Friday, February 26, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/28/1966 to 3/6/1966

February was coming to an end, and Coach Paul Kennedy was already planning ahead for West Rome’s spring football practice. However, he wasn’t extremely confident—or at least, didn’t show his hand if he WAS confident. He said that he was concerned about his quarterback and his ends, since graduation had taken away his stars from the championship-winning 1965 season. He did have high hopes for an “up and coming” player named Roger Weaver, who moved from fullback to halfback; other moves included Wayne Smallwood, who moved from center to guard; Lane Brewer, from tackle to guard; and Tommy Sapp, from left half to fullback. Greg Quinton and Jimmy Culberson were back in the quarterback rotation, but Kennedy described both players as “untested.” Of course, when you’re coming off a state championship it’s only natural to feel a lot of pressure as the next season approached!

Great news for all of us who lived in West Rome: the traffic situation was about to improve! The Appalachian Regional Commission and the State Highway Department gave Rome a grant to construct a four-lane highway from Lavender Drive and North Elm Street to Redmond Circle, then to continue the four-lane around Redmond Circle heading West until it intersected with Shorter Avenue/Alabama Road right at the corner of West Rome High School. This would offer students (and their parents) a four-lane alternative to get to West Rome without having to traverse Shorter Avenue, which had become a bit of a bottteneck because of the lack of other routes.

The proposed state juvenile detention center in West Rome was approved this week in 1966, and the state began taking bids for the construction. Plans called for the new center, which would contain thirty rooms for juvenile offenders, to be build off Lavender Drive—which was one of the reasons the state was willing to chip in money for the four-laning of Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle.  Some residents expressed concerns about having a juvenile detention center so near neighborhoods, but the state assured them that the facility would be secure.

How good was Georgia’s economy in 1966? Well, the State Revenue Commissioner predicted an $80 million surplus by the end of June, which wrapped up the fiscal year. The unprecedented surplus came about because state tax collections were up 12.8% over 1965, and the rate of increase was continuing to grow every month. This was on top of a $60 million surplus in 1965. This level of surplus equalled almost 13.5% more than was budgeted for the year. Oh, what the government would do today for revenues that were 13.5% higher than expenditures without any sort of tax increase!

First there was an airline, then there was no airline, then there was… Eastern Airlines, which had discontinued its service from Rome to Atlanta and Chattanooga in the early 1960s only to bring it back a year or so later, was once again talking about dropping Rome from its airline schedule due to lack of use. The Rome Chamber of Commerce and the city and county commissions were pushing equally hard not only to keep the service, but to expand it; they insisted that the reason for such low use was poor scheduling and an inadequate number of flights. Today, when so many Romans routinely drive into metro Atlanta, to Dalton, or to Chattanooga for work and pleasure, it’s hard to believe that anyone would consider an airline as a speedier alternative… but it was a different time back then, with no TSA, no “arrive an hour before your flight,” and few airline holding patterns above Atlanta or Chattanooga.

The winners of the Rome Science Fair were announced, and the West Romans who took some ribbons included Karen Candler, third and fourth grade biological science; Kent Martin, fifth and sixth grade physical science; Melanie Leach and David Booker, fifth and sixth grade biological science; Becky Joy and Kay Mills, junior high biological science; Alice Sprayberry, junior high physical science; McDewain Sandlin Jr., high school chemistry; Rodney Musialowski, Joy McGhee, and Walter Green, high school physics; Freddie Eagle, high school engineering; Greg Quentin, high school mathematics; Pat Finley, high school botany; Mary Ann Witte, James Fountain, Mike Murphy, and Len Willingham, high school experimental psychology; and Regina Swinford, Bill Bishop, Mike Souder, and Cheryl Lanier, high school natural resources. The winners went on to compete at the area science fair held at Berry College. The plywood and poster board industry thanks all of you for your contributions to the local economy because of all those tryptich backboards that had to be made!…

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Swift’s spaghetti & meatballs for 49 a 24-ounce can, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had Oscar Mayer bologna for 49¢ a package, ground beef for 45¢ a pound, and Cheerios for 33¢ a box. Kroger has salmon for 49¢ a pound, 20 pounds of Idaho potatoes for 99¢, and five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 49¢. Big Apple had pot roast for 79¢ a pound, Happy Valley ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and cabbage for a dime a head. Couch’s had chuck steak for 59¢ a pound, Stokely’s catsup for 29¢ a bottle, and yellow onions for 7¢ a pound. and Coca-Cola, Sprite, or Tab for 99¢ a case plus deposit. 

