Friday, April 21, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/24/1967 to 4/30/1967

The votes were counted, and the residents of Garden Lakes turned down their chance to become West Rome Chieftains, voting 794-333 to remain in the county rather than being annexed into the city. The deciding issue seemed to be the fate of Garden Lakes Elementary School: since the county was asking for a significant sum of money for the school grounds and facilities, the city had indicated that it would instead reassign Garden Lakes students to Elm Street and West End. Apparently the residents of Garden Lakes found that totally unacceptable, so the annexation was soundly rejected. (One has to wonder how different things might have been had Garden Lakes voted yes; the influx of almost 500 new students of all ages into the West Rome school network might have inspired the city to keep West Rome open rather than turning the school into a Walmart parking lot…)

For the first time since the end of World War II, Romans set their clocks ahead one hour when they went to bed on Saturday, April 29th, thanks to daylight saving time. Of course, the official time change took place at 2am on Sunday, but since most of us were asleep by that time, we diligently gave up an hour of rest as we set our clocks ahead at bedtime. Georgia had observed daylight saving time in the past—during the war years of 1918, 1919, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945—but once the war was over, Georgia had left its clocks alone until 1967, when the entire nation (with the exception of a couple of recalcitrant states) began observing daylight saving time. And there was no automatic daylight saving time setting on our clocks back then—daylight saving time required changing all clocks by hand, knowing that we would have to change them back again six months later. (We can only hope that, at some point, our legislators will show the common sense and courage to do away with this outmoded and counterproductive practice: recent studies have shown that switching to daylight saving time actually costs us slightly more in energy use, it has negative health ramifications, and it remain quite unpopular.)

Steve Harwell’s triple in the eighth inning, followed by a score from third on a throwing error, gave West Rome's baseball team a 3-2 victory against the Cedartown Bulldogs on April 24th.

And a day later, West Rome once again defeated Cedartown—this time in a dual meet at the West Rome track. The final score was 113-23, with West Rome racking up twelve first places. The only double winner of the day was Mike Johnson, who ran the 100 in 10.5 seconds and the 220 in 23.6 seconds.

Over the weekend, West Rome’s baseball team went on to defeat Coosa 3-1. The Chieftains scored a solo run in the first inning on a double by Charles Williams and a sacrifice fly by Jim Partee. Doug Meadows and Greg Oyler both scored runs in the fifth inning to ensure the win. The next day, the baseball team posted a major victory over East Rome, 7-1. It was a tie game until the fifth inning, when West Rome scored three runs; they followed that up with three more runs in the seventh inning. Pitcher Steve Harwell was credited with the win, allowing only four hits. And it was good that we defeated East Rome in baseball, because... 

The Rome News-Tribune Relays took place at West Rome High School over the weekend, and the outcome wasn’t what West Rome had hoped for: our crosstown rivals the East Rome Gladiators won the track meet handily, with West Rome coming in fourth place.

Marcel Beam, solo clarinetist for the West Rome High School Band, traveled to Grady High School in Atlanta with band director Charles Davis so that he could audition for the Georgia All-State Band. Beam was the only Chieftain and the only Roman invited to audition.

Marguerite DiPrima and Judy Oxford were tapped to head the 1967-1968 West Rome High School annual The Watanyah; the announcement was made this week in 1967, since preliminary work on the next school year’s annual actually began before the prior school year ended and continued all through the summer. 

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 35¢ each, and Libby’s vienna sausages for 25¢ a can. Kroger had smoked ham for 35¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 23¢ a jar, and watermelons for 99¢ each. Campbell’s tomato soup for 15¢ a can, and  Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit. 

The cinematic week began with Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding (with Sandra Dee) at the DeSotoTheatre, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) at the First Avenue, and Deadlier Than the Male (with Elke Sommer) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Monkeys Go Home (with Dean Jones) to the DeSoto Theatre and Guns of the Black Witch (with no one you’ve ever heard of) at the West Rome Drive-In, while The Blue Max hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

Frank & Nancy Sinatra held on to number one for another week with “Something’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#2); “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#3); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#4); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#5); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#6); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#7); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#8); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10). 

The Turtles’ most successful album, Happy Together, was released this week in 1967, as was the eponymous debut album by the Electric Prunes and Chuck Berry's first “greatest hits” album, Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/17/1967 to 4/23/1967

It was a quiet week for UFOs in West Rome: there was only one reported sighting, off Radio Springs Road. Once again, the person who reported the UFO said they saw a circular disc-shaped object with a brighter central light; it seemed to hover for a brief time and then disappeared towards the southeast.

