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).

No comments: