Friday, December 29, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/1/1968 to 1/7/1968

Chieftains were surprised by the announcement of a major coaching change this week in 1968: Coach Paul Kennedy was promoted to coordinator of athletic activities and elementary physical education. Kennedy had been head coach at West Rome since the school’s opening in 1958; prior to that, he was line coach at the old Rome High School for three years. During his West Rome head coaching career, Kennedy compiled a record of 66 victories, 32 losses, 7 ties, and one incredible state championship.

To fill the vacancy left by Kennedy’s departure, Rome City Schools superintendent M.S. McDonald announced that Nick Hyder would be promoted to head coach and athletic director for West Rome High School. Both promotions were slated to take place with the beginning of the 1968-69 school year, although Coach Kennedy would be splitting his time between West Rome and the Board Office effective immediately and Hyder would be in charge of 1968 football spring training. “I consider it a privilege to have coached under Paul for ten years,” Hyder said. “Needless to say, it’s a real challenge to carry on the program that Paul has developed."

Most of West Rome was without power for a couple of hours on Wednesday night, January 3drd, when a substation failed. Most of Shorter Avenue from Horseleg Creek Road to Redmond Road were left in the dark, along with many residential streets that fed off the Shorter Avenue lines. The power failure also affected parts of Broad Street and the area around Floyd Hospital, although tdhe hospital itself went to backup generator power a few minutes after the power failed. 

1967 was another good economic year for Georgia, with thirty thousand new jobs created and unemployment hitting record lows of 3.8%. Average weekly earnings for Georgia manufacturing workers reached $89.50, an increase of $3.50 over 1966 levels. The Georgia Department of Labor predicted similar improvements throughout 1968. 

1968 began with an almost crime-free week; the only reported theft for the week was a burglary at the office of Dr. Norton and Hortmann, where a cashbox containing $63.00 was taken. 

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Double Q salmon for 45¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 19¢ a jar, and eggs for 37¢ a dozen. A&P had Allgood bacon for 49¢ a pound, perch fillets for 43¢ a pound, and cabbage for 8¢ a pound. Couch’s had country sausage for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a can. 

The cinematic week began with Fitzwilly (starring Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Family Way (starring Hayley Mills) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The Comedians (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto Theatre and The House of 1000 Dolls (starring Vincent Price) at the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. 

The Beatles held on to number one this week with “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band (#2); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “Storybook Children” by Billy Vera & Judy Clay (#9); and “Honey Chile” by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (#10). 


Captain America graduated to his own series this week in 1968, although the book was listed as Captain America #100 on the cover, since it continued the numbering from the Tales of Suspense title that Cap had shared with Iron Man since 1965. Because Marvel had a half-issue Iron Man story ready to go (as well as a half-issue-length Sub-Mariner story from the end of the Tales to Astonish split-title that Sub-Mariner shared with  Hulk), this week also saw the release of the one-and-only Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fifty Years Ago in West Rome - 12/25/1967 to 12/31/1967

A sixteen-year-old’s grand theft auto career came to an early end on December 26th when he was arrested for stealing two cars—one from C&M Motors in Rome and the other from a dealership in Cedartown.  And that wasn’t the only incidence of juvenile crime: on Christmas night, five Floyd County teenagers were arrested after destroying thirty mailboxes—some with fireworks, some with baseball bats. If found guilty, all five faced jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to $1000 per mailbox. Then, on Thursday night, two juveniles were arrested for opening up fire hydrants in North Rome, greatly reducing water pressure in the area. Apparently, too much time off from school wasn’t always a good thing!...

Postmaster Leo Russell announced that this was the last week to mail letters at the old 5¢ rate before first-class postage jumped by 20% to 6¢ beginning in January 1968. Postal rates for newspapers and magazines jumped 24% while junk-mail (that is, advertising mail) rates jumped 34%. The lower 4¢ rate for unsealed greeting cards was also scheduled to come to an end, and they would cost the same as a first class letter beginning on January 1st. (I never realized that the post office offered a penny discount for unsealed greeting cards for many years--and I'm still not sure I understand the logic behind it.)

Big K announced that holiday season sales in Rome had exceed predictions by more than 20%, making the West Rome store the most successful store in the chain. The company said that they anticipated even more sales growth once Gala Shopping Center was fully built out and all spaces were occupied.

Piggly Wiggly had hog jowl for 23¢ a pound, cabbage for 7¢ a pound, and dried blackeyed peas for 10¢ a pound. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, collard greens for 19¢ a bunch, and vienna sausages for 19¢ a can. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, bananas for 12¢ a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 77¢ a pound. Big Apple had ham for 39¢ a pound, seedless grapes for 19¢ a pound, and sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound. Couch’s had Southern Maid bacon for 49¢ a pound, Bama blackberry preserves for 39¢ a jar (and you could use the empty jar as a drinking glass once you ate all the preserves!), and five pounds of Stiver’s corn meal for 39¢. 

The cinematic week began with Battle of the Bulge (starring Henry Fonda) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Triple Cross (starring Christopher Plummer) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought Fitzwilly (starring Dick Van Dyke) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and The Family Way (starring Hayley Mills, with a soundtrack scored by Paul McCartney) to the First Avenue.

The Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” held on to number one for a second week as the year ended. Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#2); “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#5); “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#6); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#7); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#8); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#9); and “Skinny Legs and All” by Joe Tex (#10).


Apparently some musical artists hadn’t heard that it was supposed to be bad business to release a new album just after Christmas: the week after Christmas in 1967 saw the release of John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden by Donovan, Mr. Fantasy by Traffic, The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield, Thirteen Smash Hits by Tom Jones, Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen, Pandemonium Shadow Show by Harry Nilsson, and Sorcerer by Miles Davis. Maybe they figured a lot of music fans got cash for Christmas...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/18/1967 to 12/24/1967

West Rome students had a very short two-day school week, with Christmas break starting on Wednesday, December 20th and continuing through New Years. School was scheduled to start back on Tuesday, January 2nd.

A rare December tornado struck the Maple Street area of Rome on Monday afternoon, causing some building damage but no injuries. A two ton pickup truck was lifted off the ground and deposited fifty yards away in a field, while twelve building suffered severe roof damage.

Keller Industries announced plans to build an 80,000 square foot carpet plant on the north side of Redmond Road, just east of the Lavender Drive intersection (almost directly across the street from Trend Mills). The plant was expected to provide a hundred full-time jobs once it was fully operational.

More burglaries across Rome: early Monday morning, burglars broke into Tilly Apothecary and stole an undetermined amount of morphine, demoral, and other drugs. Shortly after that, burglars broke into Garner Brothers Construction Company on Shorter Avenue and stole office equipment, clothes, a purse, a portable television, and a number of Christmas gifts intended for staff and family. Someone also broke into West Rome High School early Monday morning, but prompt police response scared them away before they could steal anything. Burglars broke into the EZ Shop on Shorter Avenue on Wednesday night, stealing an undetermined quantity of cigarettes and about $40 in cash. Early Friday morning, burglars broke into the West Rome Super-Discount store, stealing about $150 in cash.