The cinematic week began with The Ugly Dachshund (with Dean Jones) at the DeSoto and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (with Stuart Whitman and many others) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought The Spy With My Face, a Man from UNCLE film (with Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, and Senta Berger) to the DeSoto and The Great Race (with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, and Jack Lemmon) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In’s weekend schedule included Your Cheating Heart (with George Hamilton) and Viva Las Vegas (with Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret).

Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler held on to the number one slot for another week with his hit song “The Ballad of the Green Berets.” Other top ten hits included “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra (#2); “Listen People” by Herman’s Hermits (#3); “California Dreaming’” by the Mamas & the Papas (#4); “Elusive Butterfly” by Bob Lind (#5); “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones (#6); “Nowhere Man” by the Beatles (#7); “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#8); “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four; and “Homeward Bound” by Simon & Garfunkel. just take a look at that list—it’s an amazing blend of British Invasion, California pop, folk-rock, and more, and an impressive number of those performers are the elite of rock royalty today.

John Lennon stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy this week in 1966 when he commented that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” The quote appeared as part of a larger comment about the changing state of religion. “Christianity will go,” he said. “It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” Once the quote got some publicity, it would inspire a backlash that would lead to Beatles album burnings and the first major round of negative publicity in the Beatles’ career..

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/21/1966 to 2/27/1966

The final nail was hammered into the school merger coffin on February 24th when the Floyd County Board of Education voted to oppose any plans to merge the city and county school systems. Both the city board of education and the city commission had voted against the plan previously; this vote meant that no one involved in the potential merger was in favor of it.

Rome’s growth required an expansion of the police force and the police headquarters. Bradfield Construction Company submitted the winning bit of $291,461 to convert the city’s East Third Street garage into a new police headquarters and jail. Plans called for city water, sewer, and tax collections divisions to move into the old police headquarters.

Coosa Valley Vocational-Technical School was attracting so many interested students that the school was planning for an $800,000 expansion. The expansion would add fifteen additional full-time instructors and a number of new courses of study, including welding, chemical technology, computer programming, and textiles.

Berry College was also expanding: Berry announced plans to add a three-year School of Nursing beginning in the fall of 1966. The school was planned as a joint venture of Berry College and Floyd Hospital. Initial plans called for the school to cost $500 per student for the entire three-year course. (I suspect the cost is much, much higher now, even after adjusting for the 7.52 inflation multiplier…)

West Rome’s boys defeated the Lakeview Warriors 58-47 on Monday, February 21st, the advance to the second round of the Region 3-AA basketball tournament. Stan Dawson and Rusty Oxford were responsible for 43 of West Rome’s 57 points. Alas, that was the end of the Chiefs’ region championship dreams, because they were defeated by Murray County 53-45 on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, West Rome’s girls defeated Dalton 41-33 to move into the second round of the 3-AA tournament. Ann Peery scored 26 of those 41 points, with Diane Bell accounting for 13 more. Unfortunately, the girls were eliminated in the next round after a loss to Calhoun.

Jean Jackson, Patti Tolbert, and Phil Jenkins were chosen to represent West Rome in the All- State Band and Chorus competition in Atlanta March 16th through 18th. Brenda Brookshire was deleted to take part in the junior band competition.

Piggly Wiggly had five pounds of Colonial sugar for 39¢, Shurfresh saltines for 19¢ a box, and  Seminole bacon for 69¢  pound. Kroger had fresh fryers for 29¢ a pound, two pounds of Velvet for 79¢, and Libby’s vienna sausages for 22¢ a can. Big Apple had veal cutlets for 99¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. A&P had round steak for 89¢ a pound, Jane Parker potato chips for 59¢ a pound, and a 1.5 pound can of  Poss’s Brunswick stew for 45¢. Couch’s had first cut pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and Heinz pork & beans for 12¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with The Ugly Dachshund (with Dean Jones) at the DeSoto Theater and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (with an all-star cast the includes Stuart Whitman & Sarah Miles) at the First Avenue. Anyone hoping for midweek changes was disappointed, as both films hung around for a second week. The West Rome Drive-In’s weekend double feature included Satan Never Sleeps (with William Holden) and Psyche 59 (with Patricia Neal & Samantha Eggar).

Do the Green Berets offer a medal for number one song? If they did, then Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler won that medal this week in 1966, when his “Ballad of the Green Berets” took the number one slot. Other top ten hits included “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra (#2); “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#3); “Listen People” by Herman’s Hermits (#4); “California Dreaming” by the Mamas & the Papas (#5); “Elusive Butterfly” by Bob Lind (#6); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#7); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#8); “Working My Way Back to You” by the Four Seasons (#9); and “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#10).

