Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/24/1967 to 7/30/1967

Rome’s efforts to eliminate obscene magazines from the newsstands, bookstores, and magazine racks kicked into high gear with the creation of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Clean Literature. The commission had no legal authority to take any action against stores carrying such magazines, but they intended to contact stores and ask them to remove the magazines; if that didn’t work, they’d send in local customers to try to persuade the store owner to reconsider; and if that failed, they’d try to organize protests at the stores in question. The group was made up of a coalition of civic and religious leaders, including West Rome’s own Nick Hyder, school superintendent JS McDonald, Ben Lucas, and Jerry Bryant. (And more than one West Rome store got a call because of their magazine racks—although very few apparently did anything more than put the Playboys on the top shelf, or behind the counter. I suspect they discovered that many of those local customers they hoped to utilize to persuade the stores to discontinue Playboy were actually some of the store's Playboy customers.)

 The State Highway Department began taking bids for construction of a four-lane highway from Shorter Avenue, North Elm Street,and Lavender Drive to Redmond Circle; from there the highway would bear west and then south, connecting to Shorter Avenue/Alabama Road at West Rome High School. The project was fast-tracked in hopes that it could be finished at about the same time that Gala Shopping Center was scheduled to open.

And the burglaries continued: thieves broke into Andrews Motor Company on the night of July 27th, stealing a large quantity of tools, an adding machine, and a timing light. They apparently loaded all of the items into a 1967 automobile, which they then stole to haul away their goodies.

Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had country ham for 79¢ a pound, blueberries for 39¢ a pint, and Armour Vienna sausages for 23¢ a can. Big Apple had ground beef for 35¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and tall cans of salmon for 59¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, lemons for 49¢ a dozen, and 10 pounds of russet potatoes for 59¢. Couch’s had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Blue Plate peach preserves for 33¢ a jar, and fresh okra for 19¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Born Losers (starring Tom Laughlin) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Caprice (starring Doris Day) to the First Avenue and Fancy Pants (starring Bob Hope) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Dirty Dozen remained captive at the DeSoto for another week.

The Doors sizzled at number one with “Light My Fire” this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#2); “Windy” by the Association (#3); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#4); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#5); “Little Bit O’ Soul” by The Music Explosion (#6); “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by the Buckinghams (#7); “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane (#8); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#9); and “C’Mon Marianne” by the Four Seasons featuring the Sound of Frankie Valli (#10).

Gold Key launched its Star Trek comic book series this week in 1967. While the comic wasn’t particularly faithful to the TV series in every detail, it was the first authorized expansion of the Star Trek canon, and for those of us who couldn’t enough of the Enterprise and its crew, this was a must-have.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/16/1967 to 7/23/1967

In 1967, there was only one cable providing telephone service from Rome to Atlanta, and a construction crew working near Acworth managed to cut that cable smack dab in two on July 18th. It took them until mid-day on July 19th to restore some phone service between Rome and Atlanta, but it would take yet another day before full service was restored. Southern Bell routed emergency calls from Rome to Chattanooga and then back down to Atlanta to ensure that the most urgent calls got through, but that connection could only handle about 1% of the total Rome-to-Atlanta phone traffic.

And speaking of phone service, Southern Bell began upgrading phone service to West Rome beginning on the afternoon on Friday, July 21st, and continuing through the late night hours of Saturday, July 22nd—but that meant that they had to shut down three of four lanes on Shorter Avenue both at Division Street and near the Underpass in order to do it. Workers were upgrading the phone conduit to handle the increased phone service demands brought on by rapid growth in West Rome, and that involved digging up a large portion of Shorter Avenue at both locations. “Motorists should, if possible, use an alternate route,” Police Chief Nelson “Stating the Obvious” Camp said. Thankfully, everything was back to normal by Sunday morning.

Rome’s first “high rise” apartments, the six-story Wilson Hardy Apartments on North Fifth Avenue, were completely open for business (and fully rented out) from the very first day this week in 1967. Run by the Rome Housing Authority, the high-rise was comprised entirely of efficiency and one or two bedroom apartments targeted at elderly and low-income residents. Rents started at $30 a month and topped out at $50 a month, including all utilities; to qualify to live in the apartments, residents could not earn more than $3100 a year.