West Rome was knocked out of the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival Basketball tournament on Monday night with a 90-54 loss to Calhoun. Kenny Stephens was West Rome’s top scorer with 17 points.

Piggly Wiggly had smoked ham for 49¢ a pound, whole coconuts for 19¢ each, and a two-pound can of Maxwell House coffee for $1.39. Big Apple had turkeys for 28¢ a pound, Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ a carton (plus deposit), and mixed nuts for 77¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 25¢ a pound, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 23¢ a can. Kroger had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, and Kroger white bread for 18¢ a loaf. Couch’s had pork roast for 49¢ a pound, English peas for 23¢ a can, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with More Than a Miracle (starring Sophia Loren) at the DeSoto Theatre, Any Wednesday (starring Jane Fonda) at the First Avenue, and Journey to the Center of Time at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Battle of the Bulge (with Henry Fonda) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Naked Runner (starring Frank Sinatra) to the First Avenue.

The Beatles took number on this week in 1967 wit “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight &the Pips (#2); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “Woman Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#5); “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#6); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#7); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#8); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#9); and “Skinny Legs and All” by Joe Tex (#10).

Dean Martin abandoned his usual TV show format of multiple guests and short comic skits for Christmas 1967, instead bringing on his family and the family of his friend Frank Sinatra for a special hour-long episode on Thursday, December 21st. The show was the highest-rated Christmas special in 1967.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/11/1967 to 12/17/1967

Christmas came early to the children of the Open Door Home on December 11th, courtesy of Electrical Workers International Local 613, Unit 2. Local 613 sponsored a shopping excursion to buy clothes for the children of the Open Door Home; each child was individually fitted for the clothes he or she needed. “The children selected their own clothes,” Open Door Home superintendent Lorine Smith said, “with only a little guidance from the staff. This was a wonderful Christmas present for our children.” This was the second year that Local 613 made a generous gift to the children at the Open Door Home; a year earlier, they gave every child a bicycle.

Speaking of Christmas: Rome merchants reported that early Christmas-season sales in 1967 were the best they had seen, topping 1966 by 4% (and 1966 set records as the best Christmas sale season ever). The biggest toy sellers of the year, according to Rome merchants, were hula hoops and pogo sticks, both of which experienced a big comeback in 1967 after several years of reduced interest.

The Chieftains gave East Rome a rare double victory when the Gladiators boys basketball team won 55-30 and the girls won 51-34. Charlie Williams led the Chieftains boys with 11 points, while Elaine Underwood led the Chieftains girls with 14 points.  

The Rome Board of Education approved a $2.8 million budget for the 1968-1969 school year—an increase of $150,000 over the 1967-1968 school year. However, the superintendent said that the budget didn’t reflect proposed pay raises of $550 a year per teacher. Most of the increase went into increased instructional spending, particularly at the elementary school level. 

The Rome Board of Education also revealed the results of an education study that shows, among other things, that the average education level of Romans over 25 was 9.1 years of school; Rome students were slightly above average in reading and language but slightly below average in mathematics; and that Rome City Schools had a total of eight first-grade dropouts in the 1966-1967 school year. (I didn’t know that elementary school kids could drop out!)

Rome’s spate of burglaries continued with a break-in at the Kayo Service Station on Shorter Avenue, where the thieves stole about $52 from the cash drawer as well as several cartons of cigarettes. Two days later, burglars attempted to break in to Henson’s Drug Store, but were scared off after they tripped a burglar alarm.

Talk about big screen TVs! Rome Radio Company was carrying the new 23” rectangular RCA Super-Bright Hi Lite Color TV, with squarer corners for even more viewing area; this was the largest size color television offered by any manufacturer in 1967, and it could be had for only $564.95 (the equivalent of $4250 today—and you can get a 75”-80” TV for that kind of money!). 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound, and ten pounds of potatoes for 39¢. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, angel food cakes for 39¢ each, and five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 44¢. A&P had turkeys for 33¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and five-pound fruitcakes for $3.99. Big Apple had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart, and four sticks of Parkay margarine for 25¢. Couch’s had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and vine-ripe tomatoes for 15¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Operation Kid Brother (starring Neil Connery) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Fahrenheit 451 ( the Francois Truffaut film starring Julie Christie & Osker Werner, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury) at the First Avenue.  The midweek switchout brought More Than a Miracle (starring Sophia Loren) to the DeSoto Theatre, Corrupt Ones (starring Elke Sommer) to the First Avenue, and Journey to the Center of Time to the West Rome Drive-In. 


The Monkees took number one this week with “Daydream Believer.” Other top ten hits included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#2); “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#3); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#4); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#5); “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#6); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#7); “Boogaloo Down Broadway” by the Fantastic Johnny C (#8); “In and Out of Love” by Diana Ross & The Supremes (#9); and “You Better Sit Down Kids” by Cher (#10). 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/4/1967 to 12/10/1967

Rome’s burglary trend continued as thieves broke into Walraven’s Service Station, Lathem Plumbing, West Rome Christian Church, and Matthews Service Station in the early morning hours of December 4th. The sheer number of thefts in such a short period of time led police to conclude that more than one group of burglars was responsible for the crime spree. The service station burglaries netted a selection of tools and a small amount of cash from vending machines; about $40 in cash and more tools were stolen from Lathem Plumbing; and nothing of value was taken from the church, although the pastor’s office was ransacked and furniture was damaged. In addition, a half-dozen pay phones in West Rome, Garden Lakes, and North Rome were shot open on the same day and an undetermined number of dimes were stolen; Southern Bell representatives estimated that total cash losses were no more than $50, but the damage to the phones amounted to almost six times that much.

West Roman S/Sgt. Jack Harwell Jr. of 811 Shorter Avenue--son of Emma Conn Harwell and Jack Harwell Sr., the folks who made Conn’s a West Rome mainstay for several decades—was injured when his jeep ran over a land mine in Vietnam. Thankfully, the injury was reported as “not serious.”

The first challenges to Georgia’s blue laws (which required most businesses to close on Sunday) began this week in 1967, and it was Zayre’s department store in Cobb County that began the trend, which soon spread to Big K in West Rome and other stores. The impacted businesses charged that the the law was discriminatory because it was not being enforced against radio stations, theaters, car washes, laundromats, and other services; additionally, grocery stores were taking advantage of the exception for sale of food and drugs to sell other products such as magazines, household cleaners, cosmetics, etc.

Remember decoupage, the craft of decorating objects with paper cutouts and paint effects? Well, it was becoming trendy in Rome in late 1967—so much so, in fact, that Sherwin Williams was scheduling a series of decoupage classes throughout the month of December. (I remember several friends decoupaging boxes, plaques, pencil cups, and other objects as gifts during the late 1960s and early 1970s; like many trends, it seemed to fall out of favor by the mid-70s. Does anyone still do decoupage today?)

Piggly Wiggly had Armour Star bacon for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 35¢ a box, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and five pounds of Domino sugar for 39¢. Big Apple had baking hens for 35¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 25¢ a can. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound, and a five-pound Claxton fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, Bama blackberry preserves for 39¢ a jar (and you could use the jar as a drinking glass once you finished the preserves!), and spruce Christmas trees for 99¢ to $9.99 each. 

