Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 3/27/1967 to 4/2/1967

Masked bandits robbed an Alabama Road service station at gunpoint on the night of March 27th, stealing about $60. The service station employee  waited until the robbers walked out to their car, at which point he pulled a pistol from under the counter and fired five shots into the car, all  of which hit the target (although apparently not the robbers). The employee said that he got some satisfaction in knowing that it would cost them more than $60 to repair the five bullet holes in their car.

Rome’s flying saucer phenomena continued as a UFO was reported over the skies of Lindale on March 28th. The object, which was described as sometimes looking like a saucer and other times looking like a ball of fire, changed directions several times before heading towards Rome. Witnesses said that they saw a smaller object fall from the UFO to the ground before it disappeared; the object was not located. After investigation, the police said that the flying saucer turned out to be large heavy-coated clear dry cleaning bags containing multiple candles; the heated air from the candles gave the bags “lift,” while kite strings allowed the UFO-launchers (a group of teenage boys) to guide the UFOs back and forth… until the candles caught the bag on fire and burned through the string, setting them free until the bags melted and fell to the ground.

Rome launched a large-scale paving program this week in 1967, and one of the first roads to get paved was South Hanks Street in West Rome. Until that time, South Hanks Street was still a gravel road!  Sections of Burnett Ferry Road located in the city limits were scheduled for repaving, as were many neighborhood streets in West Rome, including Williamson Street, Paris Drive, and Leon Street.

Girl Scout Cookies went on sale in West Rome this week in 1967; the sale was slated to continue until April 15th. 1967 cookie offerings included thin mints, peanut butter sandwich, butter shortbread, and assorted sandwich cookies. Yep, four choices—that was it! Boxes of cookies were priced at 50¢—which sounds pretty cheap, until you adjust for inflation, which puts a box at $3.75 or so in today’s dollars.

West End Elementary School presented its annual spring musical program on Friday, March 31st, at 8pm in the West Rome High School Auditorium. The program, entitled “Toyland,” was a pastiche of Victor Herbert’s operetta “Babes in Toyland” (and why do I suspect that the students weren’t the ones who came up with that theme?).

Big Apple had rump roast (yes, I still snicker at the name) for 77¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and Campbell’s tomato soup for 12¢ a can. Kroger had t-bone steaks for 95¢ a pound, Coca-Cola for 29¢ a carton (plus deposit), and corn for 6¢ an ear. A&P had center cut pork chops for 59¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 19¢ a pound, and a 12 ounce jar of Maxwell House instant coffee for 95¢. Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 33¢ a dozen, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. Couch’s had ground beef for 45¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and a 12-ounce jar of Duke’s Go-Go Peanut Butter for 29¢.

The cinematic week began with Thunder Alley (with Annette Funicello & Fabian) at the DeSoto Theatre & West Rome Drive-In and Doctor Zhivago (with Omar Shariff) at the First Avenue theatre. The midweek switchout brought The Reluctant Astronaut (with Don Knotts) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Doctor Zhivago refused to go away at the First Avenue.

The Turtles held on to number one for a second week with “Happy Together.” Other top ten hits included “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Mamas & The Papas (#2); “Penny Lane” by the Beatles (#3); “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits (#4); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#5); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#6); “For What It’s Worth” by the Buffalo Springfield (#7); “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles (#8); “Something  Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#9); and “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#10).

It was an eventful week for 60s music: the Beatles posed for photographs for the cover of their upcoming album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band on March 30th; Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire on stage for the first time at a London concert on March 31st; and Donovan released his album Mellow Yellow on March 31st (his first real break from the folk-music that had defined the sound of his earlier albums).

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