Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in 1967 - 9/18/1967 to 9/24/1967

The jury deliberated for less than three hours in the case of Watson Street residents against Minge Cement Company before they issued a permanent injunction against Minge. The jury said that the facility definitely qualified as heavy industry; did not belong in or near a residential area; and that the dust, noise, and traffic was negatively affecting the quality of life of the residents nearby. Minge’s lawyers said that the company had not decided whether to appeal or simply to relocate the facility. Some residents were also asking that Judge Jerry Minge resign his position for abuse of authority, but Minge and his attorneys had no comment on that.

The 19th Annual Coosa Valley Fair was a highlight of this week in 1967, and the weather was perfect for fairgoing—no rain and temperatures in the low 80s during the day and the upper 60s in the evening. The West Rome High School Band performed a concert on Thursday, September 21st at 6:30 pm, just prior to the crowning of Miss Coosa Valley Fair, which meant that they had one of the largest audiences of any fair event. Special guests for the fair included Atlanta Falcons players Randy Johnson and Tommy Nobis, Harold “Red” Grange, and children’s TV show hosts Officer Don (from Atlanta) and Bob Brandy (from Chattanooga).

Coach Paul Kennedy was cautiously optimistic about the Chieftain’s home game against Lafayette. He didn’t feel that the prior week’s loss against Chattooga was a sign of things to come; instead, he said that the Chiefs played one of their better games, but they were simply outmanned by the larger, more experienced Chattooga team. Kennedy said that the West Rome offense was the key: if the Chiefs could bring their running game back up to its former levels, they would have a great chance of winning.

The offense didn’t let Coach Kennedy down, racking up 34 points against LaFayette on Friday, September 22nd, at Barron Stadium. Problem is, LaFayette also racked up 34 points, so the game ended in a tie. West Rome almost pulled out a victory  on the final play of the game, but Mark Brewer’s 23-yard field goal effort was three feet too far to the left.

Big K opened for business on September 21st, 1967—the first store in Gala Shopping Center to open. This department store, Gala's anchor store located directly across the street from West Rome High School, would be Rome’s first major chain-store addition in many years; their presence in Rome would make Gala Shopping Center a regional shopping destination and would shake up Romans' shopping habits. Big K opened even before the rest of the shopping center was completed, although A&P, Cole Drugs, Economy Auto, Gateway Books, Kay Ice Cream, Pat’s Bakery, and Ken Stanton Music all planned to open in the fall in plenty of time for the holiday shopping season. (Alas, Big K’s move into the Rome market would also begin Rome's transition from locally owned, community-founded department stores to big-box discount chain stores—a transition that would be repeated across the country. In Rome, it would lead to the demise of Miller’s, Esserman’s, and Fahy’s, among other Rome stores.) For its opening, Big K had jeans for $2.22 a pair, men’s and women’s shoes for $1.22,a pair, Cannon towels for 37¢ each, .22 caliber rifles for $39.95, chocolate covered peanuts for 47¢ a pound, and a large bag of in-store-made caramel corn for a dime… and as I read that, I can still remember that rich, sweet taste of caramel corn wafting through the store.

Rome Radio Company began offering RCA’s first full-color home entertainment centers this week in 1967. The six-foot wide oak console unit housed a 23” color TV, an AM/FM radio, a four-speed six-record changer, and two large stereo speakers—and it could be yours for only $1095.00! (That’s the equivalent of $8400.00 in today’s dollars—no wonder other stores were reluctant to carry this entertainment behemoth!)

Senator Herman Talmadge went to bat for Rome and Floyd County, making a Senate floor speech to request that funds be restored for Rome’s proposed new federal building. The project had seemed to be a go until the week of the 11th, when it was unpredictably cut from the budget. Talmadge was ultimately successful, and the Rome Federal Building was back on track!

Rome merchants were faced with a counterfeiting problem this week in 1967. Someone was passing a large number of counterfeit $10 and $20 bills at a number of locations, including the West Rome Redford’s and A&P. All of the fake bills were dated 1963, and every $20 had the same serial number (which is what led one alert cashier to notice them—she got two of the twenties in one transaction and saw the identical serial numbers), while the tens were counterfeited using three different serial numbers (since tens were much more common than twenties in most shopping in the 1960s).

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, Vienna sausages for 20¢ a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 20¢ a pound, and six-bottle cartons of Coca-Cola, Tab, or Sprite for 33¢ plus deposit. Kroger had cubed steak for $1.09 a pound (I had no idea that cube steak cost more than sirloin or T-bone!), Chef Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti & meatballs for 29¢ a can, and cantaloupes for 33¢ each. A&P had smoked hams for 37¢ a pound, Aunt Jemima syrup for 47¢ a bottle, and seedless grapes for 19¢ a pound. Couch’s had ground beef for 43¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 69¢ a pound ,and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with The Big Mouth (starring Jerry Lewis) at the DeSoto Theatre and The Sound of Music (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Heat of the Night (starring Rod Steiger) to the DeSoto Theatre and Up the Down Staircase (starring Sandy Dennis) to the First Avenue. The West Rome Drive-In was closed during the week for repairs, but they ran Heat of the Night on the weekend.

The Box Tops’ :”The Letter” knocked Bobbie Gentry out of the number one spot this week in 1967. Gentry still held on in second place with “Ode to Billie Joe,” which went from a pop song to a cultural phenomenon as people speculated just what was thrown off the Tallahatchee Bridge. Other top ten hits included “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee & the Strangers (#3); “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#4); “Never My Love” by the Association (#5); “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay & the Techniques (#6); “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson (#i7); “You’re My Everything” by the Temptations (#8); “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” by Peter, Paul, & Mary (#9); and “Funky Broadway” by Wilson Pickett (#10).

Bobbie Gentry’s Ode to Billy Joe album likewise climbed to second place, beating out the Doors, the Rolling Stones, the Monkees, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Jefferson Airplane, and the Rascals. Only the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band kept Gentry’s album out of the top slot.

More than a quarter century after his first comics appearance, The Spectre premiered in his very own series this week in 1967, after getting positive response to his appearances in DC’s tryout comic Showcase. Gardner Fox & Murphy Anderson handled the creative duties on The Spectre #1.

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