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.)

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