Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/17/1966 to 1/23/1966

In early January, the draft board announced that childless married men could be eligible for the draft. That got a lot more definite on January 17th, when the draft board announced that childless married men would definitely be drafted. Sixty young men from Rome who had previously been exempt from the draft were added to the call-up list. The draft board also said that you men classified 1-Y because of “minor physical defects” were now being reclassified as draft-eligible and would also be called up. The escalation of the Vietnam War was the reason for the changes in draft policy, of course, as the Rome News-Tribune headline “America Pouring Reinforcements into Vietnam” made quite clear.

Rome got a light dusting of snow on Tuesday, January 18th, with more flurries that night. Rome didn’t get its first true snow accumulation of 1966 until Wednesday night and Thursday morning, however, when almost an inch of snow fell. Alas, it wasn’t enough to call off school…

All that talk about a possible Rome City Schools/Floyd County Schools merger? It pretty much went away on Tuesday Night, January 18th, after county voters overwhelmingly voted against a school bond for educational improvements. The Rome City System had never faced a rejection of a school bond, so the board of education decided perhaps there was an advantage to keeping the system separate after all.

Justice was very swift in 1966: Donald Eugene Kell, the man who committed an armed robbery on December 23rd at the Shorter Avenue Super Discount store, went before the judge on January 18th and was sentenced to ten years in prison. (He did enter a guilty plea, so no jury trial was necessary.) That’s less than a month from crime to punishment—why can’t the courts operate on that sort of a schedule today?

Piggly Wiggly had Swift’s vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, Fleetwood Butternut coffee for 69¢ a pound, and sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound. Big Apple had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, yellow onions for a nickel a pound, and two pounds of Booth frozen fish sticks for 55¢ (now I know why we had fish sticks for dinner every now and then!). Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, five pounds of Colonial sugar for 39¢, and large eggs for 47¢ a dozen. A&P had pork loin for 79¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and five cans of Campbell’s soup for 89¢. Couch’s had Coca Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit, chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, and Royal Sun orange juice for 49¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with That Darn Cat (with Dean Jones) still hanging around at the DeSoto Theater and The Bedford Incident (with Richard Widmark & Sidney Poitier) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought Never Too Late (with Paul Ford and Connie Stevens) to the First Avenue, while That Darn Cat stayed  for yet another week at the DeSoto. The West Rome Drive-In aired  very forgettable double feature of Spy In Your Eye (with Dana Andrews) and Secret Agent Fireball (with Richard Harrison).

This was also the week that Rome saw a major change in cinematic schedules: rather than changing out films on Wednesdays, as the Rome theaters had done for many years, new movie day was moving to Friday, where it has stayed pretty much ever since then.

The Beatles reclaimed the number one spot with “We Can Work It Out,” while the prior week’s number one song (“Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel) totally fell out of the top ten. Other top ten hits included “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#2); “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#3); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#4); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#5); “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones (#6); “”The Men in  My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas (#7); “A Must to Avoid” by Herman’s Hermits (#8); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#9); and “Jenny Take a Ride” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#10).

Simon & Garfunkel capitalized on their single success with the release of the Sounds of Silence album, which debuted in the Top Ten. (But it didn’t manage to knock the Beatles’ Rubber Soul out of the number one album slot.)

And suddenly the world was experiencing Batmania! ABC debuted the Batman TV show on January 12th, 1966 with a Frank Gorshin Riddler episode, and Adam West & Burt Ward were overnight superstars (but for many of us adolescent male viewers, it was Jill St. John who was the most memorable aspect of that first two-parter). The show aired at 7:30pm on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, and both half-hour episodes were in the Top Ten from the very week.

And in a rare master stroke of timing, DC managed to have the Riddler cover featured Batman #179, which went on sale just days after the Batman TV series debuted!

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