Monday, January 30, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/30/1967 to 2/5/1967

After racking up a three-game winning streak in spite of their relative inexperience and smaller size, the Chieftains basketball team earned a new nickname: “Randall’s Runts.” The Chiefs went into their January 31st game against Pepperell with a great attitude, but that wasn’t enough to keep their streak alive: West Rome lost 56-42. while the girls lost 62-40.The weekend was no better for the Chieftains, with East Rome’s basketball teams beating West Rome’s boys and girls teams 87-30 and 45-41 respectively. (Well, the winning streak was nice while it lasted!...)

The newly expanded and modernized Magic Touch Car Wash opened for business at 1705 Shorter Avenue this week in 1967. The Shorter Avenue location was the most highly automated car wash in Northwest Georgia at the time it opened; all exterior washing was automatic, and personnel only cleaned the interior of the car by hand. The roller-conveyor-driven car wash could handle 600 cars a day, and customers could watch their cars as they progressed through the wash.

Residential and commercial growth in Rome and northwest Georgia was so strong that Georgia Power announced plans to add a $50 million generating unit that would more than triple the plant’s production capacity. Rome district vice president Robert W. Scherer said that the 300,000 extra kilowatts of power would supply electricity to the area from Dalton to Atlanta, with a significant amount of the extra power going to the Rome area.

Two West Rome 18-year-olds were arrested on Wednesday night for breaking into Hill’s Grocery on Shorter Avenue and stealing cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The thieves were renting a small apartment above the grocery store; they had pried up the floorboards and used an awl on a string to stab the cigarettes and chewing tobacco on the store shelves below, pulling  them back up through the hole in the floor where the plank used to be.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, cabbage for 6¢ a pound, and Wesson oil for 37¢ a quart. Big Apple had fresh fryers for 27¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had hen turkeys for 33¢ a pound, Coca-Cola for 39¢ a carton (plus deposit), and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 43¢ a quart. A&P had Swiss steak for 89¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and tall cans of Sea Choice salmon for 49¢. Couch’s had  Oscar Mayer bacon for 69¢ a pound, a 24-ounce can of Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢, and pole beans for 15¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with After The Fox (with Peter Sellers) t the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Dr. Goldfoot & The Girl Bombs (with Vincent Price & Fabian) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Penelope (with Natalie Wood) to the DeSoto Theatre and The Cavern (with John Saxon) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Julie Andrews kept singing about those living hills at the First Avenue.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour debuted on February 5th, 1967, on CBS. The show, which blended comedy, music, and sociopolitical satire, proved to be a major hit, even though Tom & Dick Smothers were constantly warring with CBS over content. Writers for the series included Jim Stafford, Rob Reiner, Steve Martin, Don Novello, Lorenzo Music, Pat Paulsen, and Albert Brooks—all of whom went on to achieve success as comedians and actors in their own right.

The Monkees held on to number one with “I’m a Believer” this week in 1967. Other top ten songs included “Georgy Girl by the Seekers (#2); “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#3); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#4); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#5); “Words of Love” The Mamas & The Papas (#6); “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#7); “98.6” by Keith (#8); “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#9); and “Standing in the Shadows of Love” by the Four Tops (#10).

The Monkees also held on to the number slot on the album charts with their eponymous first album. No other pop-rock albums made the top five, with The Sound of Music soundtrack, the Doctor Zhivago soundtrack, SRO by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and Winchester Cathedral by the New Vaudeville Band filling out the charts.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/23/1967 to 1/29/1967

Two men and two women were taken in for questioning on January 24th after they attempted to cash a forged check at Johnny Reb’s in West Rome. The forgery was so crude that the cashier said it didn’t even look like a real check, so he asked them to wait while he called his boss for approval; instead, the clerk called the police, who found the four would-be forgers waiting impatiently for the cash when the police arrived.

