Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 8/28/1967 to 9/3/1967

School was back in session for West Rome students as of Monday, .August 28th. (County schools got a couple of extra days off, though, since their school week began on Wednesday, August 30th.) Enrollment in the city school system was up by about 100 students over May 1967 enrollment, with the vast majority of the increase in high school students (39 new students at West Rome, 31 at East Rome). This pushed  total city school enrollment to 6975 students.

West Rome kicked off its football season on September 1st with a tough game against Dalton. Even though the Catamounts had been widely seen as the likely victors in the faceoff, West Rome won a 7-6 victory, thanks to a phenomenal catch by Charles Williams early in the second half for the Chieftains’ lone touchdown. Roger Weaver’s extra point secured the win for West Rome. Weaver was also the leading ground gainer for the Chiefs with 95 yards in 16 carries. 

Rome City Schools set school lunch prices at 20¢ for students and 40¢ for adults for the 1967-1968 school year. They kept prices low by utilizing $8 million in federal assistance for the National School Lunch Program, by taking part in the Special Milk Program, and by using donated surplus foods provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. “The lunch served in Georgia schools provides one-third to one-half of a child’s daily food needs of vitamins, minerals, protein, calories, calcium, and iron,” Ms. Josephine Martin, State School Food Service Supervisor, said. In Rome, almost 4800 students participated in the cafeteria program each day in the 1966-1967 school year (the last year for which full statistics were available), out of 6875 enrolled.

Archeology instructor Archie Smith of the University of Georgia headed a student excavation of a centuries-old Indian village located in an area being excavated near Plant Hammond, only feet away from the Coosa River. Ten students were meticulously shovel-scraping, sifting, cataloguing, and photographing the area as the preserved any artifacts before the area was scheduled to be cleared for Plant Hammond expansion. Georgia Power was paying all costs for the excavation of the site, was was estimated to be 1500 to 2000 years old.

Band directors’ lives got a little more complicated this week in 1967 after the State Board of Education implemented a new rule prohibiting marching band practice  for preparation of half-time performances during the school day, even if the students were in band class. Under the  new rules, “individual or group practice in activities of an interscholastic nature must be conducted after the end of the six-hour school day.” Prior to this rule, schools had tried to schedule marching band students for band class in the last period of the day so that they could practice before going home; with the new rule in effect, however, band directors would have to schedule all practices after school or cancel marching band halftime performances.

11-year-old Johnny Doan had a close call when he was struck by a car on Watson Street in West Rome on Wednesday afternoon. Doan was riding his bike through the intersection when a car struck him. Police determined that the young bicyclist had ridden into the road, so no charges were filed.

NASA selected West Rome High School as one of four schools in Georgia to be offered space-related industrial arts resources prepared by NASA and a committee of industrial arts educators. Tom Courtney, head instructor of industrial arts at West Rome, met with NASA representatives and regional industrial arts instructors to receive the material, review, it, and discuss how to implement it in West Rome classrooms. NASA representatives planned to return to West Rome on September 6th, 27th, 28th, and 29th to work in the classrooms with students and to share more information about industrial arts-related careers with NASA and other high-tech employers.

The situation looked grim for Rome’s proposed new post office and federal building: the Senate Appropriations Committee deleted the project from the appropriations bill. However, all hope wasn’t lost: the full Senate still had to vote whether to accept the recommendations or amend them. 

Four Romans were injured on Redmond Road, just a few hundred yards from West Rome High School, when their car skidded into the path of a freight train at the Redmond Road crossing. According to the police, the driver attempted to stop when she heard the train whistle, but she was traveling at a sufficiently high rate of speed that she skidded 32 feet into the path of the locomotive, which struck her car and threw it 33 feet into a ditch. Surprisingly, no one was killed, although the driver was admitted to the hospital in critical condition after being thrown from the vehicle.

It was such a different economic environment a half-century ago: Celanese, a major manufacturing employer in Rome, announced that they were expanding their facility to produce a new polypropylene yarn to be used in the making of indoor-outdoor carpet. The expansion would result in the hiring of sixty more hourly and staff personnel. “We are delighted that Rome has been selected as the production point for this new addition,” plant manager BE Cash said. “It is a reflection of the high regard Celanese has for its long association with the Rome area and its people, as well as being a reflection of the long-range potential Celanese sees in its facilities here. This would push Celanese’s total personnel at the Rome facility to more than 500 employees, making them one of Rome’s largest employers—but definitely not Rome’s only manufacturing employer!

Kroger had Morton frozen dinners for 39¢ each, Mann’s Golden Harvest franks for 49¢ a pound, and cantaloupes for a quarter each. Kroger had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Chase & Sanborn coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon. A&P had rib steaks for 89¢ a pound, orange juice for 43¢ a half-gallon, and corn for a nickel an ear. Big Apple had pork loins for 69¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and Velveeta for 59¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with Hurry Sundown (starring Michael Caine) at the DeSoto Theatre, Taming of the Shrew (starring Elizabeth Taylor) at the First Avenue, and The Dirty Dozen (starring Lee Marvin) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Walt Disney’s The Gnome-Mobile to the DeSoto Theatre,  The Sound of Music back to the First Avenue (after it played nonstop for several months in 1966, we thought we were finally rid of it!), and Hell’s Angels on Wheels (“for mature adults only”) to the West Rome Drive-In.

The final episode of The Fugitive aired on August 29th, 1967, and it set viewing records for a prime-time dramatic show; it was, in fact, the second-most-watched TV show of the decade, only surpassed by The Ed Sullivan broadcast on February 9th, 1964, that introduced the Beatles to American viewers.

Bobbie Gentry maintained her number one position for a second week with “Ode to Billie Joe.” Other top ten hits included “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles (#2); “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#3); “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#4); “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee & the Strangers (#6); “Cold Sweat—Part 1” by James Brown & the Famous Flames (#7); “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees (#8); “You’re My Everything” by the Temptations (#9); and “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder (#10). 

It was a great week for eponymous album premieres, with Vanilla Fudge (the first album by the group helmed by Carmine Appice and Time Bogert), Big Brother and the Holding Company (the first album by the group the starred singer Janis Joplin), and Spanky & Our Gang (the debut album by the group best known for “Sunday Will Never Be the Same”) all making their premieres this week in 1967. 

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