The cinematic week began with Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Jack of Diamonds (starring George Hamilton) at the First Avenue, and The Glory Stompers (starring Jody McCrea) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Operation Kid Brother (a James Bond spoof starring Neil Connery--the kid brother of James Bond actor Sean Connery—as a British secret agent's civilian brother who is unavailable to save the world when his double-O brother is unavailable) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Hotel (starring Rod Taylor) to the First Avenue. 

The number one song this week in 1967 was “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. Other top ten hits included “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#2); “Incense & Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#3); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#4); “I HeardIt Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#5); “To Sir With Love” by Lulu (#6); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#7); “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#8); “In and Out of Love” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#9); and “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” by Victor Lundberg (#10). I( have to confess that I have absolutely no memory of “An Open Letter,” which was a spoken-word reading of a letter by a father to his teenage son, played over an instrumental version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The record ends with Lundberg declaring that, if his son burns his draft card, he should “burn [his] birth certificate at the same time. From that moment on, I have no son.” While it only made it to tenth place before moving back down the charts, it is one of the twelve fastest-climbing singles in Billboard history).

Otis Redding died on December 8th in a plane crash, along with four members of his backing band, the Bar-Kays.

Six months after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Rolling Stones released their own psychedelia-influenced concept album, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, on December 8th. 


This week in 1967, a comic was released that would change my life forever. The comic was Batman #199, a rather forgettable issue with a gimmick cover that featured Batman desperately searching for a copy of the newest issue of Batman Comics. It wasn’t the story that was so significant, though, but the letters column. This issue features a letter that pointed out some flaws in the cover story from Batman #195—and the author of that letter was a young woman from Cedartown, Georgia. A few weeks later, I would take a chance and call her;  the call went well enough, so we would go on to talk regularly, then we met, then we began dating. Three and a half years later, we would get married—and we’ve been married ever since. So thanks, Batman!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/27/1967 to 12/3/1967

Rome manufacturing growth continued with Trend Mills announcing plans to triple their West Rome facility space and add 150 new jobs. The manufacturer planned to spent $3 million to expand the facility; with all work to be completed by mid-1968.

Was Rome a hotbed of crime when I was a kid? it certainly seems that way, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. In the early morning hours of November 27th, burglars ripped open a walk-in vault at the Berry College comptroller’s office and made off with more than $1150.00 in cash. This came just two months after  a Berry College student stole more than $10,000.00 from the comptroller’s office. Apparently Berry needed a more secure comptroller's office!

Rome’s annual Santa Claus parade took place at 6pm on Monday, November 27th. The parade began at West Third Street and Second Avenue, then turned onto Broad Street and headed up Broad to the City Auditorium, where Santa greeted the crowds. Both the West Rome Band and the West Rome Junior High Band participated in the parade.

And in a brilliant strategic move, Big K at Gala Shopping Center hired the Santa Parade’s Santa to go straight from the parade festivities to Big K, where he would listen to children’s Christmas lists until midnight! Not sure who was keeping their little kids up until midnight on a school night, though…

West Rome’s girls started the basketball season off with a 54-20 win over Lafayette, but the boys performed less effectively in their game, losing 55-43. Both Debbie Poarch and Elaine Underwood scored enough points individually to win the game for West Rome (22 and 21 points respectively). Coach Brendel Cox said that the boys team was “simply outplayed” by LaFayette, although he did note that they played to a tie twice in the first half and were briefly ahead before the game fell apart for the Chiefs in the third quarter.

Roger Weaver was named Back of the Year  by the Rome News-Tribune for his outstanding performance during the 1967 football season. Weaver gained more than a thousand yards during the season and more than 2600 yards during his three years of Chieftains football. He also scored 70 points during the season on 11 touchdowns, an extra point, and a field goal. 

Piggly ‘Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Toast’em Pop Ups for 39¢ a box, and blackberries for 39¢ a pint. Kroger had pork roast for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 57¢ a pound, and Kroger doughnuts for 19¢ a dozen (that’s less than 2 cents a doughnut!). Big Apple had perch fillet for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. A&P had fresh fryers for 25¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and five pounds of Dixie Crystals sugar for 61¢. Couch’s had Chuck Wagon bacon for 59¢ a pound, Castleberry’s beef stew for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Clambake (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin) to the DeSoto, Jack of Diamonds (starring George Hamilton) to the First Avenue, and Panic in the Year Zero (starring Ray Milland) to the West Rome Drive-In. 


The Beatles released their album Magical Mystery Tour this week in 1967, a soundtrack to the film of the same name. Well, they released the album here in the US, but in the UK, it was an EP. Capitol Records turned it into an album by including songs the band’s 1967 singles on the album’s B side. Other big releases included Steve Wonder’s Someday at Christmas (one of the finest contemporary Christmas albums ever recorded, with a brilliant title song that really deserves a place in more Christmas playlists), Love’s Forever Changes, and the Chambers Brothers’ The Time Has Come.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/20/1967 to 11/26/1967

Rome City school students celebrated Thanksgiving with a five-day weekend. Students were off Wednesday through Sunday, while teachers used Wednesday as a work day to prepare report cards. 

Governor Lester Maddox began a push to encourage school systems to add Driver’s Training to the curriculum in every high school as a non-fee course. The only school in the Rome area that offered a Driver’s Training class in 1967 was Coosa; the Rome City School System contracted with private instructors (including Don Undsworth, the instructor from whom many of my friends and I took Driver’s Training) to offer fee-based classes after school hours.

Rome and Floyd County agreed to work together in an effort to secure more than a half million dollars in federal and state funds for major improvements to Russell Field, Rome’s airport. Planned upgrades included a longer runway to handle slightly larger commercial flights, additional taxi aprons, improved lighting, and acquisition of extra land for future expansion. The city and the county were optimistic that, with these improvements, Rome would continue to serve as a northwest Georgia hub for commercial commuter flights to Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Birmingham.

Rome’s burglary spree continued—but this time, it was spectacularly unsuccessful. Burglars broke into Simpson Grocery Company on E. 2nd Avenue in the early hours of Monday morning and attempted to break into the safe—but not only did they fail in that, they ended up leaving behind almost $100 in equipment in their haste to escape. The burglars did manage to punch out the combination lock and drill one hole into the safe—a process that must have taken hours—but that did not enable them to open the safe. So why did they ultimately leave? Because when they finally drilled through the safe door, they also drilled into a tear gas canister located inside the safe just for in case something like this happened. The pressurized canister pumped tear gas into the office, which caused the thieves to make a tearful retreat without their tools.

Two nights later, two men and a woman, all from Alabama, were arrested with burglary tools after they broke into a Rome laundromat. Hundreds of dollars in tools were confiscated, along with the $26 the thieves managed to steal from the laundromat. While the amount of the theft was small, the damage to the laundromat was sufficient to earn the thieves some pretty serious felony charges.



Judging by advertising from Belk’s, Sears, Penney’s, and Big K, avocado was the hot new color of the year for cookware and kitchen accessories. Every store was pushing avocado kitchen items as Christmas gifts, with Sears also offering appliances in the trendy new color.