West Rome’s basketball team posted an all-too-rare (for the 1966-67 season) rout, defeating Berry Academy 69-26. The Chieftains played so well that Coach Randall Kent sent in every sub and second-string player on the bench by the end of the third quarter to give them all some playing time. Kenny Stephens and Charlie Layman scored 19 and 17 points respectively. This marked the end of a nine-game losing streak for West Rome.

West Rome turned their victory into a streak with a 63-52 win against Chattooga for the boys team, a 43-34 win for the girls team, and a 53-42 win for the junior varsity. Charlie Layman scored 31 points, Kenny Stephens scored 14, and Benny Padgett scored 10. Juanita Williams was the top scorer for the girls with 27 points.

Barron Stadium took a turn (for the better? for the worse?) this week in 1966 when the bleachers, which were previously located in a general north-south direction, were moved to an east-west direction instead. Work was already underway to relocate lights and to add new dressing rooms and a new press box to the realigned stadium. According to the Rome recreation department, the relocation went so smoothly that there was no doubt that all the work would be completed by the middle of March. (I have no idea why the powers that be felt it was necessary to spend almost $75,000 to rotate the stadium layout 90 degrees… but it happened with almost no advance notice and no explanation.)

Rome’s proposed federal building and post office facility moved one step closer to reality this week in 1967 when the federal budget was approved with a line item allocating more than $1 million to develop the first phase of the project.

The Civil Aeronautics Board ordered Eastern Air Lines to continue serving Rome’s Russell Field, denying their petition for a review with intent of discontinuing service. Eastern was told they had to continue offering one round-trip flight from Atlanta to Rome and back each day.

Sears announced their big sewing machine sale this week in 1967. A zig-zag console matching in an Early American style all-wood console was priced at only $77; a Kenmore deluxe zig-zag machine in an all-wood console, with a thirty-year parts and labor warranty, was available for $117. (Yes, a thirty-year warranty… I don’t know of any manufacturer today who would dream of offering a thirty-year warranty on any piece of equipment!)

The Rome City Commission voted to designate February as American History Month in Rome, following the lead of Congress, who had already designed February as American History Month. To commemorate the event, the Daughters of the American Revolution agreed to sponsor an educational program in the Rome City and Floyd County Schools that included a three-part film presentation at all high schools and an exhibit of important document replicas to be placed in each high school.

Piggly Wiggly had hen turkeys for 35¢ a pound (turkeys weren’t just for Thanksgiving and Christmas, apparently!), eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Minute Maid frozen orange juice concentrate for 15¢ a can, and Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound. Big apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, Pride of Georgia ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and five pounds of Gold Medal flour for 49¢. A&P had beef brisket for 89¢ a pound, apples for 8¢ each, and a 48-count box of Ann Page tea bags for 59¢. Couch’s had 3-pound Cudahy Bar-S boneless canned hams for $2.99, Blue Plate peanut butter for 59¢ a quart, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Follow Me, Boys (with Fred MacMurray) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? at the West Rome Drive-In (and I still think this is one of the strangest choices ever for a drive-in movie…). The midweek switchout brought After the Fox (with Peter Sellers & Britt Ekland) to the DeSoto Theatre and a double feature of The Reptile (with Noel Williams) and Rasputin, The Mad Monk (with Christopher Lee) at the West Rome Drive-In, while Julie Andrews kept singing about her favorite things at the First Avenue.

CBS Playhouse, an award-winning anthology drama series, premiered on January 29, 1967 with The Final War of Olly Winter, which starred Ivan Dixon portraying an African-American master sergeant struggling to return to allied-controlled land after a battle with the Viet Cong. Dixon received an Emmy nomination for his performance, which was essentially a  lengthy monologue (the only other charactter was a Vietnamese girl who spoke no English and could not understand what he said as he recounted his experiences). This was a breakout performance for Dixon, who was previously best known for his role as Staff Sgt. Kinchloe on Hogan’s Heroes.

