One year came to an end and a new year began fifty years ago this week. 1966 had been a good year for business and for the Rome community—and a great year for West Rome High School, which had an unbeaten football team that went on to win a region championship. Community and business leaders were very positive about the upcoming year, expecting continued business growth, continued low unemployment, and an improving quality of life for most Romans.
West Rome’s bad luck basketball season continued with another loss—this one to Armuchee—in the Cave Spring Invitational Girls Basketball Tournament. The girls team put up a good fight, though, forcing the game into double overtime before Armuchee won 56-52. West Rome’s top scorers were Juanita Williams (27 points), Elaine Underwood (15 points), and Debbie Poarch (10 points).
The Etowah River ran clear, a rarity in Rome. The reason? Turns out that some of the mining operations in and near Cartersville had shut down for the holidays, which gave the river a respite from the silt and residue runoff that normally colors the river a reddish brown. Some older residents said that this was the first time in their memory that the river was “river colored,” as one old-timer put it.
A pair of burglars tried to make a Looney Tunes escape from the police when they were caught in the middle of robbing the Goodyear Store on Broad Street: they tried to run through the plate glass window. Needless to say, they didn’t make it very far—but remarkably, neither was seriously injured by the flying shards of glass. Both burglars were apprehended and taken to jail, having gained nothing for their panes… err, pains.
Some residents were concerned about a new policy that was slated to begin on January 1st, 1967. Effective with the new year, residents would have to pay their auto ad valorum taxes at the time they got their license plates. Previously, ad valorum taxes for the year were paid in October, the same time real estate and personal property taxes were paid. This change meant that residents would have to pay taxes on their cars again between January 2nd and April 1st (just a few months after paying last year’s taxes). It would be a few more decades before Georgia would change the system again, letting residents pay their ad valorum taxes and their tag fees on their birthday rather than requiring everyone to pay their auto tag fees and taxes in the first three months of the year. (And it would be several years after that before the state would do away with the annual ad valorum taxes for cars purchased in 2012 or later, going with a single tax that replaced the sales tax).
After a few warm post-Christmas days with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, the temperature plummeted to 19 degrees on Friday morning, December 30th. Temperatures climbed back by New Years Day, with lows in the low 30s and highs in the upper 40s.
One look at the grocery store ads made it clear that New Years Day was approching, with lots of ads for blackeye peas, greens, and hamhocks. Piggly Wiggly had collard greens for 19¢ a bunch, Bush blackeye peas for 12¢ a can, and country ham for 39¢ a pound. A&P had whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, turnip greens for 12¢ a pound, and sweet potatoes for a dime a pound Big Apple had round steak for 77¢ a pound, smoked hog jowl for 19¢ a pound, and dried blackeye peas for 9¢ a pound. Kroger had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, fatback for 15¢ a pound, and dried pinto beans for a dime a pound. Couch’s had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, cabbage for 8¢ a pound, and Southern Queen canned blackeye peas for a dime a can.
The cinematic week began with Murderer’s Row (with Dean Martin & Ann-Margret) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue Theatre and Spinout (with Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Professionals (with Burt Lancaster & Lee Marvin) to the DeSoto and a double feature of Robin & the Seven Hoods (with Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin) and None But the Brave (with Frank Sinatra) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Sound of Music remained one of Rome’s favorite things at the First Avenue.
The Monkees leapt to number one this week with the Neil-Diamond-penned “I’m a Believer.” Other top ten hits included “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#2); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#3); “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra (#4); “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra (#5); “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan (#6); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#7); “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations (#8); “A Place in the Sun” by Stevie Wonder (#9); and “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#10).