Piggly Wiggly had roasting hens for 33¢ a pound, oranges for 33¢ a dozen, and Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had turkeys for 26¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and Morton’s frozen pies for 29¢ each. A&P had smoked hams for 35¢ a pound, a three-pound fruitcake for $2.49, and a twenty-pound bag of russet potatoes for 89¢. Big Apple had pork roast for79¢ a pound, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 29¢ a can, and pole beans for 15¢ a pound.  Couch’s had Hormel fully cooked three-pound canned hams for $2.79 (do they still make three-pound canned hams?), Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon, and large coconuts for 19¢ each. (My parents must have carefully hidden these cheap coconuts from me—because if I had known, we would have had a lot of coconuts and hammers scattered across the patio and driveway…)

The cinematic week began with Bonnie & Clyde (starring Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Clambake (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Grand Prix hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 


The Strawberry Alarm Clock finally knocked Lulu out of first place with their song “Incense and Peppermints,” pushing Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” to second place. Other top ten songs included “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things” by the Cowsills (#3); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#6); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#7); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#8); “I Can See for Miles” by The Who (#9); and “Expressway (To You Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#10). 

Friday, November 10, 2017

I'm a Muddler

Yes, I confess: I'm a muddler.

I've always loved the bittersweet aspect of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"--and in particular, these lines.

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, well have to muddle through somehow

That, to me, is the essence of my love for Christmas. It brings us together--we hope. We never know, though, if we will have an opportunity to share another Christmas. Every year, I know that last Christmas could well be my last Christmas, or your last Christmas, or the last Christmas we will be able to see one another. We don't know what the fates will allow. And all we can do is muddle through like we do every day in our lives, trying to let those future joys carry us through our daily existence. It is a sparkling shard of future joy, but we may never get close enough to fully admire its beauty--and we won't fully appreciate how beautiful it was until that time when it exists in our memories only, and then we'll resign ourselves to muddling through with regrets and wistful pangs.

Reportedly, the lyrics were changed in 1957 at the behest of the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, who was completing a Christmas album entitled A Jolly Christmas. He asked lyricist Hugh Martin, "Do you think you could jolly that up for me?" And thus the revised lyrics were created:

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough

But in revising the lyrics, the human longing for a season of joy in a life of turbulence and uncertainty was lost. The song just doesn't work any longer; the lyrics are unfinished, the message itself muddled by the absence of that original line.

(Speaking of original lines--apparently Martin's original original original line was "If the Lord allows." Some might wonder why he took the religious reference out of a song that celebrates a religiously-themed holiday, but I think he had the best reason of all: "allows' doesn't truly rhyme with "somehow" or "bough," and "Lords" or "gods" would have been forced an inappropriate. "Fates" was an inspired change that fully nuanced the song's meaning while allowing for a full rhyme.)

So no matter which version of the song is played, in my mind, we'll all have to muddle through somehow. That's one of the things that make Christmas so wonderful and so solemn at the same time. If you're muddling through right along with me--well, that's pretty much the way life is, isn't it?





Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/13/1967 to 11/19/1967

West Rome residents were dealing with traffic frustrations this week in 1967 as the roads department was resurfacing the entirety of Shorter Avenue from the underpass to Redmond Circle. Ledbetter Construction planned to spread 12,200 tons of deep strength asphalt under a $119,559 contract; spokespeople for Ledbetter said that they hoped to complete the work in two weeks, weather permitting.

West Romans finally had access to cable tv as of November 1967: Rome Cable TV Company reported that they had now run cable to all West Rome streets within the city limits. The cable company was offering a total of nine channels (2, 5, and 11 from Atlanta, 3, 9, and 12 from Chattanooga, educational channel 7 from Alabama, educational channel 8 from Athens, and channel 4, a cable channel offering local weather forecasts for Rome and northwest Georgia). Cable was available for $3.95 a month plus a $5 installation fee.

Burglars entered the Rome Seed & Feed Store on Wednesday night, November 145h, and stole $700 in cash. The thieves also stole a 12-gauge shotgun fro the display case. Footprints found on the roof of an adjacent building (which was the means by which the thieves gained access to the Rome Seed & Feed roof, which they entered through an air conditioning vent) indicated that there were two thieves. 

Superintendent MS McDonald said that the Rome school system was doing everything it could to comply with a US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare order that all schools be totally integrated by 1969, but he said it would be a challenge, since Rome still has five all-black schools in 1967: Main High, Main Elementary, Reservoir, Mary T. Banks, and Anna K Davie. Davis said that some of these school shad been deemed inadequate for renovation, requiring that new schools be built before integration could be completed. Rome planned to operate the schools under a “freedom of choice” system that allowed city school students to attend any city school of their choice, but the students and their parents were responsible for arranging transportation if that school was not the one geographically nearest to them.

With the region football season in the books, Roger Weaver was proclaimed a record-setter in two categories: he set a season rushing record with 1001 net yards in 176 carries, and he set a season scoring record with a total of 70 points. His three-year record was 2588 yards, putting him almost three hundred yards ahead of his nearest competitor.

Alas, the football season came to a disappointing end for the Chieftains as the Dalton Catamounts claimed a surprisingly strong 33-0 victory over the Chiefs. Dalton took advantage of a couple of fumbles to jump out to a 13-0 lead early in the game, followed by a pair of interceptions and another fumble recovery for 20 more points in the second half. “We beat ourselves” was all Coach Paul Kennedy had to say.

Big K introduced the newest trend in artificial Christmas trees for the 1967 holiday season: the Bradford Snowmaker. “Plastic snow continually falls on the tree. Snow is recirculated from the tree base to the tree top—a fascinating illusion of softly falling snow It’s safe… clean… no refills needed." The Snowmaker was $29.88 with a 6 foot 91 branch artificial tree, or only $24.95 if you added your own tree. (I have to admit that i have never heard of this, but a subsequent search in various discussion groups reveals that it’s a hard-to-find and much sought after item by Christmas aficionados.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had five pounds of sugar for 39¢, whole smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, and Kroger mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart. Big Apple had turkeys for 43¢ a pound, pears for 15¢ a pound, and Land o’ Lakes butter for 69¢ a pound. A&P had rib roast for 85¢ a pound, Castleberry beef stew for 35¢ a can, and a five-pound Jane Parker fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had pork chops for 35¢ a pound, White Lily cornbread mix for a dime a package, and large coconuts for 19¢ each. (How did I go through my childhood without ever buying a coconut at Couch’s? Now I’m old enough to know that a whole coconut is an instrument of frustration, but when I was a kid, I thought a whole coconut was bound to be some of the best food that anyone could ask for. My parents held a different opinion…)

The cinematic week began with Rosie (starring Rosalind Russell & Sandra Dee) at the DeSoto Theatre, Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue, and The Trip (starring Peter Fonda) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought Bonnie & Clyde (starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty) to the Desoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Grand Prix kept making the rounds at the First Avenue.

Apparently music fans just couldn’t get enough of Lulu: her song “To Sir With Love” maintained its grip on the number one slot for another week. Other top ten hits included “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#2); “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#3); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#4); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#5); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#6); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#7); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#8); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#9); and “I Can See for Miles” by the Who (#10). 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A Life in Four Colors Part Forty-Three: Four-Color Fantasia (1961)

Ever since I posted a list of what comics I bought new off the spinner racks in West Rome in 1967, I've heard from a number of people asking how I could possibly remember that in such detail.

