Friday, August 18, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/21/1967 to 8/27/1967

We’re so accustomed to thinking of I-75 as a “done deal” that it’s almost surprising to learn that much of I-75 through Georgia was incomplete fifty years ago. Plans were already underway to connect the various segments of the interstate, however, with work beginning on a major portion of the interstate between Atlanta and Macon in August, with more work scheduled to fill in the gap between Cartersville and Marietta later in the year.

Public outrage forced Rome City Commissioner Richard L. Starnes to quit selling plants, mulch, and landscape material from his nursery business to the city. Not only was Starnes approving sales from his private business to the city at a much higher than normal rate, he had also used his authority to convince the Rome City Schools to hire his wife to supervise the landscaping and maintenance of Rome schools—which meant that she was drawing a salary for paying her family’s business an exorbitantly high rate to maintain school property. Starnes’ company was immediately banned from doing business with the city on advice of the City Attorney; the school system said they would look into the “sweetheart deal” involving Starnes’ wife.

A little piece of Rome history was discovered to be in danger when painters found major wood rot in the timbers supporting the steeple on the Floyd County Courthouse. The steeple was determined to be so unsafe that the county determined they’d probably have to take it down entirely and replace it with a fiberglass replica. “With a hard wind, the whole thing could topple into Fifth Avenue, Sheriff Joe Adams said.

Chieftains were enjoying one final week of sleeping late and bumming around, since summer was about to come to an end with the August 28th start of school. That made this final vacation week particularly bittersweet, but we all tried to make the best of it (and especially me, whose August 26th birthday usually occurred in the first week of school-- but in 1967 I got to have not only a summer vacation birthday, but also a weekend birthday!

Just in time for school’s start, Murphy’s had a complete set of Illustrated World Encyclopedias for only $39.99—a 60% discount off the list price. In the pre-internet era, encyclopedias were considered a must-have by many parents and students. (Try to explain to students today why they should make space for almost three linear feet of books that had to be updated with annual supplemental volumes and see what response you get…)

Rome’s summer crime wave continued: the Lindale Pharmacy was broken into and $105.00 was stolen from the register (but no drugs were taken, surprisingly) on August 21st; on August 22nd, thieves broke into the Coke machine in front of Scott’s Super Market on Why 27N and stole approximately $30.00 in change. A similar vending machine break-in netted thieves almost $100 from various machines at Coosa Valley Technical School on August 23rd. Thieves then broke into Hanks-Saunders Supply Company on Shorter Avenue, stealing $400 in cash, on August 24th. On August 25th, thieves broke into DeSoto Beauty Shop on Broad Street and stole $250 in cash

On August 23rd, a seventeen-year-old drove up to Shorter Avenue Motors in a 1960 Ford and expressed an interest in a 1955 Chevrolet on the lot. He left his car while he “test drove” the Chevy; when he didn’t return by the end of the day, the car dealership called the police, who determined that the Ford had been stolen in Marietta earlier that day. No luck finding the missing Chevrolet...

A new business service came to Rome this week in 1967: “containerized refuse removal,” or what most of us today refer to as “dumpster service.” For the first time, a company was willing to provide Rome businesses with their very own dumpsters, and to arrange to empty those dumpsters every week! Dispos-All Services had begun its operations in Dalton, servicing the businesses that grew up around the Dalton carpet industry, but now they were moving into Rome, offering garbage service for businesses who had outgrown typical trashcan service.  We take dumpsters for granted now, but in 1967 this was a Really Big New Thing for Rome!

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, tomatoes for 19¢ a pound, and 500 sheets of notebook paper for 39¢. Big Apple had lamb legs for 69¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and seedless grapes for 29¢ a pound. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound (and I’ve never understood why something as mundane as cube steak was more or less the same price as sirloin or T-bone steak), 20 ounces of salted peanuts for 49¢, and cantaloupes for 27¢ each. Kroger had chuck roast for 89¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart, and lettuce for 10¢ a head. Couch’s had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, ground beef for 45¢ a pound, and Bama jelly (in 18 ounce jars that could be used as drinking glasses) for 25¢ each.

The cinematic week began with Way West (starring Richard Widmark) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Taming of the Shrew (starring Elizabeth Taylor) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Hurry Sundown (with Michael Caine) to the DeSoto Theatre and The Dirty Dozen (with Lee Marvin) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Taming of the Shrew hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

“Ode to Billie Joe” climbed to number one this week in 1967, propelling Bobbie Gentry to stardom. Other top ten hits included “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles (#2); “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees (#3); “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#4); “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#6); “Cold Sweat—Part 1” by James Brown & the Famous Flames (#7); “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#8); “You’re My Everything” by the Temptations (#9); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#10). 

This week in 1967, ABC’s Dark Shadows and CBS’s As the World Turns became the first soap operas to broadcast in full color. (It’s surprising that the supernatural-themed Dark Shadows, one of the strangest soap operas in network television history, was ABC’s choice to become their first full-color soap—but perhaps it was the gothic horror aspect of the series that convinced them that it would benefit from the addition of color.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/14/1967 to 8/20/1967

Politics never changes: Floyd County residents were upset fifty years ago when they discovered that tax money had been used to pay for road paving for a road that only served one resident: Representative Sidney Lowrey. $1200.00 in tax money had been used to pave the road that was in effect little more than a private driveway. County ‘Attorney George Anderson said that the road was listed as county right-of-way on the land plat, so the paving was justified as a county expense, but he had no immediate response when residents asked why the county paved all the way “up to his carport, his tool shed, and his barn” on Rep. Lowrey’s private property.