West Rome raced to seven first places on Monday, April 17th, to win a four-way track meet. The Chiefs defeated Cherokee, Dalton, and Trion 92.5/88.5/57/26. Jerry Arnold won first place in both the mile and the two mile; Benny Padgett won the hundred yard dash; Tommy Sapp took first in low hurdles; Xavier Smith took first place in high hurdles; and Johnny Rimes took first place in triple jump. West Rome’s 440 relay team also racked up a first place win.

West Rome’s baseball team pulled off a 3-2 victory over Darlington on Wednesday, April 19th. The Chiefs scored the winning run in the seventh inning and narrowly prevented Darlington from tying the game up in the eighth.

A burglar broke into the Berry College snack bar on Thursday night and stole $150.00, confirming my suspicion that Berry College charged entirely too much for burgers and snacks.

An extremely dry spring left Rome tinderbox-dry and more than 3” below normal in rainfall, with no measurable rain in more than three weeks. Warm temperatures and low humidity made for a potential fire problem, leading the fire marshall to call for a complete outdoor burning ban.

One good thing about all the dry weather, though: land clearing was ahead of schedule for Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School. Berry College had assigned a team of archeology students to keep watch over the site clearing in case any fossils, remains, or cultural artifacts should be uncovered. Thus far, though, nothing of note had been found.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, okra for 39¢ a pound, and Luzianne coffee for 69¢ a pound. Big Apple had chuck roast for 37¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Armour pork & beans for a dime a can. Kroger had T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, Dixie Crystals sugar for 37¢ for a five-pound bag, and Kroger bread for 20¢ a loaf. A&P had pork chops for 55¢ a pound, Tetley tea bags for 45¢ a box, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Couch’s had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Double Cola for 99¢ a case (plus deposit), and Hunt’s catsup for 29¢ a bottle.

The cinematic week began with In Like Flint (with James Coburn) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Georgy Girl at the First Avenue Theater. The midweek switchout brought Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding (with Sandra Dee & George Hamilton) to the DeSoto, The Blue Max (with George Peppard) to the First Avenue, and Deadlier Than the Male (with Elke Sommer) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The father and daughter duo of Frank & Nancy Sinatra held on to the number one slot for another week with “Somethin’ Stupid.” Other top ten hits included “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#2); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#3); “I Think We’re  Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#4); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#5); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#6); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#7); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#8); “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10).

The final episode of Please Don’t Eat The Daisies aired on Saturday, April 22nd. The show, based on the book by Jean Kerr, did very well in its first season when it aired on Tuesday nights; when it was move to Saturday nights for the second season, ratings plummeted. Oddly enough, the show apparently took place in the Man from UNCLE universe: Robert Vaughn & David McCallum appeared as Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin in the first-season episode “Say UNCLE,” while Stefanie Powers appeared as The Girl From UNCLE’s April Dancer in the second-season episode “Remember Lake Serene?”  (Maybe it was a nod of appreciation to Daisies star Patricia Crowley, who appeared in the pilot episode of Man from UNCLE). Oh, and one more oddity: Please Don't Eat the Daisies is the oldest television series whose entire starring cast is still alive as of the time I’m writing this...

Friday, April 07, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/10/1967 to 4/16/1967

Rome’s obsession with UFOs continued to make the news this week in 1967. West Rome residents reported strange sightings in the sky shortly after midnight on Monday morning, April 10th, and again on Monday night. In both cases, the objects were described as disc-shaped and maneuvering strangely. A man who had stopped at Johnny Reb’s in West Rome fist reported seeing three strange disc-shaped objects moving above Shorter Avenue. A second man, who was in the US Weather Service of the US Air Force, had binoculars and was able to observe the objects more closely; he described the objects as “round, slightly orange in color, with a light above the main disc.” Another resident driving in West Rome saw something hovering about ten feet above the ground in a a field approximately 400 yards off the road. He said the object then flew rapidly upwards and headed south until it was out of sight. Still other residents near Burnett Ferry Road also reported seeing two orange-red discs that released a shower of sparks before disappearing. Shortly afterwards, another object appeared from a different area of the sky and began travelling towards Burnett Ferry Road. Fifteen residents in Garden Lakes also reported seeing the objects. Every report stressed the incredible speed with which the objects moved, as well as their ability to abruptly change direction. Two days later, the police reported that the UFOs were actually plastic bags elevated by hot air from burning candles—and they felt pretty sure of this, since just such a bag sent aloft by some kids burned almost nine acres near Mount Alto. However, those who observed the UFOs earlier in the week rejected this explanation,  insisting that the UFOs moved far too fast to be explained away as plastic dry cleaning bags inflated with hot air.