Apparently, my life in four colors is permanently etched into my memory. As soon as I look at the covers of the books that came out in a given month from my childhood, I can remember which books I bought--and in some cases, where I bought them.

To test my memory, I decided to back up to November 1961, when I was relatively new to comics reading. (I began reading comics in 1959, but did not begin collecting comics until 1961). In my early days of collecting my comics friends included Roy Chockley, David Lynch, Morris Lively, and Jimmy Haynes--all of whom lived near my house in Garden Lakes.

Here are the books I bought in November 1961:
Action Comics #284
Adventures of the Jaguar #4
Amazing Adult Fantasy #9
Aquaman #1
Batman Annual #2
Detective Comics #298
Green Lantern #10
Life With Archie #12
Our Army at War #114
Strange Suspense Stories #57
Strange Tales #93
Superboy #94
Superman #150
Superman Annual #4
Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #255
Walt Disney's Donald Duck Merry Christmas #53
Woody Woodpecker's Christmas Party #53
Wendy the Good Little Witch #10

That's about two and a half bucks worth of comics in one month. My allowance in 1961 was $1.05 a week (15¢ a day), so I was spending more than half of my allowance on comics by the time I was eight years old.

I also see that I was buying more humor/all-ages comics when I was eight, along with several Marvel pre-hero monster/fantasy titles (and even a Charlton here and there). I was not buying DC's mystery/suspense books like My Greatest Adventure or House of Mystery, because they didn't have that "monster feel' that typified the Marvel titles.

When I was eight, I was willing to trade some of my comics to friends for other books. Over the next couple of months, I traded several books with friends and acquired copies of these books:

Adventure Comics #292
Adventures of the Fly #17
Out Fighting Forces #65
Rawhide kid #26
Rip Hunter, Time Master #6
Sea Devils #3
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #30
Sueprman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #58
Tales of Suspense #26
Tales to Astonish #28

That's eighteen books I bought outright (two of which were eighty-page annuals), and ten more titles that i traded for. So I read twenty-eight November 1961 releases in the first two or three months after their publication—and I did it all for an investment of about $2.50.

As I said, that was more than 60% of my monthly income at the time. While I have much more disposable income nowadays, I can't imagine spending 60% of my current gross income on comics.

Sometimes we don't realize how good we had it when we were kids...

Sunday, November 05, 2017

A Life in Four Colors Part Forty-Two: Four Color Fantasia (November 1967)

By late 1967, I had found a way to balance my insatiable desire for comics with my interest in pulp adventure (Doc Savage, Conan, and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs in particular) and my growing interest in science fiction (which would not become a full addiction until 1968). I bought these comics new off the spinner racks in November 1967:

Action Comics #358
Adventure Comics #364
Amazing Spider_Man #57
Aquaman #37
Avengers #48
Batman #198
Captain Savage & His Leatherneck Raiders #1
Creepy #19
Daredevil #36
Detective Comics #371
Fantastic Four #71
Flash Gordon #10
Green Lantern #48
Marvel Collector's Items Classics #13
Marvel Tales #13
Metamorpho #16
Not Brand Echh #6
Peacemaker #5
Phantom #27
Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #50 & 51 (one came out the first week of the month, the other the last week of the month)
Spectre #2
Strange Adventures #208
Strange Tales #165 & 166 (same as Sgt. Fury)
Superboy #144
Superman #203
Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #80
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #108
Tales of Suspense #98 & 99
Tales to Astonish #100
Teen Titans #13
Thor #148 & 149
Two-Gun Kid #92
X-Men #40

Looking back at it now, I'm a bit intrigued by the books I didn't buy. I passed on Bomba the Jungle Boy #3, even though I liked Tarzan tales and jungle adventures in general; I suspect it was the Jack Sparling artwork that moved it off my buy list. I passed on House of Mystery #172 because I thought Dial H for Hero was dopey; later on, I'd find those same stories fascinating. Inferior five #6, Kid Cold Outlaw #139, Magnus Robot Fighter #21, Man from UNCLE #16, Mandrake the Magician #10, Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #5, Mighty SAmson #13, Monkees #9, Our Army at War #188, Our Fighting Forces #111, Plastic Man #8 (I blame Jack Sparling again), Rawhide Kid #62, Tomahawk #114, Wonder Woman #174... I passed  on all of them. Many of those titles were "fill in" purchases--that is, they were books that I'd buy if I couldn't find enough of my "must-read" titles to satisfy me. As a result, I was buying random issues of mos tof those titles--probably no more than one out of every four issues, in fact.

I believe that money had to be the primary factor. At cover price, I bought about $5 worth of comics that month; my allowance at the time was $2,50 a week plus I got extra money for extra chores such as raking the yard, sweeping the driveway and patio, etc. I also got to keep the deposit money when I took empty Coke bottles back to Couch's Grocery store, and that added up to an extra buck or so a month. Add it up, and it seems like I could have afforded all the comics I passed on plus some extra.

By late 1967, though, I was already ordering a few fanzines (Rocket's Blast•Comicollector was my gateway into the world of fanzines, and I usually ordered a half-dozen or so fanzines advertised in each issue), buying a few paperbacks (usually used copies at Coosa Valley Book Shop, where I could get a book for a dime or so), and occasionally buying a 45 RPM single here and there.

I was also buying an airplane model or an Aurora model it now and then, although the glory days of my model collecting had already passed by this time.

And of course, there were the nickel and dime ice cream cones (one scoop or two, pointed cone or flat-bottomed, respectively) at Candler's Drugs, which I bought year round regardless of the weather.

Basically, I had all the money I needed to buy the stuff I wanted with a little left over for splurge items. My parents were supportive enough of my interests that they'd give me a little extra now and then, or they'd buy a book for me, or they'd overpay me for one of extra chores--they were remarkably generous, even though they knew how I was spending the money. They never tried to talk me out of my purchases, they never belittled my interests--I was much better off than many of my friends in that regard.

It's no wonder I recall my childhood so fondly. My parents gave me the sort of childhood that most fans of my era could only dream of. (The only person who got even more than me was my friend Gary, who's mother could never bring herself to say no to his requests. She seemed to think that if she gave Gary what he wanted, he'd show her the love and kindness she hoped for. Alas, it never worked that way...)

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/6/1967 to 11/12/1967

This was a quiet mid-November week in Rome. The Chieftains football team had an off week after their region win a week earlier, so there was no football game. For the most part, it was a “business as usual” week.

Rome set a record low on Tuesday morning, November 7th. Temperatures fell to twenty degrees, five degrees colder than the previous record; lows were expected to remain below freezing for the next three days, at least.

Rome City Schools unveiled a plan to expand vocational training into junior high. The expanded program would  allow all students to participate in vocational education beginning in the 7th grade. The new junior high program would involve teaching children about occupational opportunities and the training needed for various careers.

