Friday, May 27, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/30/1966 to 6/5/1966

Summer was so very close this week in 1966. We were in our final week of school; seniors got a shorter week than the rest of us, since they finished up two days earlier than the rest of us to give them time for graduation practice (graduation wouldn't come around until the next Monday, June 6th). The week began appropriately spring-like, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 40s, warming slightly to the low 80s and the low 50s by the end of the week. Compared to so many Georgia Mays that end as early warnings of a hot summer to come, this was a great way to wrap up a school year… The end of school also meant the end of spring sports; there were no track meets, no baseball games, no golf matches this week in 1966.

Imagine if West Rome had been given its very own interstate! That was the idea that was being promoted by T. Harley Harper; Harper announced the formation of a group to promote the creation of East-West Interstate 30, which would run from Columbia SC to Memphis TN, passing through Huntsville AL and Rome GA in the process. The proposed Interstate would have come within four miles of West Rome High School. (Like many great projects that could have benefited Rome, this one never came to pass…)

The Batman phenomenon was going strong in 1966, thanks to the success of the ABC-TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. That explains why Belk-Rhodes was advertising that they were Rome’s “Batman Headquarters,” complete with “Bat Man” T-sirts, hats, masks, and capes. (And yes, they managed to misspell Batman as two words in their big ad... bad form, Belk's!).

Piggly Wiggly had Swift’s Premium ham for 59¢ a pound, Morton’s frozen cream pies for a quarter each, and tomatoes for a quarter a pound. Kroger had fresh fryers for 29¢ a pound, cantaloupe for 33¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a pound. A&P had turkey breast for 79¢ a pound, seedless grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Poss’s beef stew for 53¢ a can. Big Apple had spare ribs for 39¢ a pound, French’s mustard for a dime a jar, and Hormel vienna sausage for 20¢ a can. Couch’s had pork steak for 59¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and Maxwell House Instant Coffee for $1.49 a jar.

The cinematic week began with The Trouble with Angels (with Hayley Mills) at the DeSoto, Promise Her Anything (with Warren Beatty & Leslie Caron) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Money Trap (with Glenn Ford & Elke Sommer) and Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley & Shelley Fabares) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Cast a Giant Shadow (with Kirk Douglas & Senta Berger) to the DeSoto, Tiko & the Shark (with no one you’ve ever heard of) at the First Avenue, and Last of the Secret Agents (a spoof wwith Marty Allen & Steve Rossi) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The Rolling Stones took the number one slot this week in 1965 with “Paint It, Black” (is this tune mournful or malevolent?… you decide!). Other top ten hits included “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (#2); “I Am a Rock” by Simon & Garfunkel (#3); “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge (#4); “A Groovy Kind of Love” by the Mindbenders (#5); “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra (#6); “Monday Monday” by the Mamas & the Papas (#7); “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown (#8); “Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys (#9); and “Barefootin’” by Robert Parker (#10).

The Beatles made another appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night, June 5th—this time taped, not live, featuring the premiere of the music videos for “Rain” and “Paperback Writer.”

The Dick Van Dyke Show presented its final episode on Wednesday, June 1st—an episode that had Rob Petrie (played by Dick Van Dyke) selling the television rights to a book he had written about his career as a television writer! What a perfect way to end one of the best situation comedies ever made…

Tower Comics’ THUNDER Agents was doing well enough that the publisher added a spinoff title, Dynamo, this week in 1966. This double-length issue (Tower Comics were 64-page books priced at 25¢ each, while most other publishers were offering 32-page 12¢ comics) included work by such talents as Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Mike Sekowsky (best known for his work on DC Comics’ Justice League of America), and Steve Ditko (who had just left Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man and the Doctor Strange feature in Strange Tales). Meanwhile, the cover of DC’s Batman #183 depicted a Caped Crusader who was too busy watching the Batman TV show to respond to an emergency call! And demonstrating the this was the week of zany covers, The Flash #163 featured a Scarlet Speedster staring straight at us, holding his hand up and ordering us to “Stop! Don’t pass up this issue! My life depends on it!” Go-Go check trade dress and strange covers—that’s what DC was best known for in the 1960s!

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