The Monkees maintained their monkey-like grip on number one this week in 1967 with “I’m a Believer.” Other top ten hits included “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#2); “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#3); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#4); “Words of Love” by The Mamas & The Papas (#5); “Standing in the Shadows of Love” by the Four Tops (#6); “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#7); “Nashville Cats” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (#8); “Kind of a Drag” by The Buckinghams (#9); and “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#10).

The eponymous debut album by The Stone Poneys was released this week in 1967. While the album didn’t sell particularly well and produced no hit singles, it is noteworthy as the first professional recording for vocalist Linda Ronstadt. who sings lead on several songs on the LP. In the mid-70s, when Linda Ronstadt became a superstar, the album was reissued as The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt, and the reissue charted at #72).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/16/1967 to 1/22/1967

The prior week’s arrest of two juveniles for breaking into a Shorter Avenue coin laundry, as well as Rome Roller Rink on South Hanks Street, expanded in scope with the arrest of three more suspects—two juveniles and an eighteen-year-old—on Monday, January 16th. The additional suspects were arrested after alert parents contacted the police when they saw that their children had stolen property. “I knew my son couldn’t afford all that stuff, so he had to have stolen it,” the mother of one of the boys told the authorities when she called them to her house to take her son in; he identified the remaining two suspects, and those boys’ parents helped to verify their sons’ involvement.

Juvenile Court Judge John A. Frazier announced a change in court policy: beginning in February 1967, juvenile lawbreakers would have their names released to the press and public upon their second offense. Previously, juveniles’ identities were always protected, but juvenile court judges and the state legislature determined that parents might be more likely to get involved in keeping their children on the straight and narrow if they knew that their identities would be made public once they became “repeater offenders.”

Ceramics were a big thing in the 1960s—so big, in fact, that the Rome Recreation Department announced plans to expand their ceramics class schedule from two days a week to five days a week. More than 200 Romans were already signed up for the classes; with the new schedule, the recreation department hoped to make room for 500 to participate in their ceramics classes.

Popular Southern comedian Brother Dave Gardner offered “a fun filled evening of adult humor” at the Rome City Auditorium on January 21st. Long before the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, comedians like Dave Gardner offered their own distinctively humorous takes on Southern lifestyles and quirks.

Rome was “still crazy,” apparently: police and federal “revenooers” (as they referred to them in the Snuffy Smith comic strip) shut down a huge still off the Alabama Road, just a few miles past West Rome High School. Two men were arrested and charged with manufacturing and possessing non-tax-paid whiskey; their three thousand gallon still was destroyed.

West Rome’s wrestlers lost their first match of the week against East Rome but won their second match by trouncing Sprayberry. Bobby Kerce remained unbeaten, while Greg Quinton, Richard Marable, Jeff Anderson, Roger Weaver, and Anthony Slafta all came through with pins.

Piggly Wiggly had split fryer breasts for 47¢ a pound, tall cans of Double Q salmon for 59¢, and five pounds of oranges for 39¢. Kroger had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, a five-pound bag of Dixie Crystals sugar for 39¢, and a half-gallon of Kroger ice milk for 39¢. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 63¢ a pound, and tomatoes for 29¢ a pound. Big Apple had Cudahy Bar S bacon for 59¢ a pound, a ten-pound bag of White Lily flour for 99¢, and Country Maid cling peaches for a quarter a can. Couch’s had their own custom-ground country sausage for 59¢ a pound, Kitchen Kraft black-eyed peas for 15¢ a can, and Nabisco Saltine crackers for 35¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with Follow Me Boys (with Fred MacMurray) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Tickle Me (with Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. Follow Me Boys and The Sound of Music hung around for another week, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in Woody Allen’s comedy What’s Up Tiger Lily for the weekend.

The Monkees held on to the number one slot this week in 1967 with “I’m A Believer.” Other top ten hits included “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#2); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#3); “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#4); “Words of Love” by The Mamas & the Papas (#5); “Standing in the Shadows of Love” by the Four Tops (#6); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#7); “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra (#8); “Nashville Cats” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (#9); and “Tell It To the Rain” by the Four Seasons (#10).

