Friday, November 25, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/28/1966 to 12/4/1966

Santa and his reindeer touched down in Rome on November 28th, headlining the Rome Christmas Parade that began at Barron Stadium, progressed up Broad Street, and ended at the City Auditorium. The West Rome Marching Band, under the direction of Charles Davis, took part in the festivities. An estimated 5000 people showed up for the parade and the lighting of the Christmas tree on the lawn of the City Auditorium.

West Rome’s basketball program was as “green” as the coaches had feared: both the girls team and the boys team lost to Lafayette on Friday night, December 2nd.

Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School continued to grow—and that meant that more classrooms were needed. The Floyd County Board of Roads and Revenue finally approved that expansion this week in 1966, allotting $327.928 to add 19,000 square feet to the facility, including at least a dozen classroom. Fifteen full-time instructors would be also needed to meet the growing demand. The expansion would make it possible for Coosa Valley Tech to serve twice as many students.

Eastern Airlines’ efforts to pull their airline service out of the Rome airport were stymied for a few more years by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which ruled that Eastern had to continue honoring its commitment to offer two flight circuits a day—one to Atlanta and one to Chattanooga.

Color television prices continued to drop, while the televisions were getting larger: Rome Radio Company had a 25” RCA Victor color TV in a Mediterranean styled wooden console cabinet for $695, or a contemporary styled TV/Radio/Phono console unit for $890.00. Savage TV offered a 25” Westinghouse color TV for $598.00, while Sears had a General Electric color TV in a traditional maple cabinet for $648. (Yeah, that’s a lot of money compared to today’s prices—that would equal about $4500-$5000 for a 25” TV, adjusted for inflation—but it was still a 15% drop in price over the year before, along with a 2” larger screen (measured diagonally, of course).

Rome Radio, Chastain Radio, and Camera & Craft were also pushing an RCA portable reel to reel tape recorder for $39.95. “No letter to write,” the ad posted. “You can talk and then send your voice to a loved one.” The recorder came with a dozen personal sized reel to reel tapes and a dozen mailing boxes to make it easy for you to send your recordings to family members. (I got a portable reel to reel recorder for Christmas 1966, but I didn’t use it to send messages to friends. Instead, I would diligently hold the microphone near the television speaker in an effort to create a library of audio recordings of my favorite television shows. Needless to say, the quality was less than stellar…)

Piggly Wiggly had Seminole brand bacon for 49¢ a pound, Swfit’s premium bologna for 39¢ a pound, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 79¢ a half-gallon (a major price jump over the 49¢ price they offered the previous holiday season!), and Pepsi Cola for 27¢ a carton plus deposit. A&P had rib roast for 75¢ a pound, Bama pear preserves for 29¢ a jar, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Big Apple had ground round for 77¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and grapefruit for 9¢ each. Couch’s had Tip Top roasting chickens for 29¢ a pound, Double Cola for 89¢ a case, and a five-pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢.

The cinematic week began with Spinout (with Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre and Born Free (with Virginia McKenna) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Texas Across the River (with Dean Martin & Joey Bishop) to the DeSoto and Poppy Is Also a Flower (with Stephen Boyd & Yul Brynner) to the West Rome Drive-In. The First Avenue Theatre remained closed for renovations.

The retro-gimmicky New Vaudeville Band took number one this week in 1966 with “Winchester Cathedral” (you remember--the song with the megaphone-enhanced vocals). Other top ten hits included “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#2); “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes (#3); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#5); “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify (#6); “Lady Godiva” by Peter & Gordon (#7); “Born Free” by Roger Williams (#8); “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers (#9); and “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees (#10).

The Bat-family gained a new member this week in 1966 when Barbara Gordon debuted as Batgril in Detective Comics #359, courtesy of Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, & Sid Greene. Batgirl would go on to play a major role in the Batman TV series, where she was played by Yvonne Craig.

 Meanwhile, Marvel unveiled their “new” Western hero, Ghost Rider, courtesy of Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers, & Vince Colette. (While Ghost Rider was new to the Marvel Universe, the character had starred in his own series from Magazine Enterprises in the 1950s, which was also illustrated by Dick Ayers; because the trademarks had lapsed, Marvel was able to roll out their own version of the Western hero. Marvel would later use the “Ghost Rider” name for their flame-headed motorcycle-riding spirit of vengeance, changing the Western hero’s name to Phantom Rider instead. For a lot of who grew up in the 1960s, though, the real Ghost Rider will always be the spectral-looking figure on a white horse who dispensed justice in the Old West.)

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