I have no recollection of a boat and camper trailer business located on Division Street, but apparently one Raymond Ramsey operated just such a business—and had in fact done so since 1953. Problem is, he never applied for a business license until 1966… and his business was located right in the middle of an area zoned residential only. The Rome City Commission took less than two hours to rule that Mr. Ramsey had thirty days to close down his business and relocate; in addition, they fined him $25 for not having applied for a business license in all the preceding years. (I guess he made out okay there, since the cost of the license was $5 and he had avoided paying it for fifteen years, which worked out to a 66% discount.)

Rome Foods Company expanded their West Rome facility on Lavender Drive in the summer of 1967, adding a 16,000 square foot building for dry-food storage. This was the second expansion project for the business (formerly known as Rome Frozen Foods) since they opened the West Rome facility in 1963; when finished, the expansion would create an estimated 35 more jobs.

Coosa Valley Vocational Technical School (aka Coosa Valley Tech) announced the addition of new 13-week evening classes. The courses offered included Slide Rule and Algebra (remember slide rules?), Engineering Drafting, Technical Writing, Trigonometry, Survey of Machine Tools, Physics II, Testing of Materials; and Speed Mathematics. The school said that other evening courses might be added in the next year, and they were looking to eventually expand their program to offer full certification in a number of areas through evening courses, since many of their students were also working day jobs.

Financial growth in Rome continued in 1967, with total bank deposits growing by 6% to $17.6 million between June 1966 and June 1967. Loans had also increased by 6% over the prior year, at $10.27 million.

Piggly Wiggly had Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite/Fresca for 33¢ a carton plus deposit, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and never-popular beef liver for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Maxwell House instant coffee for $1.39 a jar (looking back on it, I don’t really understand why instant coffee was so popular in the 1960s, but it seemed like every coffee-drinking family kept a jar of it around alongside their ground coffee—and I remember some friends’ families switching entirely to instant), and Southern Maid applesauce for 12¢ a jar. Big Apple had Rath Black Label bacon for 79¢ a pound, American Beauty pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and fresh okra for a quarter a pound. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 39¢ each, and Bama dill pickles for 31¢ a jar. Couch’s had their in-store-ground sausage for 59¢ a pound (I still remember this as perhaps the most flavorful sausage I ever tasted), Castleberry’s beef stew for 49¢ a can, and squash for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) to the DeSoto Theatre and Born Losers (the first Billy Jack film, starring Tom Laughlin) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Hawaii refused to relinquish its grip on the First Avenue Theatre box office.

The Association’s “Windy” held onto the number one slot for the fourth week fifty years ago. Other top ten hits included “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#2—and am I the only person bothered by the fact that the name of this single is wrong? Even the posted lyrics are wrong! Frankie Valli definitely sings “can’t take my eyes off of you,” but since the “of” is grammatically incorrect, the song title has been corrected to reflect proper grammar—and so have the posted lyrics, even though it throws off the rhythm of the song and it isn’t what he sings!)l “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Little Bit O’ Soul”: by the Music Explosion (#5); “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#8); “C’Mon Marianne” by the Four Seasons Featuring the Sound of Frankie Valli (#9: and “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#10).

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/10/1967 to 7/16/1967

Apparently Rome had a lot more crime than I remembered: in the early morning hours of July 10th, burglars broke into Owens Hardware, used heavy tools to “beat and rip open” the large double-door safe at the rear of the business, and stole an undetermined amount of cash and fifteen pistols with an estimated value of $800.00. The thieves left behind twelve rolls of pennies. On the same evening, burglars also broke into Enloe’s Drug Store at West End Shopping Center through a hole in the roof, and made off with $9.00. Yeah, nine bucks—and they didn’t take any merchandise or drugs, just the paltry amount of cash.