Jean Smiderski, 1967-68 West Rome Student Council President, attended the National Student Council and Honor Society Leadership ‘Camp in Sandusky, Ohio. 

Coach Paul Kennedy discussed the upcoming football season with Don Biggers of the Rome News-Tribune. “Injuries—or rather, the lack of them—will be the key to our season,” Coach Kennedy said. “We have only 29 boys on the varsity squad, and that means we don’t have much depth in any position. But because of the small squad, we have been able to devote more time to individual work.” Coach Kennedy also said that the 1967-1968 football schedule was the toughest in West Rome history, with the Chiefs facing off against Dalton, Carrollton, and Lafayette in the first four weeks of the season.

Five juveniles and one 18-year-old were arrested on Monday,. August 14th, for operating a regional car theft ring. The six-person theft ring were responsible for thefts in Rome, Cartersville, Marietta, and Atlanta. The dirty half-dozen were caught after they left one of the stolen cars parked in front of the home of one of the thieves. 

The Big Apple grocery store in West Rome called in the authorities after they discovered several counterfeit $10 and $20 bills in the register of one of their cashiers. The US Secret Service was called in, and they reported tha the cashier had given a pretty clear description of the suspect who had paid with the bills. Once the news of counterfeiting got out, though other stores in West Rome also reported having received bogus bills in the prior week, including Super-Discount, Buy-Wise, Redford's, and Enloe's Rexall Drugs.

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, bell peppers for 7¢ each, and Libby’s fruit cocktail for 20¢ a can (and it contained real cherries back then, not just grapes dyed red!). A&P had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, white corn for 6¢ an ear, and Ann Page bread for 25¢ a loaf. Kroger had smoked hams for 45¢ a pound, eggs for 35¢ a dozen, and potatoes for 9¢ a pound. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢  pound, Banquet cream pies for 22¢ each, and honeydew melons for 79¢ each. Couch’s had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, fresh okra for 19¢ a pound, and Blue Plate barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle.

The cinematic week began with Barefoot in the Park (starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Taming of the Shrew (starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Way West (starring Kirk Douglas) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while The Taming of the Shrew hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

The Beatles took number one this week in 1967 with “All You Need Is Love.” Other top ten hits included “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#2); “Pleasnt Valley Sunday” by the Monkees (#3); “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#4); “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by The Buckinghams (#6); “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry” (#7); “Cold Sweat—Part 1” by James Brown and the Famous Flames (#8); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#9); and “A Girl Like You” by the Young Rascals (#10). 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/7/1967 to 8/13/1967

We were still enjoying summer fifty years ago in West Rome, because school wasn’t scheduled to start back until August 28th (almost a full month after school’s 2017 starting date). The school buildings weren’t empty during the summer, though: maintenance workers were busy painting classrooms, stripping and waxing floors, repairing and/or replacing damaged equipment, and more in preparation for students’ return. (One thing they weren't repairing was the air conditioning at West Rome… because there wasn’t any!) The only thing that mattered to students, though, was that there were still two more glorious weeks of summer before school opened for the 1967-1968 school year.

Investigators came to Rome looking for evidence related to a theft of 412 sticks of dynamite from a Cartersville storage bin in mid-July. Some of the stick were used to build a bomb that killed  Piedmont circuit solicitor general Floyd G. Hoard on Monday afternoon; Hoard was involved in a complex prosecution involving a car theft ring and a moonshining operation. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would not give any information regarding their reasons for thinking that there might be Rome links to the crime.

The City of Rome authorized $156,000 in expenditures to improve and modernize the city’s transit system—although they didn’t have to come up with all of the cash. The Department of Housing and Urban Development was willing to put in $2 for every $1 that the city spent, so the real cost to the city was only $53,000. Plans called for 35 new buses to hit the streets of Rome within 30 days. Since Rome used city buses for school bus duty as well, this meant a safer, more comfortable ride for some students once the new buses were put into service.

Rome’s job options improved with the announcement that Trend Mills was building a major addition to its Rome facility. The expansion was expected to produce another 150 jobs in the Rome area.

Piggly Wiggly had 3-Pound Swift’s Canned Hams for $2.89 each, nectarines for 29¢ a pound, and Heinz tomato soup for a dime a can. Kroger had ground beef for 35¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Kroger bread for 18¢ a loaf. A&P had round steak for 77¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and blueberries for 39¢ a pint. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Duke’s mayonnaise for 29¢ a jar, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. Couch’s had cube steak for 79¢ a pound, tomatoes for a dime a pound, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for $1.19 a case plus deposit.

The cinematic week began with El Dorado (starring John Wayne & Robert Mitchum) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and A Guide for the Married Man (starring Walter Matthau) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switch out brought Barefoot in the Park (staring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Taming of the Shrew (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) to the First Avenue. (Hard to believe that, with so few screens in Rome, the theatre owners insisted on running the same movie at the DeSoto and the Drive-in, thereby reducing our choices even more.)

The Doors held on to the number slot for another week with “Light My Fire.” Other top ten hits included “‘All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles (#2); “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#3); “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees (#4); “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by the Buckinghams (#5); “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli (#6); “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum (#7); Windy by the Association (#8); “Carrie-Anne” by the Hollies (#9); and “A Girl Like You” by the Young Rascals (#10). 

What a n impressive list of albums in the Top Five: the Billboard list for the week included Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (#1); Headquarters by the Monkees (#2); Flowers by the Rolling Stones (#3); Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane (#4) and The Doors by… well, you know (#5).