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/14/1966 to 2/20/1966

Last week, I talked about ambitious plans to bring cable TV (then also known as Community Antenna Television, because there was no cable-only programming) to Rome. Well, those plans didn’t sit too well with Jim Kay, president of Kay-Townes Antenna Company of Rome, who announced his intention to “vigorously oppose” any sort of cable TV system, claiming that it would result in “the municipality competing with private industry,” and claiming that it was “the first step towards pay television.” (And now we know that, in the latter case, he was right!)

And ironically, Kay-Townes began advertising their new Color Phase Antenna, designed for ideal Rome color TV reception of both Atlanta and Chattanooga stations, this week in 1966. (Wonder if that had anything to do with their objection to a cable TV system?)

West Rome’s boys basketball team brought the season to a close with a 48-39 victory over Pepperell; this advanced the team to the 3-AA playoffs, where they were slated to face off against Lakeview.

Sarah Jane Cox was named as West Rome’s STAR student this week in 1966; she chose Miss Susie Underwood as her STAR teacher.

Was there really enough interest in chicken gizzards to justify Kentucky Fried Chicken advertising a chicken gizzard dinner for 59¢? Apparently so, because that was their special this week in 1966.

Piggly Wiggly offered whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Kraft macaroni & cheese dinners for 19¢, and Fleetwood coffee for 80¢ a pound. Kroger had center cut pork chops for 89¢ a pound, Country Club ice cream for 47¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had Wilson’s Certified bacon for 79¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and Van Camp pork & beans for a quarter a can. Big Apple had five pounds of Domino sugar for 39¢, sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, and fresh collards for a quarter a bunch. Couch’s had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, JFG peanut butter for 63¢ a jar, and ten pounds of White Lily flour for 99¢.

Spies dominated the first half of the week in Rome theaters, with Our Man Flint (starring James Coburn) keeping the world safe at the DeSoto Theater, while James Bond recovered lost nuclear weaponry in Thunderball at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The Ugly Dachshund (a Walt Disney film with Dean Jones & Suzanne Pleshette) to the Desoto and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (with Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Robert Morley,Gert Frobe, and many others) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-in offered a weekend double feature of Synanon (with Chuck Connors, Edmond O’Brien, & Stella Stevens) and Arizona Raiders (with Audie Murphy), once again demonstrating that no one really cared what movies were showing at the drive-in.

This week in 1966, Nancy Sinatra accomplished something her father had not done up until this time: her hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was the number one selling single on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. (Yes, believe it or not, Frank Sinatra had never had a number one selling single up through this week in 1966: he did chart number one several times, but those chart positions predated Billboard’s Hot 100, and they were a combined calculation of single sales, radio play, and juke box song selection. He would eventually place two number one songs on the Hot 100… one of them a duet with his daughter Nancy!) Other top ten hits included “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie (#2); “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler (#3); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#4); “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#5); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#6); “Don’t Mess With Bill” by the Marvelettes (#7); “California Dreaming’ by the Mamas & the Papas (#8); “Elusive Butterfly” by Bob Lind (#9); and “Working My Way Back To You” by the Four Seasons (#10).

Meanwhile, in a real surprise, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s album Whipped Cream & Other Delights reclaimed the number one slot, knocking Rubber Soul out of first place after seven weeks. It’s all too rare for any album to move back into number one after falling from that position; I still maintain that it was the strength of that sexy cover that helped this album to sell so well!

Beyond the Hot 100, it was a good week for music . This was the week that Brian Wilson began recording “Good Vibrations” with the session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew (he wouldn’t bring in other Beach Boys for several more weeks); Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin) both made their first appearances at the Fillmore West; and album releases for the week included I Hear a Symphony by the Supremes, The Best of the Animals by The Animals; Doctor Zhivago by Maurice Jarré; Take a Ride by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels; and new offerings from John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. 

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/7/1966 to 2/13/1966

As if finances weren’t enough of a concern regarding a city-county school system merger, political power was also an issue. Floyd County Board of Education chairman C.O. Landers announced that he would oppose any such merger because he didn’t feel it would give adequate representation and authority to the county. By the end of the week, the proposal was falling apart, with the Rome City Board of Education voting to oppose the merger as well, because they too were unwilling to give up a full measure of control over the schools.

