Friday, March 03, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/6/1967 to 3/12/1967

March 1967 sounded a lot like March 2017: after a couple of days of highs in the low to mid-70s, a cold front brought a line of severe thunderstorms, followed by near-freezing low temperatures and highs in the low 50s.

ChieftainActs took place on March 10th and 11th at the West Rome High School Auditorium. Mrs. Clara Ellison directed the presentation, which was built around the theme of “Where the Action Is.” The show included such acts as “Sugar Lips,” Dragnet,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “Chieftain Go Go.” Tickets were available at the school office or at Mck’s Department Store, Bagley’s Department Store (I have to admit that I have no memory of Bagley’s Department Store—anyone have any info?), and Candler Drug Store on Shorter Avenue, which always seemed to be the source for tickets for West Rome events.(Every community needed its very own Mr. Candler!)

All of us who grew up in Rome in the 1960s owe Don Unsworth a hearty thank-you: it turns out that more than 1200 Romans failed the driver’s license test in the 1966 year (the vast majority failed the written test, but 125 Romans failed the driving test and 39 failed the road sign test). Those who took driver’s education had less than one quarter the failure rate of those who did not take the course.

Oh, Rome, how naive you were: Rome’s City Commission and Chamber of Commerce were still optimistic that a direct connection between Rome and I-75 would be completed by 1970 if federal funds were available. Otherwise, State Highway Department Planner John Wilkerson said that it Romans wouldn’t see the route completed until (get ready for it) 1976. Well, he was only 41 years off and counting...

Burglars decided to implement a swap at the Minit Shop on the Alabama Highway: they returned a clock that they had stolen in an earlier burglary, but filled their pockets with coins from a vending machine they ransacked while they were there. Police had no clues, but they had plenty of time on their hands… (*barrump bump*)
And speaking of Alabama Highway, Floyd County police raided  the Covered Wagon on Alabama Road on Friday night, seizing a large quantity of whisky and beer. The owner was booked on charges of selling beer without a permit and illegally selling whisky (Floyd County did not allow the sale of stronger alcoholic beverages by the drink in the 1960s). Police were also interested in a trailer behind the establishment that had a bed “but did not appear to be used for living purposes.”

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound, pole beans for 19¢ a pound, and a five-pound bag of Colonial sugar for 39¢. Kroger had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and lettuce for 15¢ a head. Big Apple had fresh fryers for 25¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Van Camp beef hash for 33¢ a can. A&P had rib roast for 69¢ a pound, Poss Chili with beans for 39¢ a can, and bananas for 12¢ a pound. Couch’s had their own fresh-ground pork sausage for 49¢ a pound, grapefruit for a nickel each, and eggs for 33¢ a dozen.

The  cinematic week began with Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (with Mike Connors) at the DeSoto Theatre, Is Paris Burning? (with Kirk Douglas) at the First Avenue, and The Appaloosa (with Marlon Brando) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Fistful of Dollars (with Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name) to the DeSoto Theatre, Dr. Zhivago (with Omar Sharif) at the First Avenue, and Gambit (with Michael Caine) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The Supremes took the number one slot this week in 1967 with “Love Is Here And Now YOu’re Gone.” Other top ten hits included “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#2); “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#3); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#4); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#5); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#6); “Sock It To Me Baby!” by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (#7); “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#8); “My Cup Runneth Over” by Ed Ames (#9); and “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Mamas & The Papas (#10).

Hal Holbrook portrayed Samuel Langhorn Clemens in the one-man show Mark Twain Tonight!, which first aired on CBS on March 6th. Holbrook, who wrote Mark Twain Tonight! using the words of Twain himself, began performing the one-man play in 1954. In 1966, the show made it to Broadway, which brought it to the attention of producer David Susskind, who arranged to film the stage play for television.

Cat Stevens' first album, Matthew and Son, was released this week in 1967, as was The Velvet Underground & Nico, the debut album by the Velvet Underground. Neither album was a commercial success, but both Cat Stevens and the Velvet Undergound achieved critical success, launching major musical careers.

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