The next night, burglars broke into the Floyd County School Maintenance Center on US Highway 27, where they stole $60.00 in cash and some tools; Aristocrat Ice Cream Company, where they broke into a safe and stole $800.00 in cash; Rome Tool & Die Company, where they stole $30.00 in cash and about $500.00 worth of tools (and they apparently used the tools from Rome Tool & Die to break into the safe at Aristocrat Ice Cream); and Fred Lothridge Construction Company, where they stole $1500.00 worth of tools. This made six burglaries in two days—a Rome record, according to the police.

Two nights later, five service stations across Floyd County were hit by burglars The widely scattered locations—from Highway 27 South to Highway 27 North to West Rome to Kingston Highway—led the police to conclude that they weren’t dealing with a single set of thieves, but with a group of opportunistic burglars who may have been inspired by reports of local burglaries. 

On the evening of July 13th the Floyd County Board of Health gave Watson Street residents their say regarding their complaints against Minge Cement Company in a meeting that the Rome News-Tribune described as “one of the more active sessions of the year.” After hearing residents talk about heavy layers of dust, stagnant water, mosquitoes, noise, smells, and more, Rome City Commissioner Leroy Hancock (who was also a member of the Board of Health) said, “I think they have a very definite nuisance. Even though they now maybe do’t have pollution laws with teeth in them, they will have.” He went on to say that a mistake was made in granting a permit for the cement plant right next to residences, and that "it shouldn’t have ever been allowed there to start with." The situation got even more complicated when the Board of Health revealed that Judge Scoggin had requested that  residents not request the closing of the plant because it would slow down area construction projects—and then, a couple of weeks later, Judge Scoggin was assigned to hear the case after fellow judge Jerry Minge asked that the residents’ suit be thrown out. In spite of the conflict, Judge Scoggin failed to recuse himself and ruled against the residents. At the end of the meeting, County Board of Health Chairman  James Mehaffey told the residents, “I will do everything I can within my power to help you,” while Jerry Minge dismissed the residents and their complaints as “childish.”
Cities and counties were pushing for local option sales taxes in the mid-1960s, but Governor Lester Maddox was firmly opposed to the idea, “This tax would mean that when you have to go to Atlanta and purchase something you can’t find in Rome, your hard-earned money would stay in Atlanta, and would not benefit your home county or city at all,” Maddox said.

One thing that Rome City Schools and Floyd County Schools were NOT pushing for in 1967: year-round schools. Both system reported that there would be major problems if Georgia went to year-round schools. The problems were primarily financial: higher facilities maintenance costs, higher student transportation costs, higher salaries, and a maximum allowable school tax millage rate would cause problems for both the city and the county systems. If you really focused, you could probably hear students all over the city and the county cheering the news...

Heavy rain hit the Rome area on Monday, July 10th caused scattered flooding. Naturally, the creek on Paris Drive, which ran right behind Conn Street homes, flooded; residents reported that it was the worst flood in the Conn Street area since the city cleaned out the creek bed a couple of years before. The heavy rains pushed the Oostanaula Rover to 18.8 feet, which was more than ten feet above normal level. 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 29¢ a half-gallon; and Castleberry beef stew for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had fresh fryers for 29¢ a pound, Morton’s frozen pot pies for 20¢ each, and Heinz barbecue sauce for a quarter a bottle. A&P had round steak for 79¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and a pound of Jane Parker potato chips for 59¢. Big Apple had Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 39¢ a pack, Wishbone salad dressing for 39¢ a bottle, and watermelons for 99¢ each. Couch’s had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Merita bread for 37¢ a loaf.

The cinematic week began with You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery as James Bond) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the DeSoto Theatre, and Hell on Wheels (starring Marty Robbins) at the West Rome Drive-In. (You Only Live Twice was the second James Bond film my parents allowed me to see in the theatre—the first was Thunderball. They had turned down my pleas to see Goldfinger because they thought it was too mature for a pre-adolescent because of the well-publicized gold-painted nekkid lady at the beginning. Having given me a set of Ian Fleming’s novels the Christmas afterwards, though, they decided to have faith in me and let me see Thunderball at the DeSoto. So by the time You Only Live Twice came out, there was no doubt I was going to see it—the only question was “how many times?” The answer was four. Hey, it was summer, I loved James Bond, and the DeSoto Theatre had great air conditioning as well as tasty popcorn!) The midweek switchout brought Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs to the DeSoto Theatre and Double Trouble (starring Elvis Presley) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Hawaii maintained a beachhead at the First Avenue for another week.