West Rome defeated Model and Trion, 88-55-27, in a three-way track meet held at West Rome High School on Monday afternoon. This was the Chieftains’ first track victory of the season.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose... While the track team was improving, the baseball team went off base this week in 1966. The Chiefs lost their first  game of the season to Darlington on Wednesday, April 12th. The Tigers were ahead 11-0 at the end of the fifth inning before the Chiefs began hitting the ball; the final score was 11-6. Things got even worse on Friday when West Rome fell to East Rome 4-1; if there’s any team that the Chiefs hated to lose to, it was their cross-town rivals...

A state survey of school buildings and facilities said that Rome’s school system was plagued with undersized elementary schools that were “too small to offer the level of instructions that boys and girls should receive in order to more adequately meet and solve the problems they will face in this ever-changing and complex society.” They recommended closing many neighborhood elementary schools, several of which served fewer than 200 students, and consolidate into larger elementary schools with 500 student populations. They also recommended adding classroom at several existing school that were overcrowded—and Elm Street Elementary was one such school.

The School Board also listened to parent concerns about school starting too early; in response, they adopted a 1967-1968 school year calendar that had students reporting for their first day of class on August 28th. The last day of school was slated for June 3rd, with a day off for Labor Day, two days off for Thanksgiving, nine school days off for Christmas, and three days off for Good Friday/Easter… and that was it for holidays! No Memorial Day, no week-long spring break—nothing else!

“The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!” 1967 Rome directories were delivered this week in 1967; the cover featured a rendering of the new Ledbetter Highway Three-Level Interchange in East Rome (yes, a highway bridge was the cover feature of the phone book!). 32,000 directories were delivered in the Rome area, and they included almost 1200 new phone numbers. (And yes, hew phone books were such a big deal that the Rome News-Tribune devoted major story space to their release!)

Apparently Kentucky Fried Chicken was pushing anything but chicken this week in 1967: their specials includes a fried flounder dinner with french fries and a biscuit for 89¢, a fried shrimp dinner with 8 jumbo shrimp and biscuit for $1.19, and a quart of Brunswick stew for 79¢.

Piggly Wiggly had hams for 59¢ a pound, corn for 8¢ an ear, and Poss’s pork & beans for 20¢ a can.  Kroger had bananas for a dime a pound, pork chops for 39¢ a pound, and Kraft mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Big Apple had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, Stokely catsup for 19¢ a bottle, and lettuce for a dime a head. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Swift's chili for 39¢ a can, and strawberries for 29¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 43¢ a pound,Couch’s had stew beef for 30¢ a pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and cantaloupes for 35¢ each.

The cinematic week began with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (with Robert Morse) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Georgy Girl (with James Mason & Lynn Redgrave) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought In Like Flint (James Coburn’s spy-sequel to Our Man Flint) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In, while Georgy Girl hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Daughter and dad did well this week in 1967: Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra had the number one song this week with “Somethin’ Stupid” (a catchy little tune, but a somewhat weird choice for father and daughter duets, don’t you think? After all, it includes such lyrics as “And if we go someplace to dance, I know that there’s a chance you won’t be leaving with me,” “And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like ‘I love you,’” and “But then I think I’ll wait until the evening gets late and I’m alone with you.” Sort of a creepy for parent and child, isn't it?) Other top ten hits included “Happy Together” by the Turtles (#2); “This Is My Song” by Petula Clark (#3); “Bernadette” by the Four Tops (#4); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#5); “Western Union” by the Five Americans (#6); “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#7); “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Mamas & The Papas (#8); “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin (#9); and “Jimmy Mack” by Martha & the Vandellas (#10).

Peter Parker gave up his Spider-Man identity in the Stan Lee-John Romita tale “Spider-Man No More” in Amazing Spider-Man #50, a book that featured one of the most iconic covers of Romita’s career.