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).

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