The Open Door Home launched a drive to raise funds to build a new dormitory that would provide space for 40 more children. The Open Door Home building committee asked the city of Rome and the county to contribute $30,000 each, which would be added to the $26,000 that the facility had raised through private donations. The Open Door Home, which was open to boys between the ages of 6 and 13 and girls between the ages of 6 and 14, was already operating beyond capacity. The dorms were already overcrowded because the program had been expanded to allow preschool children to stay on a temporary basis. (All Open Door Home residents attended school at Elm Street Elementary and West Rome Junior High, so these children were also our fellow Chieftains.)

Elm Street won the Mite League Football Championship with an 18-6 victory over Coosa on Tuesday, November 7th.. Clayton Lundy ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third, propelling the team to victory, 

Roger Weaver was named co-captain of the 1967 Rome Area All-Star football team. Weaver was selected by unanimous vote of the 22-player squad, which consisted of the finest players in the Northwest Georgia area..

Piggly Wiggly had pork loins for 59¢ a pound, Fleetwood coffee for 69¢ a pound, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart. Big Apple had whole fryers for 19¢ a pound, Spam for 49¢ a can, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had pork chops for 39¢ a pound, Campbell’s tomato soup for 19¢ a can, and lettuce for 12¢ a head. A&P had ground chuck for 69¢ a pound, bananas for 13¢ a pound, and Lipton tea bags for 49¢ a box. Couch’s had pork roast for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a can, and Winesap apples for 12¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Waterhole No. 3 (starring James Coburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switch out brought Rosie (starring Rosalind Russell & Sandra Dee) to the DeSoto Theatre, Grand Prix (starring James Garner) to the First Avenue, and The Trip (starring Peter Fonda) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Lulu held on to the number position for another week with “To Sir With Love.” Other top ten hits included “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#2); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#3); “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#4); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#5); “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#6); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#7); “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin (#8); “Expressway (To Your Heart) by the Soul Survivors (#9); and “Never My Love” by the Association (#10). 

Three great albums premiered this week in 1967. First was Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. by the Monkees, their fourth album and the second album on which the group performed most of their own instruments. Then there was the Moody Blues’ masterpiece Days of Future Passed, best known for the iconic track “Nights in White Satin.” Finally, Cream released the brilliant Disraeli Gears, which featured both “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Strange Brew,” 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/30/1967 to 11/5/1967

Coach Paul Kennedy of West Rome and Coach Larry Muschamp of East Rome both agreed on one thing in the lead-in to the East-West football game: it would be a close game with strong defense, and whichever team scored 14 points would win. “I’m expecting the closest game we’ve played in several years,” Coach Kennedy said. (The record going into this game was six wins for West Rome, one win for East Rome, and one tie. The Gladiators didn’t even manage to score a point against the Chieftains in 1965 or 1966.)

The 1967 game gave the Chieftains their seventh win—and it was nowhere nearly as close as both coaches had predicted. The final score was 35-6 West Rome, with Roger Weaver emerging as the star of the game. Weaver rushed for 129 yards, scored a touchdown, intercepted two passes, returned two kickoffs for 56 yards, and ran back two punts for 36 yards. Since the only other team with a no-loss season in region play was LaFayette, who lost their game on the same night that West Rome won, that meant that the Chiefs became region champs without the necessity of a playoff game.

A special dedication ceremony for the remodeled Barron Stadium was held during halftime of the West Rome-East Rome football game on Friday, November 3rd. The stadium reconstruction was funded through a special $165,000 bond, along with matching funds from the federal government.

Rome police set some sort of law enforcement speed record in solving the case of Jerry Terrell’s stolen car. The auto theft was reported at 10:11 am on October 31st—and at 10:15 am, the police made an arrest and recovered the car, which was being driven by a nineteen-year-old who apparently wasn’t very good at grand theft auto. If only every crime could be solved in four minutes!

Rome’s rash of store robberies took a deadly turn on Saturday, November 4th, when 72-year-old shop owner LT McCright was killed in his Kingston Road grocery store by a burglar who beat and then fatally stabbed the old man when he tried to stop them from stealing the cash from that day’s sales.

Color TV prices continued to drop: BF Goodrich had a 23” Motorola color TV for $449.95(the equivalent of $3100 in 2017 dollars)—and the purchase included a complete set of 1967 New Standard Encyclopedias! (Remember when a set of encyclopedias—either the really good Britannica version or the bargain encyclopedia sold a-volume-a-week at the grocery store? The latter set was the one we had—but you know, it still worked out pretty darn well when it came time to do a report on the natural resources of Brazil.)

Just what I look for in a jewelry store: Eves Jewelers had a sale on 19-shoot .22 caliber 19-shot repeating rifles for only $49.99 each—and they gave you a hundred free rounds of ammo with each gun purchase! I suspect that all those burglars plaguing Rome stayed away from this jewelry store…
Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 69¢ a pound, and lettuce for 19¢ a head. Kroger had smoked ham for 59¢ a pound, cornf for 9¢ a can, and frozen Morton TV dinners for 33¢ each (do you remember folding back that heavy foil oversheet to uncover the dessert so that it would crisp up in the oven?). Big Apple had spare ribs for 49 a pound, Banquet cream pies for 25¢ each, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, apples for 15¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 69¢ a half-gallon. Couch’s had stew beef for 33¢ a pound, Ritz crackers for 39¢ a box, and large oranges for 39¢ a dozen.


The cinematic week began with Hour of the Gun (starring James Garner) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Waterhole #3 (starring James Coburn and Carrol O’Connor in his pre-All in the Family days) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Sand Pebbles maintained its beachhead at the First Avenue. (It makes you wonder how we ever got a chance to see most major release films, since Rome tended to show the same movie at two theaters and then hold other movies over for week after week after week.)

Lulu continued to hold on to the number one slot with her song "To Sir With Love." Other top ten hits included "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave (#2); "It Must Be Him" by Vikki Carr (#3); "Expresway (To Your Heart)" by Soul Survivors (#4); "Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#5); "Never My Love" by the Association (#6); "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#7); "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin (#8); "The Rain, The Park, & Other Things" by the Cowsills (#9); and "Please Love Me Forever" by Bobby Vinton (#10). 

Nico released her first solo album, Chelsea Girl, this week in 1967. Most of the songs featured instrumental backing by the Velvet Underground, with whom Nico had collaborated prior to going solo; Jackson Browne also played guitar on the folk-pop album, The album is now considered one of the 1960’s masterpieces. This was also the week that Sly and the Family Stone released their debut album, A Whole  New Thing, and Judy Colilns released the best-selling album of her career, Wildflowers.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fifty Years This Week in West Rome - 10/23/1967 to 10/29/1967

The West Rome Honor Society sponsored a homecoming car smash on Saturday at 7:30 PM, after the “beat Calhoun” bonfire and before the football game. Everyone in the community was invited to come and wield a sledgehammer against the hulk of an old automobile in order to demonstrate school spirit (although I never really understood how the two were related). The homecoming dance, featuring the Fifth Order, was scheduled for Saturday from 10 PM until midnight.

The homecoming festivities were particularly cheery in the aftermath of West Rome’s 35-0 victory over Calhoun. Roger Weaver scored three touchdowns and threw a 32-yard halfback pass for a fourth touchdown. Weaver was the game’s juggernaut, picking up 120 yards rushing, catching four passes, and returning a punt for a 70-yard score. 