Friday, January 06, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/9/1967 to 1/15//1967

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Thursday, January 12th at the corner of Redmond Circle and Shorter Avenue—directly across the street from West Rome High School--to celebrate the signing of contracts for the construction of Gala Shopping Center, which was described as “the most modern and largest shopping center ever build in Northwest Georgia.” The 115,000 square foot shopping center would be anchored by a Big K department store—the first Big K in Georgia, according to the Kuhn Brothers Company of Nashville (the owners of Big K). Shopping center owners also confirmed that they had signed Cole Drug Store to open a 12,000 square foot location in the shopping center. Other stores set to open in the new center included A&P Food Store, with an 18,400 square foot store; Economy Auto, with a 9,000 square foot store; Kay’s Ice Cream; and a number of unidentified tenants, including a coin laundry, a men’s store, a ladies’ dress shop, a jewelry store, a shoe store, and a fabric shop/sewing center. Plans called for the center to be completed by September 1967 to take advantage of the 1967 Christmas season. West Rome Students were already counting the days until they could cut class and sneak through the pines to the new shopping center...

Cedartown beat West Rome’s boys 58-32 in one of the worst trouncings in Chieftain history. West Rome’s girls lost in a closer match, 40-36.

Rome closed out another banner year for building permits, with over $6.8 million in permits issued in 1966. General Electric pushed Rome over the top with a $1.134 million expansion of their Redmond Road facility. There were also 180 permits for new homes, 37 permits for new business construction, and 286 more for renovations and repairs of existing businesses. 

More good news for Romans: juvenile crime dropped for the second straight year, with 1966 setting a five-year low with only 169 juvenile arrests in 1966 (61 less than the number arrested in 1965).

One of the strangest gubernatorial elections in Georgia history came to an end this week in 1967 when the state legislature selected Lester Maddox as governor. State Representatives Sidney Lowry & Richard Starnes cast their votes for Republicans Howard “Bo” Callaway, who received a plurality (but not a majority) of the votes in the November election, while J. Battle Hall and Jerry Minge cast their votes for Democrat Lester Maddox. Neither candidate won a majority because of the surprisingly successful write-in campaign for former governor Ellis Arnall. Since Georgia’s legislature was predominantly Democrat, it’s no surprise that the Democratic candidate was the winning choice among legislators.

National City Bank began offering 5.1% interest on saving certificates (now known as certificates of deposit) for 1967, which put them .1% ahead of the other banks in town. (And now, a half-century later, we struggle to find banks that pay 20% of that interest rate… so much for progress!)

Two juveniles were arrested and charged with burglary after being caught in a Shorter Avenue coin laundry after hours. The same juveniles had already broken into Rome Roller Rink on three prior occasions; the Rome Boys Club on two occasions; and had shattered windows in a number of cars in West Rome, looking for cash or car keys so that they could take the cars for joy rides. One juvenile was 15, the other was 13.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, lettuce for 15¢ a head, and a case of Coca-Cola for $1.29 plus deposit. Kroger had split chicken breasts for 45¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and a 1 pound can of Maxwell House coffee for 69¢. Big Apple had corned beef for 69¢ a pound, Shurfine saltines for 19¢ a box, and Van Camp vienna sausages for 19¢ a can. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Ann Page mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and ripe Florida tomatoes for 29¢ a pound. Couch’s had ground beef for 33¢ a pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and large tangerines for 35¢ a dozen.

The cinematic week began with The Professionals (with Burt Lancaster & Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of That Funny Feeling (with Sandra Dee & Bobby Darin) and Moment to Moment (with Jean Seberg) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Follow Me, Boys! (with Fred MacMurray & Vera Miles) to the DeSoto and Tickle Me (with Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Sound of Music kept sounding off at the First Avenue.

