Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/13/1965 to 12/19/1965

The Rome Boys Club Choir—which included a number of Chieftains—held a concert at the Boys Club on the evening of December 13th to raise money for the Cheerful Givers, which used its funds to aid needy families at Christmas. The organization hoped to aid 950 families during the Christmas 1965 season.

West Rome’s basketball teams defeated Cave Spring in both games on Friday, December 17th. The girls won 34-32 in an upset, with Anne Peery scoring 20 points. The boys then posted a 59-35 romp over Cave Spring, with Stan Dawson scoring 15 of those points and Rusty Oxford scoring 11.

Friday, December 17th, marked the last day of school before the holiday break; students were scheduled to be off until January 3rd.

Did you know that any and all pinball machines were considered to be “gambling devices” in 1965? Well, the city and county police departments knew, because they embarked on a push to confiscate machines all over the county, based on a then-recent Georgia Supreme Court decision that the free games that players could win constituted “a thing of value,” and that made pinball machines illegal gambling devices. The city seized more than two dozen machines, while the county confiscated at least thirty more.

The proposal that wouldn’t die returned yet again: Rome and Floyd County Boards of Education announced plans to meet in order to discuss a merger of the city and county school systems. (This is the third time this proposal surfaced since I began doing these “Fifty Years Ago This Week” pieces in 1962, which makes you wonder just how much money was wasted on unnecessary studies, meetings, and negotiations that went nowhere and accomplished nothing.)

And while we’re talking about fruitless studies and proposals, here’s another one that made a return this week in 1965: a House study committee once again proposed that Rome be turned into an inland port with the construction of a system of locks and dams that would allow barge and boat traffic to move up from the Gulf of Mexico to Rome’s proposed docks. If you don’t remember Rome’s docks, it’s because this proposal was just as DOA as the school merger…

Coach Paul Kennedy had high hopes for West Rome’s wrestlers in the 1965-1966 season, but he was forced into rebuilding mode instead when some of the members of his squad didn’t return to the mat. “We have enough boys out, but they don’t have the necessary experience,” Coach Kennedy said. “Five or six boys decided not to participate this year, including three first-string boys.” Veteran wrestlers who did return included Mike Murphy, Bobby Kerce, Gary Fuller, Richard Marable, Greg Quinton, Jeff Anderson, Greg Gray, and Anthony Slafta.  Coach Kennedy and the boys were struggling to prepare for their first match on January 7th at LaGrange.

Piggly Wiggly had a three-pound Merita fruitcake for $1.39, Fleetwood coffee for 69¢ a pound, and tom turkeys for 39¢ a pound. Big Apple had sirloin steaks for 87¢ a pound, Banquet cream pies for 41¢, and yams for 12¢ a pound. Kroger had round steak for 79¢ a pound, eggs for 53¢ a dozen, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce (the jellied kind, of course) for 19¢ a can. A&P had shank portion hams for 53¢ a pound, oranges for 13¢ a pound, and a 12-ounce cans of mixed nuts (with no peanuts!) for 95¢ a pound. Couch’s had Swift’s premium bacon for 79¢ a pound, Nabisco Saltine crackers for 33¢ a box, and Angel Flake coconut for 27¢ a can (I tried on many occasions to convince Mom to just buy a can of coconut and let me eat it rather than using it on a cake or in a pie, but she wasn’t buying it… literally!)

The cinematic week began with Return from the Ashes (with Herbert Lom & Maximillian Schell) at the DeSoto Theater and Old Yeller (with Dorothy McGuire & Fess Parker) at the First Avenue (not what I’d consider an upbeat Christmas film!). The midweek switch out brought When the Boys Meet the Girls (with Connie Francis & Harve Presnell) to the Desoto and the “shocking” documentary Ecco (promoted with the slogan “an incredible orgy of sights and sounds”) to the First Avenue, with the warning that “If this film frightens you, it’s because the world is frightening!” The theaters obviously were pinning high hopes on the audience interest in Ecco, because they also showed the film over the weekend at the West Rome Drive-In. Apparently they thought a lot of people were willing to pay 75¢ each to see such noteworthy clips as “a tour of the Grand Guignol theater in Paris, a man who sticks long needles through his body, footage of reindeer being castrated, and film of lesbians and strippers,” according to IMDB. Boy, if those who considered this content shocking could only spend an hour or two looking at the internet today!…

The Dave Clark Five pushed the Byrds out of the number one slot this week in 1965 with “Over and Over.” The Byrds held on to the second-place position with “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Other top ten hits included “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown (#3); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#4); “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel (#5); “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#6); “Fever” by the McCoys (#7); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#8); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#9); and “I Can Never Go Home Again Any More” by the Shangri-Las (#10).

And an oversight from last week: On December 9th, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas made its television premiere. This was the first animated Charlie Brown feature, and it cemented the role of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip in American popular culture. It also made humble, spindly Christmas trees a bit more popular…

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