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..

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