reimbursement for street improvements also helped a great deal. (When was the last time we heard talk of a city government having a 10% increase in tax revenues above expectations?)

Sales tax was also a big part of that, and great retail sales were responsible for higher sales taxes revenues. Rome and Floyd County saw a $3.7 million jump in retail sales in the third quarter of 1965 over the previous year. This reflected an 8% growth in retail spending in one year… a pretty amazing accomplishment!

Remember Christmas Club accounts? Those non-interest-bearing holiday savings accounts were quite popular in 1965: Rome banks disbursed almost a $1 million in Christmas Club funds to almost 5300 Romans in November, setting an all-time record. An unnamed Broad Street business owner enthused, “I think the people have got the money to spend and they’re going to spend it. This year is going to be the best ever, and I think next year will be even better.” Oh, for such fiscal optimism nowadays!…

The Elm Street PTA held their December 9th meeting at the West Rome Baptist Church. the West Rome Baptist Youth Choir, directed by Fred Barr, supplied the Christmas music for the meeting.

Work continued on the US 411-Hwy 27 interchange, with the first section (including the 12th street bridge) scheduled for completion by December 31st. The entire interchange was on schedule for a mid-1966 release, which was welcome news to any Romans who had to make the drive from Rome to Cartersville, Marietta, Atlanta, or Cedartown.

“Solid State” was the electronics phrase of the year for RCA, who was advertising both solid state stereo systems (a home console complete with two 15” woofers, two 7” midrange speakers, and four 3.5” tweeters… a pretty impressive array, even by today’s standards!). The 56-watt combination AM-FM radio and turntable also had jacks for an optional tape recorder. This impressive system was priced at $439.95, which would be the equivalent of $3200 adjusted for inflation—more than most people would ever pay for a stereo system today! Meanwhile, a solid state 23” console color TV could be yours for only $595—the equivalent of more than $4000 after adjusting for inflation.

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, Mann’s Golden Harvest sausage for 59¢ a pound, and large tangerines for 49¢ a dozen. Kroger had pork steaks for 59¢ a pound, Kraft’s mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can. Big Apple had a four-pound Cudahy Bar-S canned ham for $3.99, Happy Valley ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Luzianne coffee for 59¢ a pound. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound,Super-Right chili for 29¢ a can, and an 8-ounce box of Cheez-It crackers for 23¢. Couch’s had Peach brand sliced bacon for 69¢ a pound, a one-pound bag of chocolate drops for 29¢, and Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can. (One of the fun parts of reviewing grocery store ads from fifty years ago is noting all the brands that we rarely or never hear about today. I can still find Cudahy Bar-S meats at a few stores, but I’ve never hear of Happy Valley, Super-Right, or Peach brand bacon nowadays.)

The cinematic week began with The War Lord (wth Charlton Heston & Richard Boone) at the DeSoto Theater and a double feature of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (with James Karen & Marilyn Harold) and Curse of the Voodoo (starring—if that’ the right word for a low-budget film like this— Bryant Haliday & Dennis Price) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Return from the Ashes (with Herbert Lom & Maximillian Schell) to the DeSoto and Old Yeller (with Dorothy McGuire & Fess Parker) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In’s weekend feature was The Hallelujah Trail (with Burt Lancaster & Lee Remick).

The Byrds held on to number one with “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Other top ten hits included “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark Five (#2); “I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown (#3); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#4); “I Hear a Symphony” by the Supremes (#5); “I Can Never go Home Again Any More” by the Shangri-las (#6); “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#7); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#8); “Fever” by the McCoys (#9); and “I Will” by Dean Martin (#10).

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