The Association’s “Windy” blew away the competition to hold onto the number one slot for third time this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the  Music Explosion (#2); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off  You” by Frankie Valli (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#5); “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#8); “C’Mon Marianne” by the 4 Seasons with Frankie Valli (#9); and “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#10). 

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band climbed to the number one spot on the album charts this week in 1967, knocking the Monkees out of first place. And what a weird top ten albums chart it was—two Monkees album, a Herb Alpert album, a Bill Cosby album, an Andy Williams album, a Doors album, a Jefferson Airplane album, an Aretha Franklin album, and the soundtrack to Doctor Zhivago. Talk about something for all tastes!…

Adam Warlock made his first appearance in Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, & Joe Sinnott’s Fantastic Four #67, on sale this week in 1967. This was also the week that Avengers Annual #1 premiered, pitting the Avengers against the Mandarin in a 49-page feature-length tale by Roy Thomas & Don Heck.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/3/1967 to 7/9/1967

The complaints by Mr. Patterson and his Watson Street neighbors regarding noise, dust, and debris from the Minge cement plant (reported here last week) struck paydirt: The chairman of the Floyd County Board of Health immediately directed a full-scale investigation into the residents’ complaints to determine if the Minge plant qualified as a health hazard. “A special meeting of the Health Board will be called immediately after the investigation has been completed and all data has been compiled,” Health Board Chairman James Mehaffey said. “We will be diligent in our efforts to determine whether residents of this area are being subjected to a health hazard.” Needless to say, the residents were very pleased with the news. “This is better than we could have hoped for,” Mr. Patterson said, who had been frustrated for many months by Judge Minge allegedly using his position at the courthouse to manipulate the residents’ case in favor of his family’s cement business.

In response to student complaints that Rome City summer school classrooms were too hot, the city proposed a change: they would start summer school classes at 6:30 am rather than 8am, which would enable students to leave at 10:30am rather than noon. Apparently the complaining students decided the classroom weren’t all that intolerable after all, since the school system ended up sticking with the 8am-noon schedule for the rest of the summer.

After several years, prices on color TVs began to drop in 1967, with Sears offering 23” color TVs (the largest size color TV offered in 1967) coming in as low as $369 for a 23” table model and $469 for a 23” walnut console color TV. While this is the equivalent of $2775 and $3525 in today’s dollars (in other words, just about the same price you’d pay for a high-quality 75” 4K TV today that has more screen space than nine 23” TVs), it was the first year that a color console crossed into the sub-$500 range. That might explain why a lot more families began adding color TVs to their homes in the late 1960s.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, white corn for 8¢ an ear, and okra for 19¢ a pound. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 27¢ a pound, pinto beans for 10¢  a pound, and Maxwell House coffee for 55¢ a pound. Kroger had pork chops for 59¢ a pound, tomatoes for a dime a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. A&P had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and locally grown tomatoes for 29¢ a pound.  Couch's had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, lettuce for a dime a head, and Irvindale ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon.

The cinematic week began with You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery) at the DeSoto Theatre, Hawaii (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) at the West Rome Drive-In. You Only Live Twice and Hawaii hung around for another week, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in Hell on Wheels (starring Marty Robbins) for the weekend.

The Association held on to the number one song this week in 1967 with “Windy,” which hit the top of the charts for a second week. Other top ten hits included “Little Bit O’ Soul” by the Music Explosion (#2); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#3); “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (#4); “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark (#5); “Come On Down to My Boat” by Every Mother’s Son (#6); “Up—Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension (#7); “Let’s Live For Today” by the Grass Roots (#8); “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#9); and “The Tracks of My Tears” by Johnny Rivers (#10).