This was the final week of school for 1966! Rome City Schools closed at the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, giving students a full two weeks and one day off, since students didn’t have to return until Tuesday, January 3rd, 1967. And showing how different things were a half-century ago, both East and West Rome planned to hold a Christmas assembly program on December 16th, featuring musical performances by both the chorus and the band.
In response to concerns from residents about the potential costs of cable TV, the Rome City Commission assured residents that they were determined to keep rates affordable, with an estimated monthly price not to exceed $5 (with $4 being the estimated initial price), with a $5 installation fee. Residents would be able to connect as many televisions in their home as they wanted so long as they did the wiring themselves; if they wanted the cable company to run wiring to each room and the house, that would handle that installation for an additional one-time charge of 50¢ per room (that was a one-time fee, not an additional 50¢ per month). And of course, back then there was no equipment to rent, no additional fees—but there was also no HBO, no ESPN, no AMC...
A cold wave hit Rome on Wednesday night, dropping temperatures to a chilly 21 degrees on Thursday morning. The cold weather was expected to hang around for at least five days.
Santa at a service station? That was the promotion that Pure Oil Service City was offering: let the kids tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas while Mom and Dad filled up the car. And there was free candy for the kids with any gasoline purchase!
The juvenile detention home under construction off Lavender Drive in West Rome got fast-tracked this week in 1966. The state had originally planned to open the detention home in 1968, but new plans called for it to be finished in the fall of 1967; the 11,000 square foot facility would have 30 separate rooms for juvenile offenders, separated into a boys section and a girls section. Total cost was expected to come in at $275,000.
Piggly Wiggly had tom turkeys for 39¢ a pound, Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 29¢ a carton plus deposit, and ten pounds of Good Loaf flour for 89¢. Kroger had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and five pounds of Domino sugar for 37¢. Big Apple had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, Winesap apples for 17¢ a pound, and Chicken of the Sea tuna for 33¢ a can. A&P had T-bone steak for 95¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound, and a five-pound Claxton fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had CrispRite bacon for 59¢ a pound, Couch’s had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 33¢ a box, and fresh coconuts for 19¢ each.
The cinematic week began with Not With My Wife, You Don’t (with Tony Curtis & Virna Lisi) at both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Alvarez Kelly (with William Holden & Richard Widmark) to the DeSoto and a double feature of In Harm’s Way (with John Wayne) and Die Monster Die (with Boris Karloff) to the West Rome Drive-In. The First Avenue was wrapping up its renovations in hopes of opening in between Christmas and New Year’s.
On Sunday, December 18th, CBS premiered a special that would become a Christmas classic: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, based on the Dr. Seuss children’s book. The special was directed by Chuck Jones, who was well known to many of us for his work Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road runner and Wile E. Coyote (yes, he’s the man who ruined Acme as a serious business name!), Porky Pig, and many others. Boris Karloff, best known for his horror work, provided the voice for the Grinch. The special was not immediately recognized as a gem, though: reviewers initially described it as “offbeat,” “eccentric," and “probably as good as most of the other holiday cartoons.”
The New Vaudeville Band took the number one slot this week in 1966 with “Winchester Cathedral,” while Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” soared to second place. Other top ten hits included “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys (#3); Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#4); “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes (#5); “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra (#6); “Born Free” by Roger Williams (#7); “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#8); “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra (#9); and “A Place in the Sun” by Stevie Wonder (#10).
Jimi Hendrix released his first single, “Hey Joe,” this week in 1966 (hard to believe that’s a fifty year old song, isn’t it?). This was also the week that a relatively unknown musician, Fred Neil, released his second album, entitled Fred Neil. While hardly anyone bought the album, it did include a song that would become famous a couple of years later: “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which was a megahit after its inclusion on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack (so much so, in fact, that the studio would just put a new cover on the album and retitle it Everybody’s Talkin’ in early 1969).