Gala Shopping Center, which was only a few weeks old, experienced its first grand theft auto incident on Tuesday, October 24th, when two thirteen-year-old boys stole a car from the shopping center parking lot. The thieves drove the car to Garden Lakes, where they abandoned it. One boy was arrested a few minutes later in the vicinity of the car; the second boy got away, but was turned in later that afternoon by his parents once he told them what he had done. 

Rome and Floyd County police also shut down an illegal gambling den at the Sportsman’s Club on Rutledge Road (off Alabama Road, between West Rome and Coosa High Schools) on Saturday night. 22 people were arrested for illegal poker play for cash. 

Daylight saving time (which went into effect in Georgia for the first time in 1967) came to an end on Sunday, October 29th, at 2am, ensuring that it would be dark by the time trick-or-treaters wandered the streets of West Rome two days later. Representative Ward Edwards of Butler had already drafted a bill to exempt Georgia from observing DST; he hoped to have the state join Alaska, Indiana, and Hawaii, which opted to leave their clocks alone.

The second annual Chiaha Guild Harvest Art and Craft Fair took place at the corner of Kingston and Calhoun Avenues on Sunday, October 29th Two well-known Rome artists, Robert Redden and Robert Rakestraw, exhibited their work at the fair, joined by more than three dozen other artists and crafters. 

Piggly Wiggly had Boston butt (a cut of meat I don’t think we ever had at any point in my life, because I’m pretty sure would have remembered laughing in a most immature manner at its name) for 59¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound, and Castleberry’s Brunswick stew for 39¢ a can. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, bread for 18¢ a loaf, and frozen orange juice concentrate for a dime a can. A&P had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, white grapes for 15¢ a pound, and eight rolls of Northern bathroom tissue for 79¢. Big Apple had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 67¢ a pound, Van Camp’s pork & beans for 15¢ a can, and a five pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Aunt Jemima pancake mix for 25¢ a box, and large eggs for 35¢ a dozen.
  
The cinematic week began with Don’t Make Waves (starring Tony Curtis) at the DeSoto Theatre, Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) at the First Avenue, and Hurry Sundown (starring Jane Fonda) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Hour of the Gun (starring James Garner) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Sand Pebbles hung around at the First Avenue for another week. 

Lulu held on to the number one slot for a second week with “To Sir With Love.” Other top ten hits included “The Letter” by the Box Tops (#2); “Never My Love” by the Association (#3); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#4); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#5); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#6); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#7); “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); “(You Make Me  Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Incense & Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (#10). 


Friday, October 13, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/16/1967 to 10/22/1967

The Chieftain’s win over Cedartown propelled them to the number one slot in the Region 6-AA title race, while Roger Weaver maintained his position as number one in rushing for the season. The Chiefs were heavy favorites over Cass in the Friday night football game. I’m reasonably certain that Cass actually showed up for the game, but it’s hard to say for sure, since the final score was 55-6 in West Rome’s favor.

West Rome students had a short school week thanks to teacher in-service days. Kids were out of school on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, while teachers spent all three days in meetings.  (Of course, only the first part of that sentence mattered to most of us…)

It was a rough week for telephone poles. On Wednesday night, a truck took down two poles on Shorter Avenue, knocking out power for more than 200 homes. Then, on Thursday morning, a driver took out a pole on Charlton Road, leaving about a dozen homes in the dark. On Friday, a driver took out a pole on Burnett Ferry Road just south of Conn Street. Surprisingly, it was a rain-free week, so weather played no part in the sudden war on utility poles.

The Rome City School System worked out the details with the US Office of Economic Opportunity, enabling them to relaunch their Headstart program beginning this week in 1967. None of the participating schools was located in West Rome, but Superintendent McDonald indicated that Elm Street was under consideration to join the list for the 1968-1969 school year if it met the family low-income requirements.

The new Rome post office and federal building, which had been struck from the budget a few eeks ago, was added back to the budget after some finagling.  

The safe that was stolen from Lowe’s Supermarket a week earlier was found in a wooded area near Rydal, Georgia, on October 16th. Naturally, the safe had been forced open and all the cash was gone—but almost $2000 in check had been left behind. While the burglars made off with almost $4000 in cash, authorities said they recovered nearly $1000 worth of tools scattered around the safe—tools that had been used to get through the safe’s thick walls and heavy-duty lock mechanism. 

Murphy’s launched their anti-Big K offensive with a major toy push as they tried to take charge of the upcoming Christmas holiday season. Murphy’s was pushing its layaway program s part of its toy sale, and they also brought in Santa Claus on October 20th from noon until 6pm for shoppers who wanted to skip past Halloween and Thanksgiving and get right into the Christmas spirit.

Piggly Wiggly had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound, and grapefruit for a dime each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 29¢ a can, and large eggs for an especially low 25¢ a dozen. A&P had rib roast for 79¢ a pound, Van Camp chili with beans for 29¢ a can, and bananas for 15¢ a pound. Big Apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, red grapes for 25¢ a pound, and a 32-ounce jar of Peter Pan peanut butter for 69¢. Couch’s had ground sirloin for 69¢ a pound, Royal Pure orange juice for 25¢ a quart, and a four-sleeve box of Nabisco saltines for 35¢. 

The cinematic week began with Rough Night in Jericho (starring Dean Martin & George Peppard) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Alfie (starring Michael Caine) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Don’t Make Waves to the DeSoto Theatre,  The Sand Pebbles (starring Steve McQueen) to the First Avenue, and Hurry Sundown (with Jane Fonda) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” knocked The Box Tops' “The Letter” out of first place this week in 1967—but the Box Tops’ song only fell one slot to the number two position. Other top ten hits included “Never My Love” by the Association (#3); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#4); “Expressway (To Your Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#5); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#6); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#7); “Little Ole Man (Uptight—Everything’s Alright): by Bill Cosby (#8); “Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood (#9); and “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#10). 

Fifty years ago this week, the first issue of Rolling Stone, featuring a John Lennon cover photo, rolled off the presses. The folded tabloid-format magazine would rapidly become the most influential and popular magazines in rock music history.


The first-ever race between Superman and the Flash took place in The Flash #175. Alas, we didn’t get to see how artist extraordinaire Carmine Infantino might have depicted this ultimate speed-test, because Flash #175 was the first issue illustrated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. (While the art team had done wonderful things in the pages of Metal Men and Wonder Woman, among other comics, they never really managed to portray super speed particularly effectively. As a result, The Flash—which had long been a favorite comic of mine—fell off my must-read list within a few issues.)

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/9/1967 to 10/15/1967

West Rome faced off against Cedartown on Friday, Ocrtober 13th in a match between two undefeated 6-AA teams. By the time the game was over, West Rome was undefeated and Cedartown was sad as they looked at the scoreboard and saw a 14-7 Chieftain victory. The win came as the result of a remarkable Jimmy Edwards-to-Charles Williams pass that came on the first play of the fourth quarter. It appeared that the Bulldogs had Edwards cornered for a loss when he tossed a surprise pass deep downfield towards Williams, who somehow managed to catch the pass even with two Bulldog defenders in front of and behind him. Williams was tackled at the three-yard line, and from there it was an easy walk into the end zone for Roger Weaver.  Mark Brewer completed the point-after kick to secure the 14-7 victory. (Of  course, that wouldn’t have been a winning touchdown had Edwards not completed a short touchdown run in the second quarter after Mike Warren, Roger Weaver, and Byron Swinford moved the ball to within a few yards of the end zone.)