Nowadays hardly anyone relies on an antenna to watch television; most of us depend on cable TV for our programming. A half-century ago, however, Rome had no cable television… but that situation was about to change. On May 7th, the City Commission agreed to receive applications and bids for a cable TV franchise in Rome. The decision came about after FCC rulings made it clear that communities could set up a franchising system and charge cable TV companies a fee to offer cable TV in their community. Rome pitched the benefits of a cable TV system: since Rome was midway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, a local cable system could use multiple antennas to capture the signals from both cities, doing away with the need for an antenna rotor for Rome viewers (or the need for a loud voice to yell out the window and tell the poor antenna-turner to stop turning). There was no talk of movie channels or cable-only channels or the like, of course; none of that would come into existence until the 1970s. All a cable TV system could do in 1966 was provide the clearest possible signal for the over-the-air signals. Rome city officials estimated that the total monthly cost to the consumer would be about $4 or $5. (That’s a small fraction of what we pay today… but we’re getting  a lot more than the nine channels that Rome officials estimated a cable TV system would carry in 1966!)

Four Chieftains were nominated for the 1966 Governor’s Honors program this week in 1966: Sherry Canada and Baxter Joy were nominated in English; Anita Smith, in social studies; and Dianne Massey, in music. West Rome guidance counselor Owen Blanton coordinated the special Governor’s Honor program at which the nominees were announced. Previous Governor’s Honors attendees (including Tom McMahon, Mary Ann Witte, Phil Jenkins and Jane Cox) discussed what the program was like and how it benefited them.

The Chiefs beat Cass 68-58 in the first game of the Region 3-AA South tournament. West Rome was behind by two points with four minutes to go, but the team pulled ahead to win by ten points, helped in large part by eight points scored by David Garrett in less than two minutes. The girls’ team didn’t fare quite as well, however: they lost to Cass 47-44.

West Rome’s second tournament game pitted them against Dalton; the boys squeaked out a narrow 47-45 victory, thanks to four points scored by Mike Souder near the very end of the game. The girls had a much easier time of it, winning 40-33. Diane Bell scored 17 of West Rome’s 40 points, while Ann Peery scored 16.

Mrs. James N. Finley, a beloved teacher at West Rome High, was also the organizer of the annual science fair. This was the week that she announced that planning for the annual event was about to begin. Mrs. Finely had scheduled a Tuesday afternoon meeting of science teachers to work out the details of the Science Fair, which was scheduled for February 26th and 27th, with winners from the eighth through twelfth grades going on to compete in the Seventh District Science Fair at Berry. What did that mean for most of us? Well, it meant that it was time to start assembling those three-part hinged display boards so that we could try to make our humble science projects look as impressive as possible…

McDonald’s lowered the price of their chili dog to 19¢ this week in 1966—or you could splurge and get a chili dog, a shake, and an order of french fries for 57¢. Meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken celebrated their one-year anniversary in Rome with a nine-piece chicken box for $1.69 and a two-piece fried fish dinner for 89¢.

Rome also got its first full-line delicatessen with the opening of DeLie’s Party Shoppe on Avenue C. “Now you don’t have to go to Atlanta, New York, Chicago, or Switzerland for fine foods!” the ad touted, stressing the fact that the new store would offer a full selection of continental and domestic foods. (I don’t remember ever visiting DeLie’s, and don’t even recognize the name; apparently my family fit in much better with the bologna and Vienna sausage clientele at the local grocery store!)

Piggly Wiggly had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Libby’s Vienna sausage for 20¢ a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for 35¢ a half-gallon. Kroger and Sea Glo salmon for 49¢ a can, red delicious apples for 17¢ a pound, and Hormel chili with beans for 29¢ a can. Big Appl head chuck roast for 47¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and four pounds of lard for 49¢. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and avocados for 19¢ each. (I’m still surprised to see avocados in a 1960s grocery store ad; I never remember seeing or hearing about avocados until the last 1970s.) Couch’s had ground sirloin for 69¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Derek Flint (played by James Coburn) doing his super spy thing in Our Man Flint at the DeSoto Theater and James Bond (portrayed by Sean Connery) saving the world from lost nuclear warheads in Thunderball at the First Avenue. The weekend switchover was nonexistent, as both Our Man Flint and Thunderball stuck around in Rome theaters for another week. The West Rome Drive-In offered a non-espionage alternative on the weekend with showings of Do Not Disturb (with Doris Day and Rod Taylor).

Musical lightning struck for Lou Christie when his song “Lightnin’ Strikes” took the number one slot this week in 1966. Other top ten hits included “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra (#2); “Up Tight” by Stevie Wonder (#3); “My Love” by Petula Clark (#4); “My World Is Empty Without You” by the Supremes (#5); “Crying Time” by Ray Charles (#6); “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys (#7); “Don’t Mess With Bill” by the Marvelettes (#8); “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)" by the T-Bones (#9); and “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler (#10).