The first-ever Super Bowl took place on January 15th, 1967—and viewers could watch the game on both CBS and NBC, since CBS had the NFL television contract and NBC had the AFL television contract. The game ended with a 35-10 Green Bay win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The big halftime show consisted of performances by marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University. The game is the only Super Bowl in history that was not a sellout; 33,000 seats were unsold in the 94,000 seat stadium, with most people saying the outrageous $12 ticket cost priced them out of the market.

January 15th, 1967 was also the night when the Rolling Stones gave in to Ed Sullivan’s demand that they change the lyrics to “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” When the stones performed the song on the Ed Sullivan Show that evening, the lyrics had become “Let’s Spend Some Time Together."

The Monkees held on to the number one slot this week with “I’m a Believer.” Other top ten hits included “Snooby Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#2); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#3); “Good Thing” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#4); “Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra (#5); “Words of Love” by the Mamas & the Papas (#6); “Standing in the Shadows of Love” by the Four Tops (#7); “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band (#8); “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra (#9); and “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#10).

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Twelve Treats of Christmas

Christmas and treats (mostly, but not always, candy) have been inexorably linked ever since my childhood. My parents had certain foods that became "Christmas treats" in my childhood (some of which, such as tangerines and cashew nuts, seem quite common today but must have been less so when my parents were younger); likewise, there are foods that I have come to regard as Christmas treats. No holiday season is complete without these twelve treats:

12 - Brach's Chocolate Covered Peanuts: It's gotta be Brach's. Their chocolate has a dash more salt than most anyone else's, and it's the brand I grew up with.

11 - German Chocolate Cake: My grandmother used to make a remarkable German chocolate cake every Christmas season. That was about the only time I ever got German chocolate cake, so it became a holiday treat from the first time that I tasted it as a child.

10 - Comice Pears: an especially rich, sweet pear with great "mouth feel," the red comice is the Christmas fruit.

9 - Brach's Chocolate Stars: As is the case with the Brach's chocolate covered peanuts, it's gotta be Brach's. I used to get these at Ingle's but they have gone with another brand recently (Zachary's, perhaps?), and both the taste and texture are a bit different.

8 - Cocoa Fudge: I never had creamy fudge as a child. For me, fudge has to be deep, dark, slightly grainy cocoa fudge.

7 - Coconut Cake: Sure, I love coconut cake any time of the year--but it's just not Christmas without at least a piece of coconut cake!

6 - Peanut Butter Fudge: Again, this needs to have a bit of graininess to it--you need to get distinct notes and textures of both the sugar and the peanut butter. Ideally, this should be eaten in an alternating pattern with the cocoa fudge mentioned above.

5 - Planter's Mixed Nuts (without peanuts): These canisters of nuts used to have more pecans in them, but Planter's began cheaping 'em out many years ago. I sometimes add some extra Planters roasted salted pecans to the canister myself, just to get closer to that original mix. I enjoy them so much that I even eat the Brazil nuts (a nut I'd never buy on its own).

4 - Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries: Rich dark chocolate outside, thick liquid cordial center with a crisp, firm cherry inside. These are to be rationed, no more than two a day.

3 - Chocolate Meringue Cookies: I'd never had these before Chris and Markay Appel gave them to me as a Christmas gift years go, and I fell in love with them immediately. Rich cocoa taste, light meringue texture, crisp and crumbly... Again, these are to be rationed, no more than two a day.

2 - Egg Nog Bread: My dear friend Ryan Schwanke first gave this to me several years ago, and now it's one of those treats I eagerly anticipate. It's not a heavy taste--rich and subtle at the same time--but the flavors come out a bit more when it's warmed in the oven.

1 - Whitman's Sampler: I've talked about these boxed candies before, but they still remain the most vital of all Christmas treats. I've gotten at least one of these every Christmas since I was a kid (some all mine, some for the family when I was a kid, and some for Susan and me once we were married). I can't imagine a Christmas without them.