Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/19/1966 to 12/25/1966

After a warm, somewhat damp beginning to the week with highs in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s, Rome shivered under a cold front that swept into town in the early hours of Christmas Eve, dropping temperatures into the low 20s by the morning of December 24th. Temperature climbed into the low 40s before falling back into the 20s again for Christmas morning. Bad news for those who hoped for a White Christmas, though: the cold air had pushed the precipitation out, bringing dry air in its place, so snow wasn't in the picture for North Georgia.

The 13th Annual Rome News-Tribune Holiday Tournament kicked off on Monday, December 19th, although West Rome didn't actually play their first game until Day Two of the tournament, when they faced off against LaFayette. Alas, the game didn’t go West Rome’s way: LaFayette won 62-51, knocking the Chieftains out of the tournament. Charlie Layman was West Rome’s top scorer, racking up 25 points, almost half of West Rome’s point total. (The tournament was actually co-sponsored by the newspaper, West Rome High School, and the Rome Recreation Department; I’m not really sure how a school became a co-sponsor, and the newspaper offered no background info.)

Teens looking for something to do during the holiday season could drive out to the Turkey Mountain Recreation Center (8 miles north of Rome on Hwy 27) to take part in the Holiday Dancearoonee (no, I’m not making up the name). The dance, which took place from 9 to midnight every night (except Christmas) through December 31st, cost 50¢ per person and featured the music of the Jades, the Good Things, and Rhythm Inc.

After multiple hearings, several readings, and a great deal of public discussion, tdhe Rome City Commission finally approved the bid to bring cable television to Rome. The bid was awarded to Rome Cable TV Company, a corporation created for the purpose of bringing cable to Romans.  Plans called for the first homes to be connected to cable by the summer of 1967. The rejected bidders threatened legal action, claiming that they had submitted earlier bids; the commission pointed out that they were choosing the best bid, not the first bid.

Apparently most men chose to simply smell bad prior to the 1960s: according to representatives of Belk’s, Esserman’s, Sears, and Murphy’s, the big gift for men in 1966 was cologne. “Gone forever is the smell of a hot, work-wearied man coming home from the factory of the fields,” the Rome News-Tribune reported. “Instead, our senses are assaulted with the odor of lemons flavored with the woodsy smell of pine of of a spicy eye-watering musk.” William Gaines of Martin’s Men’s Store said that “sales of men’s toiletries have become so great that many Rome stores have arranged special counters and displays especially for them…” There were some critics, however, who felt that it wasn’t masculine to smell pleasant. Nevertheless, according to department store representatives, men’s colognes were here to stay—and some even predicted that we would soon see men buying scented soaps, powders, and perhaps even hair spray. (Men’s colognes weren’t actually new: Old Spice had been around since the late 1930s, and English Leather since the 1940s. A trio of popular new fragrances  rolled out in late 1966: Hai Karate (a cologne that capitalized on the  karate gimmick that had become a stock-in-trade for secret agent films and television series), Aramis, and Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage.

Murphy’s catered to would-be rock stars with a week-before-Christmas electric guitar sale: $29.88 got you a three-pickup electric guitar with strap (brand name not specified), while $24.95 more got you a solid state amplifier to go with the guitar.

Piggly Wiggly had hen turkeys for 39¢ a pound, shelled pecans for 59¢ a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound. Kroger had smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and large eggs for 49¢ a dozen. A&P had tom turkeys for 41¢ a pound, a bag of shredded coconut for 25¢, and a pre-baked pumpkin pie for 39¢. Big Apple had baking hens for 33¢ a pouind, cranberry sauce for a quarter a can, and a 24-ounce jar of pickled peaches for 37¢. Couch’s had whole coconuts for 19¢ each, JFG coffee for 79¢ a pound, and already-cooked baked hams for 89¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Alvarez Kelly (with William Holden & Richard Widmark) at the DeSoto Theatre and Cheyenne Autumn (with James Stewart & Edward G. Robinson) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought the Matt Helm film Murderer’s Row (with Dean Martin & Ann-Margret) to the DeSoto Theatre and Spinout (with Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In  —as well as The Sound of Music to the First Avenue Theatre, which finally reopened after a lengthy remodeling.

The New Vaudeville Band held on to the number one slot for another week with the gimmicky “Winchester Cathedral.” Other top ten hits included “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#2); “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#3); “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra (#4); “Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (#5); “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra (#6); the Peanuts-inspired holiday song about aerial combat “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#7); “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#8); “A Place in the Sun” by Stevie Wonder (#9); and “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations (#10).

Three of the week’s top five albums weren’t pop-rock at all: while the Monkees' eponymous album held on at number one and Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme came in at number four, the other top five albums for the week included Doctor Zhivago (#2), SRO by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (#3), and The Sound of Music (#5).

One of the strangest seasonal hits of all time debuted this week in 1966 when WPIX in New York ran the Yule Log Special, 48 hours of television starring a fireplace with a burning Yule log. A few years later, stations all over the country were airing the burning branch every Christmas season. The airing of the Yule Log was finally discontinued in 1989, but it returned in 2001 and has aired every Christmas since then.

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