Burglars couldn’t break into the safe at Lowe’s Super Market on North Broad Sreet, so they simply toted it off with them in the early morning hours of October 9th. They got away with more than $6,000 in cash and a 250 pound safe. (I’m still amazed at what a hotbed of crime Rome was when I was growing up—I don’t remember any of this from my childhood, even though I read through both the Rome and Atlanta papers pretty regularly.)

Meanwhile, petty larcenies continued as thieves broke into four vending machines at Crumbley’s Park & Wash at 512 Shorter Avenue on Wednesday night , making off with approximately $50 and a number of snacks and soft drinks. Two days later, thieves broke into pay telephones in West Rome and on Highway 27 North, stealing approximately $40 in coins

The Rome Board of Education approved $15,000 in funds to begin installing televisions in all Rome school classrooms. The newly-launched Rome Cable TV system had agreed to install cable outlets in all classrooms at a bargain rate with no monthly fees, so the school system thought it would be advantageous to provide televisions for every classroom. (Alas, $15,000 didn’t go anywhere nearly as far as the school board thought it would, and the school system ultimately provided each school with a certain number of televisions and carts so that they could be rolled to classrooms when needed.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and a six pack of Coke/Tab/Sprite for 33¢ plus deposit. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and tomatoes for 25¢ a pound. A&P had turkeys for 37¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and grapefruit for 15¢ each. Kroger had pork chops for 75¢ a pound, large eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and corn for 8¢ an ear. Couch’s had Golden Harvest weiners for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili for 29¢ a can, and winesap apples for 15¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with What’s New Pussycat (starring Peter Sellers) and How to Murder Your Wife (starring Jack Lemmon) in alternating showings at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Divorce American Style (starring Debbie Reynolds) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Rough Night in Jericho (starring Dean Martin) to the DeSoto, Alfie (starring Michael Caine ,who knew what it was all about) to the First Avenue, and a double feature of Young Warriors and Ride the Hangman Tree to the West Rome Drive-In.

“The Letter” continue to deliver for the Box Tops for yet another week as they held on to the number one slot. Other top ten hits included “Never My Love” by the Association (#2); “To Sir With Love” by Lulu (#3); “Little Ole Man) (Uptight—Everything’s All Right)” by Bill Cosby (#4); “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry (#5); “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson (#6); “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee & the Strangers (#7); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#8); “Gimme  Little Sign” by Brenton Wood (#9); and “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#10). 


Fifty years ago this week, Marvel took advantage of a DC oversight, introducing a new character named Captain Marvel in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #12. (DC had ended up with the rights to the Golden Age Captain Marvel, but had done nothing to protect the trademark, so it had lapsed. Once Marvel introduced their Captain Marvel, DC had no choice but to use the name “Shazam” for the adventures of their Captain Marvel; recently, they simply renamed the hero Shazam to avoid the confusion.) While DC’s (originally Fawcett’s) Captain Marvel was a magically-powered hero, Marvel’s Captain Marvel (created by Stan Lee & Gene Colan) was the science-fictional tale of a Kree soldier who made his way to Earth, where he became a superhero.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 10/2/1967 to 10/8/1967

Scores of Romans headed to Bartow County this week in 1966 to assist in a desperate search for three-year-old Bill Hardman, who went missing in the dense woods north of Cartersville on Tuesday, October 3rd. Altogether, more than 1500 people from six counties joined in the search, but it was a neighbor who found the child—ironically, only after the neighbor got lost in the woods after spending hours assisting in the search! The child was not even dehydrated, leading doctors to conclude that he must have drunk from the many streams and ponds that were located in the area.

Rome’s new cable television system began its expansion into West Rome this week in 1967. Shorter Heights was one of the first areas to get cable, with expansions down the length of Shorter Avenue and into adjacent subdivisions scheduled before the end of the year. “All nine channels are beautiful,” Rome Cable TV manager Hugh Smith said. (Yes, nine channels—three VHF from Chattanooga, 3 VHF from Atlanta, and three UHF from Atlanta—and that was the entirety of our cable choices in the distant past of 1967!)

Nine Rome juveniles were arrested in connection with a number of burglaries, larcenies, and shoplifting crimes that had occurred over the past three months. All nine confessed to sniffing airplane glue to get ready for their crimes. The kids said that they had never heard of glue sniffing until they read about it in the Atlanta paper--proving that in the 1960s, even criminals read the news on a regular basis.

And speaking of criminals… Someone broke into the cashier’s office at Berry College’s Hermann Hall and stole almost $10,000 on Thursday, October 5th. The money was stolen sometime between noon and 1pm, when everyone was at lunch. Two days later, police arrested a 22-year-old Berry senior from Florida for the theft after climbing in through an open window. 

Roger Weaver was recognized this week in 1967 for becoming the first Chieftain to rush more than 2000 yards in his varsity career—and Weaver did it early in his junior year! His 140 yards rushing against Wills on September 29th put him over the 2000 yard mark (2065 yards, to be exact). He was just one touchdown short of achieving 100 points scored, yet another landmark record.

The Chieftains took on one of their two biggest local rivals, the Coosa Eagles, on Friday, October 6th, posting a 14-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 6500 at Barron Stadium. Mike Grass and Mike Johnson scored the two touchdowns

Poorer Romans gained new access to health care beginning this week  in 1967 when a new program known as Medicaid launched. The plan assured that  those on public assistance, as well as those on 65, would not be denied medical care regardless of their ability to pay.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, a quart of Georgia Maid dill pickles for 33¢, and grapefruit for a dime each. Kroger had T-bone steak for $1.09 a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and a case of Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for $1 (plus deposit). A&P had boneless round roast for 89¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 12¢ a pound, and Betty Crocker layer cake mix for 41¢ a box. Big Apple had pork loin for 59¢ a pound, yellow squash for 19¢ a pound, and Sealtest sherbet or ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. Couch’s had roasting chickens for 29¢ each, ‘Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a large can, and vine-ripe tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Two for the Road (starring Audrey Hepburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Up the Down Staircase (starring Sandy Dennis) at the First Avenue. The midweek switch out brought an unusual double feature to both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In: alternating showings of What’s New Pussycat (with Peter Sellers) and How to Murder Your Wife (with Jack Lemmon) at both theaters, while the First Avenue held Up the Down Staircase over for another week.


The Box Tops held on to the number one slot for another week with “The Letter.” Other top ten hits included “Never My Love” by the Association (#2); “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry (#3); “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee & the Strangers (#4); “Little Ole Man (Uptight—Everything’s All Right)” by Bill Cosby (#5); “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson (#6); “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#7); “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay & the Americans (#8); “How Can I Be Sure” by the Young Rascals (#9); and “Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood (#10).