Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in 1967 - 2/20/1967 to 2/26/1967

Oh, so close: Chieftains awakened to snow on Monday morning, February 20th—but the snow turned to rain by 7:15 that morning, so Rome City Schools chose not to cancel school and everyone went to class just like always, although probably not with smiles on their faces… Temperatures  warmed into the 40s for the next couple of days before dropping to 10 degrees on Friday night, followed by a low of 8 degrees on Saturday night.

The 1960s saw a rise in the interest in UFOs, and Rome wasn’t immune to the phenomenon of strange sightings. Rome US Weather Bureau director Juanita Lester reported that she had seen a UFO in the skies near Russell Field. “Two white lights were moving slowly, almost lazily, across the sky in an easterly direction,” she said. “At first, I thought they were airplane lights, then I realized that was impossible The lights were very brilliant and seemed to glow. Their edges were blurred.” It seemed to hover above the airport, so she got in her car to drive over and check it out. “When I was just about to the airport, the object began to move again and it soon disappeared to the south. There was no sound nor any other lights. If an aircraft had been that low, there would have been some sound.” Lester knew aircraft, weather balloons, and other airborne objects, and said “what I saw was none of these.” The report inspired a number of other Romans to report UFO sightings in the Rome area. A resident who lived off Burnett Ferry Road said that he and his wife saw a large object hovering a few hundred feet above his house; his wife said that this was the latest in a series of strange UFO activities near their house. Ivan Payne of 34 Conn Street reported UFO sightings as well; at first, he thought it was a plane or a satellite until it abruptly stopped and instantly reversed direction in the sky; he watched for approximately two minutes until it disappeared into the distance. (My mother, a very practical person not prone to exaggeration, eventually shared with her family that she had seen a UFO near our home in West Rome in 1967—and had a bizarre experience that we first dismissed as a dream until we found some physical evidence to support her assertion that something strange had occurred near our home that evening…)

Rome’s grand jury criticized local law enforcement for allowing houses of prostitution to operate with impunity in Rome.  According to the grand jury, some local nightclubs and beer parlors had even installed trailers adjacent to their places of businesses for the use of prostitutes, who paid a percentage to “the house.” Locations on Alabama Road were specifically referenced, although business names were not given. They recommended stronger action to shut down these illegal operations.

Thomas Evans Fricks, a West Rome High School graduate, was one of the very few Romans to make it to West Point Military Academy. The Rome News-Tribune spotlighted Tommy’s accomplishment in a page 3 article on Monday, pointing out that the former member of the 1965 Class AA championship football team, came from a military family and spent several summers marching alongside Guardsmen at Fort McLellan, and even accompanied Company A, 2nd Battalion, 108th Armor, on weekend marksmanship training at Camp Catoosa near Ringgold while he was a high school student.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Orange Nip frozen orange juice for 25¢ a can, and Morton’s new tuna pot pies (no, I’m not making it up) for 25¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, a box of six Kroger donuts for 23¢, and Hunt’s tomato sauce for a dime a can. A&P had Allgood bacon for 55¢ a pound, Cap’n Johns frozen fish sticks for 50¢ a box, and five pounds of pink grapefruit for 33¢. Big Apple had Hormel franks for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for 8¢ an ear, and a two-pound jar of Lenox Park peanut butter for 49¢. Couch’s had spareribs for 29¢ a pound, a dozen eggs for 29¢, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.

The cinematic week began with A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (with Zero Mostel) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and The Fortune Cookie (with Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brough Tobruk (with Rock Hudson & George Peppard) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Restless Ones (with Johnny Crawford) to the First Avenue (and yes, that means that they finally ended the seemingly-eternal run of The Sound of Music, only to bring in a two-year-old grade B film in its place).

The Buckinghams leapt to number one this week in 1967 with “Kind of a Drag.” Other top ten hits included “Love Is Here to Stay and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#2); “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#3), “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#4); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#5); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#6); “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#7); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#8); “ (We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#9); and “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

The Beatles appeared on American Bandstand in a taped appearance this week in 1967, premiering their new videos for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Jack and the Beanstalk, the first TV special to combine live action and animation, premiered on February 25th, 1967, courtesy of NBC and Hanna-Barbera.

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