Fifty years ago this week, Rome’s very first Medicare card was officially presented to Fire Chief Emeritus WT McKinney. He was chosen by the Rome Social Security district manager to receive the first health insurance identification card given out in the Coosa Valley area because of his 39 years of service in the Rome Fire Department (28 years as chief).
Rome was still a manufacturing town in 1966: Celanese announced plans for a multi-million dollar expansion of their Rome facility, expecting to add another 125 employees to their workforce.
Rome’s weekend cold, snowy weather was followed by a couple of days of extreme cold and freezing rain, creating even more hazardous conditions in Northwest Georgia. And finally, Rome City School students got one day out of school due to weather conditions! Overall, January’s average daily temperature was 6.6 degrees below normal, with a record-setting four degrees below zero on January 31st. For the last two days of January, the temperature never exceeded 30 degrees.
And speaking of bad weather, Georgia’s groundhog saw his shadow and scurried back into his hole, meaning that we were due for six more weeks of winter.
West Rome defeated Berry Academy 64-50 on February 1st, making the Chiefs 10-6 overall for the season. Rusty Oxford scored with a ten-foot jumpsuit that put the Chieftains ahead 5-4 with 4:48 to go in the first quarter, and from that point, West Rome never fell behind. Rusty went on to score 25 points in the game, while Stan Dawson scored 15 points and Mike Souder scored 11 points.
Becky Wood of West Rome High was chosen to represent the Rome-Floyd County Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs at the YMCA World Youth Conference in Norway. Len Wiliingham was chosen as an alternate in case Becky was unable to attend. Becky was chosen to be art of a 224-person United States delegation; each delegate was responsible for working with their local Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs to help raise funds to cover the $895 cost of the trip. (In today’s money adjusting for inflation, that would be about $6750!).
Piggly Wiggly had smoked picnic ham for 49¢ a pound, Swift’s beef stew for 49¢ a can, and Sealtest ice-cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had pork roast for 59¢ a pound, Stokely catsup for a quarter a bottle, and Banquet individual frozen meat pies (no specific kind of meat was specified, which makes me a little nervous) for 17¢ each. Kroger had tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, round steak for 99¢ a pound, and a ten-pound bag of Idaho potatoes for 49¢. A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Star-Kist tuna for 31¢ a can, and various Campbell’s condensed soups for 18¢ a can. Couch’s had Peach brand bacon for 73¢ a pound, Luzianne coffee for 53¢ a pound, and an 18-ounce jar of Blue Plate peach preserves for 89¢.
The cinematic week began with a double feature of Irma La Douce and Tom Jones at the DeSoto Theater and the James Bond film Thunderball at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brough a touch of culture to our little town as Shakespeare’s Othello (with Laurence Olivier) premiered at the DeSoto Theater. This wasn’t a standard film adaptation of the Shakespeare play; instead, it was a filmed performance of the play at the National Theater of Great Britain. Apparently, Rome could only take so much culture, though: after two days, Othello was replaced with the spy spoof Our Man Flint (with James Coburn). Meanwhile, James Bond continued his aquatic adventures in Thunderball at the First Avenue, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in yet another spy film, Agent for H.A.R.M, which shared the bill with the surf film Wild Wild Summer.
Petula Clark took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “My Love.” Other top ten hits included “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#2); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#3); “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#4); “we Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (#5); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” by the T-Bones (#6); “Crying Time” by Ray Charles (#7); “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#8); “Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues (#9); and “Don’t Mess with Bill” by the Marvelettes (#10).
It was also a great week for albums, with the release of Gordon Lightfoot’s eponymous first album; Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler’s dramatic Ballad of the Green Berets, featuring the hit title track; The Orbison Way by Roy Orbison; Where the Action Is by the Ventures; and the Spencer Davis Group’s Second Album.
The Viet Nam War was such a part of their lives that ABC retooled its news program ABC Scope to focus exclusively on developments in the war beginning this week in 1966.