Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/20/1965 to 12/26/1965

On December 21st, the school system announced that Jean Jackson (clarinet), Sue Pilgrim (French horn), and Matt Oldham (baritone horn) were chosen to perform in the University of Georgia Honor Band on January. The honor band consisted of 140 student representatives from 160 Georgia high schools (so the fact that West Rome had 3 students in the honor band was quite an honor indeed!).

The Chieftains defeated Model 65-46 on December 20th in the first round of the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival; Rusty Oxford, Stan Dawson, and Benny Padgett  were the top scorers for West Rome, contributing 3/4 of West Rome’s point total.

West Rome went on to beat Fairmount 82-80 in the second round of play on December 21st, advancing to the semifinals. Rusty Oxford was responsible for 50% of those points by himself making him the star of the game.

Alas, West Rome’s winning streak ended on December 22nd with a 76-57 loss to Calhoun, taking them out of the running for the championship. Stan Dawson was the Chieftains’ high scorer with 22 points.

An armed gunman stole $1200.00 from the cash register of West Rome’s Super Discount Store on Shorter Avenue on December 23rd, holding up the store even though it was filled with almost 50 shoppers. The robber, driving a car with Rhode Island plates, brandished a pistol, but thankfully left without firing a shot once he got all the cash from the register. Police quickly identified the robber as Rome resident Horace Eugene Kell, issuing an all points bulletin for his arrest.

Parents looking for a last-minute gift could pick up a 20” sport bike at Firestone… but they’d better be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it, since the bike cost $39.99 (the equivalent of $300 today, adjusted for inflation). No wonder Firestone was offering a $5 per month payment plan! Or you could go for the educational gift and pick up a complete set of the Illustrated World Encyclopedia for $39.95 at the Fahy Store (a $70 discount off last price)—and it also included ten years of annual supplements. If that price was too high for you, the Fahy store also had troll dolls for $1 each. Sears took a different route, offering a Christmas special of Allstate Motor Oil for 22¢ a quart. Nothing says Christmas like an impromptu oil change…

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 39¢ a pound, pecans for 33¢ a pound, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 9¢ with the purchase of a four-pack of Plymouth light bulbs. Kroger had Morton’s TV dinners for 33¢ each, Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit, and Cornish hens for 69¢ each. A&P had turkey breast quarters for 59¢ a pound, apples for a dime a pound, and JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, Southern Maid sausage for 75¢ a pound, and fresh coconuts for 19¢ each. Couch’s had a five-pound boneless Wilson’s Corn King ham for $4.79, Old Favorite band ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and a 10-ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.19.

The cinematic week began with When the Boys Meet the Girls (with Connie Francis & Harve Presell) at the Desoto Theater and the “shocksploitation” documentary Ecco at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Boing Boing (with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis) to the DeSoto and Pinocchio in Outer Space (with the choice of Arnold Stang) to the First Avenue. With school out for the holidays, the West Rome Drive-In expanded its schedule to add Wednesday and Thursday nights to its weekend schedule, offering a double feature of Straitjacket (with Joan Crawford) and Ride the Wild Surf (with Fabian and Shelley Fabares).

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel scored their first number one hit with “Sounds of Silence” this week in 1965. Other Top Ten hits included “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#2); “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown (#3); “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds (#4); “Over and Over” by the Dave Clark Five (#5); “Let’s Hang On” by the Four Seasons (#6); “Fever” by the McCoys (#7); “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers (#8); “England Swings” by Roger Miller (#9); and “Make the World Go Away” by Eddy Arnold (#10).

The number one album this week in 1965 was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights, an album that immediately attracted the attention of many of us with its sultry image of an unclothed woman strategically covered with whipped cream, leaving those “other delights” to our imagination. Turn out the music was pretty good, although I’m not sure how many copies actually got played; to this day, I still find this album in flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales on a regular basis, and many of the albums are in remarkably good shape, although the covers are sometimes the worse for wear…

For me, Christmas of 1965 was memorable for the remarkable book The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer. This book, which went on my Christmas list as soon as I saw a copy at Wyatt’s, offered a paean to comics by Feiffer along with a heaping helping of classic Golden Age comic book reprints featuring Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Hawkman, The Spirit, Captain America, the Blackhawks, the Sub-Mariner, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Human Torch, and many others. I don’t think I ever re-read a book as many times as this one; I think I pretty much had every word balloon memorized after the first few months!

This was also the year that my parents gave me a complete set of James Bond paperbacks. They were going to a  Christmas Eve party at a neighbor’s house for an hour or two, while I stayed at home to keep an eye on my sister Kim. As they were getting ready to leave, Dad gave me a hefty, carefully wrapped cube and told me to go ahead and open it early. As soon as I tore the corner of the paper away, I recognized the distinctive Signet paperback cover design of Live and Let Die; beneath it were the rest of the Signet editions of the James Bond novels in their matching cover designs. "We've decided that you're old enough to read these," Dad said. "And we thought you might want to start reading one of them tonight." I was doubly thrilled—not only because of all those novels I looked forward to reading, but also because Mom and Dad had enough faith in me to give me these books in spite of their concerns. I have subsequently upgraded my James Bond novels to hardcover editions, but I still have those Signet paperbacks, well worn and slightly yellowed with age. At Christmastime, I often take a look at those covers once again and smile, remembering how I was so excited and eager to read these books that, once my parents had come home and everyone had gone to bed, I turned on a small light and read for another hour or two that night. Thanks again, Mom & Dad…

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